Giving Them What They Want: Online Video and the Consumer Experience

As we are in the cycle of the presidential election, there have been several high profile examples of how search is influencing and playing into the consumption formula for online video.  Two specific examples demonstrate how search either reinforces the opportunity big media has in capturing their share of the explosive growth in online video, or exposes the risk it poses.

First, as background, the pain the music industry has suffered is highly illustrative of the risks of ignoring consumer demands.  After seeing the explosion in file sharing on sites such as Napster, the music industry reached the incorrect conclusion that the majority of music consumers preferred to steal rather than pay for digital music.  As it turned out, Apple showed the way with the development of iTunes and the iPod.  History has clearly demonstrated that consumers simply wanted a way to way to buy digital music one track at a time at a reasonable price.  By orienting their product around consumer behavior, Apple became the dominant force in digital music.

Big media faces the same crossroad today that the music industry faced several years ago, and the lessons remain the same.  A successful online strategy incorporates the following:

1. Makes the content “findable” in the places where they are currently looking. In the case of online video, this is increasingly the large web search engines, but also sites such as YouTube, MySpace etc. The word “video” has become of the top terms in search strings across the web, outpacing “sex”, “religion”, and the old standby, “Britney”, according to Google’s Search Insights.

2. Enables the consumer to “lean-forward” with their content experience, and in the case of video enables the ability to search within specific video clips through tags, timestamps, rating, and commenting.

3. Creates the perception that the user can make the content their own via clipping, sharing, embedding.

4. Allows the content producer to control the context, brand, and monetization of their content assets.

5. Balances the efforts to protect content assets with efforts to make the media easy to find and consume.

Two recent examples illustrate this new reality effectively.  ABC scored a major coup by securing the first interview with Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.  Yet immediately following the interview, ABC failed to garner the majority of the online consumption.  As Will Richmond points out in this post from VideoNuze, ABC made it difficult to find the video, navigate within the interview, or share the video.  In addition, ABC didn’t take an aggressive stance on removing pirated clips from YouTube and other sharing sites.

In contrast, NBC has found a cult hit with the Tina Fey impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.  Not surprisingly, NBC was very aggressive about removing infringing copies from YouTube and other video sharing sites.  However, they simultaneously ensured that the clip was easily discoverable on their approved distribution sites such as and, and as a result, they were able to capture the majority of consumption and therefore the advertising opportunities.  As Silicon Alley Insider describes here, the metrics tell the story:

  • Charlie Gibson Interview on 600,000
  • SNL Tina Fey clip on 1,700,000

NBC’s approach suggests a template for big media online.  By combining their efforts to protect their assets with a content experience that responds to consumer demand, NBC was able to generate consumption that they could monetize, while protecting their brand as well.  As users increasingly adopt search techniques to discover and navigate online video, ensuring content can be easily discovered on the major search engines with video seo techniques, and making the videos readily searchable on the media companies’ own websites are key ingredients to generating consumption where it can be readily monetized and protected.

Tom Wilde is CEO of EveryZing, a Cambridge-based company specializing in next-generation Universal Search and video search engine optimization (video SEO). The Video Search column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Video Search


About The Author: is the CEO of EveryZing, a Cambridge-based company specializing in next-generation Universal Search and video search engine optimization (video SEO).

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