News Video Research Offers SEO Opportunities
In a previous article titled New Online Video News Search Study – Is the Business Case Made?, I discussed a DoubleClick Performics study that looked at how consumers interact with online video news, how they use search in the process, and their desire to see more video search results on the mainstream search engines. To get more in-depth information on this first-of-its-kind study, I recently interviewed Eric Papczun, Director of Natural Search Optimization for DoubleClick Performics. The following is our Q&A about the report findings and the potential opportunities for SEO with news video:
Grant: So what was the motivation for your company to devise this report?
Eric: This study is definitely a first attempt by DoubleClick Performics at getting a better shot at understanding the needs—the demands and supply, if you will—as well as the tools available online for people to find news video. What we gathered , more than anything, is information that will help us take a deeper dive the next time around.
This study essentially covered some basic points: What video consumption is currently taking place online and how does it break down by demographic? What is the news search demand?
We didn’t just say video. We were simply looking at the demand in search for news. Then we kind of brought those two things together-video news and search. And then when people stumbled upon news video that was integrated within search results-be it Google, CNN, Yahoo, MSN, etc. -were they likely to click on it? Were they consuming it? And lastly, what were the tools that they favored to find this news video?
We decided to go pretty broad and shallow with our research, as opposed to focused and deep. But I think that sets us up in a pretty good situation-not just for DoubleClick Performics, but for others out there in the online space to dig deeper into these issues.
From your study, we have some summaries that are already well understood: Such as video is in high demand and has high engagement levels. What would really jump out in your findings that a marketing audience should really pay attention to?
What jumped out to me was that search engines are doing a pretty poor job of helping people find news, especially timely video news content. Our report showed that only one third of people were listed as “very satisfied” with the news-related results they got back. Those are pretty weak numbers. If Google had a one third success rate on searches, we’d all be looking for other search engines. I think there’s a gap right now between the demand and desire to find news video and search engines’ ability to bring back quality results.
And why do you think that is?
Part of that is the lack of good integrated video search results. We’re seeing YouTube as the primary publisher that is featured within Google, and even in Yahoo!. There’s not good diversity there; we don’t get more listings from quality news video providers like CNN, CBS, BBC, and everyone else. It just doesn’t provide enough quality offerings. I think to some degree, we’re seeing some people saying that they wouldn’t mind if they had more video news results in their universal searches. So I think it’s a combination with Google trying to find the right balance between text search results and video search results; and I think there just needs to be more diversification of the results from publishers.
So now that we understand how video is displayed within Google’s universal results, it seems that there’s no rhyme or reason as to when video results will appear for a news-related search, including whether or not a displayed video icon or embedded video will appear in a single result. Again, since your report would confirm that news content is highly regarded in search results and has high engagement levels with consumers, let me ask you: do you believe news video is being taken advantage of by online marketers, or not?
I don’t think news video is being marketed anywhere near the extent that it could be. True, online video can be difficult and unpredictable. Its not like in SEO where, if you do a set of best practices, and your site is considered “worthy” to be included because you followed those best practices, then the chances of being in the top of the listings-the top couple of pages-is quite high. The SEOs can help relevant clients get listed. But with video, it’s a lot trickier; it seems a lot more random at times. To some degree, we’re frustrated by that, but concurrently it’s also a really opportunistic time. We can say that its tough today, but we can still figure this out. So the more we can get a head start from everybody else, then when the engines do get to a point where they’re better at selecting these videos and listing them, we’re going to be in pretty good shape. So my advice to SEOs is this: take advantage of video and this special kind of imperfection.
The further one explores the video space; you realize how many marketing niches there can be. Your approach with your company’s report on news video and search was to “cast a large net and getting the shallow fish,” so to speak. You didn’t appear to further segment the information by well distinguished news segments. Some examples that come to mind are newspaper publishers or television stations, or doing geotargeting from the hyper-local to the regional news services. That being said, do you think that the information in your report can be used as a starting point across the board for all different types of news video, or do you think it will require further analysis?
I think the information in this report is both a starting point and an opportunity for further analysis. We’re not trying to accomplish everything in one survey. I think what DoubleClick Performics set out to accomplish was to gather some high-level data. It’s surprising the large degree of video consumption that’s taking place. Even though video engagement tends to skew towards the younger demographic and female demographic, our survey has shown it to really permeate across all age groups. I was surprised to see high-consumption of news video by older groups. We made some kind of high-level points in the report; but to your own point, a deeper dive in some of these other areas would very much be welcomed.
Now let’s shift the focus from the consumers to the news publisher. Traditional publishers who have been hit hard with decreased circulation, subscribers, and ad revenue are employing new online content resources, especially with producing news video in-house. My question is, do you have any inclination on how well these traditional news publishers are doing with marketing their video news content online, including with video SEO? From what I’ve seen, most news publishers seem to stick with keeping their own content on their own internal network. They appear rather hesitant to participating in an outside distribution model and don’t appear to be too keen about optimizing their video content for the search engines. They might have a YouTube channel for such distribution, but that’s about it—no SEO around their video and no real social networking plan. They appear to also have issues with putting their video content on popular video sites, where they can’t control what content appears next to their own video. On top of my first question, would it be a fair assessment to say that the news publishers, who could be considered in a prime position to benefit from the Video SEO opportunity you mention, are not pursuing it for reasons including that they would have to relinquish some control over how that video is featured?
That’s obviously a business decision for the news publishers, and there are a lot of good reasons why they would want to keep complete control over their content. However, I think there’s another side to that argument. By getting that video out there and getting more visibility on that content, they’re going to pull a lot more people into their sites, get them more engaged, and acquire more registered users. There are a lot of things traditional news publishers could gain from letting their video content be displayed outside of their internal network. But at the end of the day, it’s up to experienced marketing folks like you to work with clients to help them look at both sides of the issue and make a good business decision one way or the other.
I will say that when I advise clients, I encourage them to at least get out there and put their toe in the water. You don’t have to put every single piece of video content out on YouTube; you don’t even have to build a YouTube channel. But what you can at least do is experiment with certain news stories, showcase some video and get some good metrics around it, see what data comes back, and go from there.
Grant Crowell is the CEO of Grantastic Designs, a web design and search solutions provider specializing in new media strategies for B2B and B2C companies.
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