Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adaptive Bitrate Technology: Meeting the Multi-Screen Challenge Head On – Matt Smith, Envivio

As the demand to deliver content to consumers on multiple screens continues to grow at a rapid pace, companies adapt their methods and means to meet the challenge. It's no longer a notion or idea on the horizon – but a mandate for many product and services in a multi-platform world, where consumers want any content on any device, anytime and anywhere. This is both exciting and worrisome for service providers and content owners – but new trends and tactics like adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming is changing it all and making it easier to deliver content, says Matt Smith, VP of Internet Television Strategy & Solutions at Envivio.

Smith attributes the accelerated change of multi-screen delivery to the "hockey stick effect" of mobile video viewing trends. He cites Cisco's Visual Networking Index: Forecast that says, "By 2014, all forms of video will constitute 91% of global consumer Internet traffic." (from Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2010–2015  [Visual Networking Index] - Cisco Systems)

Adapting to ABR 
"Adaptive bit rate encoding has been around for a few years," says Smith, "but we're really starting to see some increased uptake as broadcasters and content providers fully embrace the TV Everywhere experience. We're seeing true convergence happening."
ABR streaming was first developed by Move Networks and is now offered in several different flavors by Adobe Systems (HTTP Dynamic streaming), Apple (HTTP Live Streaming) and Microsoft (Smooth Streaming). It works by taking a single source video and encoding it at multiple bit rates. When the video is requested over the network, the content adapts to the network not the network adapting to the content. A user's bandwidth and CPU capacity is detected in real time and the quality of a video stream adjusts according to the changing conditions. 

Each bit rate version is sliced up into tiny fragments and the video player pulls fragments from the different encoded versions and inserts them into the stream as bandwidth dictates. The result is faster video start times with little or no buffering which translates to better viewing experiences. (From Skytide Insight for CDNs - Adaptive Bitrate Streaming)

According to Smith:

"Adaptive bit rate gives some commonality amongst these formats, (from Adobe, Apple and Microsoft), [and] all have common codec payloads in AVC and AAC. So what we're able to do is create a common encoding experience so instead of creating every stream rendition on the encoder, we're creating resolution renditions and delivering those to the network where we catch it (if you will) in what's called a network media processor (NMP)."
Envivio's Halo product is a NMP that can take in 50 different channel renditions and output thousands of streams. A NMP is very beneficial for CDNs and has other functions like DRM, content encryption, ad detection and insertion, television ratings to closed captions. Smith says the NMP stage is the next evolution of ABR and network functionality where the customer/operator is given a lot of scale. Smith added that traditional method of streaming, in which encoder creates multiple renditions, is still very valid for operators with only a few channels. But for those operating multiple channels, this is a new and dynamic approach that they'd want to consider.

Smith advises that for content owners, all screens are a MUST HAVE, and says:
"If your media strategy excludes screens, revisit your strategy. There is no one platform or group of users you should exclude. Channel growth will exacerbate the problem – number of screens will increase."
Smith shared the following points in Adapting to ABR:
• Enables experiences/resolutions -­ mobile to HD
  – Better QoE for viewers/users
  – Adds complexity: additional renditions/screens
• Chunked formatting/delivery
  – Boundaries  and chunk lengths vary by format
• Video & audio payload similar between formats
  – AVC/H.264 -­‐ Video
  – AAC -­‐ Audio
‘Hey Matt - is there one universal codec?'

That was a real question an unnamed Yahoo! Engineer asked Smith in 2003, and almost 10 years later it still brings a smile to his face. Smith has been involved in every aspect of digital video systems design, compression, workflows and delivery for 15+ years, having worked with industry leaders like NBC, Yahoo!, Inlet Technologies and Cisco. He recounts how in the past, different workflows were created for the different streaming environments. There was one for web, one for mobile, one for television and for a variety of reasons there were multiple streaming formats. Hence the best question of career which he says has gotten a lot of laughs over the years. 

Smith says, laugh if you will but where we are today with ABR and the common payload of AVC/H.264 video and AAC audio, it has enabled these chunked ABR type experiences creating the option to do common encoding within a M2TS wrapper to generate multiple renditions on one small platform, and enable a lot of scale. 

Key Takeaways…

Smith says that with ABR, you're essentially creating similar number of streams, but in a different part of the network. You get significant scale gains and you should plan to deliver to every possible screen. The workflow not for every organization and where channel count is low, "old" models work. 

It's about moving from live to live: file to live, live to file. ABR allows for real time packaging (think about… request for right device at the right time) and request based delivery, runtime encoding and delivery. The benefits of a NMP as origin server provides value beyond is packaging and assists with cache.  Smith sees ABR and NMP solutions as key technologies to help service providers and content owners meet the multi-screen challenge on head on and win.

About Envivio
Envivio is a leader in solutions for multi-screen video-over-IP delivery. We design our solutions to remove the boundaries of traditional television and make the world’s video content universally enjoyable by all viewers, on any device, across any network, at any time. Now in its second decade of developing market-leading video convergence solutions, Envivio has amassed dozens of patents, pioneered video-over-IP methods, and led in the deployment of emerging standards and new technologies.  Envivio’s customers include global tier-1 service providers, including eight of the top 10 mobile operators, seven of the top 10 broadband providers and three of the top four cable operators.  Envivio is headquartered in South San Francisco, California and has offices worldwide including France, England, China, Singapore and Japan.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise

Last month I had the pleasure of participating on a panel session: Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise, at Streaming Media West. The panel was comprised of several enterprise video industry veterans from Wells Fargo, Cadence, Oracle, Lockhead Martin and myself, from Kaiser Permanente. While I'd usually say that I'm pleased to share the video from the session, I have to say that I may enter it in The Sucky Video Awards. I say this because from my personal experience, the videographer forgot one of the cardinal rules in video – have good lighting. In this video, it looks like only one light was used to cover the four presenters and moderator and you can barely see me in the dark corner of the stage. I would have used at least two lights in this situation, and also move the podium to one side so that all the presenters were in a row and well lit. Beyond that – I present this video not only for the great content each presenter shared, which is very valuable webcasting tips and tricks from the enterprise, but also as an all important tip – invest in good lighting or your video will suck.

Streaming Media West 2011, Session C201: Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise

This session focuses on best practices from enterprise corporations which have adopted and implemented live video across their organization. See firsthand how these companies are using video for internal and external communications and learn how you can better leverage assets already available inside your company. Hear firsthand from those who have been successful with their deployments and learn what advice they have for others deploying live video in the enterprise today.

Moderator: Patty Perkins, Team Leader, Wells Fargo Creative Services Technology, Wells Fargo
Speaker: Michael Chop, Senior IT Architect, Cadence
Speaker: Tony Sehgal, Sr. Manager, Digital Media Operations and Infrastructure, Oracle
Speaker: Eric Hards, Manager, Web, Media Graphics and Streaming, Lockheed Martin
Speaker: Larry Kless, Production Manager, Videoconferencing and Virtual Events, Kaiser Permanente

We started our discussion talking about the partnerships that we've developed within our organizations and how we use all the assets available us to make webcasting work.

Eric Hands shared how at Lockhead Martin, they just completed a architecture design working with each of our individual business units. Each unit currently has its own streaming system. Some from one vendor some from another. It has always been his goal to provide a unified architecture and they are getting close with these new accepted requirements. But it has a long way to go.

Mike Chop's elevator pitch is "To have a strategy around any audio/video that touches our
network". At Cadence, they are pretty strong on the webcasting, telepresence, unified communications, Microsoft Lync and trying to add mobile to the mix. They started building a pretty strong creative production group. Here is a link to their latest podcast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GOPPf_9Vr8

Tony Sehgal discussed how at Oracle, they deliver live streams to both external and internal audiences using two different networks and media platforms. His responsibilities focus on live events, but he works with their broader team on hosting on demand media for Oracle's external audience. They do all their streaming in Flash, both internally and externally, and were one of the first organizations to stream with Flash multicast over their LAN. He's able to get metrics data for live events from Akamai and from MediaPlatform's Webcaster product. They also have a metrics team that implements SiteCatalyst to capture the official metrics data for our team. The SiteCatalyst plugin has been implemented on all of our live event platforms.

My work at Kaiser Permanente is focused on virtual events delivery, through videoconferencing, WebEx and webcasts and the full content life cycle. I partner closely with a colleague in our IT organization who heads up our WebEx rollout and over the last few years we've developed a Virtual Events Delivery Team. Prior to WebEx, we used our videoconferencing network as our internal broadcast network but since we've standardized on WebEx as our web conferencing platform we've been able to get to people's desktops, where they've been asking us to reach them for years. We work with internal business units on enterprise all hands meetings, town halls, educational sessions and since we're a health care organization we've even done live broadcasts from the OR (operating room). We currently don't have an internal video streaming we outsource large webcast events. On demand video is mainly delivered from web servers a progressive downloads and or from internal social media platform that is powered by Jive Software.

An interesting topic we discussed was a question Mike Chop asked about: What are “good metrics” for “stickiness”, his term for improving attention span. At Kaiser Permanente, we use Webex as one of our enterprise webcast platform, and a great tool within Webex, is the attentiveness meter that can tell if people are multi-tasking or paying attention. We've found that we can achieve 75% attentiveness with live video and real-time chat which helps keep the virtual attendees highly engaged. On demand video is not at all as engaging as live video, and having a community manager to respond to chat questions and add color helps keep people tuned in.

See my last post for more webcasting tips and tricks: Larry Kless' Weblog: I'm going to Streaming Media West to discuss Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Enterprise Video Trends: A Real World Perspective - Nick Balletta, CEO, Talkpoint

Nick Balletta has been in the live webcasting business for a long time, and as CEO of Talkpoint, his company has helped shape the online video industry by providing clients, the technology and services to build scalable video communications. Talkpoint's predecessor – NextVenue – pioneered the live interactive webcasts since 1998, and its roots that go back to CNBC/Dow Jones desktop video. Talkpoint operates as a SaaS based model with overlay production services for large, live, interactive and secure video and audio webcasts. It facilitates more than 20,000 live webcasting events per year for the top Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies.

I caught up with Balletta earlier this year via Skype to talk about the latest enterprise video trends. He shared the latest real world data his company had collected over the last two years, that showed a significant growth in both the adoption and expansion of video within enterprise communications. I first spoke with Balletta last year at Streaming Media East, where he told me that webcasting for enterprise communications may finally be reaching a tipping point.

Publishers are incorporating video
One trend Talkpoint sees is that publishers are incorporating video into their business communications. Historically, webinars are done in the publishing sector for lead generation and sponsorship revenues, with presenters spread out over a wide geographic area. Typically, the webinars have been audio only events, however over the past year Talkpoint has seen publishers intergrate video ad insertion, video roll ins and full video webinars. Balletta noted that the growth in this are has been significant and they see this trend growing year over year as people start to leverage video chat technologies.

Year over Year Comparisons (YE2010)
• Video Ad Insertion
    • 9% increasing to 22%
• Video Roll Ins
    • 12% increasing to 27%
• Full Video Webinars
    • 5% increasing to 11%

Video is being integrated with other technologies

Another trend is companies that are not in the video business are moving into the video business. In the financial markets, video is being integrated with other technologies. Broadridge, a leading provider of investor communications helps thousands of public companies and mutual funds worldwide communicate and conduct business with shareholders, created Virtual Shareholder Meetings. Balletta says it's not the traditional shareholder webcast they call "spray and pray" where you broadcast everywhere and hope people show up, but it's actually a full blown system that authenticates individual shareholders, allows them entry into the webcast and lets them submit their votes in real-time. This system supports their physical meeting and is a $400-500 million market for Broadridge.

Virtual Shareholder Meetings
• Share holder authentication with video webcasting
• LiveOnlineProxyVoting
• Intel, Dell, BestBuy
• Moving towards online video meetings only

Video Webcast Viewer trends
Talkpoint supports some 15,000 annual webcasts and it's data shows that the number viewers is growing along with the number of individual webcasts. Talkpoint's system can scale up to 15,000-20,000 simultaneous users, and while most companies don't need to reach that scale they consider anything over 1,000 simultaneous users as meaningful in size.

Year over Year Comparisons (YE2010)
• Video Webcasts with over 1000 Viewers
    • 23% Increase
• Video Webcasts with over 5000 Viewers
    • 17% Increase
• Video Webcasts with less than 250 Viewers
    • 27% Increase

So, what's driving the growth? Balletta pointed to several key factors, in particular – media players are now built into operating systems, broadband is pervasive, computers are faster and people are comfortable watching video on their computers, and overall, watching video online has gotten much easier to do than in the early days.

Video Signal Acquisition
Until recently, webcasts were generally hosted from a studio where encoding was done on site or the video was sent to the webcast encoding company through a satellite uplink. Now, Balletta says, people are using every video resource as a broadcast production point for a live webcast and Talkpoint leverages them all. The biggest shift is that the need for satellite trucks is going away as IP video adoption and QoS (Quality of Service) increases within the enterprise.

Year over year comparison (YE 2010)
•    Broadcast Studios (corporate and professional)
    •    5% Increase
•    Satellite Truck
    •    8 % Decrease
•    VCU / TelePresence
    •    28% Increase
    •    78% IP vs ISDN
•    Onsite Encode
    •    34% Increase

Corporate Enterprise environment
Balletta notes that Talkpoint operates in the corporate enterprise where they have to support multiple browsers. While Microsoft is on IE 9, IE 6 still pervasive in the enterprise. Bandwidth is always a concern in the real world, says Balletta, and while HD video quality is great it's not going to make it through a corporate firewalls and proxy servers. So what they see from a video encoding perspective is video bit rate speeds of 150Kbps–500Kbps. Balletta says the important thing is that people have to be able to consume the video and most corporate environments don't support 2Mbps streams.
"At the end of the day, we're in a mission critical, actionable, information environment where the messaging is more important than necessarily the pixelation on the video. People are watching video on their computers, so although HD video and HD cameras are great, in the enterprise, it doesn't really bode well."
• Year over year comparison (YE 2010)
    • 300 Kbs increase of 23%
    • 400Kbs increase of 27%
    • 500Kbs in crease of 12%

Anecdotes from TalkPoint
• Self Service Video webcasting increasing (all you need is a browser)
    •    Automation (Saas)
    •    Flexible Signal Acquisition
    •    Ease of use
• Flash viewership is on the rise
    •    Live streaming
    •    Not just progressive downloads
    •    IT staffs adding support (Proxy servers, firewalls)
• The battle for video standards creates opportunity
    •    Adobe, Apple, Microsoft
    •    Enterprise users don’t care about HTML5....yet
    •    Even with video webcasting on the rise audio webcasting is here to stay

Balletta says that Talkpoint's focus continues to be on automation and scalability, as it's moved to a SaaS model and the company is seeing a 30% year over year growth in its business.

Q&A with Nick Balletta

How do you see social media integrating with enterprise webcasting? What are companies doing?
"We have an actual social media strategy from Talkpoint proper, in terms of we got our blog, Facebook, Twitter account and our whole marketing team that manages our presence on the Internet. But from a webcasting perspective, I'm of two minds. Webcasting exists as a business because it's not social, it's really serious, and we work in an environment where people are paying to distribute content, and it's typically actionable, mission critical information. They're communicating to their constituencies, their shareholders, their business partners, their clients, so they're trying to maintain a single message to all of the different media that are available out there.
Webcasting being one of them, and when you put a social media aspect into a webcast – where you have viewers potentially rearranging the desktop to move branding around, or chatting with each other or maybe commenting on the event and  tweeting – that is counter intuitive to the singular message, and we think that social media webcasting is not going to be something that's going to be a growth business. Now, we're smart enough to keep an eye on it and make sure we've got technology and tools to support it. But most of our customers are very concerned about the DNA of their company, which is their brand, and they're very concerned about maintaining that singular message.

And it's so funny, I always hear people in large enterprises talking about recruiting young technology talent folks who know how to use those social media technologies, Twitter and Facebook, and the minute they get on board, they prohibit them from using it. So, I always say all the digital agencies are having a bonanza because they're making money consulting people to use social media at the enterprise level, when most executives in the enterprise are thinking, I have to do it because everybody else is doing it. They don't really know how to define success, what the metrics are for tracking success to be in social media. So right now all the agencies are making money. In a couple of years it's going be the lawyers.

And I've said this on a couple of panels and people have scratched their heads, but what happens when an employee crosses that imaginary line and says something they shouldn't say on the company Twitter feed or the company Facebook page? Or their personal Facebook page? When does the edginess become a liability? I call myself Nicktrodomus, and say, in the future we're going to have a problem with this. The much younger people at Talkpoint think I'm wrong, but I think I'm right.

One time I wrote an article for Streaming Media magazine and said, 'social media is for your teenage daughter not for serious grown ups who want to webcast', and they made me edit it out, so I'm sneaking it back in."

About Nick Balletta
Nick is CEO of TalkPoint, an industry leader in global communications technology. With more than 25 years of experience in media and technology, he is a pioneer in the field of unified communications and interactive webcasting. Nick launched his first company – Voyager Data Networks – in 1996 and sold it two years later, at which time he had the foresight to invest in the burgeoning field of streaming media. In 1998, he founded TalkPoint's predecessor -- NextVenue -- as an offshoot of CNBC/Dow Jones Desktop Video, a joint venture among Microsoft, NBC and Dow Jones. Here he led its global expansion and merger into streaming media company iBeam Broadcasting. At iBeam, he served as president of enterprise services and was a member of the board before buying back the company, now known as TalkPoint, in 2003. Nick holds an MBA from Rutgers Graduate School of Management and regularly competes in triathlons across the country.

About Talkpoint
TalkPoint is an industry leader in global communications technology, specializing in browser-based audio and video webcasting. Since 1998, TalkPoint's easy-to-use, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud platform has facilitated more than 20,000 live webcasting events per year for the top Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies. From investor relations and corporate communications to product launches and continuing education, TalkPoint offers scalable and flexible technology to meet today's business communication needs. For more information, visit www.talkpoint.com.

Larry Kless' Weblog: Talkpoint Powers Enterprise Communications with Webcasting Solutions
The state of streaming, cable, and television: What can we expect in 2012?
How Mobile Shaped HTML5, and Why Flash Isn’t Dead Yet | SiliconANGLE

Webcast Demands Still Stress Out IT - The BrainYard - InformationWeek
Nick Balletta CEO of TalkPoint | Featured on MO.com

TalkPoint Interviews: CEO Nick Balletta Discusses Webcasting Industry & TalkPoint Growth
How Not To Finance Your Company: TalkPoint CEO Nick Balletta (Part 1)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ivi TV Founder Todd Weaver: Fighting for the Future of Internet TV

One of the biggest stories of 2011 is what the future of television will look like as service providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and content aggregators all jockey for the prime position in your living room. One company seeking to help consumers "cut the cord" is Seattle-based ivi, an online cable company, and it's been embroiled in a lawsuit with broadcasters seeking to stop it from rebroadcasting their content online. Earlier this year in February, a New York federal judge ruled that ivi was infringing on broadcasters copyrights by not paying retransmission fees and ordered ivi to shut down.

Todd Weaver, CEO and founder of ivi, has been working on an appeal to overturn the ruling and says that ivi is not breaking the law, but fighting the same fight that as cable did when they first started and fought the broadcasters, and then satellite 25 years later fought the broadcasters and ivi is now the third source of distribution, fighting the broadcasters.

ivi launched its disruptive subscription-based Internet TV service in September 2010 as an alternative to cable and over-the-air TV. ivi TV subscribers could download ivi's player and pay $4.99 a month and had access to 70 channels of network TV stations – including ABC, NBC Universal, CBS and 60 other major network affiliated and owned-and-operated stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. However, a week after its launch, ivi received cease and desist letters from the major broadcasters claiming copyright infringement, and demanded immediate removal of the over-the-air channels.

Can ivi be defined as an Internet "cable system"?

Todd Weaver, CEO and founder of ivi, says that broadcasters are distorting their claim that his company is violating copyright law.
"The purpose of copyright law is to strike a balance between protecting copyright holders' rights and fostering innovative methods of disseminating the copyrighted works to the public," argues Weaver. "The ivi TV system was specifically designed to conform to the compulsory licensing provisions of the Copyright Act, which ensures that the networks' statutory copyright protections are maintained while simultaneously offering consumers a revolutionary new method to watch television." (From Ivi TV: Looking forward to moving court case along - FierceOnlineVideo)
Weaver says that ivi is an online cable company, according to the 1976 U.S. copyright law that defines a “cable system” which consists of “a facility” that “receives signals transmitted or programs broadcast by one or more television stations… and makes secondary transmissions of such signals or programs by wires, cables, microwaves, or other communications channels to subscribing members of the public who pay for such service.” (From Memo To TV Networks: FilmOn And ivi TV Are Different Companies | paidContent)

Weaver asserts that ivi pays royalties to the Copyright Office (the payment for a Section 111 compulsory license) and that Congress wrote the statute deliberately broad to accommodate new technologies.
"The U.S. Copyright Office is paid by 16,000 cable systems, including ivi, for a license that clearly states it is a non-infringing act to retransmit broadcast signals. That royalty payment is then dispersed to all the broadcasters whose signals were retransmitted. The license and payment gives every cable system the right to retransmit legally, including ivi. While the congressionally enacted U.S. Copyright Law defines ivi as a cable system and provides a license for legal retransmission, the FCC does not have a classification for ivi, due to the nature of ivi's Internet distribution. Even though ivi is in full compliance with copyright law, we don't have the same assurances and benefits as other cable companies because no category exists within the FCC to classify ivi at this time, a fact the FCC fully acknowledges." (From Copyright vs. FCC vs. The Industry: ivi.TV slices through a Gordian Knot - FierceIPTV)
Read Jim O'Neil's interview with Weaver for more on ivi's continuing battle to overturn the injunction that shut them down. (Ivi TV founder Todd Weaver: It's better to be right than rich - FierceOnlineVideo)

Revolutionizing Content: Is TV Everywhere Going Anywhere?

I caught up with Weaver at OTT Con earlier this year where he discussed what the PayTV operator and online video experience will look like in the OTT era.
"Over-the-top, or OTT, has been an merging market for some time and that market has been stifled by a number of issues, and today, those issues primarily relate to content."
Weaver says that the industry has overcome the technical hurdles of content protection and delivery across multiple devices, and while issues of scale still persist, it's really content that has a number of hurdles to overcome for an OTT provider to carry it on the Internet. One of which is the percentage penetration, where content owners, like ESPN which the most expensive cable channel that's out there, or all the way down to the Hallmark channel which is the least expensive channel, are in various tiers that relate to percentage penetration, and the larger the percentage penetration a cable channel has the more it can charge, which in turn is passed along to subscribers. That's a bubble that's going to burst, says Weaver, and that's something existing OTT providers have to address.
"Do they adopt that model? Or do they have content owners agree to another model? Content owners actually control an awful lot of that, so do they want their content available on every single device, not protected or do they want it protected? The good news is that we're at least to the point when content owners are starting to consider this."
One fear that content owners are grappling with is the "cannibalization" of their existing cable TV subscriptions with their Internet subscriptions. As more content moves online, Weaver says, content owners will to figure out the pricing models and OTT providers are going to have to either educate or cooperate with content owners to set and adjust prices to help settle out the disturbance in that area.

It is obvious that the future of television is the Internet, says Weaver:
"The outcome is entirely related to contracts that the content owners have with their existing distribution, and the control in which they want to keep."
But there isn't a direct line in the sand drawn, he says, since different terms apply for the different content owners, since they all negotiate their contracts at different times. So there is no set date that all content will be available online across all devices.
"It is going to happen, that's an inevitability, the question is when, and when applies directly to what those contracts are."
ivi continues to fight the injunction from earlier this year and has Weaver appealed to Internet for help in a recorded message and launched campaign to raise funds for its legal battle on Indiegogo.com. Weaver says that the impact of its appeal will shape the future of Internet TV.

"Our case is going to decide if the Internet will compete with Cable and Satellite. If we win, all popular channels will be able to be carried on the Internet immediately and you can cancel your high cable bill and watch online. If we lose, the Internet will probably never compete directly with Cable and Satellite, and you will be stuck with your current cable company, forever paying outrageous fees for a lot of programming that you probably don't even watch."

About ivi
ivi TV endeavors to make the world a better place by providing a high-quality viewing experience while offering consumers what they want in the way they want it, with more choices, less hardware, and higher standards than other modes of online content delivery. At the same time, ivi TV increases eyeballs for channels and advertisers, continuing and adding to the live television tradition in an innovative and sustainable manner. Consumers, broadcasters and advertisers alike will agree that live television, most notably sports and news programming, is here to stay. The solution is ivi TV. And the time is now. ivi, Inc., is based in Seattle. For more information, please visit http://www.ivi.tv

Also Find ivi's campaign on FacebookWebsite and ivi TV Blog


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Future of TV and The Great Unbundling of Video Services - Jim Louderback, Revision3

We're in the end game of the of the great unbundling of video services, says Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, as next generation television channels shift from traditional models to IPTV video networks. Experts agree that the overall TV experience and PayTV business model will see dramatic changes over the next five years. The emergence of cloud-based services, OTT (over-the-top) content delivery, multi-screen entertainment, and the unbundling services are all driving that change.

I caught up with Louderback recently at the TV Next Con 2011 where he spoke on the executive panel session, Executive Panel Discussion, "MSO, Satellite and Telco Operator 2.0 – The Rise of the Next Gen Service Provider". He shared some of his thoughts on the changing video landscape and the great unbundling of services.

The Great Unbundling 

The internet is all about unbundling, says Louderback and the print and music industries have been unbundled. Why buy the entire newspaper or magazine when you can read it for free online, or buy a CD when you buy the track online you want from iTunes or Amazon? According to Louderback, Cable TV is next.
Louderback says, "We’re in the early days of a great unbundling of services from transport. Over the past 30 years, TV services and the cables they run upon have been inextricably linked — you paid your cable bill, and got wire and channels together… I see these unbundled cable services giving way to direct relationships between video content providers and customers." (from How YouTube Wins in the Great Unbundling of Cable TV : Jim Louderback)
Louderback maintains, that within the next few years most of the video we consume will be delivered over an open IP network, ending the long monopoly of proprietary services delivered through cable, satellite and broadcast streams. But even though our favorite shows will be delivered mostly on-demand, we'll still have bundles of services - but it will just be offered in new ways.
"Every screen, every glowing rectangle in your life is a television. You're going to want to watch television on it, and the viewers that watch Revision3 very clearly tell us that they don't care about the screen size."
Viewers are going to watch video on the best screen available. When they're on the go, they may want to watch Epic Mealtime on their cell phone, but when they get home they'll want to watch it on a big screen. Louderback says that those two things all video delivered over IP networks, and on any screen – leads to what he call "the great unbundling."

All these video services will be delivered direct to all these screens wherever they are all around the world that provides, "anytime, anywhere, any device, any session, so session shifting joins time shifting and place shifting and devices shifting." But the really interesting thing Louderback sees happening is that everything is going direct to consumer.

Super-Premium Channels, Super-Premium Bundles and Premium Independents = The Future of TV?

Louderback sees three distinct services emerging that he calls: Super-Premium Channels, Super-Premium Bundles and Premium Independents.
"Right now," he says, "your video services, your channels are bundled to the transport. So you get cable, you buy the network and you buy the video channels – that's all starting to break apart. In this IP world, I believe we're going to have types or three tiers of services."
Netflix is one Super Premium Channel, he says, and HBO is well positioned to be the second. "These single brand services provide libraries of unique and aggregated content to consumers for between $8 and $20 a month." He thinks Showtime, Epix and Amazon have potential and Hulu's future is uncertain.

Louderback says that as TV Everywhere matures, Super Premium Bundles will emerge and be offered directly to consumers from the likely suspects: Time Warner, ABC/Disney, NBC/Comcast, Viacom and Fox. These five companies will build direct billing relationships with consumers and offer a broad set of networks and shows that will appeal widely across all demographics, "and will deliver a mostly on-demand service over traditional broadband networks - with live sports, news and other events serving as anchors."(From MediaPost Publications Get Ready for the Great Video Unbundling 09/21/2011)

He says YouTube now wants to be the sixth Super Premium Bundle of services delivered direct to the consumer via IP, sitting at the same level as Time Warner, ABC/Disney, NBC/Comcast, Viacom and Fox. YouTube has been reinventing itself for some time, with its recent announcement of new channels of original entertainment coming to YouTube by A-lister stars and content producers from the TV, film, music, news, and sports fields Hollywood, its complete overhaul of the site today into a more TV-centric channel design, and that it now serves 3.5 billion videos each month, it's clear that Google wants to take on the traditional broadcast and cable networks. According to Louderback, "They want to be the Mall of America for video, with folks like us and the other independents as anchor tenants."

Louderback sees a huge opportunity for Premium Independents to build billion dollar businesses as content becomes unbundled from transport. These are companies like Revision3, Blip.tv, Ion, BBC America, the Hallmark Channel and others, that offer free programming over IP direct to consumers and they look very different from today's independent cable networks.
"In the end it's all about shelf space. All of us are racing to build a session-shifting experience that lives as an icon across everything from the smallest smart-phone to the biggest smart TV. Because in the next five years if it's a glowing rectangle, then it is a video consumption device - or what we used to call a TV." (From MediaPost Publications Get Ready for the Great Video Unbundling 09/21/2011)

About Jim Louderback
Jim Louderback, Chief Executive Officer, Revision3
Launched and managed operations at cable channels, magazines, websites and online video companies including Ziff-Davis, TechTV, PC Magazine and ExtremeTech.com. He started his career at JPMorgan Chase, and has also done work for Pepsi, National Semiconductor and Citibank. He's been CEO of Revision3 since 2007, and has guided the company to profitability and more than 40 million views a month. Jim has an MBA from The Stern School at NYU, and a BS in Mathematics from the University of Vermont. He is a fan of cooking, music, movies, companies with extraneous letters in their names and anything with a 3 in it. Follow @jlouderb


Updated: 12/2/2011 Re: YouTube redesign

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

At Long Last… My Interview with Merton, the Piano Chat Improv Guy

It was more than a year ago when Merton, the improvisational piano player, became an Internet sensation when he first appeared on Chatroulette playing piano and serenading the strangers he'd meet on the video chat website. His videos have attracted over 25,000,000 views on YouTube and he has performed in London, Montréal, and he now has a live, interactive, webcam show that airs weekly on Wednesdays at 10:00 PM ET called The Merton Show.

Merton is a self-taught improvisational pianist who lives in the Colorado rockies. He's a quick-witted, friendly guy who conceals his true identity by wearing a green hoodie and fake horn-rimmed glasses. There had been some speculation that he was actually recording artist Ben Folds in disguise – especially with Ben Folds' Chatroulette Piano Ode to Merton video – but while the two have similarities in appearance and musical styles, they both disputed the claim in a recorded Public Service Announcement where they appeared together.

I met Merton last year at NewTeeVee Live where he spoke about his experience as a web celebrity and how he planned to further develop and evolve his improvisational social and musical style. Merton says that he's played piano and done improvisational music for a long time, but Chatroulette gave him the mass exposure to freestyle in real-time with random strangers and become a viral video phenomenon.
"What I'm into mostly is public piano playing. I like to set up a piano in a strange location where people are not expecting it, nontraditional, unorthodox audience situation. I like when somebody is just living their life thinking about "what groceries do I have to buy?" on the way home and all of a sudden here's a guy with a piano singing about them."
Chatroulette: The Dark and Lighter Side

Chatroulette was created by a 17-year-old high school student named Andrey Ternovskiy and launched in November 2009 as a social video website akin to speed dating, where random strangers from around the world could connect for webcam conversations. The media became obsessed with the site for its prevalence of inappropriate content (e.g. naked guys) and Jon Stewart  lampooned it on The Daily Show. Merton learned about Chatroulette from friends and while he knew about the objectionable content he still thought it would offer him a good opportunity to weave his musical talents with its unique interactions and random nature.
"On Chatroulette, I was always dealing with someone who had basically volunteered – they had a limited set of expectations, they knew they were logging onto this website, someone was going to show up on the other end – but in real life it's much more fun because they're not ready for it, they're not expecting it so I get a different king of interaction."
Merton's Improvisational Musical Style

Merton only plays real pianos. He's not interested in synthesizers or organs and he doesn't bring a piano anywhere. He looks for them in weird places, like the hospital waiting room where people don't expect to be entertained and improvisation is a big part of what Merton does.
"Improvisation for me means making it all up on the spot. There's a lot of different interpretations of improv. A jazz improvisation usually is a set song with a chord sequence, and then you keep using the same chords but you play different stuff over it. Acting improv usually has a format. If you go see Second City Live, or something like that, they'll say let's do the Star Trek sketch, but let's let the audience decide what we're going to talk about. But they still have a framework. I'm interested in absolute pure improv where I'll sit down and someone says, play that Bon Jovi song, I'll play the Bon Jovi. If a guy in a plaid short walks up, I'll play the song about the guy in the plaid shirt. So, I'm interested in really free improv, I think especially because I'm not good at preparing for stuff, and so I walk in with a clean slate, no prep and I get to go from there. So I'm lucky I've become an improv musician."
See Jeremy Scott's musical interview with Merton on Reel SEO for on his improvisational musical style: Reel Songs With Merton, PianoImprov Chatroulette Viral Video Star – Interview Conducted In Song.

PianoChatImprov = The Truman Show?

Merton says he loves to document and archive his experiences and is somewhat obsessive about it.
"I'm very nostalgic about personal memories. I love photos and videos of everything, and in all seriousness, as freakish as this sounds, if I could have a little camera running for every moment of my life I would definitely do that."
Especially, he says that when dealing with strangers, they're a big part of the content. He doesn't think the public is that interested in just seeing him sit down in a plain room perform and make things up off the top of his head.
"The interactive component of what I do and the other person is a huge factor, they're my co-stars."
He says when he's playing on the street or in a public context sometimes magic happens, he says, "and if the camera isn't running, it doesn't count. I don't get to show the results."

So when he's playing on the street he carries three cameras with him all the time and sets up three-point shooting.
"I love to capture the moment because I want to be able to watch it later and show it to people."

He says he doesn't actually like to be the center of attention but he does like to be a catalyst for making things happen. This has led him to several projects over the last year that took him to London and Montréal, where he worked with T-Mobile to play piano and sing to passengers at airports around the UK, and on streets of Montréal.

The Merton Show

Merton recently released his first solo piano music, called "The Montreal Song"available on iTunes: http://bit.ly/k1swwq and launched his weekly live, webcam show where fans can interact with him via chat and video. His advice to artists and performers looking to build their audience and expand their reach is to just do it.

"Video is huge and I don't know if I can say anything that hasn't already been said. But a picture is worth a thousand words but a video is worth a million pictures. If you think of a good friend who is no longer around or you get older and change, you have video of a moment of your life is worth so much. You know, you see the person, how they move, their mannerisms, how they speak and it's very different then looking at a photograph. 
And so as far as being a performer, without video and Internet in particular, obviously, for somebody like me, I would never got a record deal. I probably never would have walked into a record office and said, here's my demo tape, here's my photo… But because I was able to make this humble little 5 minute video and put it in a place where millions of people could watch it. I was able to insert myself in the mainstream that way. So, I would encourage anybody who is a performer or artist to just do what you do. Put it on film or take pictures, put it on the Internet and people can find it."

Merton's related websites:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jan Ozer's Thoughts on Why Adobe Abandoned Flash for Mobile

Streaming Media West was abuzz this past week with Adobe's surprising announcement that it will abandon future development of Flash Player for mobile devices following the next release 11.1, and will be more aggressively contribute to HTML5 innovation with key players, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM. Adobe will continue to support its current Flash development. Over the last few years HTML5 and H.264 video have been gaining momentum as an emerging standard for online and mobile video, spurred on by Apple's exclusion of Flash on its popular iDevices and negative press it received from Steve Jobs' Thoughts on Flash. Adobe had developed Flash Player to run on Google's Android and other non-Apple mobile platforms, but its official statement from its blog post now says,"HTML5 is the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms."

While Adobe had a strong presence at Streaming Media West with its Platinum sponsorship of the conference, prominent spot on the exhibit floor and usual pre-conference session with Kevin Towes, the company was tight lipped about why it decided to withdraw Flash from the mobile market. I caught up with Jan Ozer, Video Producer, Writer, Publisher of StreamingLearningCenter.com and author of Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5, to get his perspective on the implications of the announcement for the online video industry, mobile developers and consumers.

Ozer says Adobe made this move for three reasons. Number one, they were fighting against the current at least with Apple, and then with Microsoft's recent announcement about their tablet oriented operating system, they can't fight this. Number two, Ozer says, Adobe wasn't getting then support it needed from Google and other vendors to make Flash work effectively on mobile platforms. The last thing he says is, as computers get more powerful people are building applications that require more power and faster CPUs to run smoothly, and Flash-enabled tablets and phones simply don't have the power to run smoothly and deliver a quality experience.

This doesn't mean that Flash on the desktop is going away anytime soon, and Ozer says that it will actually create a tale of two websites, with a web version that is completely immersive Flash experience, and the other more simple and targeted for mobile devices.
"That's already being done by some vendors like Converse, who, if you visit it with an iPad, sends you to a simple e-commerce site, but if you visit with a computer, sends you to an immersive Flash experience. The other is that many vendors, seeking to minimize development costs, will produce a single site using HTML5 that lacks much of the immersion that Flash can provide." 
While many are saying Adobe's announcement is significant, Ozer points out:
"In terms of video, remember that HTML5 doesn't have many key technologies now being used or implemented by the primary distributers of non-UGC video on the web (networks, studios, etc). These include adaptive streaming, digital rights management (DRM), peer-to-peer delivery, and in the enterprise space, multi-casting. Remember also that at last count (November 9, 2011), the penetration of HTML5 compatible browsers on connected computers was under 60%. Streaming producers are going to need a plug-in based option for several more years, and Flash is the obvious choice. "

He described the implications in greater detail on in this blog post, Adobe to Discontinue Flash for Mobile, and offered this advise to online video publishers.
"If you're a web producer trying to access these mobile devices, your strategy doesn't change much either. You've had to deliver to desktops with one technology and iDevices with another, Android has always been a fractured market. Now you'll likely deliver to all mobiles using a single technology (let's hope) and all desktops with another. Certainly Google's adaption of HTTP Live Streaming in Android 3.0 is a good sign."


Monday, November 7, 2011

blinkx Powers Video Search and Discovery with Targeted Ads, Acquisitions and New Video Channels

Earlier this year at OTTcon, I caught up with Suranga Chandratillake, CEO and Founder of blinkx, which describes as "the world's largest and most advanced video search engine." Chandratillake founded blinkx in 2004 and has helped pioneer video search on the Internet. Unlike other search engines that focus on text web, titles and metadata, blinkx uses a unique combination of patented conceptual search, speech recognition and visual analysis to find and qualify online video. The company has an index of over 35 million hours of searchable video and more than 720 media partnerships, including national broadcasters, commercial media giants, and private video libraries.

Chandratillake says blinkx has positioned itself as a premier destination for online video.
"When you come to blinkx.com, and search for any topic you're interested in right now, we can find videos for you that match that topic, that are highly relevant to that topic of interest and we bring those back to you. So you can click on them and watch them, and that's our core business. But we also power video search behind the scenes for other people too." 
In particular, if you go to Ask.com, blinkx powers the video search experience for that site, which in turn helps power blinkx's ad business with its tens of millions of unique views each month that it sells advertising against.
"One of the really nice things about the advertising is that we use our search technology to try and target the ads. So if you're watching a video about a particular topic, you will likely see ads that are highly relevant to that video."
From a user perspective, Chandratillake says, that's great because you're not getting irrelevant ads that waste your time.
"It's also great from an advertiser's perspective because it means you're being able to engage people or consumers who may actually care about your product."
In April of 2011, blinkx acquired online video media company Burst Media for $30 million in stock and cash in a move to integrate its premium video content with Burst’s 150 million monthly uniques 35 billion page views (according to comScore Media Metrix, September 2011). Just last week, Burst Media introduced 12 new Internet video channels premium video from a host of blinkx's direct play partners, including Reuters, Howcast, CelebTV, GeoBeats and TVGuide, offering TV-style programming on a wide range of subjects, from food to fashion, celebrity gossip to gardening, health to How To.

blinkx also also made two strategic partnership announcements last week, that it is powering video for Aurasma, and it is partnering with Orb Networks to bring its vast video catalog to Orb BR and Orb TV Users. Aurasma is the world's first visual browser for smartphones and tablets that recognizes physical objects and delivers related online content - videos, animations, audio or web pages - in real time.

Orb TV is a hockey puck-sized OTT device that plugs into any TV, enables consumers to stream online video, photos and music to a TV. In addition to blinkx content, Orb TV provides consumers with easy access to services such as Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu and Comedy Central. Orb BR is a software solution that leverages the power of PS3s and connected Blu-ray players to bring users the same content as Orb TV - without any additional hardware purchase. With the announcement, Orb BR brings blinkx content to the millions of PS3s and connected Blu-ray players in the market.

Chandratillake noted that the the online video and OTT space has come of age after so many years of video on the Internet. What's different, he says, is the momentum at which the idea is gaining. The reason for that is because the reality of that connected television universe is just getting ever close. More and more of us are watching Internet video on our television sets or contemplating the purchase of a set-top box or game system to watch OTT video.
"From a blinkx perspective, we look at the TV as the screen or one of the screens of the future. Today, the vast majority of our business, and most our audience is accessing our system through a computer screen. But in the future, I don't know if it's either two years or five years, I think a lot of people will actually access it straight through a television screen. So we've got be there and offer a very relevant service, but it's very important that we make the right partnerships to make sure our services are available though all these different devices."
Just as OTT video is gaining speed, so is social video, with video discovery and recommendation becoming more relevant than video search, which almost seems antiquated in comparison.
"Search and discovery are two sides of the coin," Chandratillake noted. "So on the one hands they never see each other , or on the other hand they're on the same coin. It's one of these classic cases where things can be so closely inter-related, yet so far apart. But its all down to the nature of what the user or consumer is doing at a given point in time."
Search is more of a lean-in experience, where you're doing investigative work finding specific information in a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. You tend to add, subtract and play around with words to find the right combination to get the best search results. That, of course, is also the case with online video search.

But there are many other cases on television when actually it's about relaxation. It's about leaning back. It's about turning the box on and leaning back on the sofa and having entertainment come to you. Whether that piece of video is recommended to you by a friend or from personalized recommendations like blinkx's system.
"That's where discovery comes in," says Chandratillake,  "discovery is about knowing enough about you, and knowing enough about the content to figure out what you want to watch right now."
About blinkx
blinkx plc (lse aim:BLNX) is the world's largest and most advanced video search engine. Today, blinkx has indexed more than 35 million hours of audio, video, viral and TV content, and made it fully searchable and available on demand. blinkx's founders set out to solve a significant challenge - the growing amount of TV and user-generated content on the Web means keyword-based search technologies only scratch the surface. blinkx's patented search technologies listen to--and even see--video on the Web, helping users enjoy a breadth and accuracy of search results not available elsewhere. In addition, blinkx powers the video search for many of the world's most frequented sites. blinkx is based in San Francisco and London. More information is available at www.blinkx.com.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm going to Streaming Media West to discuss Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise

I'll be taking a short break from my intense work schedule next week to speak at Streaming Media West, on a panel session, Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise. According to the conference program, "this session focuses on best practices from enterprise corporations which have adopted and implemented live video across their organization. See firsthand how these companies are using video for internal and external communications and learn how you can better leverage assets already available inside your company. Hear firsthand from those who have been successful with their deployments and learn what advice they have for others deploying live video in the enterprise today."

Streaming Media West returns to Los Angeles and the conference organizers promise it to be even best show yet. Last year more than 2,500 content owners, viral video creators, online marketers, enterprise corporations, broadcast professionals, ad agencies, educators, and others all come to Streaming Media West to see and hear more than 100 speakers and 30 sessions focused on latest online video technology and the business models that are coming of age. In conjunction with the show is the first ever HTML5 Video Summit, which is an expanded two-day summit with how-to sessions, demos, case studies, round table discussions and more.

Here's a short promotional video about the conference which kicks off this Monday with pre-conference workshops and the show is November 8-9, 2011.

My session is scheduled on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 10:30 am and confirmed participants include:

Moderator: Patty Perkins, Team Leader, Wells Fargo Creative Services Technology, Wells Fargo
Speaker: Michael Chop, Senior IT Architect, Cadence
Speaker: Tony Sehgal, Sr. Manager, Digital Media Operations and Infrastructure, Oracle
Speaker: Eric Hards, Manager, Web, Media Graphics and Streaming, Lockheed Martin
Speaker: Larry Kless, Production Manager, Videoconferencing and Virtual Events, Kaiser Permanente

I'll be wearing my day job hat as a webcast producer like I did when I first spoke at Streaming Media West five years ago on a panel session on, Distribution & Delivery of Digital Media. The following year I also spoke on another panel session, Best Practices For Webcasting Production which I blogged about here.

Here are some "best practices" that I shared in that post, that address the technical and logistical challenges for webcasting, and how you put the right team and the right technology in place.

If you are producing a webcast, consider the following:
  • Know your role. You may be producer, director and technical director and even camera all rolled up into one. Or you may have the luxury of hiring a full crew.
  • Get clients on board with deadlines, financial commitments and better understanding of web cast requirements.
  • Audio is the number one killer. It’s an ongoing issue when using wireless microphones, telephone call ins, multi-point conferencing and live PA (Public Address) system.
  • Working with a team you know and trust and who knows your business is best. Relationships are vital to your process. Delegation and deference to expertise key to getting the job done. You need to rely on your team to do their job and sometimes take over your chores too when you get called away to manage client issues and handle last minute changes.
  • Redundant personnel and technology is a must and equipment failure should be expected. Back up to you back ups really saves the day in a pinch.
  • Make every room a broadcast studio.
  • Site surveys at least a good 8 weeks ahead to inspect data and A/V ports, power requirements for lighting, ceiling height for rigging, windows and doors for light and noise, bring a digital camera, measuring tape and a continuity tester as part of your arsenal.
  • Complete all pre-web cast equipment and connectivity testing well in advance and conduct it on-site for higher reliability.
  • Prepare a production summary that includes every last bit of detail that covers the entire production. Give everyone on the crew a copy for reference and lead a production meeting before the works so that all teams are synched up.
  • Be prepared for last minute changes and if there’s time just roll with them – update your script, rehearse if possible, but say “No, we’re out of time” when you have to. Really, there’s nothing worse than a major on-air blunder. But as they, “It’s live television.”
Also, be sure to have back up equipment and crew in case of technical or physical problems, and don't forget to test your webcast on location. I'll share more tips following my session next week.

For more information, go to: www.streamingmedia.com/Conferences/West2011/

Larry Kless' Weblog: Best Practices For Webcasting Production
Larry Kless' Weblog: Streamingmedia.com: How to Execute a Successful Webcast
Larry Kless' Weblog: Streamingmedia.com Featured Article: Lessons Learned from Live Events

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Video Marketing Advise for Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials - Andy Stack, YouTube

Online video is massive in its reach and scale with 6.9 billion videos watched in the U.S. in July and August of this year, and it's quickly growing into a major component of what people do online or how they consume information and entertainment. YouTube represents a lot of the growth of online video, with 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute and 3 billion daily views are registered on YouTube worldwide. While viewership on TV is stagnant if not slowly decreasing year over year, online video is seeing a 50% yearly increase in viewership.

I spoke with Andy Stack, Product Manager at YouTube following his keynote, "Video Convergence is Here: Get Ready!", at the 2011 Liveclicker Video Summit, who says, online video is a valuable tool to drive brands, and is transforming the way consumers engage and conduct commerce. The use of online video in e-commerce is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss or not fully understand.

His main message to brands and retailers is to create content, not commercials. Stack says that it's important for retailers to develop a content strategy and not necessarily an advertising strategy, and sponsor content that matters to your community and spend money to promote content that's tested and works.

Brands can’t sell brands, People sell brands 

Stack says that the definition of content is very rich and changing, by definition. So, we shouldn't be held to old ideas of what content is. It could be curated content, mash-ups, expression, dialogue, and a variety of different types of content.
"Lines are blurring between entertainment and advertising, and between consumers and marketers. Marketing platforms are rapidly evolving, and at the center of it all is online video. Brands and consumers are interacting in ways they never have before, and everyone is witnessing this through the power of sight, sound, and motion."
But underlining it all, he says, is that we’re content creators by our own DNA.
“We are all storytellers, and a content strategy helps ultimately for people to sell brands, not brands to sell brands.”
If you’re a marketer, then you'll probably recognize some of the following videos. Which of these were made by users? By marketers? Who started the conversation?

Tiger Woods 09: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ1st1Vw2kY
Numa Numa Gecko: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HItwu7PNdNo
E-Trade Trading Baby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vW9gUmooFg
Cadbury Eyebrows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVblWq3tDwY

Online Video is Social

Stack says that aside from being huge in reach, online video is also what many other media are not – it’s social in ways that move viewers to engage with your brand, connect with new ideas and even change the world. An interesting fact he shared was about the activism in Egypt earlier this year that was first sparked on the Internet and spread throughout the country to rally the population and spark a revolution that forever change people’s lives there. He shared the following quote that helped sum up his point.
"We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world…"
— Activist in Cairo, Egypt, March 2011

Another example of how video is social is campaign called ‘it gets better’ campaign, that was launched on YouTube in September 2010, by Dan Savage and aimed to help young people, especially those struggling with their identity and sexuality, deal with bullying. The video has had millions of views and within a few weeks spawned thousands of similar videos from ordinary kids to the President, celebrities and even the SF Giants reaching millions more with a strong and united message.

Video + Social = Earned Media

Stack also cites Lady Gaga as one of the most impressive genius marketers of our time who is powered by video. She regularly uses social video to cultivate and project her image and message. She launched exclusive video premiers on Vevo, starred in a Google Chrome Ad that went viral, staged a live feed from Best Buy on launch date as fans poured in to buy her album and live interviews allowed her to take questions from fans.

The results is that Lady Gaga is the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, and her music video for Born This Way has over 79 million views and in the first week of release her album sold 1.1M copies and brought down Amazon’s servers.

Stack says that a characteristic of successful videos are retailers, brands or others who have a whole social media strategy around the launching of a YouTube video.
"One of the other things I encourage is to engage the viewer in a conversation. Think of the video experience as a conversation. It doesn't start and stop with the video. There's great opportunity to have at the end of a video, various calls to action. Such that if somebody's hooked with the video, here's the next step that they can take to either engage with the brand, learn more information or perhaps discover other videos."
Another great example of a brand using video is Orabrush, which became a YouTube sensation. Who knew that oral hygiene products could be a cross-over hot with video, yet Orabrush used it's YouTube channel to sell over 1 million of the $5 tongue brushes, and major drugstores are now carrying it on their shelves. They were named one of the Top 10 Social Media campaigns of 2010.

Stack says, the power of social is something that retailers can harness to build your own brands too.  One of the important aspects of social is sharing, and 30% of people share videos they like, over 400 videos are shared on Twitter every minute, and the amount of YouTube videos watched on Facebook is equal to 150 years. As the world’s largest focus group, online video lets you know if the creative or videos that you are running on TV and elsewhere are making an impact when people choose to consume your brand and spread the word. Retailers can use video like a sand box to experiment and use the variety of tools available from YouTube to find the right mix, then rinse and repeat.

5 Things Andy Stack has Learned about YouTube
Stack says there are 5 lessons he learned from his experience at YouTube to help create successful online video campaigns:

1. Rethink what “content” means
Kutiman & Pogo make work by micro-splicing together other content.
They use films, sounds, chords, even syllables to make their music. The Khan Academy also has emerged as a new voice of authority http://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy
2. Every video is a conversation (if you let it become one) 

Electronic Arts produced this response to a user generated video on the Tiger Woods '08 game. 
3. Every video is interactive
Interactive zombie movie adventure - Hell Pizza's uses annotations to encourage interaction. 
4. Every video finds an audience.
Online Video is reaching NEW audiences every day. Blair Fowler  and her sister Elle post style and beauty related tutorials that has reached millions on YouTube and are at forefront of the "hauling"phenomenon. 
5. You don’t always have to make video, you can inspire others or curate
Tweak inspired fans to help them design their shoes and the result was the mythical shoe, with wings and a pocket for a guitar pick. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6meIMpnwp4#t=2m20s )

Mass Media is De-Massing
Are they watching less TV? Generally speaking, Stack says, no. People are watching more TV. They are just watching cable. If you stack networks by percentage reach, you’ll see that 50% of viewership is on networks with a rating less than 1.0 (1% of households). And at 0.5% share (the point at which Nielsen stops measuring), you’ll find 30% of viewership.

YouTube offers great opportunities to online video publishers, says Stack:

"It’s a good time to be a content creator. Our system allows you to unlock the untapped value of networks you may not have previously considered. For example one brand seeking to target young adults found that Fuse network delivered a much more efficient cost per order than the networks they were traditionally targeting, now Fuse is a permanent part of the line up. This also means that the established media companies don’t have the high upfront cost strangle hold on access anymore"

Read Jen Fahey's related post on Videoretailer.org at: http://bit.ly/qRdMmb

About Andy Stack - Product Manager, YouTube

Andy Stack is a product manager at YouTube focused on the financial performance and video analytics of YouTube content creators. Prior to YouTube/Google, Andy was a serial entrepreneur mixing media with metrics. Andy co-founded Mozes, the leader in mobile engagement around music, sports, entertainment and causes; Stata Labs, a personal media search company acquired by Yahoo!; and DealMaven, a quantitative analysis software company acquired by FactSet. He received his MBA from the Wharton School and BSE from Princeton University. Follow @andystack