Monday, January 9, 2012

Online Video in 2011: A Look Back - Part 3

As 2011 progressed, consumers became increasingly connected and mobile, and wanted video on all screens all the time. Video companies were challenged to evolve services faster, differentiate the experience, offer services on any device, any network, manage and monetize infinite content and manage increasing complexity in the home. Operators started seeing connected devices as an opportunity and not a threat, and began to partner with content owners and advertisers on social video and multi-screen solutions. The online video industry saw more roll ups and funding announcements, video companies pursued the OTT market with TV Everywhere solutions, Nielsen reported that while mobile video use grew 40% but growth rates declined, Cisco forecasted that video would comprise of half of the Internet traffic by the end of 2012, for the first time in 20 years US household saw a drop in TV set ownership, YouTube reigned as the king of video views with 3 billion/day and got even more serious about original content channels and live streaming for partners, Apple unveiled a controversial update to Final Cut Pro X, media buyers continued to warm up to video, second screen viewing Tubemogul rebranded as a video advertising platform, Brightcove made the news with its patent for digital content delivery and expanding beyond video into mobile 'App Cloud' development and its IPO announcement, Ooyala and YuMe partnered to deliver video ads, other OVPs like DaCast, RealGravity, Unicorn Media and LongTail Video diversified their offerings with live streaming, syndication, ad networks and monetization, Hulu was for sale and then not-for-sale.

And that wasn't all...

In May, I kicked off a series of interviews I had conducted over the past year at online video industry events. Within the year I attended Online Video Platform SummitNewTeevee LiveOTT Con, Liveclicker's 2011 Video Commerce Summit, TV Next Con and Streaming Media West 2011, and met so many incredible people along the way who all great insight and advise to share. In 2011, I produced a total of 31 videos for this blog, several of which also ran on, and also 5 videos which I produced for I have a lot of videos still to post which I plan to get back to within the next few posts.

According to Internet marketer and professional musician, Austin Brooks, if you are a small business and you're looking to establish yourself online, you really need to start working on some kind of video strategy and figure out a way to constantly publish content on a regular basis. Brooks uses online video as a marketing tool because video is the best way to demonstrate his magic act and full range of what he can offer to potential clients. For Brooks, it was important to have a professional looking website to showcase his magic act and having high quality video was definitely a trick he wanted to have up his sleeve.

The explosive growth of user-generated content on YouTube has spawned a new generation of amateur video producers which has, in turn, made it more acceptable for lower quality productions. It's true that anyone with the right tools and know-how can shoot and edit video. And, to some degree we are all able to craft an interesting or even compelling story. But what about the art and craft of producing a professional video production? Does knowing how to use a Flip camera make you a video professional?

Bruce Alfred, Principal of Cobblestone Inc., is asked over and over, how important is it to create high quality video? Can I just use my consumer HD camera to make something and put it up on my business website? As professional video producer and web video consultant, Alfred's answered that question many times and his answer is no, that's not the best idea. Certain content requires high production value and other content may not. It all depends on your audience. But for brands, you want to make sure you're above the fray and not just another low quality YouTube video. While there could be places on your site where you have user-generated video, when it's your creation you want it to reflect well on your brand. Alfred says that a professional video producer is an expert that every brand should hire.

Curt Van Inwegen, VP of Client Services at LEVEL Studios, offered his insights on what you should consider for selecting the appropriate OVP for your business. Van Inwegen suggests that when you're choosing an OVP you need to look at several things. You're not just looking at the technology, you're looking at the ability to gather data on who is looking at your content, what devices they are using, desktop or mobile and what type of mobile, iPhone, iPad, Android or Blackberry, and can your content can actually play on those devices or can it be produced from those devices. With everything going mobile, Van Inwegen, notes that the ability to ingest that content and view it on a variety of different platforms is really what's critical, and an OVP will help you distribute your content to all those platforms and devices within the complex and fragmented video landscape.

I caught up with CEO and co-founder Mike Hudack who says the world has fundamentally changed since the early days of television, and that we've gone from an economy of scarcity where you can only put out one show at a time, to a world where you can put out any number of shows. There are more independent show producers today than there have ever been in history, which Hudack attributes to the less expensive production costs, and has given rise to a new generation of stars and producers. was founded in May 2005, by a group of five friends who love web series, and has grown to become one of the Internet’s largest independently owned and operated video properties. Hudack says that what they've doing all along is building the next the generation television network. (Blip has seen some changes recently with news that co-founders Mike Hudack and Dina Kaplan would be leaving the company. Hudack is taking a medical leave and will likely be back at Blip when his health returns, and Kaplan's departure is unrelated.)

Over the last several years live video streaming has become a powerful marketing tool for artists and brands. Max Haot, CEO and Co-founder of Livestream, says it's been interesting to watch the growing trend of brands adopt live streaming to market their products. Content brands like movie studios, use Livestream to market the release of a new movie within social networks like Facebook and Twitter through a live broadcast of the red carpet premiere. Haot says that working with brands and content owners drives content quality and revenue and is core to Livestream's mission to build a next-generation live cable operator. But the bigger goal of Livestream is to unlock every event around the world, from major events like red carpet interviews at the Oscars or the Royal Wedding, to prosumer events from a church, a small baseball game, or even a smaller conference.

Core to any good video content strategy is a blend of ingredients that compel and engage viewers to discover and share your content. You can have the most compelling content in the world, but if people aren't aware of it and can't find it easily, it won't make any difference. According to Patrick Starzan, Vice President of Marketing and Distribution for Funny or Die, its recipe for success is a combination great content, search engine optimization and social media. Starzan says that it's all about really having a comprehensive strategy. You shouldn't look at just one, search over social media, as two different things, or two different variations of what's important. They're both just as important as the other. Because at the end of the day, you want to have your content discovered as quickly as possible by relevant audiences.

As the current trends in online video continue to show massive growth, so does the opportunities for online video publishers and marketers. For businesses, there's no other tool more important than online video analytics to capture how your video content is consumed on the web. Dan Piech, Senior Product Management Analyst with comScore says, the best way online video publishers and marketers create and sustain value is through differentiation, and the way you do that is through your data. Piech says that it's not just about understanding your audience, but then putting together a pitch that sells that audience to advertisers. Piech says that online publishers will not have the reach of a television audience, and for small publishers it will be even harder. He suggests that publishers find that niche audience, develop it and sell that niche based on what you've learned about it from your metrics, because the agencies are not going to do that for you. He says that digital market intelligence services like comScore help you better understand your audience.

Content delivery continues evolve and it's been 10 years since Bram Cohen, Chief Scientist and Co-founder of BitTorrent, Inc. first invented the revolutionary peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing protocol for transferring large files over the Internet. While the P2P file-sharing protocol has long been associated with digital piracy, BitTorrent has worked with a variety of filmmakers, musicians and authors over the past year, to help distribute films using the company’s P2P technology. I caught up with Cohen at last year's NewTeeVee Live where he discussed BiTorrent's future in P2P live streaming.

When Wowza Media Systems first was conceived, Dave Stubenvoll says he and his co-founder, Charlie Good, saw a market need for a better media delivery solution which incumbent media server providers (Adobe, Microsoft and Apple) could not address. When Wowza Media Server 1.0 first came to market in February 2007 it was originally offered as a low-cost alternative to Adobe's Flash Media Server and had great success. But when Wowza Media Server Pro 1.5 was released in May 2008, it expanded its abilities by introducing H.264 video and AAC audio streaming support. Today, Wowza Media Systems provides a flexible multi-platform media software for streaming of live and on-demand video, audio, and RIAs (rich Internet applications) and is highly regarded within the online video community having recieved numerous awards, including multiple Streaming Media Readers' Choice Awards, Streaming Media Editors' Pick and 2010 and most recently, the best AV Over IP Distribution System by AV Technology Magazine.

One of the biggest pain points for video publishers is how to deliver video to every user on any browser or mobile device. As the fractured video landscape continues to grow in complexity and scale with no standard across platforms, cloud encoding start-up, created an innovative solutions to help ease that pain with a product called released it in early 2011 as a beta version and after a successful launch and overwhelming market response, was released as a Pro version primarily targeting the tens of thousands of media brands, agencies, and application developers. is both a clever and unique service that allows publishers to upload videos and get back a universal video url that will play your video everywhere, on any desktop browser or mobile device.'s President Jeff Malkin says, takes on the heavy lifting that is usually done by OVPs by delivering important and basic functionality (transcoding, storage and delivery through partners) along with device and browser detection  all wrapped up in a single url. takes care of it all and when viewers click on the url, detects the device or browser type and delivers the correctly formatted and optimized video.

In between all the online video conversations, I paused to answer the question, Where's Klessblog? For many of you who have followed this blog, you may have noticed that things slowed down here a bit in 2011, and that was mainly due to an extremely busy work schedule at my day job. Outside of my busy work schedule, I tried to spend more time with my family and less time online. That trend continued through the rest of the year and my goal moving forward is to achieve a better work and life balance. Stay tuned for more details on that.

Editor's note: This ends Part 3 of Online Video in 2011: A Look Back. Stay Tuned for the conclusion, Part 4.