In the internet video game, there are lots of ways to call attention to yourself, your product or your website. Kfir Pravda writes:
“And we didnâ€™t talk about audio and video productions. Yes, you can sit in-front of your webcam and talk. But unless you are extremely attractive, or funny, or interesting, no one will watch your stuff besides your mom and friends. Not necessarily a bad thing, but letâ€™s set the expectations. And hey, being interesting, attractive, funny, interesting – doesnâ€™t it sounds just like creating content in every other medium? Yes it is! The fact that your content is online doesnâ€™t mean it can be crappy. People will notice if it is crappy. Really. Most people donâ€™t care if they get their content from their laptop or TV – they just want good content. So all this Web 2.0 myth that everyone can just put his or hers content online and immediately people would watch it is far from being true.”
This is absolutely true. Even having good content doesn’t make you exempt from creating a pleasant, immersive environment for your viewers. Unfortunately, a lot of internet video isn’t made with the viewer in mind at all. It’s made with MONEY in mind, specifically, being CHEAP with money and not actually caring about the QUALITY of the video they produce AT.ALL.
Here’s the problem with internet video…. When someone puts a video on youtube, for instance, you can trace the IP, but you have no information about the person AT THAT IP that clicked on the video. This means you can’t prove demographics. If you can’t prove demographics, you can’t sell advertisements to companies, because there’s no guarantee that men between the ages of X and Y that own lawns and might buy lawn mowers are watching this particular video or show. This means the only way you can sell ads is by impressions, basically using a shotgun tactic and saying “This show gets 300,000 downloads a day… SOMEBODY in there has to be of value to you”. Of course, there are banner ads and sponsorships, but I’m talking about specifically advertising on individual videos. You can do pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll… Either way, you can’t get the big money from potential advertisers because you can’t prove WHO’S watching your show.
This means that video shows have to rely on revenue sharing or generalized, group advertisement plans that you can opt in or out of. There are lots of studies that show that neither of these generate much $$$ unless you do something that goes viral and gets millions of hits. The odds of doing that consistently are slim and none… and slim left town.
This means that in general, people aren’t getting much ROI from posting video to the internet. This is why the focus changes from creation and “production value” to ‘The Bottom Line’. The Bottom Line is to spend less than you get back from revenue sharing and other opportunities to have your videos made. This is how we end up with situations of people creating video that’s total and absolute *GARBAGE* that somehow makes it to the internet attached to a company’s brand. The company is more interested in NOT PAYING for the video they get than outputting good videos and receiving respect and accolades for their accomplishments. THEN, when they get dragged through the mud by someone who chooses to point out the obvious fact that the Emperor has no clothes on, they wonder how this happened to them. :/
Actually, there’s another term that comes into play here. It’s called UGC, which stands for User-Generated Content. Essentially what this means is that people not associated with your company upload video that they’re hoping will become part of your show. Rob Czar & Corinne Leigh make fantastic use of UGC in their show “Thread Heads” (ThreadBanger.com). Their fans are inspired by watching Rob & Corinne’s episodes and send their own footage in to the show. Sometimes, this is just them showing what they made, and sometimes, they create their own how-to videos. This is the way UGC is supposed to work and is a demonstration of what happens when viewers join an interactive internet community and become not only fans but passionate subscribers.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know the difference between UGC and *GARBAGE*. The reason UGC looks the way it does is because THERE.IS.NO.BUDGET. None. Whomever did that did not get paid a dime to make the video and then uploaded it to youtube or wherever for free. Also, the UGC creators do NOT come with the stamp of approval of the company’s brand. The indication is clearly that “These are fans of ours that potentially know NOTHING about video at all that wanted to participate in our show. We appreciate what they’ve done and will post their videos in this episode”. This is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from stamping someone with your brand’s seal of approval and then letting them release garbage.
The first problem is that your brand appears to have ZERO taste in video creation. None. No guidelines were set. Nobody had to approve the videos before they went on your site. There’s no minimum quality requirement to post videos under your brand’s name. Clearly, this is a horrible opinion for people to have of you and your company. This also comes back to budget, because clearly, you didn’t pay anyone to EP (Executive Produce) your show. If you don’t have any EPs and you don’t have any producers that know what they’re doing when it comes to video and ESPECIALLY if you don’t have any EDITORS that might be able to salvage something out of the UGC-esque garbage you’ve selected people to produce, doing video might not have been a good idea. Stick to audio next time.
Second, your company looks CHEAP. It’s obvious that in your efforts to create video for the internet, you’re not willing to put one red cent into the production, because it looks exactly that same as all the other made-for-free video that’s on the net, whether it was shot by an elementary school student or a soccer mom watching her kids from the sidelines. The problem with this is that nobody else is going to want to put videos on your site alongside who KNOWS what other garbage productions are coming down the line? Also, this is known as half-stepping… Getting involved with something, but not wholeheartedly. Another poor look for your brand.
Third, you’re insulting your audience. Outputting garbage video is the equivalent of having a store with desirable merchandise in it and letting the letters fall off of your store front… or the letters don’t all don’t light up… It’s like “No… We’re not going to respect YOU, the viewer by offering you an entertaining or immersive experience….. But come in and buy, ANYWAY!”
The argument against production value in online video is that “Content is King”. They want you to focus on what’s being said… Not that the framing is off… Not that the sound is horrible… Not that the people drone on and on and on and on and on incessantly… Not that the graphics abruptly smash on and off the screen… Not that the company was too cheap to buy a tripod so the video shakes around like Saving Private Ryan. Again, that’s what AUDIO’s for. Make a nice .mp3 file, upload it and call it a day. Video is supposed to ADD to the experience, not SUBTRACT from it. Worst-case scenario, do it like when the news has a correspondent on the phone from another country. Put a decent-looking still frame on the screen of the subject of the video and let the audio run under that.
The reason companies continue to output garbage is because their hits are coming neither from content nor from production value….. Their hits are coming from *popularity*. There’s no reason to do ANYTHING decent when it comes to video because the people tuning in are already fans of the people making the videos. You can tell this by looking at the comments, which are invariably positive and don’t mention ANYTHING about the quality of the video itself. There are only two reasons this would happen. Either comments are being edited/removed or, as Kfir stated above, the only people showing up to the broadcast are your friends and family. That’s all well and good as long as you have THOUSANDS of friends. :/
So, that seems to be the key to internet video these days. Play to the bottom line by neglecting quality and treating video like it doesn’t need to be entertaining OR even *watchable*. Draw people to the show through popularity, and if your product’s garbage? Who cares? You already increased your page view and video play statistics to sell to the advertiser….
A job well done. :/