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Online Video – Big Growth For Little Clips
Friday, July 28, 2006

The world of online videos has grown by leaps and bounds in 2006. NBC made a huge move recently when they reached a deal with online video site YouTube to launch their own channel on the heavily trafficked destination and VH1 has viewers glued to their show on online videos, Web Junk 20. Arik Czerniak, creator of the online video site MetaCafe, explains the popularity of web videos saying “the reason people consume short videos 30 seconds to two minutes in length is increasing today is because we have media access everywhere, through mobile devices and computers.”

Michael Truly of Team Tiger Awesome, a group that produces their own web videos, including the wildly popular 28 Day Slater, seconds the idea that accessibility is one of the major factors leading to the industry’s growth. According to Truly “a person can access them anywhere they have a connection to the internet, like work. I’d like to think we’ve made workplace productivity plummet at least enough to end up affecting those graphs they hold in board meetings that always seem to look like mountains.”

Czerniak refers to web videos as “snacks” noting “it’s like the difference between a chocolate bar and a full meal.” The snack concept works well with Truly’s analogy that “the internet is great because it’s there 24 hours a day just like a sleazy diner where the coffee is always consistently greasy and you start to wonder if they actually add grease to the coffee. What this means is that our videos are always there just waiting for an audience.” And the audience apparently loves coming back for refills on that greasy coffee.

The biggest draw for online videos might be their length, most having a beginning, middle and end within five minutes. Conscious, a Hip-Hop entrepreneur who has some of his videos online, notes “attention spans are very short not only for children but for adults, as well, so it is definitely crucial that you grasp a viewers attention immediately.” brokeMC a member of the Hip-Hop’s Mindspray crew, adds “the more bells and whistles you have on your pinball machine the longer cats’ll stick around to play.” brokeMC has been putting not only music videos but tour diaries and footage of freestyle battles online.

Once someone has a video online the next step in the process becomes getting people to see it. As of now viral marketing seems to be the main option for most video creators as Conscious feels “word of mouth will always be a key factor in anything you promote on or offline.” Taking the idea one step further Conscious explains “sometimes your best bet is to reach out physically to the masses. If you have to hold up a sign to gain some attention then you do it. Let people offline know you have something cooking online and they should check it out. You can even carry a mini DVD player with you and show people what they can see at home on their computers.”

Though viral marketing is key in 2006, Czerniak feels that other methods will arise for the promotion of online videos. “word of mouth and through email is still a very important vehicle,” he points out “but in the future it’s going to change drastically because it isn’t efficient. Why should you wait until someone sends you an email, or you read about it on some blog?” This is one of the reasons that, although popular, Czerniak notes that the medium of online video “is lagging terribly in terms of a business model.” His hope is that it will one day be “as big as movie and TV, much bigger than music videos or ringtones,” but it all depends on building it as a business. “The company that manages to break the code of licensing content will unlock the value.”

Right now the value for the video creators is simply in having something of theirs that’s online, that they can send out and that they can direct people to. brokeMC notes “on MySpace, in general you only have four songs to share, but you wanna keep your fan on that page for as long as possible with as much variety of content as possible so you throw in a few video clips here and there of varying genres and content and chances are your visitor will chill for a few and check out some other aspects of your artistry.” Conscious agrees that this really about the fans, saying “I want to reach a larger audience for all of what I do and give existing fans something more to look forward to and talk about. I’ve been approached by people in the street that recognized me because of a simple music video online.”

Reaching, and keeping, fans is one goal for the online video creators of today, but it’s not the only goal. Though Truly of Team Tiger Awesome says “all we really wanted when we started was to entertain some people and to hone our skills as filmmakers,” the team has been contacted by people who would like to see them do larger scale projects outside of the realm of the internet and who are looking to help them do that.

With potential offline deals already in the works for someone online video creators it’s no wonder Czerniak feels “the day isn’t very far were people who create videos can make a life changing amount of money. I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars on short videos.” At that point Czerniak states “you won’t see the kids with the webcams.”

So what will we see? What makes a good online video clip, or snack? Czneriak laughs and says “that’s the million dollar question. The nice this about it is no one knows.” Though no one knows he does feel there are a few qualities the perfect online video must possess. “It has to be short. It has to speak international language and have a very strong emotion connected to it. It has to make you feels something in a minute and a half.”

Hundreds of thousands of dollars for a minute and a half clip may sound a little high, unless it’s a Super Bowl ad, but one thing’s for sure, with projections like that it’s obvious cookies and chips aren’t the only things people are snacking on at the office.

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