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PROFESSIONAL WEB VIDEOPLAN, PRODUCE, DISTRIBUTE, PROMOTE, AND MONETIZE QUALITY VIDEO
By RICHARD HARRINGTON MARK WEISER RHED PIXEL
Focal PressCopyright © 2011 Richard Harrington and Mark Weiser
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMAKING GREAT WEB VIDEO
We know why you picked this book up. You want (or have been asked) to make great web video. You want your video to connect with an audience and be seen. You want to entertain or inform. You want to raise awareness for a cause or recruit customers to your business. Your goals are diverse and complex, but they are attainable.
Our recipe for quality video includes four stages and an optional goal:
Plan. A lack of planning leads to an abundance of failure. Whether you're spending real dollars or just time and effort, there is no excuse to skip planning. While "dumb luck" exists, successful planning is more likely to bring results.
Produce. We'll tackle how to achieve high-quality results using both professional and consumer equipment. We're sure to reference tools at various price points (including free and do-it-yourself options). But we've never met a successful carpenter who hasn't reinvested in some good tools along the way.
Distribute. There are many ways to publish video to the web. We'll explore how to successfully prepare your files for the net. We'll also address important options like podcasting, hypersyndication, video sharing, and mobile video.
Promote. If you don't make some noise, you won't be heard. We'll discuss formalized and guerilla promotion strategies. We've also got some great advice from some top web video producers who share their secrets.
Monetize. The monetization strategies we offer are practical ways to earn money from your program. We'll examine different models from sponsorship to selling products and services. This chapter is optional, but we'll share practical advice to turn your efforts into dollars.
This book is written for those who need to create professional-level web video. We realize that the word professional has different meanings to different people, so let us be clear. You have a financial stake in the outcome. This may be an investment in your time, your company's brand, actual dollars from a client, or a complex web of needs and expectations. You don't just want results—you need them.
Whether you are a video pro, a multimedia developer, or a communications professional, this guide is written to help you. We wanted to create a book that addressed the diverse requirements of web video. We also wanted to straighten out several misperceptions and bad practices that we have encountered. If you like your books to be based on real-world experience, this is the book for you.
The Opportunity of Web Video
There's a lot going on with web video in recent years. Technology has continued to improve at a rapid pace. This has enabled both the growth of new audiences and new opportunities as well as the ability to deliver a better-looking product to these audiences.
Many of the industry's largest television networks and video producers have also embraced web video as an opportunity to create additional revenue streams for their content. This new market is rapidly expanding, and it's one that most believe encapsulates the best opportunity to bring video to consumers.
In this section, we're going to explore some recent research about the state of web video and broadband Internet. Where possible, we're limiting our sources to only the most credible of government and nonprofit research groups to present a fair and balanced overview of the state of web video.
The Growth of Broadband Internet
While web video and podcasting do not require broadband access, they certainly thrive with high-speed connections. The Pew Research Center found that nine in ten consumers of online video have broadband at home. In fact, 76% of those with broadband access watch video at home. Those that want video want it fast. But just how many people have broadband Internet?
The exact numbers vary greatly over the world. Let's first take a look at the United States, and then we'll broaden our view globally. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission reported in 2010 that 78% of adults in the United States are Internet users and 65% of adults have home broadband access. The Pew Research Center had similar findings for 2010 and estimated that 63% of American adults now have high-speed connections into their homes.
Here's a look at the state of global connections:
The Growth of Internet Video
The growth of broadband video has had an impact on the viewing habits of its users. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that in the year 2010, 69% of online adults have used the Internet to watch or download video. This total represents 52% of all adults in the United States.
Improvements in wireless connection are only boosting these numbers. Pew finds that "Fully 71% of those with wireless connectivity watch videos on video sharing sites compared with just 38% of those who do not access the Internet wirelessly."
This is also spilling into mobile phones and portable media players with both Internet connections and mobile publishing capabilities. Approximately 14% of cell phone users have watched video on their phone. Most interesting is the fact that cell phone users are more likely to record video on their cell phones than watch it; 19% of cell phone users say they've recorded video with their phone.
In an earlier (2007) report, the Pew Research Center found that "half of online video viewers (57%) share links to the video they find with others, and three in four (75%) say they receive links to watch video that others have sent to them." These trends bode well for web video producers. If you produce high-quality video that is on target, your audience will share it with others. This type of growth is often referred to as viral, and it works well online. Success can come much quicker than through other media outlets, and at a lower cost because traditional advertising often has little to do with viral growth.
The Involvement of Big Business
Web video is a part of traditional media's plan to stay relevant. Television networks in particular realize they need to move their video content to the web, enabling both space shifting and time shifting. The challenge here is that many of these traditional content generators hold onto their old ways of thinking. While these studios would benefit from podcasting and online video, many want greater control over their digital files through the use of digital rights management (DRM) technology.
Motorola found that 45% of European broadband users watch at least some television online. The percentage was as high as 59% in Spain and France (it currently stands at 32% in the United States). The Pew Research group has found that 7% of all Internet users in 2010 have paid to watch or download a video. That number was only 4% in 2007, so that's steady growth where dollars are concerned.
The biggest change though has been the use of video-sharing sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. These sites gather video together and make it easy to search content and share with others. The percentage of adult Internet users who watch video on these sites has grown from 33% in December 2006 to 61% in 2010.
All sorts of business models are being tested, from subscription content, to sponsorship, to selling related content. What has been a constant struggle is the goal to embrace nonintrusive advertising or monetization strategies that are highly targeted to the viewer. What will continue to be a struggle will be meeting the demands of consumers while generating revenue for the content creators.
Web Video Development
Now that you understand the size of the audience, as well as some of their habits, you can start to develop (or refine) your web video ideas. It all starts with a concept, the essential nugget of an idea that is your approach. You then need to determine the best genre or style of production that will connect with your audience. Once you've refined the idea, you'll need to examine your technical approach. We find that a guiding principle is how can we do as much as possible with as little as possible.
Once you know what you want to do and how you're going to do it, you'll need to communicate with others. Writing a treatment allows you to share your ideas with others. The same goes for a video or series description, which will become a critical creative and marketing tool.
When it comes time to kick off a web video project, you'll want to gather all the key players into a creative development session. This may be a face-to-face meeting or an online forum. Everyone should come together to brainstorm the most effective approach for the project. Just make sure you set an agenda and clearly invite folks.
Developing a Concept
A key step in your show's preproduction is creative development. The show's concept needs to be developed, beaten up, chewed up, and then spit out. Chances are your original ideas and assumptions will be a lot stronger after you put them through a creative wringer. Here are a few things we've learned in developing new shows:
Don't try to reinvent what already exists. You need to closely examine what's already in the web video universe. Don't waste your time developing a concept that is identical to a hit show. After all, it's a rare day when the clone surpasses the original. With that said, don't give up on your idea, refine it.
Figure out what you can do differently. If your competition offers long shows, offer shorter shows to appeal to those on the go. If your competition comes out monthly, come out weekly. If the competition takes a serious approach, look at humor. In other words, don't change the subject, but do change the delivery. In broadcasting, it's called counter-programming and the concept holds true here as well.
Decide whom you want to attract. Web video and podcasting are niche media. Going after a smaller, targeted group is what it's all about. You need to think long and hard about whom you want to reach. By refining your target audience, you stand a much better chance of appealing to them and capturing them as viewers and subscribers. That's not to say you want black-haired, blue-eyed, left-handed, 27-year-old chemical engineers. But a video that goes after engineers of all types would probably fail just as badly. What's important here is that you identify a specific group with specific interests, then develop content that fits their needs.
Make sure your visuals matter. Could your web video be delivered as an audio-only podcast? If so, don't create a video just to make a video. Producing web video is more expensive than audio podcasting. Make sure you're leveraging the strengths of the medium to justify the cost (and download time).
Developing a Genre
When you go into a major bookstore, you'll find that books are typically sorted by genre. All books of a particular category (such as mystery, history, or technology) are grouped together for sale. This practice makes it easier for consumers to find what they want. The same holds true for online video.
The Pew Research Center found substantial growth from 2007 to 2010 in all online video. These three genres saw the biggest growth:
Comedy or humorous videos, which have risen in viewership from 31% to 50% of adult Internet users.
Educational videos, which have risen in viewership from 22% to 38% of adult Internet users.
Political videos, which have risen in viewership from 15% to 30% of adult Internet users.
Here's the breakdown by genre:
Determining a Technical Approach
Once you've refined your topic, genre, and target, you need to make some initial decisions about how you're going to produce your show. Different styles of production can greatly impact the cost of your project. Be sure you identify how the web video will be produced. Using a studio can drive costs down as it adds an element of control to the production process. On the other hand, a screencast style of production for technical training often just features the voice of the talent and a capture of what they were doing on their computer.
Be sure to pick the best format to capture the visuals in your show that your budget can afford. Think about the big picture here, the major decisions that will shape how you will execute your show.
Production frequency. How often are you going to record new episodes? We personally favor shooting multiple videos at a time. Many of the web video series we work on only record a few times a year (some even go for a solid week and record a year's worth in a single period). This type of production is more cost efficient, but it makes it harder to be timely and react to outside events, viewer feedback, and sponsor's requests. You'll need to balance your production schedule with the needs of the content and your budget.
Acquisition size. There's been a rush for high-definition (HD) video for the web. This is because many consumers are viewing web video on televisions and large computer monitors. Of course, the practice of mobile video on smart phones and portable media players is booming too.
Excerpted from PROFESSIONAL WEB VIDEO by RICHARD HARRINGTON MARK WEISER RHED PIXEL Copyright © 2011 by Richard Harrington and Mark Weiser. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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