An interesting phenomenon is coming to a monitor near you, perhaps the one you are looking at right now. The days of convergence are upon us. The trend towards the merging of media via the Internet is already causing significant cultural shifts as witnessed by the power bloggers have exercised in relation to TV and print journalism. What a difference an era makes. A decade ago, the traditional media set the pace by telling our stories and provided practical means of mass-communications. Today, the Internet provides a globally stable transmission line and the Web serves as both production studio and broadcast medium. The Internet’s growth and more importantly, the ease of access for anyone with a computer, a connection and a bit of talent, has pushed the majority of traditional media outlets into a period of survival strategy and planning.
The Internet, as a means of content-distribution has been recognized as the emerging standard as opposed to the add-on it had previously been. Just as cable killed broadcast, IPTV and HDTV will replace the current cable TV distribution model. (Imagine the threat to satellite TV providers.) That doesn’t mean the demise of your local cable company but it does mark a change in the way they will be doing business in the future. For most sectors of the entertainment, marketing, distribution and search industries, the only thing left to do is to actually figure out how to do it and how it will work.
The recent discussions between Google, Yahoo and CBS , along with the combined support of AOL and ASK for Internet TV start-up Brightcove show a definite shift in thinking among the US TV networks. Along with that shift, two unique experiments in business model development appear to be underway.
In an interview with Reuters, Les Moonves, CBS chairman said, “We’re talking to them [Google] about a whole slew of things including video-on-demand, including video search.”
The distribution power of four of the five largest search engines and the business model proposed by Brightcove can be seen as an experiment in marketing and content-distribution. The TV networks have recognized they need to work with the Internet and to do so they need to work with the Web’s core information providers, the major search engines.
“They need our content, we need their technology,” he said in the Reuters interview, referring to broader discussions with Internet companies. “We argue about which is more important. I think ultimately my content, no matter how you get it, content is still the most important thing.”
Google, Yahoo, ASK, AOL, et al, view virtually all “open” information on the web as freely spiderable. They make lists that everyone else can check twice. Even without formal agreements signed, Google and Yahoo have both made video search of TV show snippets uploaded by fans available on demand. Quotes from the shows be found based on the transcripts of closed captioning broadcasts.
For producers of Web-ready television content, it’s no use producing content for mass-distribution over the Internet if you aren’t in the new-media version of the TV guide. The problem for both the search-information providers and the content creators is making a profit providing the service. While Google, Yahoo and the major TV networks will, for the most part, be able to rely on current advertisers for revenues, three important factors threaten to challenge the stability of that traditional marketing environment.
The first is the dramatic increase in ease of access to the industry. Making video has never been cheaper or easier and with the proliferation of broadband access (often via the traditional cable TV companies); delivery of product is virtually instant and universal. In other words, consumers no longer have to go to an expensive movie theatre to watch a production that cost a fortune to produce. Access to the market and means of production is literally open to anyone. In the near future, there could even be competition for click-through revenues between traditional commercial driven television production and the increasingly professional but independent amateur productions.
The second factor stems from the proliferation of video entertainment production. If there is a sudden increase in quality and availability of independent productions and those independent producers show credible commercial competition, what is to become of the massive media machines behind the scenes of most network shows? Someone has to pay the bills and the predominantly successful model, (pay per click or in this case, pay per view), might not provide sufficient revenues for the highly expensive network shows against popular independent productions.
The third is the portability of information. Handheld, pocket-sized devices such as Blackberrys and cell phones are increasingly web-capable and can handle video. Content produced for the web must also be available where portable media users are looking for it.
Brightcove thinks it has the answers to these issues. Founded in Cambridge Ma, in 2004 by Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove is “an open Internet TV service that empowers video producers and programmers to build broadband businesses while giving viewers more choices and control over their use of video and television.” (source: brightcove.com)
Its preview page shows that Brightcove is working to tie advertisers to video produced by individual users and mainstream networks. It also looks to AOL, ASK and other search related businesses to send traffic in the form of branded user features and video-on-demand services. Distribution is the major factor that places the Web far above other forms of media. Taking a page from Google’s early playbook, Brightcove is also working to harness the massive distributive power of the Internet by inviting website owners to inquire about syndicating video content.
The opportunities for small business advertisers and website marketers are enormous. The emergence of the Web as the primary means of delivering video information offers website marketers a new area to present client products and services.
The Internet and the Web, while already remarkably versatile, has become a vital link in distribution for the largest traditional media companies, including the major TV networks. The Web is also absorbing a great deal of the advertising money that was previously spent on print. It even threatens the mainstay revenue generator for most urban newspapers, the classified ads section.
Over the past few weeks, stories about Google Automat, a service procedure Google wrote a patent application for nearly two years ago have emerged. The patent application , which was published in early September of this year, is for “a system and method for providing online user-assisted Web-based advertising.” The patent application goes on to describe a service that appears remarkably similar to Google Base.
“Preferably, such an approach would guide a user in the creation of advertisements describing offerings of goods or services, creatives associated with the advertisements, and advertising budgets. Such an approach would also help create and host a Web presence for individual and other advertisers. Such an approach would also facilitate driving Web traffic to hyperlinked advertisements through targeting.” (source: Patent Abstract)
The patent shows Google is preparing to enter the collection and distribution of small, personal sized classified ads, like the ones printed in the back of your local newspaper. As Google collects them, many industry analysts expect them to begin distributing them through the online classified sections of those same major newspapers.
This presents another wide-open opportunity for search and website marketers to promote client messages and services. In order to take advantage the new landscape, search and website marketers should take time to learn as much as they can about a number of technologies, techniques and complimentary services.
For instance, a good To Do list would include,
- Lean about FLASH and other video-editing software. Check out pre-established businesses such as SiSTeR.TV to see if their products or services can help.
- Learn about the creation and optimization of files for podcasting. These files can be video based or simple audio streams but the trick is learning how to help search engines find them
- Learn as much about the amorphous catch-phrase Web2.0. Social networking and information recommendation have become important facets in website marketing campaigns.
- Find a way to gently break the news to long-term clients. We all have a lot of work ahead of us.