Next generation television businesses require media companies bring together what is a complex set of business relationships; from production teams focused on delivering compelling programming to ad sales representatives selling advertising inventory. When combined with increased demands for an interactive, personalized television experience from today's engaged TV viewers, it's clear that content companies are quickly becoming overburdened by growing technology requirements.
But don't panic. By breaking down the process into manageable steps and selecting the right technology partner, professional media companies can successfully transform their businesses to generate profitable new revenue streams.
Step 1: get your video business live
According to an October 2006 eMarketer report, online video advertising revenue is expected to accelerate even faster than previously predicted. With growth expected to be 89 percent in 2007 it's no wonder every media company is rushing to get a piece of the pie.
The first challenge of any broadband video business is to take large libraries of video assets and make them available online. But success is about far more than just putting video online. It is about creating an online video business platform that is sustainable over time. Unlike traditional TV environments, media companies must now manage a growing number of "channels" for which there is no scale comparison. Now that it's time to scale, consider these important planning guidelines:
- While some experimentation is natural, don't guess. You can waste valuable time and resource encoding files for online delivery with small or non-existent audiences. Instead, evaluate your asset library in advance to determine what programming is best suited to online viewing for your target audience.
- Traditional web publishing tools were not designed for video. Look to maturing, purpose-built broadband video publishing systems to shorten the learning curve and efficiently launch your business.
- Engage your advertisers. Professional media companies have spent decades building relationships with advertisers. Don't underestimate the importance of that trust. Ask advertisers what type of video inventory they want to participate in, and gear your channels accordingly. You might be surprised at how well that matches up to your audiences needs.
- Plan, but don't stagnate. The right publishing tools will include comprehensive business analytic capabilities that let you monitor and manage your business in near-real time. The best part of Internet TV is the ability to make mistakes, learn from them and improve quickly.
Step 2: broaden reach to increase consumption
Once video content is available online, the second challenge is to broaden video consumption through syndication. Media companies and their advertising partners often erroneously think they have to compromise control and brand for reach. Companies often rush into partnerships with popular video sharing sites hoping to mitigate the risks as much as possible by capping the term of the agreement. As a result, the quality of distribution approach is widely skewed, from short term agreements with YouTube, to experimental business arrangements with long-time affiliate partners.
Truth be told, media companies don't have to compromise. Video assets can appear wherever your audience may be, without giving up the ability to control your brand, measurement and monetization. This is accomplished through managed syndication. As you build your network of distribution partners, make sure that your broadband video platform has all of the necessary capabilities to put managed syndication to work for your organization.
Integrating local news content with national material optimizes the experience for your audience. Replicating the TV affiliate model online and pulling together local and national content drives tremendous opportunity. According to a March 2006 Online Publisher's Association report, 24 percent of internet users access video at least once a week, while 46 percent watch video at least once a month. News leads the way in frequency of viewing, with 27 percent of online video viewers watching at least once a week. Leveraging this opportunity requires implementation of a complex set of business processes and controls around approvals, reporting and brand integrity. Be sure that production teams are ready with complete video publishing capabilities that enable critical functionality, such as publishing content to third-party players.
And don't forget the most important business principle: you can't manage what you can't measure. Any broadband video platform requires a comprehensive analytics capability across all affiliate partnerships that not only allows you to see how the business is running, but enables rapid action on what you've learned-- regardless of the scope of your business today, or in the future.
Step 3: enhance the experience
As content accessibility becomes pervasive and consumers are able to access the same content in multiple locations, becoming an experience destination will be required to differentiate assets and services. These experiences must be engaging, interactive and personalized to maximize ongoing media consumption and audience growth.
Don't fall into the "fad trap," but understand the passion in your audience and give them community opportunities to engage. While content is still king, the surrounding experience -- including search, personal play lists, viral sharing and the relevance of advertising served -- rounds out the royal family.
So go ahead, make the leap into online video. Just do it with thoughtful planning and chose your technology and distribution partnerships carefully. The right decisions now will lead to tremendous long term success.
Samantha Stone is product marketing director of Maven Networks. .