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Friday, February 8, 2008

Beyond Revver

If no one buys Revver and Revver can't generate enough revenue to stay in business they will go out of business and many of us like Happy Slip who have enjoyed free video hosting and rev share monetization of our videos on Revver will need to look for new video hosting.

Revver is great because I can post my videos and watch them make money. I've not yet found a site that works the same way as Revver but I have started looking.

Blip.TV is a great video hosting site that is loved by many video creators for its ease of use, quick response to problems and understanding of our community. I like Blip.TV a lot and I'm seriously considering moving there as they are in New York (Where the US advertising world is) and they are building their ad sales.

I have phone calls and emails out to other Video Hosting sites to see what they have to offer in terms of both Flash and QuickTime hosting and how to monetize both videos on my site and videos in my RSS feed.

Moving beyond the Revver issue if we are going to go it alone as video creators and take on the whole monetization thing ourselves we have several things to consider in monetizing our videos.

1. Video and Website Hosting
2. Ad Sales (Banner and Video)
4. Dynamic Video and Banner Ad Insertion
5. Stats Tracking
6. Content Management
7. Social Network

Right now to my knowledge there is not one place that provides this for content producers.

Ask A Ninja is using Federated Media for AdSales and Castfire for video hosting, dynamic ad insertion and stats. They are using a custom build Drupal content management system, Ning for their social network and I'm not sure who they are using for their website hosting.

I was ready to launch some new non sponsored videos for French Maid TV but I'm not sure I want to do that until I know that I'm going to get some money for the views.

I'm ready to post some new content but I need to rethink things first.

I'll let you know what I do.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good points - but I'm not thinking that an all-in-one solution is ever going to 1) have a best-of-breed solution for each piece of the system, and 2) leave enough revenue over for the producer.

I'm considering different options for "What the Funny" (coming soon to an internet near you!). I don't know anything more than I read in the funny pages, but these venture-capital-funded start-ups are flashing me back to the late 90s. Chopping up your first or second round of VC and handing it out sure makes you popular, but it isn't a business plan. All that VC capital is a lit fuse sticking out from between their butt-cheeks. Anyone who has raised that kind of money has a shot-clock deadline for proving that they can get that money, and more, back out. (#1)

These places tend to disappear suddenly. Everything is fine, fine, big parties - and then it's time to auction of the Aerons.

And when Revver is bought out, or goes out out of business, what happens to all that content? Suddenly that Terms Of Service that you signed, that the founding hippies assured you would never be used for evil, well suddenly that changes and your content is being used in ways that you'll never see a dime for. On the books Revver's license to all of that UGC has to be the biggest asset it has. It'll be interesting to see what happens to that TOS/UGC during this process.

But back to the point. You list seven separate services, each of them representing a separate area of expertise, and with little overlap. At this point in the game, I'm looking for people who do just _one_ thing, and stay in business. The thought that you'll get best-of-breed (or anything close) solutions in each of those categories from one company is unlikely.

And then there's the money. These sites are eating the bandwidth costs for every show they host. You work your ass off to put together a smash hit, and the first thing they'll do with that money is pay off all the debt they've racked up underwriting all the other shows that have been uploaded. They have to - how else are they going to stay in business?

It'd be like NBC producing every pilot-pitch they ever received. How the hell is anyone going to make enough money off of the one or two hits to cover all the rest of those costs? And it's a Catch-22 as well. These companies have pushed off all the prodution costs onto the producer, who makes it "for free" and uploads it. That severely limits the quality of what then the host is trying to market. And even without production costs, distribution adds up quickly. Sure, you could always use The Internet Archive, but ever try to stream flash off of it? You'll be lucky if five percent of your audience sticks around long enough to watch your show. So it has to be high-quality, fast storage. And that ain't cheap.

So in the end - what's left for you? If you're looking at advertising revenue as being a big portion of how you plan to underwrite your production costs, how can you possibly generate enough surplus revenue that you get to take any home?

Not to mention that there is no way to appeal to or audit this company. They have all the numbers, the stats, the deals. You have to take their word on your traffic and everything else. If something doesn't make sense? Well, we have a webform for that - fill it out and we'll get right back to you.

And last, there's the eggs-in-a-basket thing. Your host can get pissed (#2 - Perez Hilton) or go out of business (Revver) and then what? Your entire infrastructure disappears. Not only that, but whoever you've chosen is in the business of competing with YouTube - who are in the enviable position of the name of their company becoming a verb - and are owned by Google. Good luck diverting that traffic - how are those organic search numbers working out?

And last last? Your interests are not the same. They want people to go there and bounce around from show to show. You want people to find your show and watch just your stuff - to have a chance to buy in and get hooked - not to be constantly offered alternatives. Say the makers of "Pink, the series" get episode one in front of you. When you finish, the YouTube player doesn't show you the next episode, it grabs a bunch of "related" stuff from - wherever.

So I'm still trying to track down a white-label solution that lets me plug partners into it as I see fit. I want predictable costs that start out low and grow proportionally to my traffic. Assuming I have a show that appeals to a marketable demographic, I'll have a number of views at which I can start selling ads. I then can take my distribution costs, add in my margin, do the division and arrive at a sustainabe CPM. If I can't get it, if it's too high, I get what I can and figure out how to make the next show for less.

I'm looking for something like Amazon's S3. I think it's is the ultimate example of this. It is world-class, scalable storage with no maintenance costs. You only pay for traffic you use - no monthly expenses. It starts at something like $.18 a GB for transfer. Keep in mind that that is transfer that's not going to collapse on you if you get to the front page of Digg. Also keep in mind that it does, in fact, add up quickly. If your episodes are 40MB, you get 25 per GB - you'll be paying $450 for 100K views. So that's $4.50 off of whatever CPM you can get just for transfer.

So yeah - a chunk of change. It's why Revver went broke, why Flickr is costing Yahoo! so much, and why we should lobby Congress for Net Neutrality and regulations insuring a faster and cheaper Net Infrastructure. In Asia they stream HD to cellphones!

Then you'll want to nail down your metrics. For my money, get away from this server-log analysis. No one knows how to interpret them. Your banner ad company already knows how many it sends out - who cares about pageviews? Just instrument the Flash player to collect your own metrics and use those to sell your show. What's that? Your host doesn't let you modify the code of the Flash Player? Another reason not to use them. Get your own damn numbers.

Currently I'm intrested in Visible Measures - but there are many approaches to this, and more are certainly to come. Track your downloads through RSS subscription - something like Feedburner. Then you'll have views and downloads nailed - none of this pageview BS.

Another layer is asset management - Castfire is an early leader here. A company I only just heard of, "The Platform" (such a cult name), is really intriguing. I talked to them for a half-hour on Friday. The problem is that they start at 2K a month, and that doesn't include hosting - just a license for their middle-ware service. But it's a really interesting service, seemingly right in line with what you'd need to manage a heterogeneous group of shows and advertisers.

Loop in your ad-brokers (I have no practical experience here - sigh) and you have the beginnings of a business model. Each piece independent of the others, none of them irreplaceable, each agnostic of the other services you employ.







(1) I have no idea what the hell "Funny or Die" was thinking BTW.
"Funny or Die Raises $15M"

(2) "Beware The Giants"

Daisy said...

I think a lot of the video-sharing sites are offering rev shares now with creators. Tim, I just switched to Blip and am liking it a lot. Not selling ads now, but it's a good service...

1 Tim Street said...

Today I'm looking at Podango http://www.podango.com/

They have some smart people working there and they have adsales in place.

Clintus McGintus said...

Question for you Tim, do you think there is a place for monetizing personnel video blogs? I've never looked into it or gave it much thought because my first impression would be no. I understand that there would be a certain level of production value that would need to accure if it were to happen, but do you think there are advertisers out there that would want to partner up with someone talking about their day or showing footage of their kids?

I love reading your blog for posts like this. You're on the forefront of online video monetization and always have the goods on what's going on.

FrenchMaidTV said...

Thanks for the digital love.

In answer to your question: If you can build an audience of critical mass or of importance you can find advertisers.

The not so old old saying goes, If you just have four readers of your blog but those 4 readers are Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and (two other guys I can't think of right now) then you have a blog that people would be willing to advertise on.