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Monetizing Digital Video

A lot of people video blog just because they feel like it. What IS a video blog? or a videoblog or a vlog or…. don’t ask! 😀 There are as many definitions for a video blog as there are _names_ for video blogs. Some people consider any video that’s placed on the internet eligible for the title “video blog”. Most simply, Steve Garfield would say “A video blog is video on a blog”. 😀 So expand your idea of what a blog is to include a video… ANY video, and there you have it.

A lot of people video blog just because they feel like it. What IS a video blog? or a videoblog or a vlog or…. don’t ask! 😀 There are as many definitions for a video blog as there are _names_ for video blogs. Some people consider any video that’s placed on the internet eligible for the title “video blog”. Most simply, Steve Garfield would say “A video blog is video on a blog”. 😀 So expand your idea of what a blog is to include a video… ANY video, and there you have it.

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Does that make someone that has a blog with videos on it a videoblogger? Again, don’t ask! There’s the issue of what kind of videos are on the blog. Is it video of kids falling off of skateboards? A cat playing with a ball of string? A scripted, weekly comedy show? Citizen journalism from the streets? Someone sitting alone in their room talking to their iSight as if it were a real person they were having a conversation with? Is it made by individuals? Is it made by companies that were formed and funded with the sole object of delivering video content on the internet? is it made by a television studio as an afterthought or addition to their actual television shows? Do all of those count equally as “video blogs”, assuming they meet the base qualification of being “video on a blog”?

What about production values? Does the audio have to be good? Does the video have to be steady? Does the editing (if there is any) have to be decent? Does the video have to show something about you or your environment? Does it have to mean something to anyone? Who’s watching it? Friends? Family? People you don’t know that live in other cities, states or countries? What’s your responsibility to your viewers? Do you make videos with the viewer in mind or only yourself, and if they don’t want to watch, they can “change the channel” by clicking on a different link?

See what I mean? 🙂 Don’t ask. Let’s just assume that there’s something called a video blog, and lets assume that it’s “video on a blog” like Steve said.

Now, lets assume that someone has this video blog and they want to make some money from it. They have a few options. They could get sponsored by some group, in which case they are paid to put their show on regardless of how many views/hits/clicks/whatever they get. They could sell advertising themselves and include the ad in their actual video. They could have advertising on their web page and not on the video at all. They could place their video on a hosting site that features revenue-sharing.

If you post video to a revenue-sharing host, the basic deal is that the host makes arrangements with advertisers to pay them to place ads on their site or on their videos. The “sharing” part comes in when the host offers content creators (the people actually uploading the videos) a percentage of the money that the host gets from the advertisers which happened to be generated by a video that that creator uploaded. There are wikis on the technical aspects of this, including “cost per impression” (cpi), “cost per action” (cpa) and “cost per click” (cpc). You might get paid if the advertiser’s ad is seen. You might only get paid if the ad is clicked on by whomever views your video. You _might_ only get paid if someone clicks through AND buys something from the advertiser. Even then, “getting paid” depends on you getting enough credits to get over a certain amount of currency, say $20, because it doesn’t make sense for companies to send out individual checks for 15 cents each to thousands of people.

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Once you’ve decided on a host, you need to decide (assuming you GET to decide) how ads are run on your videos. There are several options for this, the basic ones being pre-roll, post-roll and mid-roll.

Pre-roll means that the advertisement comes on before your video plays. You will hope that this video is really short, because people are going to tune out if they decide they aren’t willing to wait through advertisements they didn’t ask to see when they clicked on your video. Then again, that might not matter if you get paid just for showing their ad. Since it’s in the front of the video, the viewer already saw it, so you get paid, right? Well… maybe. It depends on what the host considers a “view”. If “view” means that someone started your video, then you’re good. If “view” means someone COMPLETED your video, and they tuned out because of your pre-roll ad, you lose. 🙂

Post-roll means the ad comes on after your video has played all the way through. The risk there is that the viewer won’t watch all the way through. Once they get to the end, either you get paid when the ad shows up, or you get paid if they click through or you get paid if they click through and buy something.

Mid-roll means the advertisement comes on while your video is still playing. Mid-roll can be absolutely ridiculous, depending on how it’s implemented. I saw a mid-roll ad that took up the whole screen of the video AND replaced the audio like a regular commercial that comes on television. When the ad came back, the video had been running the whole time, and whatever was said during the time was completely lost. It happened to be on an interview show where the accomplishements of the interviewee were being listed. That kind of mid-roll doesn’t work, because they just throw the ad in anywhere. If you don’t care about your content, however, it doesn’t matter. If you weren’t telling a story anyway, and it doesn’t matter to you when sections of your piece are obscured, then it’s fine. As an editor, I can tell you that A LOT OF ATTENTION is paid to where we go to commercial, how many times we go to commercial, how we go to commercial and how we come back to the program from commercial. Throwing up full-video-sized advertisements just anywhere is completely horrible and ruins immersion.

There are other forms of advertising while your video’s being played. There might be visual advertisements that don’t take up the whole screen and don’t obscure audio at all. There might be ads that don’t run on your video but next to your video the whole time it’s playing. These ads might be animated or change every few seconds. I find these types of ads REALLY annoying, because the motion pulls your eye from the video content and ruins immersion. Once again, this choice is good for people that don’t really care if someone’s watching their video or not. If they’re using the video to get your eyes on their advertisements… mission accomplished.

Personally, I’m a sponsorship fan. There’s too much business involved with monetizing video for it to be worth ANY of my time to deal with it. The more time you spend trying to advertise your videos, the less time you spend MAKING those videos. 🙂 I’d rather leave it to the hosting site, set it and forget it. Also, unless you know A LOT of kids that fall off of A LOT of skateboards, you’re not going to be creating consistent viral video…. well… unless you’re one of these video thieves that steal other people’s content and re-post it… but that’s another issue entirely.

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Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack

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