In October 2012, 183 million U.S. Internet users watched more than 37 billion online content videos, while video ad views reached nearly 11 billion. (comScore) YouTube was responsible for a large portion of those views, but not all of them. Online video is growing all across the internet and on mobile and it can be a money-maker for small business.
On one side, business’ can bring in new customers with informative videos and increase brand awareness. Then there’s the business of video – earning money from ads and becoming a YouTube star.
I know that getting started with video can be intimidating, so I talked went to Jay Miletsky, CEO of MyPod Studios for some advice. MyPod is a portal that aggregates quality video under content categories with each brand getting its own “Pod.” No piano playing cats and grandpop falling off the skateboard. They feature only videos you can use.
Here’s what Jay had to say about making your move into the thriving world of online video.
MP: A lot of small business owners want to try video as a way of promoting their business but it’s overwhelming. Where do you start?
JM: Video is an excellent way of promoting your business, but it can feel overwhelming at the start. Don’t let that deter you – it’s not always as daunting as you might think. Start with the basics – what messages do you want your viewers to get from your video? What point do you want to make? What action (if any) do you want your viewers to take after watching? Once you have this info down, the next step is to write your script, put together a storyboard, and then you can deal with the production (that’s the fun part!)
MP: If all I have is a webcam or home camera, is it worth doing?
JM: Absolutely, and don’t let an ad agency tell you any different. Audiences are pretty forgiving in terms of the quality of Web video, but even so, you don’t need the most expensive camera on the market to produce quality content. A lot of the quality comes from the lighting, the audio, the presentation, the script and the editing – you can produce some great videos with a pretty inexpensive camera.
MP: What are your thoughts on allowing ads to run on videos? Is there a better way to monetize? Is branding more important than monetizing?
JM: 30 second ads tend to turn audiences off, so it’s not the ideal way to monetize; but on the flip side, standard pre-roll and mid-roll video ads are in abundance, so it’s likely that that’s going to be your best method for generating revenue against your videos. However, if your videos are for your company, in any way promoting your brand, product, services or messaging, running ads against them seems a bit much. The biggest benefit you should get from these type of videos should be an increase in brand recognition and ultimately sales.
MP: Can you talk about the online video world outside of YouTube’s walls?
JM: YouTube is great for amateur video content. If you want to watch a South Korean dance around like he’s on a horse, or a cat falling off a shelf, YouTube is your absolute best resource. But to assume that YouTube is the only game in town is to assume that as long as there’s a CBS, there’s no need for an NBC, or an ABC, or any of the uncountable number of cable stations. Even when a show is in reruns – you can watch shows like friends on Nick at Night, or TBS, or a bunch of other channels. It’s the same online – different networks can offer their own, unique programming, or content that can be seems elsewhere, and ultimately, it’s the user experience, and individual viewer preference that will determine where they decide to watch their videos.
MP: Will we ever get to the point where people will pay for online video content?
JM: Recently, someone in my office showed me a new online video network that asked people to pay for original, web-based content, and in return promised an ad-free environment. My knee-jerk response was “that’s stupid,” and went on to focus on other things. Technically, people are already paying for online video content, through Amazon, Netflix, and a few others, but these aren’t to access original Web-based programming – they’re to watch episodic programming that originally aired on TV or in theaters. In my opinion, any programming that originates on the Web, and is produced specifically for Web-based audiences will always be free.
MP: What’s the secret to creating a marketing video that doesn’t sound like a 5 minute commercial?
JM: For one thing, don’t make it 5 minutes long. On the Web, few people want to watch programming that long, unless they’re watching an episode of their favorite TV show or a movie. Beyond that, give real information that users will find valuable – that can support your brand without being too self-serving. For example, an online show that teaches people how to save money in 2 minute clips (make coffee at home for 50 cents per day, rather than spent $4 at Starbucks) can be sponsored by “ABC Bank” as a way to show that their brand and set them up to be the experts when it comes to savings. But none of episodes should recommend that the best way to save is to visit your local ABC Bank branch and open an account – that turns the whole thing into a commercial, and you’ll lose your audience almost immediately.
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It’s time to get started. Plan and shoot a 2 minute informative video that ties into your brand over the next two weeks. Post it online, then come back here and give us the link. We’d be happy to be your first comment on your first video. Make it so!
And thanks to Jay Miletsky for taking the time to answer my questions.