Sunday, January 15, 2006

Google Video: "Slow" Start is Fairly Meaningless as Premium and Amateur Sources Merge

The consensus is that Google is off to another slow start in terms of site design with the premium portion of Google Video, relying on users to help them tune what they really want and need from an online video service. Although that's somewhat of a risk given the rate at which Yahoo is developing a very media-savvy balance of professional and amateur sources, it's early enough in the development of online video services that listening to your users carefully is probably a very good idea. More to the point, Google is much more in-your-face than Yahoo with selling premium video content - from any source.

The advent of more mature DRM functions is providing a somewhat different playing field for video producers than other content producers had bringing professionally-produced content to the Web earlier in its development. Effective DRM will allow premium content to be exposed toe to toe with free results and to be monetized very effectively. This is something that in general the traditionally print-based publishing community has stayed away from, but now with video searching trying to take hold in a mixed free/premium model we may see some changes in this area.

In the long run that's a good thing for the content industry, but it will mean some significant pressures for producers to rethink how they are monetizing content. The movement in content monetization is towards making profits out of context, not out of distribution. Pay per view will help video content from existing premium channels to get out to some degree in the beginning of online video. But amateur sources are as likely to gain as social bookmarking, social content distribution and enhancement of socially distributed video take off , as seen in phenomena like the Star Wars Kid video. This will begin to make the video industry look increasingly like weblogs and other user-generated media that rely on the acceptance of peers to create content value more than centralized marketing. While a strong focus on amateur sources won't be an excuse for Google to drop the ball on gathering video content from mainstream sources more effectively it will challenge mainstream sources over time to create products that can compete on a more level playing field with amateurs. The topsy-turvy world of online content is about to get a little more shaken up - again.
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