What the online video space needs to be successful

Magma's site appeals to the right side of my brain.

Hulu’s massive traffic bump courtesy of ABC’s refreshed inventory of their fall line-up proves without a doubt that online is the second screen for people who love their TV shows.  As long as online content remains free, DVR usage will erode. 

The funny thing is, people go online to watch something they already know about; they’re catching up on missed episodes of their favorite TV shows.  And the majority of people learn about new shows by – you guessed it – watching TV!  Usually those tune-in promos (aka commercials) are related demographically to the show you’re watching.  Since the spots are for related TV shows while you’re watching TV, they’re much more relevant to the viewer and much more likely to be watched than the run-of-the-mill paid ad.

So what’s the biggest obstacle for producers of online content to be successful?   An easy way to discover content.  Yes, there are certainly lots of content search engines that dump search results, or content aggregators that either provide on-site content viewing or links (the better way not to get sued).  But by far, they provide the standard, compartmentalized UI with the most popular content on top followed by the usual list of genres and/or sources.  Not a good way to discover content.  It’s just too painful.  They need to make the experience as frictionless as possible or people like me will just bail.

Tubemogul conducted research that showed that most people went directly to a specific video site (e.g. Youtube) and looked around, or came from a search link which means they were looking for a specific title.

Here are a few of the discovery-focused sites that I’ve come across:

Clicker.com – limited titles and common UI when I first looked in Nov.  They’ve recently expanded their content and navigation.  But I’m a visual person when it comes to TV / videos / movies.  I like to SEE a screenshot of the video that validates for me if the link is really what I was looking for.  Clicker relies heavily on text for the top level navigation.

Mag.ma – clean visual layout of screenshots, includes most popular content from sources that I’m interested in like twitter, TED, and digg.  It’s the AllTop model for online video.  Includes recommended content from their staff,  most active users, and a most viral display.  You have a pretty darn good chance of finding something interesting to watch.  Their screenshot of what they want to become looks really robust so good job.

Stumblevideo.com – so far, I like this one the best if I have time to spend truly discovering content.  They just start showing stuff so it’s easy to give an immediate thumbs up or thumbs down (or not).  The subsequent videos are really quite on target and I found myself watching stuff that I know I never would have found otherwise.  Really, really easy.  The Pandora of videos.

Rippol.com – a highfalutin algorithm that includes the thumbs up/down. The breadth of sources is strong (news, TV, movies, academia) but I’m presented with images of shows and have to start digging from there – too slow and painful.  I can see who else liked a show but since I don’t know anyone there (yet), not relevant to me.

ovguide.com – ouch, not for me.  Trashy layout.

What do you want in a content discovery site?

2 thoughts on “What the online video space needs to be successful”

  1. Hi, I am the Marketing Director at HeySpread.
    Thanks for this good article.
    That is true, Tubemogul is a good service.

    But you should really have a look at HeySpread for Professional Video Analytics and Video Distribution – http://bit.ly/5mD1CL.Far cheaper, with exclusive features such as YouClone (copy/paste your YouTube videos to any other platform automatically and in one shot), powerful and user-friendly interface, REST API for an easy and fast white label integration.

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