Get your act together with video, or give it up

Andy Dickinson has written a 2008 prediction post that’s a must-read for every newsroom — not only because he predicts the death of newspaper video (there’s some juicy link bait!) but also because his insights point the way to producing video in a manner that would enhance your Web site and better serve your audience.

I’m going to spin Andy’s ideas here in an effort to get you thinking smarter. Be sure to read his post — he has lots more there.

1. Get your act together on your site’s metrics. If you don’t know exactly how many people are watching each one of your videos, and when, and for how long, then what the heck are you doing? I mean, how can you even tell if the audience likes one type of video more than another? Do you discuss this in your newsroom? Do you publicize the numbers? Why not? (Are you afraid to admit you don’t know what you’re doing?)

2. Get your act together on a strategy for video stories. Who shoots, and why? Each day, which stories are selected for video, and why? Are the criteria clear? Are they written? Are they discussed? Do you do a debriefing each day about yesterday’s video — what worked and what didn’t work — and why?

3. Get your act together on workflow for video. Who edits the video, and how long does it take? How fast do you get it up online? Who posts it online? Is there a bottleneck? Do people have adequate access to equipment and software for editing and compressing and uploading? Is this workflow clear to everyone involved? Have you asked for suggestions on how to improve it?

4. Get your act together on placement and promotion. Can the audience even find your videos? Can people easily e-mail links to their friends? Do the links break after one week? Are the videos tagged for SEO and topped with a proper headline in every case? Do you have a decent video player that works properly for most of your audience? Are videos promoted in the print newspaper and also on the home page of the Web site? Are they linked directly to related stories?

5. Get your act together on making money from your video. If you do not have pre-roll on every video AND you also do not have a big-money sponsored ad on the video player page — why not? Is it because nobody watches your video? (If that’s the case, see Nos. 1 – 4 above.) If you have people coming to the site and watching your video, then it’s high time you start selling ads on it. Jump over that wall, walk up to the VP of advertising, and make him or her watch your videos. Explain your strategy (see No. 2). Discuss the metrics (see No. 1). Insist that the ad department come up with a plan to sell ads on your video by the end of January. If they can’t do it, then you’re going to prove Andy right. Your video is going to die this year.

14 Comments on “Get your act together with video, or give it up

  1. Hey Mindy

    That’s why I love blogging. You write some half-sense ramble and then someone comes along and makes sense of it. Many thanks

    I like the development of the theme – nice tight ideas to work with.

    For me the metrics one is a big one. I get the feeling there are going to be a lot of newsrooms having to defend video and multimedia this year and without good metrics they are doing it with both hands tied behind their backs.

    I’ve some sympathy with newsrooms here as a lot of the time the editorial pages are the last ones to get hooked up to any tracking systems in any meaningful way. I would encourage anyone without good metrics to at least see if they can squeeze google analytics in to their templates.

  2. You did all the heavy lifting, Andy. And you went out in front and raised the alarm!

    Journalists on the ground need to start demanding stats and metrics. They’re being asked to do things based on no data and no intelligence. They need to stand up and say, “Show me the numbers!” Or at least, “Show me the plan!”

    If management has no plan to show, then the journalists need to take up the reins and ride this horse.

  3. There’s no reason to sell pre-roll to make money off of video. There are better revenue options (such as overlay).

    Pre-roll kills audience usage.

  4. Video has become such a hot topic in newsrooms that some, I suspect MANY, are failing to produce good core products.

    Video isn’t what drives traffic at TV sites, it won’t be at newspapers or radio stations either. It can engage an existing audience, help drive up some page view numbers — but video stinks at building a loyal audience.

    You want folks to come for the news and stay for the (advertising laden) extras — not the other way around.

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  7. I second what Howard said about preroll.

    This type of advertising is, or should soon become, about as valuable as remnant display ads — meaning essentially worthless.

    And, as Howard also points out, they could drive traffic *away* from your videos.


    Google Analytics is only going to tell you so much about who is watching your videos.

    What you really need is detailed information about how long folks are sticking around once that “play” button is pressed.

    You also need to know how ads are being viewed, and whether or not they’re clicking through on those ads.

    Counting page views is not enough.

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  9. Thats a fair point Patrick.

    If you change the ‘at least’ to ‘even’ and read with an exasperated tone that is more what I was aiming at.

    I still see, especially in organizations with centrally managed or corporately sourced cms’,newsrooms with little or no metric data. Ad departments have this stuff coming out of every hole but it often never gets further than the editors briefing.

    I appreciate that Analytics is not the best. It’s biggest limitation being its day delay, but its free, easy and something is better than nothing to start with.

    If you can get better, especially one that will give you proper eyeball metrics then thats all the better.

  10. I’m no fan of pre-roll, but whatever the mechanism, someone had better sell some ads that support all that video that’s being produced. If the company can’t figure out any way to make it pay, then why do it? It’s not like most video serves a public duty — it’s not a necessary function that must be done even if it loses money.

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  14. Thanks for this. Andy has hit the nail on the head. Online video, particularly in developing contexts draws relatively low impressions not only because of bandwidth issues but also because shovelvideo is all pervasive and exclusive footage is rare or poorly promoted. Newspaper videos seldom distinguish themselves from accompanying articles in their shells. Multimedia editors need to learn that not every story lends itself to video treatment (or if they do, at least not using the standard storytelling formats employed). Economic recession and slow returns on the promise of online video advertising will soon begin to bite. Newspapers doing video would do well to consider the network tv model. Develop a system for tagging and categorising your videos, note what kinds of genres work (sport, gossip, personality, eyewitness, investigative/in-depth scoops) and which don’t, check your metrics and where your impressions are coming from and change the approach as needed vis a vis content, presentation and promotion.

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