Monetising The Market


A graphic demonstrating the growth in the video journalism online market (Creative Commons licence)

By Emily Craig

The Internet has opened up huge opportunities for journalism, but it has also exploded our understanding of what journalism is. Now print editors and broadcasters alike are trying to figure out how they can monetise their online operation. The problem? How to get people to pay for what they have up till now been enjoying for free. Advertising is one way of making money. So the question is – can video journalism pay for itself and, beyond that, even turn a profit?

Ad revenue has yet to exploit the online video market

Video journalism of all different types is attracting people online, but it appears that advertisers are not yet willing to bank on it. This means – as a general rule – that online advertising is currently cheaper than the print equivalent.

To put it another way: advertisers don’t yet want to abandon the full-page ad in the national daily for a banner ad around the edge of a video; at least, they’re not going to choose the latter in place of the former. This is despite the fact that it’s much cheaper to advertise online – it’s tens of pounds for an online newspaper ad and thousands of pounds for a print equivalent.

In a discussion about the future of newspapers on Newsnight last month, Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, claimed that video is becoming more and more important to newspapers. But he also said that the newspaper’s print edition (with a circulation of approximately 270 000) brings in more advertising revenue than guardian.co.uk (boasting more than 2, 250,000 daily users). For broadcasters and newspapers alike, there is still more ad revenue in the ‘old’ media.

But as more and more people opt to visit a newspaper’s website instead of buying its print edition and as the number of online news outlets increases, advertisers might express greater interest. In fact, video journalism presents advertisers with a particular opportunity. Whilst it’s easier for someone reading a website article to scroll past advertising, video can offer advertisers a better chance of securing a captive audience. A pre-roll video advertisement, screened before a video, can’t be skipped. Alternatively, adverts can be embedded around a video – so-called banner ads – and the viewer can’t avoid these adverts without the video disappearing from view.

YouTube earns most of its advertising revenue via these display banners and it claims that 35% of its visitors have purchased something they’ve seen advertised on the site. The likes of YouTube and Ustream also allow their video producers to sell ads around their content.

Video advertising is not without its risks. As Ashkan Karbasfrooshen, who set up video entertainment website WatchMojo, explains, ‘when it comes to ad-supported models, marketers will never feel 100% comfortable advertising alongside user-generated content’. 50% of YouTube videos have been commented on – and nobody seems to be defending the standard of contributions.

So the idea is that advertisers want professional content. And whilst most of YouTube’s videos don’t fit this description, the business of professional journalism is in a position to benefit. The more that newspapers and broadcasters spend on producing interesting, informative and entertaining video content, the more likely it is that advertisers will want to target their audience.

The New York Times offers advertisers the chance to sponsor its ‘latest and most newsworthy’ online videos. Perhaps most importantly, one advertiser is guaranteed 100% SOV (Share of Voice) so their advert will be the only one to appear in front of the viewer. The advertiser’s monthly sponsorship includes a 15 second pre-roll video advert before the  first and fourth videos on nytimes.com. They’re required to produce more than one version of an advert, so the same adverts will not appear back to back.

With this approach The New York Times recognises that its online readers do not expect to be exposed to a barrage of competing adverts when they view video content. But in this case, less can mean more. With fewer adverts, there is less danger of the viewer becoming bored and distracted. The thinking is that the discerning consumer of high-quality video content is a potentially valuable customer – the typical NYT reader is educated, well-travelled and wealthy. A case in point, the car company Jaguar is currently providing adverts for video.nytimes.com.

Newspapers and broadcasters are in a strong position to monetise online video, as long as advertisers are assured that they’re attaching their brand to professional content. But at a time when most newspapers (and some broadcasters) are facing an uncertain future, crippled by financial losses, how many will take the risk and spend money to make money?

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Can Local Get Vocal?

By Alex Dibble

Can we make any predictions about the future of local TV news using current video trends?

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s got big plans.

He wants to create ‘Channel 6’ – a terrestrial television option which would provide local news to around 80 different areas in the country.

Everyone within the industry’s keen on the idea. The problem is, they just don’t see it working – financially or editorially.

At the moment the BBC can’t get involved because their presence would suffocate a local media already gasping for breath.

So that leaves commercial organisations to step up to the plate, which would require small businesses in your area to buy advert spots to fund the whole thing. But small businesses don’t have any money.

At a conference on local TV at City University back in November, former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie – who helped Trinity Mirror launch local news network Live TV in 1995 – summed up the general feeling in the room. He said: “The idea of local TV is a complete disaster and anybody going into it is completely nuts.”

When asked if there was any way in which Hunt’s dreams could become reality, he answered that the content would have to be provided by the viewers: citizen journalism, user generated content, people sending in video.

It would look “amateurish” and nobody would want to watch it, but to balance the books that was the only possible avenue.

Is there currently anything that resembles this kind of production?

Well, maybe, but it’s not TV.

Local newspapers are operating on a shoestring budget today, yet many of them still produce video content.

Small papers published by Archant are so underfunded that one photo of an ambulance accompanies every ‘hospital’ story. But even the Islington Gazette found a way to imbed footage of ‘chaos’ at a council meeting.

At the 2009 Newspaper Awards, Cambridge News was commended for its video content, and if there’s a video organism capable of evolving into what Hunt imagines, it’s probably this.

Videos are short – mostly around a minute  – and give viewers a simple overview of what’s going on in the area.

It’s nothing special at all, but provides exactly what Cambridge residents would want it to.

But under current Ofcom guidelines it wouldn’t be allowed on a news broadcast because of it’s promotional slant, and many other videos on their website fall into this category.

For this reason Jeremy Hunt’s got more issues to think through than he initially envisaged.

Another example is the Yorkshire Post.

Again, it’s not rocket science to produce something like this. And, with it not being time-specific (i.e. not needing to be broadcast on the same day it was filmed), it lends itself perfectly for local TV news.

But is it interesting enough? And on a station covering a larger area would it make the editorial cut? Probably not.

It’s hard, then, to disagree with Mr MacKenzie.

What’s the Shorthand for ‘Video’?

By Ross Cullen

Trainee journalists are constantly reminded of the need to bridge the different media and be cross-platform reporters. But what of those who have already broken into the industry? How do they adapt?

Budding hacks are well aware of the importance of starting their career with established blogs, Twitter accounts and audio and visual editing skills, as well as the ability to write for online and printed media. They are not alone; the reporters ahead of them on the career path have also recognised that they have to change with the times. How are they doing it?

Staff at the Reading Post, in Berkshire, have turned their hands to online video journalism. Long gone are the days when a newspaper journalist only had to be a fast shorthander; now there is a need for video skills. The paper’s decision to launch a daily online video news bulletin illustrates a few different things:

1) An awareness that newsprint readership is diminishing and/or moving to the online versions of the publications. The editors need to hang onto their readers and interactivity is a great way of doing so.

2) The public love video. Citizen journalism is on the rise and, as previously discussed on this blog, broadcast media have already built whole pages on their online presences dedicated to video. Newspapers have to follow suit.

3) Time is of the essence. People are in a rush. Understanding that they might not have hours to sit down and read the paper cover-to-cover, the editors can still hold onto loyal readers as they visit the Post’s homepage by offering them quick, direct news in a free, 60-second video.

The Post uploads their daily video at lunchtime, giving online readers updated news during their midday breaks. As the media world changes around them, reporters need to be ahead of the game (and their competitors) in order to remain relevant and exciting. For a newspaper, enlisting the help of video on their webpages is a relatively easy and effective way of expanding their reach.

The margins of the different media are blurring. Local news services have to elbow and barge their way to the front of the public’s minds to continue to be noticed. The major TV channels tapped into video long ago. Online streaming is now clearly not solely the preserve of broadcasters.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvPtzG-6Bzg&feature=player_embedded#

Co-Operation Or Competition?

By Emily Craig

Press journalists are being forced to adapt to the new media environment and now they’re almost as likely to be dispatched on a video assignment as to be penning copy at their desks.

We’ve talked previously about how UK newspapers – even local ones – are increasingly using video to attract, or at least retain, their readers. And, as the price of video equipment continues to fall sharply, it’s now far cheaper for newspapers to cut and shoot more of their own video.

But how does a press journalist become a video journalist? After all, whilst some newspapers want (and, crucially, have the money) to recruit experts from the field, many are relying on their staffers to create video pieces. At a time when editors are seeing their budgets slashed, most of these newsroom journalists are now expected to go out, get the story, write it up for the print and online editions whilst also, on top of it all, shooting and editing a video feature for the website. And they’re probably doing all of this for more or less the same pay.

But who is training these newspaper journalists to film and edit video content? Are there enough people out there with the expertise? And how is that expertise being shared?

There’s one fact that answers a lot of these questions and it is this: it’s becoming more and more difficult for journalists to get staffer jobs. And, if you’re a freelancer, you’ve got to do all you can to show you can provide content for different platforms – and that includes video. It’s surely no coincidence that all the Frontline Club’s training courses currently being advertised focus on helping journalists master video techniques and Final Cut Pro editing software.

A video screening at the Frontline Club in London (Creative Commons)

These Frontline Club courses will set you back £125/day or £650/5 days (on average). A 5 day video journalism course at the European Journalism Centre costs most than £1000 (at the time of writing). Some lucky journalists (maybe those on staff jobs) will have their costs covered, but freelancers will be funding their self-improvement out of their own pockets. The message? Adapt or die.

So at some level the industry recognises that journalists need to be (re-)trained. But, according to several high-profile journalists who work in both print and video, the training on offer is normally too limited. And this means the quality of the video journalism on most newspaper websites is, in fact, quite poor. A lot of the best stuff is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the work of American journalists (more on that at a later date).

In an article for the American Journalism Review, Charles Layton sums up the situation: “The bulk of online news video occupies a broad, gray middle ground in terms of quality, as the industry stumbles toward a goal it cannot yet quite perceive or articulate.”

However, help is at hand with the likes of findingtheframe.com. This website describes itself as “a gathering spot where multimedia journalists can receive feedback on their videos, audio slideshows and multimedia projects from industry professionals and fellow visual journalists”.

Through initiatives like this, the experts are sharing their wisdom. Perhaps it’s less a case of Darwinism in action (different species of journalists competing for survival) and more a case of journalists of all kinds collaborating. After all, in this unfamiliar and continually evolving technological landscape, no group is guaranteed survival.

It’s A Numbers Game

By Ross Cullen

The Financial Times and The Economist use their online video content to engage and exploit the universal interest in ‘people’ and ‘celebrities’.

Last month, Emily Craig gave an in-depth look at the Wall Street Journal and the idea of paywalls on financial newspapers’ websites. In this post, we pick up on the same topic, but with a focus on the ‘personality-orientated’ use of video in the two major British financial publications.

Even hardened economists need a break from fiscal data and share indexes at some point. The FT has recognised this and come up with a clever way of introducing interviews into its coverage without losing its serious focus. It understands the interest that its readers have in the leading public figures from their financial world but does not want to expand that coverage into its print edition. As a result, the newspaper normally reserves interviews and profiles of public figures for its online video content.

The Economist also recognises the clamour for public interaction with political and business personae and has expanded its online video operations to facilitate expansion into this area. Moreover, just like the FT, it does not want to compromise its print versions with lots of magazine-style feature interviews.

By doing this, both publications can use their printed versions to deliver economic analysis and political reports whilst not neglecting the importance of interactive content. There are three main points that they have recognised:

1) Video is a key component of the online face of any printed publications

2) There is an interest amongst their readerships for profiles and interviews with leading people in the financial and business fields

3) The best medium for offering these profiles and engagements with important figures is through online video content

Interestingly, and as we have seen before, journalists are increasingly having to spread out from their traditional medium in order to maintain that vivacity and freshness which landed them their jobs in the first place. As in other publications, print journalists from the FT and The Economist are now presenting video content as well as writing print copy.

Finally, and arguably most significantly, putting such videos online facilitates reader and/or viewer interaction in a way which is absent from the newspaper. Put crudely, talking at the pages in your hand does not work; you have to use the internet to encourage reaction, comment, linking and debate from your readership. Uploading video interviews of interesting people is an intelligent and simple way to do this.

Source – Video One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4Qb_NezAf4

Source – Video Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4yN00qGBbI

Follow The Money

the FT

Financial newspapers are investing in online video journalism (Emily Craig)

By Emily Craig

It’s becoming more and more evident that the big broadcasters and their alter-egos, the solo vloggers, aren’t the only ones investing time and money in online video content. Many in the media have noticed that newspapers such as The Guardian and the New York Times have been building increasingly sophisticated multimedia platforms over the past few years. But there’s now a new player in the market as the financial dailies get involved in creating and sharing video content.

So why are financial newspapers in a category of their own? Why is their interest in online video journalism more surprising?

This question can, perversely, be answered with a question – would we expect video journalism to add anything to business reportage? For a medium that relies on creating a visual impact, how it is that footage of brokers and traders staring at computer screens in strip-lit offices has the potential to make an interesting or arresting piece of video journalism?

Admittedly, the likes of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times do not confine themselves to only reporting financial news, but it’s certainly the main focus (and the most profitable part) of their output.

Now the websites of both newspapers are experimenting with the video format – and, apparently, making money out of it too. Perhaps crucially, each newspaper’s website is ring-fenced by a paywall. Their readers are paying for expert information, be it stock tips or expert analysis of the market.

And this means that their video journalism doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or particularly original – they have a captive audience, who come to their website for niche or ‘exclusive’ content, regardless of the form in which it is delivered.

But how exactly have these newspapers made a success out of the online video format? The Wall Street Journal now has 10 million streams per month of its latest videos, with more than 20 people working to produce up to 5 videos per day. Each video is bracketed by an advertisement, normally of about 15 seconds. The ‘shows’ normally come in at under 10 minutes, with some less than a minute in length, and all of them are filmed live.

We’re not talking cable television production values. Against a prosaic corporate-HQ-type backdrop, we hear live from correspondents in the newspaper’s other bureaus (another corporate-HQ-type backdrop…). Any newsworthy footage is usually provided by an agency like Associated Press or Reuters, with stills also used as wallpaper for a voicer from one of the newspaper’s journalists.

So far, not so inventive. But the style of the video ‘broadcasts’ has been compared to that of the cable TV bulletin in the US. With American networks continuing to produce programs that are more opinion-focused and less news-based, the Wall Street Journal could be onto something with its daily briefings at 8.30am and 4pm.

Video journalism online could also be a new source of commercial revenue. Advertisers are willing to pay more for a premium video slot once they’ve seen the impressive CPM (cost per thousand impressions) figures. It might even be that journalism is following the money, rather than the other way around – although that’s a difficult one to prove.

In contrast to the Wall Street Journal’s bulletin-style analysis, the Financial Times is not looking to reproduce an existing TV format. This arguably means it can afford to be a little more creative with its video output, since it’s looking to produce stand-alone ‘complimentary’ features.

However, for both newspapers at this stage, you’re left with the impression that filming a conference or interviewing a talking head is their idea of video journalism. Neither newspaper has been driven to experiment with video as a way of widening its audience or broadening its appeal.

There’s no critical need for either of these publications to be creative with presentation when they can afford to rely on the nature of their content to attract subscribers.

But, having been offered the chance to boost commercial revenue on the cheap, it’s hardly surprising that these newspapers are capable of identifying a shrewd investment. They’ve woken up to the trend, and it seems like they’re cashing in on it.

I Watch, Therefore iPad

Apple's ipad (promotional image)

Apple's iPad - introducing video journalism to the mainstream? (apple.com)

By Emily Craig

When it launched the iPad, Apple described its new product as ‘revolutionary’. And, with its 9.5 inch high resolution screen, it has been designed with video in mind.

Aware that more and more people are consuming video content online, the iPad is marketed as ‘the best way to experience the web, email, photos and video’. But is Apple responding to a demand for video content that already exists, or is it stimulating that demand?

There is clear evidence to support the latter. YouTube and Apple have collaborated on a new app, designed specifically for iPad users. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, and Rupert Murdoch, the most famous risk-taker in the journalism business, have just launched a new newspaper – The Daily Its focus? Delivering video content.

At the same time, a new report suggests that people are more likely to spend longer viewing videos on a mobile device than when they’re sitting down at their desktops. Those who own iPads demonstrate the longest ‘staying power’ (about 5 minutes). So it looks like Jobs and Murdoch might be onto something.

It could go either way for The Daily. At the moment, everything Apple touches turns a profit; Murdoch, the traditional newspaper man, is searching for a game changer. But if The Daily succeeds, it’s unlikely to be the first attempt at capturing the iPad market.

The iPad is allowing people to consume content in a different way. In fact, it’s a device designed for content consumption. Unlike a laptop, there isn’t a keyboard; unlike a laptop, with its connotations of work, the iPad advertisements show us young, attractive men and women lounging and ‘playing’.

It’s one thing to watch a music video on your iPad via its YouTube app, it’s quite another to expect the ‘news’ to arrive this way. Apple successfully sells entertainment – arguably, it’s the iPod that’s enabled the company to secure mainstream sales figures. But it’s not yet clear whether the iPad will understand, or will promote, more serious video journalism.

Many people are waiting to see what happens to The Daily. 10 million iPads are expected to be sold by the end of the year, as Apple’s competitors launch their own tablet computers.

If this new technology doesn’t invite video journalists to the party, it’s difficult to imagine who or what will finally secure them their mainstream popularity.