Posts Tagged ‘ online video ’

Pursuing Online Video Strategy (TV model vs Category model)

We have been experimenting with video content for the past 2 years and it seems like we are finding new ways to achieve audience growth.  Content is typically “king” but success also comes down to how easy it is to find content on the web. In that regard, the importance of tagging was far greater than we ever anticipated.

Recently one of our video websites, 4flagtv.com, changed it’s approach to video. Originally 4flagtv.com shared content with it’s sister site, 4cornerstv.com, based in Durango, Co. Our hope from a production and business perspective was that sharing video content between the sites would increase our inventory and give our audience more content than one production team could produce.

However, analytics showed us that videos produced in the Durango area scored poorly when compared to the page views and time spent on videos produced in Flagstaff, about Flagstaff. To support this notion we wanted to pull all the non-Flagstaff content off the site and focus on local coverage. As we prototyped what the site would look like we had very few ‘shows’ left on the site. Up to that point our programming was similar to a broadcast model.

The Broadcast model

Originally, there were shows on our Flagstaff site with particular topics and a specific host, and they were published on a regular schedule. But we were hearing from the production team that the broadcast model was actually confining what they would cover because they were always trying to find a story that would fit into the shows’ format. One such example was Escape the Grind, a show about fitness. Our shows were simply too constrictive to allow us to adequately cover topics outside their scope.

In another show, #Flag, we had far fewer parameters on what we were doing. It’s open-ended content allowed us much more free range in coverage, letting us bring together disparate topics in its two-minute-plus running time that was far more of a YouTube model than what we had been doing.

#Flag taught us that it was the content, not the brand (especially at the show level), that was important to the younger readers we wanted to court. These millennials were far more accustomed to the YouTube model of programming, not the broadcast model. And if you’re true to your audience, you need to follow what they’re familiar and comfortable with, not what you want to impose on them. Our audience didn’t care about “shows,” so we needed to move away from slavishly producing them. We also needed to acknowledge that our audience cares about specific content, and they search it out by categories.

 

The Youtube model

We decided to break the broadcast model of branded shows and move to a system that utilizes topics and tags to associate content for the user. It also allows the production team to cover a much broader range of content.

What’s different for our users? Now when they come to the site, instead of seeing videos categorized by show name and episodes, they are greeted with the latest content published in reverse chronological order. Each video has collection of tags connected to it. A user may start with a video on bicycle products, but be exposed to links to other topics such as “industrial design, bicycles, business profile, sports, downtown, Flag and Dapper Dre (a local celebrity).

The idea is to get the user to follow a click trail to videos about their favorite things. To make it easier for them, we went back through over 2,000 videos and retagged them with additional information. Navigationally, our site is now structured to make it easy to find content based on categories of content, trending content and newest releases.

We spent much time and energy promoting our show names and branded websites when in reality our viewers only really cared about content categories and the pure entertainment value we could offer. Our road map now follows a major and important detour that emphasizes tags over titles.

Below are 3 examples of our current format.

 

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Inform and Entertain is Key to Success with Online Vid @4CornersTV.com

I just finished writing an article giving a progress report on the online video channel 4CornersTV.com for NetNewsCheck.com. We are off to a great start and I hope you find this information useful. For the full article go to NetNewsCheck.com.

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4CornersTV.com, launched in February by Ballantine Communications Inc, represents a new initiative for media companies to do what will be essential to their continued success; connect with new and younger audiences.

Knowing that a demographic of 30-45 year olds would not be engaged as strongly with traditional news formats, 4CornersTV.com was created to provide them content that both informs and entertains while being accessible to them in the formats they like at any time and on any device.

After more than three months of daily production with over 275 videos produced, there have been a number of significant things we have learned. The first, and likely the most important, is the relationship between content and audience engagement. Striking a balance between information and entertainment, with the latter being the most crucial, has been the most substantially effective way to boost traffic.

Since we made adjustments to programming, caused by a slowing growth rate in our targeted audience (according Google Analytics) we have seen a 63% growth in traffic, averaging 4% growth each week. 53% of audience is between the ages of 25-45. And 30% of our traffic is from mobile devices. Our audience values the enjoyment of 4CornersTV.com programming more than it does the information gathering.

This was very evident to us on an April Fools edition of our daily “news” program “The Local Roundup.” While the Roundup has a strong daily audience, consumers weren’t as prone to share or engage with it. So we decided to use April 1 as a test case in favoring entertainment over information, and produced a program filled entirely with fake news.

From federal controls on beer production (a taboo topic in our home state of Colorado) to piranhas in a local river, the fake-news allowed humor to shine through our traditional format. This resulted in the most watched episode of “The Local Roundup” to date, and led us to a more focused initiative to drive entertainment as a first priority of production.

This focus on entertainment has also been reflected in the topics we choose to cover. Generally, the episodes that more directly reflect aspects of the area’s lifestyle are most successful. Shows about mountain biking, rafting and other adventure sports are better received than more socially-focused news.

Home Page Overview[3]

One surprising development in the first three months of production was the more peripheral role of our newsrooms in 4CornersTV.com. Ballantine Communications owns several newspapers, including The Durango Herald and The Cortez Journal. Initially, we assumed that we would draw heavily on the expertise of those newsrooms for content creation on 4CornersTV.com.

In reality, this expertise was more frequently utilized in an advisory role. The newsroom has passed along ideas that better fit the audience and experience we are focused on at 4CornersTV.com. Our newsroom now plays more of a role as a source for material, as 4CornersTV.com staff writes their own material and depending on story also originates the content.

We have also spent extensive time examining how to maximize workflow for the resources we have available. We must strike a balance between the time it takes to find great stories with the time required to produce daily programming. This has made it essential to set aside time for production teams to sit down and look ahead.

The questions we found ourselves asking: What events are happening in the next month? Which is the right show and host for this story or that? Is there a way to make this more entertaining for our audience? Being intentional about the content and branding choices we make has enabled us to couple production and promotion effectively. We needed to follow the same approach as a company dedicated to video production. Our efforts with video were thus the primary intent as opposed to an add on video to a news story.

The most impactful way 4CornersTV can build its brand and cultivate new audiences is through the addition of new programming and hosts. The first imperative is relatively straightforward. We determine the show we’d like to make, agree on a creative direction and outline the first collection of episodes.

Matching the talent with the program has proven to be a more involved process. Once a creative direction has been established for the show, the next consideration is finding the host that fits with that strategy. At 4CornersTV it starts with a casting call.

We look for hosts who seem natural on camera, even if slightly unpolished, but are able to convey an enthusiasm about the subjects they are covering. For example, once we understood that our show “In the Neighborhood” needed to be fun and fast paced with original content, we hired a host who was willing to have fun herself on camera when engaging the subject, such as letting the audience fly along with her on her first sky dive.

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Check out the rest of the article on NetNewsCheck.com. Enjoy.

 

Building a Video Channel: First Steps

I recently wrote an article for NetNewsCheck.com on the topic of building an online video channel within the confines of a traditional media business.  I included a portion of the article on my blog.  You can read entire article on NetNewsCheck.com.

As the CEO of a traditional media company, I think a lot about building audiences these days.

My company, Ballantine Communications, Inc.  (BCI), owns and operates several daily newspapers in Southwest Colorado, including The Durango Herald and The Cortez Journal. For nearly 50 years, it has been a leading source of news in these areas. But like most media organizations, BCI needs new, younger audiences to continue its strong role in the community.

To reach this demographic (ages 30-45), traditional news formats are not going to be an effective method of distribution, no matter the relevancy of the content. This audience is far more likely to consume news on a mobile device. In fact, they actively seek out video content to inform them on everything from news, celebrity gossip, buying decisions and life choices.

So my team concluded that the right type of programming for us to launch was a local-online TV channel, which we call 4cornersTV.com (4CTV). But we internally debated: Should the content be focused solely on the interests of locals? Or should it have more universal appeal to match the information tourists are looking for when researching the area? For an organization rooted in a history of traditional journalism distributed in traditional formats, an online TV channel is an exciting prospect, but logistical questions abound.

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Here was our challenge: How could we incorporate the skill sets that have been cultivated through 50-years of news gathering and content creation into a video channel focused on a new demographic, in a new format with new goals while continuing our role as a prominent information outlet for the community?

Is it possible to strategically allocate internal resources, like writers and photojournalists from the newspapers, to help create the initial mass of content 4CTV would need to entice viewers? Would these resources understand how to create content that appeals to a previously under-served demographic?

What amount of capital investment would be needed to launch 4CTV before definitive content and operational procedures were in place? Essentially, how could BCI launch 4CTV with compelling content and the ability improve its programming on the fly but without a financial over-commitment?

To successfully launch 4CTV on Jan. 27, we decided that the initial investment would have to be in talent and expertise. We budgeted to spend $25,000 per quarter. These personnel needed to produce content sought by the target audience and to manage a continuous production schedule. We found there was no substitute for the unique overlapping skill sets needed not only to produce content, but also create and manage the procedures that will be the govern the channel as a whole.

The challenges in building a new channel from scratch could only be overcome by focusing on relevant content creation and by providing local advertisers with strong opportunities to market to these prospective customers through video.

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As we built the 4CTV team, the need for demographic relevance had to be incorporated into everything from marketing to development to composition of our production team.

As we moved ahead – and continue to do so – we take every step guided by this core question: Is this content relevant to the needs of our target audience and the way they interact with digital devices? For an audience of 30-45-year-olds living in Southwestern Colorado, much of that content had to be informed by the unique lifestyle they live. In this case, this audience is active, locally-focused and drawn to the area for reasons other than a career.  Check out rest of article on NetNewsCheck.