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Published: October 31, 2007 at 12:59 AM GMT
Last Updated: November 8, 2007 at 12:59 AM GMT
In mid-September Jack Myers Media Business Report sponsored a panel on Monetizing The Video Long Tail. While invited guests from CBS Interactive and Veoh were candid about the challenges they face doing just that, blip.tv whose COO Dina Kaplan was in the audience, believes her company's model offers solutions for generating ad revenues. Blip.tv, an online video sharing site launched in May, 2005 by friends who had first met up at a group called the New York City Geeks has been cited by Silicon Alley Investor's Henry Blodget, and PC World as one of the few Websites who are doing it right. Said TechCrunch, "[blip.tv] is the most professional video sharing solution out there." What are Kaplan's solutions?
In an exclusive interview with Jack Myers Media Business Report, Kaplan defined three discrete types of online video:
It's the third category that blip.tv is focused on nurturing, promoting, and yes, monetizing. Kaplan notes that "content has drastically evolved from Day In the Life (a la blogging) to scripted, slick productions. We're not MySpace or YouTube. To create a show, you need actors, a director, a whole production. Blip.tv is more about media than technology." Surprisingly, the content is not coming from twentysomethings, the always-on generation. It's Kaplan's thesis that folks who have experience in media and film have an edge over those who simply have technical mastery.
Blip enables content creators to easily opt-in for ads, with a fifty/fifty revenue share split. One can decide between midroll, postroll, adjacent, and overall ads, and stats can be easily accessed. The video can itself be uploaded from a myriad of formats. Kaplan offers two persuasive arguments why advertisers might find blip.tv a compelling ad buy, noting that marketers have been concerned about advertising their brands adjacent to a viral video. Blip.tv allows a sponsor the safety of reviewing a show's archive so they know exactly what they're part of. Show creators have a unique relationship with their audience; they receive comments about storylines, characters and use the feedback for inspiration. For an advertiser, notes Kaplan, "there is an opportunity to get in that conversation between the show creator and the audience."
Kaplan relishes what she refers to as "the puzzle of figuring out what the standards for monetizing TV shows on the Web" should be. When she's asked by a prospect what those standards are, she offers, "We're setting them." [Blip is a charter member of the Association for Downloadable Media, which is currently working to define standards for video advertising]. About a month and a half ago Blip noted a sea change, brands began inviting them to pitch. Kaplan believes that we will be seeing more and more dollars leave TV for Web shows. "It might not be a lot, but even one percent is a lot for Blip." Blip can wait it out. They have angel investors in ASI (Ambient Sound Investments) and Lauder Partners and low overhead. This is not 1999 all over again. This startup isn't spending tens of millions of VC dollars.
Blip.tv's offerings range from CBS' Wallstrip, the hipster series The Burg (as in Williamsburg, Brooklyn), Alive in Baghdad, Technorati's Buzz TV, and the newscast satire Goodnight Burbank. And those are the notables among literally thousands. Blip set a precedent when it first launched Amanda Congdon's blog (she late of Rocketboom) with the sponsorship of Dove and Paltalk. Rocketboom has itself recently joined blip.tv.Blip sitcom, Break A Leg
Geek TV found an underwriter in GoDaddy.com. Kaplan asserts: "If you're looking to reach a targeted demographic, Web shows are an incredibly efficient way to do that. Dewar's was interested in reaching a young, urban, and independent demo. You can throw something up on TV, put up a billboard. That's inefficient. We paired them with The Ze Frank Show – for a sponsorship. It was a great match and a great way for the brand to get out its message."
Kaplan is also bullish on shows like The Wood Whisperer (think Gen X Bob Villa) and Feed Me Bubbe (your Jewish grandma cooks a meal to remember). Over time, and with Blip both featuring these shows and promoting them to syndicators like AOL Video, they find their niche. A caveat here is that shows are transparent about their sponsorship. They frequently trade in authenticity and wouldn't dare undermine that.
Next up? Pushing content from the PC to the TV set. Blip.tv is an early launch partner of Sony Bravia's Internet Video Link Service and is Apple TV compatible. It is working to get onto TiVo's Podcaster platform and is in discussions with cable providers such as Comcast and Time Warner as they diversify offerings on their set-top boxes. Kaplan agrees that content is "best watched on a comfortable couch, not from the office chair." True enough, but something of a paradox when Kaplan notes that Blip's audience is "not necessarily watching a lot of TV anymore."
As the possibility of a Writers' Strike looms ever closer, will Blip.tv – indeed all online video that is original content – benefit? Kaplan doesn't know, but she can speak to the autonomy that creators have here: "there are no rules for this. It's liberating for a writer, for actors and directors. There's no one stopping you from doing a show." During the last Writers' Strike scribes withdrew, holed up in cabins on either coast working on spec scripts. Perhaps this time around, they'll take to the Web…
For more information on blip.tv, contact Dina Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This special report is underwritten by Teletrax, "the leader in digital watermarking for video media tracking, measurement and intelligence." For more information, contact: Peter Winkler at email@example.com. The editorial content has been prepared by Myers Publishing with no involvement or approval of sponsors.
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