Viacom’s ditching YouTube, and says they are glad they did. This FT story suggests that we may seeing the beginning of what could become a monumental shift in content distribution online. Viacom has forced YouTube to delete Comedy Central and other popular clips, and says these deletions have resulted in people heading over to the Comedy Central website to find the content rather than YouTube. This was exactly what Viacom wanted.
Key questions are shaking out about online video:
*How much of the video traffic is to the “professional” content like that produced by Viacom vs amateur content?
* How important are search engines / major video sites to finding clips? The Viacom statement suggests that people will seek the clips they want away from YouTube. However if they are using Google search to find the alternative locations of the clips Google may have successfully covered both these bases with the YouTube aquisition.
* The most important question is about $money$ and it is simply this – can video be monetized well? Nobody knows yet. I predict the answer is going to be somewhat complex, but basically no, you can’t monetize it nearly as well as pay per click advertising, where the information experience can be integrated well with the buying experience. With Video this match is going to be more difficult and usually impossible. Somebody watching a “Daily Show” clip is primarily interested in a quick laugh, and seems unlikely to wind up clicking off on an advertisement and almost totally unlikely to buy something as part of the Comedy Central clip watching experience.
Sure there will be some room to market clip specific advertising like Comedy Central hats, but that type of thing is not much of a market for the burgeoning video content industry. Even junky clips take a lot more time to produce and and bandwidth to distribute than text content, so the revenue equation is simply not as favorable and probably will always be a challenge.
I think a major challenge with Video is that many think the online video experience and advertising will be similar to Television content and monetizing. It won’t. Decentralized control and the fact almost anybody can and will produce content are changing things rapidly and globally.
The video fun, junky content, and advertising experiments have only just begun.