(Editor’s Note: This is the last in a three-part series on local online news video, summarizing the findings of a thesis study that examined the Minnesota media market and their use of online video. Part one looked at content and part two examined design and usability. Love to hear feedback in the comments below.)
It is clear that the economy has damaged efforts to expand and improve online video. Many local news sites have had to cut staff, and they are working to produce content in survival mode. However, video advertising is expected to have the largest growth out of any sectors in online advertising. In December, eMarketer released predictions for video ad spending, saying that it would rise by 45 percent in 2009 to reach $850 million. Though ad spending has slowed a bit, video advertising remains strong. The opportunities are tremendous. However, half of the local news sites have yet to implement or even sell a video advertisement.
Taking advantage of the expected growth and monetizing video content:
- Internal hosting: It provides more opportunity to monetize videos. News sites with a significant interest in monetizing video content should move away from hosting content on sites like YouTube, which provide little opportunity for profit from revenue sharing.
- Pre-roll advertising: It has proven the most effective thus far. Half of the local sites included pre-roll advertisements, while the rest did not incorporate advertisements in videos at all. The Star Tribune uses an effective system based on length of content, rather than a number of videos, before showing a pre-roll ad. This seems to be the best balance in incorporating advertising within videos without ruining the reader’s experience. WCCO’s Daenzer said post-roll ads are not attractive to clients because viewers rarely stick around to watch them. With pre-rolls, on the other hand, viewers already have an interest in watching the video and are more willing to sit through a short advertisement, Daenzer said.
- Complementing ad forms: Incorporating a banner ad that complements the video ad provides more exposure on the page and is usually more attractive to advertisers.
- A 15 second rule: None of the five news organizations that displayed ads used ones that were more than 15 seconds long. Because the attention span of online video viewers is lower than that of television, advertisements longer than 15 seconds are likely to lose a viewer, Daenzer said. Hulu and other sites have had some great success with offering longer ads to be able to watch shows ad free, but it is hard to tell whether a similar practice for news webcasts would be acceptable with viewers and appealing to advertisers.
- Search: Search advertising is expected to grow as well, and news sites could take advantage of the revenue that Google search has been making money off of for years. If local news sites incorporate specific video searches, they could sell sponsored links to appear at the top.
- Producing advertisements: According to Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, news companies need to create a separate staff with divergent ideas that will sell online advertising. As the economy recovers, local news sites should seek to hire specialized video advertising producers and online sales staff to tap into the online market. Video ads are still only a small piece of advertising. It totals only 5 percent of website revenues for newspapers and 10 percent for television websites.
More importantly, in all aspects, to expand and improve video, the local news sites will have to focus more efforts and resources online to decrease the gap difference in online versus print or on-air advertising. The need for quality, innovative approaches to online news video are greater than ever.
- Star Tribune (www.startribune.com) – Daily Metro Newspaper
- Pioneer Press (www.twincities.com) – Daily Metro Newspaper
- Minnpost (www.minnpost.com) – Online-only News Website
- The Minnesota Daily (www.mndaily.com) – College Newspaper, 4-days a week. (Disclosure: I have served as editor at this paper)
- WCCO (www.wcco.com) – Metro TV station
- KSTP (www.kstp.com) – Metro TV station
- KARE 11 (www.kare11.com) – Metro TV station
- FOX 9 (www.myfoxtwincities.com) – Metro TV station
- Minnesota Public Radio (www.mpr.org) – Public Radio station
- Minnesota Sun Newspapers (mnsun.com) – Community Newspapers (Most papers are weeklies).