Curated video: A winning formula?
Video is hot. Curation is hot. So why not combine the two?
That’s the premise of Magnify.net, a video publishing platform designed to help publishers build libraries of videos culled from a variety of sources. The company claims a customer base of 69,000, including publication websites such as New York Magazine and associations such as American Business Media.
A few key themes emerged from a phone interview I had with Magnify’s founder and CEO Steve Rosenbaum.
Three sources of content
First, unless you’re a broadcast or cable company whose business is creating video content, you’ll never have the resources required to create enough original video to scale – at least to the point where the cost of making it is less than the revenue you draw from it. Rosenbaum doesn’t discourage publishers from making their own video content, but he sees it as just one component in the overall video mix, complemented by video that exists broadly on the web (e.g., on YouTube, Hulu, or on corporate sites) and video that your audience submits directly to you.
Those three sources address the volume issue. The differentiator, Rosenbaum said, is a publisher’s ability to curate those videos in a way that’s contextually relevant to its audience. Simply aggregating video is not enough, considering all the banal or inappropriate content that would be scooped up as part of a fully automated solution. Which means no cute cats – unless those suit your audience. “It is possible to have Magnify put videos on your site without human interaction, but we do not recommend that,” Rosenbaum said.
Magnify automates the feeds but lets the publishers decide which trusted content sources to pull from, and those sources can be set up with different levels of permission. Some videos, for example, might require approval before being posted, while others can be published directly to the library.
Another key element is how Magnify can help publishers monetize their video libraries. By embedding videos on their own video channel instead of on YouTube, publishers will see higher CPMs. In addition, those videos will likely draw additional traffic as they are syndicated across the Web. “Once a video through Magnify is brought to your page, everywhere it goes from there, all that traffic comes back to you,” Rosenbaum said. “We’re crediting value to the curator.”
Publishers are also creating an additional revenue stream by integrating sponsored video into the Magnify platform. New York magazine has done this with a series of videos from Target (scroll to the bottom of the page on this link).
Filling a niche
Another key point: Rosenbaum believes there’s enough video content on the Web to make curation a viable option for even the nichiest of publishers.
“Niche magazines are looking for new revenue sources. And in some ways, the further you get into the niches, the more surprising the level of quality [of video] you get back,” he said. “If you’re ‘Industrial Bedsprings Weekly,’ there are videos that every one of the suppliers and manufacturers in that industry have made that are sitting somewhere on a server, waiting to be aggregated.
“The ABM has a very narrow, long tail,” added Rosenbaum, “and we have no trouble finding content for them.”
Warming up to UGC
Rosenbaum also noted that publishers are warming up to the concept of publishing user-generated videos. “If you’re Golf Digest, and every reader has a camera that they’re taking on their golf vacations, why wouldn’t you want them to share those videos with other passionate golfers?”
There’s a clear economic benefit as well, because the publisher now can directly monetize those videos.
All the more reason, he says, for wary publishers to begin cultivating user-submitted videos. “If you’re not raising your hand and inviting visitors to send you video, you can bet that someone else is,” he said. “And once users commit to doing that for another site, it’s much harder to steer them back to you.”
Magnify charges a monthly licensing fee for its enterprise platform, which encompasses a full content management system for locating, retrieving, uploading and organizing videos, embeddable players and thumbnail widgets, advertising and campaign management tools and analytics (there are also free and pro versions for smaller sites). The company also takes a cut from any revenues derived from the videos.
“We want our pricing model to reflect your revenue model,” Rosenbaum says. “You sell on a CPM basis. We charge on a CPM basis. We don’t believe publishers want to buy bandwidth.”