Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why YouTube Is Not Your Video Strategy

The Rise of Video Marketing

Video is now a mainstream part of the marketing mix. It is being used in more and more brand communications. One of the major reasons for this is that distribution of video is now both cheap and easy.

Gone are the days when you needed to duplicate VHS tapes or DVDs and then mail them in their hundreds or thousands.

(The cost of producing video has also declined as more people become skilled and tools of the trade become much more accessible and cheaper).

But, just as with every other part of the marketing mix, you need to think about content and context. Just as you wouldn’t produce an ad and place it in just one publication or use a Facebook page as your website, you need to be able to distribute to multiple outlets, platforms, apps and online systems and maintain your branding and the user experience.

And this is the issuer with YouTube. Sure, you can use it to conveniently upload and manage videos and then to create embeds or built in tools to distribute, but this is like using Facebook as your webpage or placing all your ads in one publication.

The reality is, if you’re serious about video marketing then you need a purpose built professional platform to manage and distribute your productions.

However, the purpose of this document isn’t to dismiss YouTube – it has an important part to play in your video marketing strategy. It’s just that it shouldn’t BE your video marketing strategy.
Let’s look at some of the issues.

The Context

Sometimes it’s worth considering the bigger picture in life. Very few major content owners trust YouTube with their main content: this is because people who value their content see YouTube as a real danger. YouTube is part of Google, a company that has installed itself, cuckoo-like into the media industry and makes its money from intermediating content without investing in content production.

You may be comfortable with this, but what about all those dodgy videos, the pirated content and all of your competitors’ content that will end up next to your productions and logo ?

Piracy is rife on YouTube and downloading the videos is just so easy (eg www.clipconverter.cc) .

Do You Care About Your Brand ?

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

       Are your corporate colours red and black ?
       Do you care about pasting YouTube branding over your own website ?
       What does your use of YouTube convey to customers (too cheap to do this ourselves ? Incapable of doing technology yourselves ?)
       Are you happy to have little or no control over your branding ?

This is what highly customised pages on YouTube look like:

And this is how a properly branded online presence with your own channel might look like (of course, you should be able to manage both of these from a professional online video platform):


And then there are further issues when you look at your mobile presence. Here you are part of the vast YouTube universe and are represented, once more, by their logo:

Moreover, if you decide to invest in native apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, you cannot use your YouTube videos to power these.


Now, you would imagine that if you’re using YouTube as your video platform this would benefit you in search results on both that platform and within the greater Google ecosystem. However, our research shows that this is far from the case, especially for generic content. This is partially because your content simply gets treated on an equivalent basis to all the other content on the platform and you do not have opportunities to differentiate your content.

Accountability & Legal Issues

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of using YouTube as a video platform are around the legal conditions and terms of usage. To sumamrize:
       YouTube can turn off any of your content, or even your whole channel tomorrow
       You have no SLA
       No guarantee of services
       No control
       You just trust that it works
       And what happens when it doesn’t ?
       You Tube streams regularly fall off – we reckon their availability is around 98% - we offer 99,99%. That’s three hours a year against seven days

So, let’s look at these issues in more details by going through the current YouTube terms of service (Nov 2014)

You can’t commercialize it:
you agree not to use the Service (including the YouTube Player) for any of the following commercial uses unless you obtain YouTube's prior written approval:
  1. the sale of access to the Service
  1. the sale of advertising, sponsorships or promotions placed on or within the Service, or Content;
  1. the sale of advertising, sponsorships or promotions on any page of an ad-enabled blog or website containing Content delivered via the Service unless other material not obtained from YouTube appears on the same page and is of sufficient value to be the basis for such sales
prohibited commercial uses shall not include (i) uploading an original video to YouTube, (ii) maintaining an original channel on the Website in order to promote a business or artistic enterprise, (iii) showing YouTube videos through the YouTube Player or otherwise on an ad-enabled blog or website, subject to those advertising restrictions set out in 5.1(E)(iii) above; and (iv) any use that is expressly authorized by YouTube in writing;

You can’t really customize it:
if you use the YouTube Player on your website may not modify, build upon or block any portion or functionality of the YouTube Player including but not limited to links back to the Website;

You have no access to your viewer information
you agree not to collect or harvest any personal data of any user of the Website or any Service (and agree that this shall be deemed to include YouTube account names);

You can’t use it to promote your company
you agree not to use the Website or the Services (including the comments and email features in the Website) for the solicitation of business in the course of trade or in connection with a commercial enterprise;

They can change things without telling you
YouTube is constantly innovating in order to provide the best possible experience for its users. You acknowledge and agree that the form and nature of the Service which YouTube provides may change from time to time without prior notice to you.

They can just stop the service at any time
As part of this continuing innovation, you acknowledge and agree that YouTube may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Service (or any features within the Service) to you or to users generally at YouTube's sole discretion, without prior notice to you
And you lose control of your rights
When you upload or post Content to YouTube, you grant:
  1. to YouTube, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable licence (with right to sub-licence) to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform that Content in connection with the provision of the Service and otherwise in connection with the provision of the Service and YouTube's business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels;
  1. to each user of the Service, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such Content to the extent permitted by the functionality of the Service and under these Terms.

In particular YouTube does not represent or warrant to you that:
  1. your use of the Service will meet your requirements,
  1. your use of the Service will be uninterrupted, timely, secure or free from error,
  1. any information obtained by you as a result of your use of the Service will be accurate or reliable, and
  1. that defects in the operation or functionality of any software provided to you as part of the Service will be corrected.

Commercial Restrictions

If you’re looking to monetize YouTube as a platform, you may well be better off taking a different approach. Payback from YouTube is notoriously low, For rights:
Ellen Shipley, the co-writer (with a 50% share) of Belinda Carlisle's Heaven Is a Place On Earth reported receiving $38.49 for the 2,118,200 streams the track had accumulated on YouTube in the last quarter. For the over 330,000 hits her 'N Sync track I Drive Myself Crazy had on the video site, she received $4.31. "I can't even buy a pizza for that," she pointed out.
(source: The Guardian)

And for advertising:
 On YouTube, the average rate for pre-roll ads, those 30-second commercials that you must watch before seeing a video, is $7.60 per 1,000 ad views, down from $9.35 in 2012, according to TubeMogul, a video ad-buying software company. The same pre-roll ad on a broadcaster’s site, like that of CBS or CNN, would cost more than $20 per 1,000 views.
(source: NY Times)

There are also restrictions for most content owners on other forms of commercialisation:
       No channel subscription
       No pay per view
       No pay per download
       Advertising limited to automated Google model with low CPM rates
       Conversion rates for vCommerce are low


Research is increasingly showing that platforms such as Facebook are more engaging context for video than YouTube.


It might appear that 11.3 billion views is a lot, but if you know that around 650 million videos are loaded onto the platform every year (source: Google), then that’s an average of 20 views per video per month. You can do better by spreading your video around many sites, channels and distributors.

What Others Are Doing

Moreover, major YouTube studios such as Maker Studios (recently bought by Disney) and LoveLive are building their own platform neutral markets. They must have sound reasons for doing this and not just sticking to the platform that they previously used.

But On The Positive Side..

YouTube provides an excellent social medium for the delivery of video. We would encourage all of our clients to add short form content to it which is linked back to their own branded and controlled channel. Think of it as the pre-show you see in the cinema – trailers and promotions, not as the cinema show itself: that’s where the money is and what you should control for your brand.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Do they know it's Christmas ?

Hats off to Sir Bob Geldof for trying to help re; the Ebola crisis. Interesting also to note how willing the British public are to support initiatives such as this and children in need whilst they object to the centrally imposed international aid budgets. Unfortunately these look suspiciously like big time vanity projects for the politicians involved. Much like Capt "Red Legs" Tyrell in the classic movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales" they may feel that "Doin right ain't got no end". Fans of the movie will know how that story ends.

Returning from my brief excursion away from the editorial guidelines applying to IPTV Times (apologies Iolo) there is a relevance to this particular song and the digital age.

The first version was recorded in 1984 (pre-internet) and was sold as a single for £3.50. It sold 3.7 million copies in the UK alone - having sold one million in the first week.

The 2014 update is available on Itunes for £0.99.

It does not look to be available on Spotify at the moment and if it was would generate an average royalty per play of @ $0.007.

In the 2014 Digital Age the track would need to be played 80,000 times on Spotify to equal the revenue from the sale of one single in 1984.

Unfortunately a brief surf around the reasonably well lit sections of the web show lots of free copies already being provided by the pirates. Purchasers on Itunes will not be driven by exclusivity but active choice.

However following Sir Bob's appearance on the X Factor he invited £5 contributions via mobile payment and £1 million was donated in 5 minutes. So - good news here.

Does any worthwhile pattern emerge from this selection of data ?

To some extent this validates the Spotify argument that digital has changed everything and that defending old business models is analogous to running a "save the dinosaur campaign" (they are cuddly and you know it) just prior to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.

Spotify while young in general terms is mature in digital terms and  ranks as the 523 largest website in the world and 154th in the USA (source: Alexa). Lack of traffic / scale does not appear to be the issue. The royalties they pay (however small) may just be what the 2014 market dictates.

Given that the music industry is the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the digital media industry (music is about 5 years ahead as given small music file sizes they work over narrowband) what useful forward guidance can this offer ?

A quick look at this video shows the massive scale of video piracy  as identified by our Sentinel systems across a single major sports channel BeInSport.

Logic suggests that barring any other major change general digital content will come under massive downward pricing pressure from the pirates. The spotify point of view that the industry is locked in a mindset that they are competing with each other when if fact they are competing with the pirates may in the end be valid.

All rights are now non-exclusive by default.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Obama v FCC Stand Off On Net Neutrality

In the past we have been all in favor of net neutrality and then against it. Now, it seems that this dichotomy has hit the US internet industry in response to the President throwing his hat into the ring on the side of treating internet provision as an utility that should be equally available to everyone.

Lining up behind him are those companies that piggy back the existing infrastructure, making little of no investment in getting their data to end users, the likes of Facebook, Netflix and Google.

Carriers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are keen to be able to charge differentiated prices for carriage, basically to make more money from the massive investments they have made in infrastructure to take bits and bytes to the end user.

However, the DMCA, passed early this century, enshrines that all carriage should be equivalent: this principle has been widely adopted in most democratic countries.

The organization entrusted with policing this is the FCC and they have become combative in response to Obama's position, reiterating their independence (a cynic would say that the President is a lame duck and the FCC has one eye on currying favor with the next administration).

So, what is best for the end user ?

Well, the crux of the matter is who will invest in improved broadband, where coverage remains incredibly patchy despite the ever sanguine analysis of governments. A reliable 10Mbps connection is a rarity in both the US and UK outside of major conurbations. And if the internet is a utility then it needs to be afforded the same availability as water and electricity, and not gas, which it currently resembles.

The arguments we recently made against net neutrality is that it prevents anyone other than ISPs from investing in last mile delivery. It's no secret that the likes of Facebook and Google have long been looking at everything from balloons to low level satellites to offer their own services. And you can bet your bottom dollar that these would be free but would subtly favor their own services, thus in great irony, the advocates of net neutrality break it (and if you doubt this, look at how Google has biased ad delivery and search results in its favor).

This is an important issue and is a mire of vested interests, both political and economic. Unfortunately, little is likely to improve for citizens of rural America (or Britain) as a result.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vodafone Joins The Fray

After EE's recent announcement that they are to launch a TV service, Vodafone has now announced an entry to the UK market. Both must be heartened by the relative success of TalkTalk, which has successfully carved a niche in the bottom end of the paid TV market.

But the UK TV market is becoming a very crowded and competitive place, with a considerable bottleneck in that one company, already in the market, provides most of the carriage. BT is the company most threatened by these new arrivals in the market, however they run much of the network that their services will need to operate on, particularly if they are to reach non unbundled exchanges.

EE has said that they will tackle the market by offering a better UI - which was met with hoots of derision by industry commentators. TalkTalk offers catch up and PVR functions at bare bone prices. So, what will Vodafone's play be ? Are the rumours that they might bid for ITV founded ? That would certainly give them the content base - including some football rights - that they require. After selling out to Verizon in the UK, and despite paybacks to shareholders, they still have a cash pile they could turn to.

This would probably all be good news for the viewer apart from two factors: all these companies are targeting a segment of the market - users with good existing broadband provision, and will most likely bid up the value of premium rights such as football and first release movies. So it just means that there is one more player with deep pockets mining the same thin vein of gold.

Television used to be called 'a licence to print money', now it's fast becoming a way of digging a deep hole and pouring money down it.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Sky Win Again

The Competition Authority in the UK has changed its mind and now so has OFCOM over perhaps the most important factor in UK TV - sharing football coverage.currently the overage of soccer is split between two pay TV providers, BSkyB and BT. The result has been huge price inflation which has resulted in huge hikes in players' salaries and increased costs to viewers.

Now the broadcasters are being forced to offer carriage of each other's premium channels.

But even though this levels the packages in the market it's not bad news for the service providers, but may be for the footballers.

If broadcasters are forced to carry each other's packages then the value of bidding for the primary rights goes down.

The result should be lower settlements the next time that these come up, so it'll be a win win for BSKyB as they gear up to buy pan European rights for the Premiership 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Liverpool v Swansea League Cup: 220,000 pirate viewers

KLipcorp's Sentinel system was monitoring piracy levels yesterday in respect of the League Cup and we tracked 220,000 unique visitors across across the 15 prioritised pirate sites. We estimate that 60% of this audience is in the UK.

The biggest individual site delivered 27,000 uniques and the most popular channel for re-transmission was BeInSport USA. Pictures were uninterrupted and in good quality.

Some commentators suggest that piracy exists primarily to fill gaps in the distribution market and in this case that argument would be supported - Sky Sports elected to show the Chelsea v Shrewsbury fixture instead.

In reality the traditional model where distribution can be controlled is over - where licensed distribution does not meet market demands piracy will emerge to attempt to fill the gap.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Practical implications of Svensson & Bestwater re IP piracy

The questions of exactly where the lines are drawn in respect of copyright infringement in the digital age have never been easy to answer. The rapid pace of technological change makes legislation put together even 10 years ago look very dated.

However the 2 judgements from the European Court of Justice in Svensson (C-466/12) and Bestwater (C-348/13) do clarify the position a bit - and not to the benefit of the content producers and rights holders. [please note the full judgment in Bestwater has not been released yet so comments below are subject to that]

In Svensson it was suggested that linking via hyperlink without permission was not a copyright infringement as on the facts of that case there was no communication to a new public.

However an important clarification;

"On the other hand, where a clickable link makes it possible for users of the site on which that link appears to circumvent restrictions put in place by the site on which the protected work appears in order to restrict public access to that work to the latter site’s subscribers only, and the link accordingly constitutes an intervention without which those users would not be able to access the works transmitted, all those users must be deemed to be a new public, which was not taken into account by the copyright holders when they authorised the initial communication, and accordingly the holders’ authorisation is required for such a communication to the public. This is the case, in particular, where the work is no longer available to the public on the site on which it was initially communicated or where it is henceforth available on that site only to a restricted public, while being accessible on another Internet site without the copyright holders’ authorisation."

This appeared to suggest that the copyright holder needed to have authorised the publication which is being linked to. Absent that an infringement would have occurred.

In Bestwater the embedded item was an unauthorised item on YouTube that was then embedded without permission. An example of this type of content could be viewed here for example (the automated detection systems are clearly on vacation).

Based on the above statement from Svensson it might have been expected that since the initial publication was not authorised then its subsequent hyperlinking / embedding etc was not either and therefore constituted a communication to the public.

However - the information released so far suggests re the Bestwater judgment indicates that once the content is "out there" on the web then subsequent linking or embedding represents no further infringement as there is no new communication to the public. The draft translation reads;

“The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology … does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication,” (courtesy: TorrentFreak)

In the fairly theoretical world of IP law this may seem perfectly logical. However at KLipcorp we are constantly monitoring the piracy landscape and the fact is that the lion's share of all live piracy is in fact embedded links from other sources that are already "out there" .

The permission of the rights holder surely has a part to play here ? If is does not then effective management of IP piracy has become more difficult as it will be necessary to show who first published the content as those who have merely linked to it or embedded it are not in breach. In the digital age this is a distinction without a difference.