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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Scheduling online video is a good move

TV Week reports that online video providers are increasingly looking to their TV counterparts for best practice. This is a sensible approach – while the two platforms are different (and should be treated as such) there are plenty of lessons to be learned.

Find that advertisers wait for audiences before committing isn’t a major discovery, but one of the moves announced is very savvy.

Regularly scheduling transmissions is a very good move.

Benefits of online video include the asynchronous nature, letting people choose what to watch when and where they please. But unless people are aware of what is available at any given time, how will they know to consume it?

Video consumption may be impulsive (as Tania mentions in the comments to my previous post), but that impulse is prompted. It will either be driven by an external notification such as a comment or an advert, or a memory.

I’ve found that people tend to visit TV-related sites with specific content in mind. Their visit may not have been planned, but their journey is determined by the content they know is available. Few visit to generally browse – going back to a point in my previous post; it is content driven. People’s first visit to Hulu will be prompted by word of mouth, a search or a publicised piece of content (e.g. Tina Feylin). They then become aware of the variety of content on offer (living in the UK, I am very jealous), and this memory gives another reason for subsequent visits.

TV, to an extent, follows the same path. Channel-flicking is more prevalent but people do plan in advance to watch specific shows. Push factors include

  • TV Guide – people looking at a schedule to see what is on at a point where they plan to view
  • Rituals – they know their favourite shows or strands are on at the same time on a given day
  • Conversation – personal, word of mouth recommendation is a major factor
  • Adverts/Trailers/Bumpers – giving a teaser of what to expect

TV has that live, event feel to it that online video doesn’t. The mass viewing with watercooler chat is an important element of TV. Online doesn’t scale as well, but among niche groups (or tribes, as the buzz word du jour would have it) there may well be a hunger to immediately consume and deconstruct new content. And the opportunity should be provided.

rss-feed-iconTherefore, as well as a regular schedule, prompts should also be incorporated. These could be email reminders, an RSS feed, text updates or an online TV guide that incorporates web series/online video on demand. Forums may be asynchronous but they do operate to the rules of time and as proved by many commenters, there is that urge to be “first”.

This is definitely a move in the right direction. From an advertiser perspective, will it make it easier to plan? Partially, since the timings of availability are known. But there will still be the long tail of consumption well after this, as people find out about the show and catch up. (Though people will presumably watch the show in order, and so the campaign can still be progressed over time in the intended manner.)

The key is the call to action. A schedule isn’t enough – a specific prompt is vital to driving consumption. We see it with TV driving people online, and this will be no different.


SIDENOTE: I see that Yahoo!’s record video views were driven by a combination of topical and viral videos. This is unlikely to be consistent as topical videos are event driven and virals are inherently unpredictable (see my work in progress typology), but it means that when a perfect storm hits, the spikes will be dramatic. Congratulations to them for a great month.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smb_flickr/