Everything is going mobile, including video

April 29, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized 

Mobile Phone

The news ecosystem has suddenly gone mobile.  Including video.

And I’m not sure the news producers realize it.

According to online advertising distributor BrightRoll, mobile video advertising will surpass online video advertising this year.  Their CEO is quoted as saying that requests for mobile video ad exchanges have jumped from les than 5% to 40% of traffic in one year.  And that mobile advertising requests overall have increased 4,000% in the past year.

The stats I’ve seen from my own paper also indicate an extremely rapid and across-the-board leap to mobile platforms for news consumption.

Even at the generally reactionary broadcast crowd at the NAB convention this year, a lot of talk was about ‘second screens’ and the way the audience are using their ipads and smart phones while watching broadcast TV.

“Stop thinking of producing stuff. Those days are over.”  That was a comment from Michael Rosenblum on the NewspaperVideo email list as we talked about the switch to mobile.

But are those days over? YouTube is putting $100 million into producing original content.

Netflix generates by far the largest amount of internet traffic – as much as 30% and growing.

Online video advertising is setting records when connected to professionally-produced content on Hulu. “Delivering another record month, Hulu recorded more than 1.7 billion video ad views in March, while Google Sites — i.e., YouTube, ranked second with more than 1.2 billion video ads. The BrightRoll video network came in third with 953 million, followed by Adap.tv with 892 million, and Specific Media with more than 775 million.”

User-generated-content for media sites has been generally unsuccessful. It certainly has been at my paper and heavens knows we’ve tried. CNN has had some success with iReport, but they have dedicated resources to vetting the content and only review for publication a tiny fraction of ireports, and those are from news that is usually already making headlines. (See a fascinating master’s thesis on ireport and gatekeeping from Amani Channel here: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2597&context=etd )

For generations, our journalism model has been based on advertising paying the bills by surrounding the content. Even online, where advertising only generates pennies on the dollar compared to print, we’ve had a decent amount of success with all sorts of banners, flyouts, pre-rolls, sponsored pages, search-based ads, and individually targeted advertising. Some print media companies are making up to 50% of their revenue online.

But as things move to mobile, you lose some of the opportunity to surround your content with advertising. When the consumer is paying by the bit for their data, they’re going to object to too much advertising around the content they want to see. Mobile means 140 character stories, headlines, and links. On the video front, I’m guessing long form is out.

But how do we continue with advertiser-supported journalism on mobile devices? Stipends from the carriers? Sponsors on handsets and tablets?

Public-financed journalism? NPR is a shell of its former self; government funding has disappeared. The BBC ain’t doing so hot these days, either.

I don’t have a clue what the answer is. Just that things are changing. The wholesale jump to mobile consumption of news is an amazing and extraordinarily rapid change to our ecosystem. It doesn’t seem like many folks are talking about it but the traffic stats are really clear. Everything has changed on the news front. Our audience is now on smart phones.

How do we serve them? How do we survive?

(And I’m loving the debate on crowd-sourcing vs. gate-keeping. Just remember that Fox is the most popular news channel, Kony2012 is bunk, and your Facebook feed is full of hoaxes. And Hitler rose to power in a democratic republic.)


2 Responses to “Everything is going mobile, including video”

  1. Regina McCombs on April 30th, 2012 4:04 am

    Keep in mind that many of these studies — likely most — count tablets as part of the mobile space, which has the potential to be an amazing space for well-produced video. And the quality of the viewing experience on some of the bigger phones is really quite lovely, so I don’t it necessarily argues for bad, or even extremely short, video (although it might. We’ll have to get more data for that).

    That doesn’t answer the question of how we’ll pay for it, but I don’t think the screen size is the issue — the business model is.


  2. Brian on May 2nd, 2012 10:34 am

    I have my own complaints about NPR, but I wonder why you say “NPR is a shell.” Because of the Kroc money?

    As for mobile video, I think we have to admit that we’re talking about younger people, of certain demographics, who are not traditional news consumers. All those traditional news consumers (newspaper subscribers, nightly news viewers) haven’t all disappeared yet. But when advertising is considered, yes those young tech-savvy eyeballs represent big dollars now and in the future. There’s still the big question of how to turn those young people into reliable news consumers.

  • Filthy Lucre: I don’t control what ads run here… caveat emptor