“The change in the industry right now is the most dramatic I've ever seen... Virtually every paper in the country is, if not diving head first, at least dipping [its] toes into video,” said videographer Chuck Fadley to the American Journalism Review.
That was nearly four years ago; it is now safe to say they are doing canon balls.
The New York Times, which started including videos with digital news stories seven years ago, now produces approximately 120 videos per month, and streams two live shows to its website every business day. The Wall Street Journal, which began shooting video more than three years ago, now produces about 50 clips per day, as well as nine live shows from around the globe. Meanwhile, the U.S. edition of the Huffington Post has recently unveiled HuffPost Live, a plan to stream live video to its website for 12 hours five days a week beginning on August 13.
Logically enough, the news content is attracted by the prospect of advertising revenue.
“We see Internet-delivered video growing very rapidly” said The Wall Street Journal’s Deputy Managing Editor and Executive Editor-Online Alan Murray. "It’s the highest CPMs we get, and... the demand from advertisers is very strong." Rahul Chopra, the Journal’s Vice President of Video, concurred: “We can’t produce enough [video] with overall advertising demand,” he said, according to a recent article by Digiday. “Video has brought on additional advertisers who may not have advertised with us.”
This does not only hold true for national titles; online video advertising revenue for U.S. local media is set to grow 51.6 percent in 2012, predicts BIA/Kelsey’s recently released U.S. Local Media Forecast. The report also anticipates that digital ad revenues will be the sole source of growth for local U.S. newspapers this year.
As ever, the ad dollars are swimming after the crowd.
More than 180 million Americans watched 33 billion videos in June 2012, according to July’s Online Video Rankings by comScore, and digital video advertising had its best month on record, with U.S. Internet users viewing 11 billion video ads.
The top five U.S. vessels for video advertisements — Google Sites, BrightRoll Video Network, Hulu, Adap.tv, and TubeMogul — each delivered over 1 billion video ads to American audiences in June alone. Google Sites, the owner of YouTube, was in the lead for both unique viewers and ad views, with its viewers watching a total of 18.3 billion videos and 1.41 billion ads. YouTube ads reached just under a quarter of the U.S. population in June, according to comScore.
Of course, the majority of the video clips Americans watch online are not news-related. ComScore’s definition of a video encompasses segments of television programmes (broken up around ad spots) and the multitude of comedic clips constantly in circulation, which range from parents pretending to have stolen their children’s Halloween candy to a morose cat contemplating his existence in French.
However, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism recently published the results of a study based on the discovery that a higher-than-expected proportion of the videos watched online each day are, indeed, news-related. The jumping-off-point of the survey was a finding from YouTube’s internal data that the most searched-for term of the month on YouTube was related to a news event for five out of 15 months spanning 2011 and early 2012.
Given the amount of attention digital video commands, it is no surprise that even those news outlets whose blue-chip reputations are founded on the written word have plunged full tilt into the medium.
Measured in terms of eyes and clicks, their success is accelerating. By May 2012, The Wall Street Journal’s YouTube channel, WSJ Live, had 19.7 million video streams – nearly three times the viewership it had at the turn of 2012 – according to a leaked internal memo from Deputy Managing Editor and Executive Editor-Online Alan Murray.
In June alone, the Journal had almost 1.3 million viewers who accounted for 4.2 million video views. The New York Times had 561,000 viewers and 1.6 million video views that month, according to Digiday, and both newspapers see video as critical to their business and editorial strategies.
“Video is now part of our basic and core service,” said Dave Gwizdowski, Vice President for Broadcast Markets at the Associated Press, speaking about the launch of a new web-based video library for local U.S. broadcasters, and proving that newspapers do not have the exclusive on this trend. The AP’s YouTube channel, launched in 2006, now has more than 250,000 followers, and its videos have collectively been viewed more than a billion times, making it one of the most popular video news sources on the web. YouTube has become a "seven figure" business for the wire agency, and it "could grow to an eight figure" business, AP's Vice President and Director of International Video News Sandy MacIntyre told Beet.TV.
Similar movements are observable across the pond: Stephen Folwell, the Director of Business Development for Guardian News & Media, told Beet.TV that the Guardian’s online videos are approaching 10 million hits a month, and that the company sees monetisation opportunities in video.
“We were pretty early into video as a newspaper, as I think we were still described then. We like to think of ourselves as a digital news organization now, globally,” said Folwell. “Our objective now is to make video as integral to our editorial and commercial success as words and pictures.”
Folwell also spoke of the company’s plans to go beyond video clips on the web, and “get into the living room in the evening” by delivering video through connected TV and tablets. To this end, the Guardian has begun exploring with the concept of longer, better-quality, “stand-alone” videos that would be “divorced from the context of the article.”
“We are sort of lumbered with a text heritage, which is extremely difficult to make money out of on the web,” he said, later adding: “There’s no doubt that embracing…YouTube is a direction any publisher has to go down.”
Modified image courtesy of DogFromSPACE via Flickr Creative Commons