Should your site do video?

December 8, 2008

Near the top of the everyone-else-has-it-and-so-should-I list is video. But is it really worth the investment for magazine websites?

Obviously, and especially with the explosion of YouTube, video is extremely popular online. And for organizations that already specialize in video (think TV stations), it makes a lot of sense – the skill set and the audience are already there. But magazine websites should think carefully about investing in video, for the following reasons:

It’s expensive. You’ll probably have to hire new people and put some money into equipment, not to mention server space and bandwidth.
It’s time-consuming. You can write/produce/edit a lot of stories in the time it takes to create just one video.
The numbers may not be there. I can’t speak for everyone, and I’d love your feedback on this, but my experience is that most video just doesn’t perform compared to other types of content.
It’s not our core competency. Magazine people can be perfectionists, and you’re unlikely to be able to put together video that looks as professional as your print product or website.

All that being said, there are a number of reasons you might choose to do video, not least because many advertisers are looking for video opportunities. Here are some tips if you do go ahead:

Find your niche. Don’t make video for the sake of making video; figure out what it is that you can do with video that no one else can. Don’t move forward until you have a strong idea.
Entertain. This is what keeps people on YouTube or in front of the TV for hours on end.
Be realistic. Without significant investment, your videos can’t compare with a major TV network’s, so don’t try. Instead, embrace the widespread acceptance of amateur-level video and keep it simple.
Make it work. It’s 2008. There’s no excuse to run video on your site that won’t automatically play on all platforms and all browsers (although you’ll be excused if they don’t work on systems from the last century).
Have a marketing strategy. People don’t browse your site like they do your magazine; they won’t just come across your videos and watch them. Have a plan in place to get people to your videos, through internal promotions, SEO, linking and any other means you have at your disposal.
Have a goal. Know what you want to get out of your video strategy, whether it’s brand awareness, revenue or just another way to interact with readers.
• As always, think, would I watch this? And would I enjoy it?

Do you watch Internet video, at home or at work? Have you had success creating video for a magazine website?


3 Responses to “Should your site do video?”

  1. […] a good idea, others say it’s a waste of time and money. A great blog, Magazines Online, has a good look at what video can (and cannot) do for your magazine […]

  2. JP Says:

    Hey Kat,

    Nice note. All true. One other thing to consider though is potential revenue. I know the journo side doesn’t need to think of that, but the business side should. Yes it’s expensive. But one video is much more valuable than one article (pageview) because the CPMs are higher for things like preroll, combos, etc. It’s a big undertaking to fill a library and the thing is you need a LOT of video to make it worthwhile. But if your other test elements pass, it can be quite profitable. And now is the time to decide.


  3. […] a good idea, others say it’s a waste of time and money. A great blog, Magazines Online, has a good look at what video can (and cannot) do for your magazine […]

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