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FastCompany.TV readies for March debut

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For Robert Scoble, managing director of FastCompany.TV, the most important rule about marketing online video is that there are no rules.

“You don’t have rules on a Web site the way you do on TV,” said Scoble, whose video programming will be the centerpiece of FastCompany.TV, an online video network debuting March 3 at www.fastcompany.tv .

“Some shows will be five minutes, some will be an hour. There’s no reason to force a format. [Regular] TV is limited by supply, but the only thing limiting online video is how much attention you can attract.”

Scoble added: “TV shows that focus solely on geeks don’t have big enough audiences. That’s why ZDNet TV failed. But online you can target niches in a low-cost way, and people in the audience are going to be happy because they’re getting content they want.”

FastCompany.TV, a brand extension of the monthly print publication Fast Company, is being marketed by Mansueto Digital. It will include coverage of technology trends, interviews with C-level executives, reviews of the latest technology products and lifestyle programming.

Scoble’s daily video series, ScobleTV, which garners roughly 950,000 unique monthly viewers, will be featured on the network. Scoble will also bring his blog, Scobleizer.com, to the Mansueto Digital network of sites, which include FastCompany.com, Inc.com, IncBizNet.com and IncTechnology.com.

Scoble, who writes a monthly column, “Scoble on Tech,” for Fast Company, said it was too soon to gauge the level of interest among advertisers for FastCompany.TV, but he stressed that the publication’s print edition has a solid ad base.

For the six months ended June 30, Fast Company had a total paid circulation base of 746,161, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, down from 758,562 a year earlier.

Although its print circulation has been falling, Fast Company continues to buck the downward advertising trend among business magazines. In 2007, its ad revenue was up 26.3% compared with the previous year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Ad pages rose 20.6%.

By comparison, ad revenue for BusinessWeek fell 12.9%, while ad pages fell 18.2%. Ad revenue for Fortune was down 10.5%, while ad pages declined 17.3%.

Fast Company is one of several media brands that are ramping up original video programming as business marketers shift a growing number of their ad dollars online.

CNNMoney.com last week introduced a redesign featuring a prominent embedded video player. The site offers daily segments, weekly shows, monthly programming, and annual specials.

Bloomberg News recently rolled out CEO Spotlight, a new Web video series of CEO interviews produced in Bloomberg bureaus around the globe.

“It’s a world of niches,” Scoble said. “With Google, you have a trillion channels, and it’s wide open for content producers to put videos on to those channels. But it takes a certain skill to do it fast and at low cost.”

David Hellerman, senior analyst at research company eMarketer, said online video can bolster b-to-b media brands if used wisely. “Video in b-to-b is far chancier than it is in consumer,” he said. “Shorter video is demanded by the busy pace of work life. Even a five-minute video is a lot to expect” from potential audiences.

According to eMarketer, online video advertising spending in the U.S. will grow to $1.3 billion this year, up from $225 million in 2006. It is expected to grow to $2 billion in 2009.

The growth of online video advertising as a percentage of total U.S. online ad spending is slowing. It grew 89% last year and is expected to grow 67.7% this year and 53.8% in 2009.

“The video area is very important and somewhat over-hyped at the same time,” Hellerman said. “It’s not the answer to everything.”

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