Online video promising for small marketers

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During a recent seminar at the Streaming Media East conference in New York, Steve Safran, a senior VP at new media consultancy AR&D, screened an episode of "Flush TV."

The five-minute Internet reality series features a humorous, yet informative look at the operation of Levine & Sons, a family-run plumbing business in Detroit. The videos do not include any advertising, although Safran said the opportunity is ripe.

"People can pay for ads next to 'Flush TV' because they may sell an associated product," said Safran, who spoke at a seminar titled "Redesigning Your Streaming Content." "It could be a Google model, in which advertisers bid for the space," he added.

The video was shown to illustrate the ability of small businesses to tap into the explosive growth of online video by developing unique video content.

The market for online video is growing at a rapid clip. According to research company eMarketer, online video advertising spending will rise from $775 million this year to $2.9 billion in 2010. An American Advertising Federation survey of U.S. advertising executives estimates the percentage of media budget allocated to online video will hit 14.9% this year.

Richard Warner, CEO of What's Up Interactive, an interactive marketing agency, said the onus is on media companies to set up content management systems that allow advertisers to tap into online video programming.

It's important, Safran said, that media companies not sell online video by the pound. "Don't sell this stuff by the law of large numbers," he said. "There's no CPM to these sales. If you don't know what CPM means, good. You sell it according to the audience."

On the other side of the online video equation, Safran added, "If you have [content] that's beyond static and is entertaining as well as informative, deliver it on video and give people a reason to keep coming back, which should be the basis of any sales and marketing plan."

Safran said local TV news throughout the U.S. "refuses to invest in itself" and is not putting adequate dollars into building video content. As a result, he said, there's a void online that "b-to-b guys" can fill with homemade video programming.

"It's a head-in-the-sand thing," Safran said, referring to local news stations. "They don't recognize all the different ways that people are starting to get their information. You don't need to be a big information content producer anymore to get your information out there."

By embracing the growth of Web 2.0 and so-called user-generated video, both b-to-b marketers and media companies can capitalize on local markets and stay ahead of competitors, Safran said. For example,, the Web site of The Boston Globe, runs "Pop-Ed," a daily original song and accompanying video written and performed by a local musician focusing on that day's news and events. "I watch that every day," Safran said. "But I don't read the [Globe] every day."

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