But just 16 years later, 500-channel television has become a reality. In fact, one could even argue that John Malone's vision was not ambitious enough—with the rise of online video, there are now thousands of different video options, or "channels," online. Today, anyone with broadband access can find hours of online video content specific to their unique interests—from on-site news reports in Baghdad, to live coverage of Euro 2008, to user-generated videos of bulldogs riding skateboards.
Moreover, the amount of video content available online continues to increase at a rapid rate, with media companies repurposing more and more of their television programming for the Internet, while other companies, organizations and individuals attempt to expand their online presence with short-form and long-form video produced specifically for the Web.
However, there is a catch. If you want to maintain control and monetize your online video by distributing it through your own Web site, you need to spend money on hosting and serving fees—costs that currently run from $2-$4 per thousand impressions. And even if those fees are minimal, it can be difficult to monetize video content, as viewers are often reluctant to pay for online video.
One way that many online video publishers have sought to meet these online video hosting costs and monetize their online video content is through a method used to monetize other types of Internet content—advertising.
Publishers have many choices for adding advertising to their online video, including traditional display-ad networks such as Advertising.com that have added video advertising, video-specific ad networks such as Video Egg, Tremor Media & YuMe Networks, video ad servers such as Freewheel and Panache, and rich media companies like Pointroll & Eyeblaster that integrate traditional television ads into their online video content.
Unfortunately, implementation, integration and account management processes required by these online video advertising solutions has slowed or prevented their adoption.
Luckily, there are solutions developing that move toward addressing this problem. First, online video advertising platforms like Adap.tv have begun to offer their media partners a single, integrated control panel that they can use to manage all of their video advertising.
This control panel links to back-end technology that then allows the video publishers to find the online video ads that will maximize their advertising revenues. Instead of manually poring through multiple tests and spreadsheets to determine the most profitable advertising to pursue, a publisher can easily control the ad sources and ad formats they wish to sync up with their video, and clearly see what they are earning from each ad source and from each format.
Moreover, these types of solutions automatically match available online video with video ads that will provide the video publisher with the most advertising revenue. For example, the provider's system should be able to match a soccer video with ads appealing to young boys and men, or video of a native tribal dance in Africa with safari travel ads.
Not only does this match-making function help online video publishers earn more advertising dollars, but it provides value to viewers, who will see ads that are more relevant and less intrusive to them.
Finally, smaller sized video publishers can now easily incorporate video advertising. While lengthy integration processes might make sense for large media companies, smaller online video publishers do not have the resources to engage in such long, expensive projects. They need an online advertising provider who can have them up and running quickly, so they can focus on developing content—not integrating systems. Finally, they have that option.
To date, advertising providers offering integrated dashboards, automatic ad-matching functionality, and easy integration are emerging. With their continued development, we should see media companies and publishers soon increasing their advertising revenues, promoting them to bring even more video online.
If today we are struck by how much video is online, imagine how much there might be another 16 years from now. With new online video advertising solutions making it possible for video publishers to fully monetize their content, I do not think even John Malone himself would attempt to guess.
Amir drives the overall strategy and manages operations for Adap.tv. Most recently, Amir was Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Shopping.com (formerly DealTime.com), a leading online shopping service that helps consumers make informed purchasing decisions by comparing products, prices, and stores Web-wide. Amir launched and successfully led Shopping.com's technology and research efforts. Shopping.com completed an initial public offering in October 2004; the company was later acquired by eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) in August 2005. Previously, Amir was Director of Research for CommTouch Software. He studied Computer Science and Economics at Tel Aviv University.