And Now a Few Words From the Future: Q&A With Adam Gerber

Serving Up Video Content to Smaller Audiences of Higher Value

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In my last column I talked about the growing army of prosumers, video-content generators who are part regular YouTubers and part entertainment or media-industry professionals. The three I singled out -- respectively, the creators of the Angling Channel, and -- create, distribute and may soon monetize their content with the help of Brightcove.
Adam Gerber, VP-advertising products and strategy at Brightcove, the internet-TV service. | ALSO: Comment on this column in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
Adam Gerber, VP-advertising products and strategy at Brightcove, the internet-TV service. | ALSO: Comment on this column in the 'Your Opinion' box below.

Brightcove is an internet-TV service founded by Jeremy Allaire, one of the brains behind ColdFusion and Macromedia. After writing that last piece, I had a beer with Adam Gerber, the former media and ad agency exec who is now Brightcove's VP-advertising products and strategy.

What's the Brightcove plan?
"In a world where distribution is less constrained, there will be a big base of programmers who aren't corporate media giants, and they will need a simple, robust offering to enable them to deliver content to consumers."

And the internet is the delivery vehicle?
"Yes, and programmers will take advantage of the idea of convergence, now becoming a reality, where the PC and TV are connected, and content flows to multiple devices."

Will it be searchable at that point?
"Search is the wrong term. What most consumers are going to want is content that's visible and personalized. Some people will work hard, but most Americans want things on a silver platter. And the internet has grown expectations. Now they want them customized and served on a silver platter. So what people are going to want is not the ability to type in a term and get things spit back at them; they're going to expect that, based on their usage or behavior, things will be presented to them in a customized way -- personalization, not search."

"Look at how the Microsoft operating system works. When my wife's mother visits she can sit down on my computer and access her own personalized profile that we set up, so she doesn't get my stuff. That's the type of model that will evolve in the TV space. In a world where there are millions of outlets and pieces of content, you have to have that in order to have a scaled marketplace -- there's got to be a way of getting the right subject matter in front of the right people. That's what in-network TV promotion does, but what about a world where mass audience promotion doesn't exist anymore? What do you do in an on-demand world when everyone isn't watching '24' on Monday nights at 9 p.m.? You have to have relevant promotion to the right individuals."

Can prosumer content be aggregated into an audience big enough to be worthwhile to a marketer?
"It's totally dependent on how you think about your audience. We've always paid attention to big numbers that show potential, [but] we don't focus on meaningful numbers of how many actually saw something or engaged with it. As we shift to that, the numbers are going to be smaller but theoretically worth the same because we'll have factored out so much wastage.

"Also, while you'll still have media sold by property or brand, more and more it'll be about the reaggregation of a fragmented audience that's actually watching different things. We'll be able to do that because on a digital platform the media will be accountable, addressable and more manageable."

But what will the ads look like when they are served -- tell me it's not all pop-ups.
"Marketers talk out of both sides of their mouths. They blame the programmers for the evil interruption-ad model, but marketers and agencies need to invest in new forms of creative and be prepared to accept new accountability metrics to get away from it. Unlike the old-school media world, there isn't going to be one answer in this new world."

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