Straight from reality into my laptop. The world of text based Internet communications is quickly dissolving into video feeds of human faces, dancing dogs, pasta covered babies, and natural disasters – with a few ads thrown in to cover bandwidth. As consumers, we’re constantly looking for new entertainment, but the lines between fun and function blur as new companies discover profit lies in bridging the gap between our laptop screens and ip addresses to the families with a video camera next door. My favorite dotcoms of the month are Bitmunk, Cozingo, with a nod to MetaCafe’s new channel initiative. Their revenue models are divergent and creative, and not simply ad-supported, but advertising, nonetheless, is part of their nature.
Bitmunk is a digital media selling solution that allows consumers to own their media purchases. Consumers can burn, swap, or even re-sell their purchases indefinitely with royalties going back to the original copyright owner. Recently, Bitmunk launched their video-support feature and heralded a partnership with Filmbaby to distribute their catalog of over 2000 indie films. The technology behind Bitmunk allows for anyone to easily upload digital music or video content, set a price, and control their royalties and tracking. So, if you want to sell that video of your infant son laughing hysterically at a bowl of spaghetti, you can. Just be sure your infant son has signed a release. Marinara stains on paper might not hold up in court if he comes back in 20 years and demands the proceeds from your entrepreneurial spirit. Bitmunk clearly states to content producers they take a smaller percentage of sales transactions than other online media stores – but also offer consumers the option to view advertising pre-rolls to cut down their total purchase cost.
Cozingo is like a video-based Craigslist– hosting a directory of services, dating ads, and items for sale pitched directly from “people near you.” Launched in June, the site has seen rapid growth and not only entertains the casual surfer, but serves an exceptional function for people who need to buy something, date something, or have something done for them. All video clips include a verbal pitch and the brick & mortar contact info of the purveyor themselves. In what seems like a smart marketing effort to get more content, Cozingo has an affiliate program in place which rewards video uploads as well as a generous “camera loan” program for those with a more enterprising nature. So, if you want to advertise your family’s Italian restaurant with a video of your infant son laughing at a bowl of spaghetti, Cozingo is the perfect place to do it – and they’ll even pay you for it. However, unlike Craigslist, Cozingo does not have plans to introduce paid business listings into their revenue model. According to Shoubi Rastegar, President of Cozingo, they want to remain a “… free classifieds resource for everyone.” A bidding system for featured video and prime placement on the main page is likely to be introduced at a later date.
MetaCafe is a long running favorite video-upload and share site with heavy traffic and a committed community of surfers. Less than 10 months ago, MetaCafe launched a rewards program called “Producer Awards” – in which the most popular viewed videos and their copyright owners would receive cash compensation for their participation in the community. These content producers would receive $100 per 20,000 views coupled with some additional stipulations on quality. The program was successful, but only the most popular videos would float to the top of MetaCafe’s filter and to the casual surfer’s laptop. Late July, MetaCafe introduced a new feature called “Channels” which sorts all videos by a particular producer into a quickly browsable frame. Suddenly, it was possible for Pasta Baby, Laughing Bowl and Marinara, and Joey’s Italian Family Restaurant to appear side by side for their die-hard fans. Viewings exponentially increased, and so did the infant’s college fund, thanks to the integrated Producer Rewards program. The marketing highlight of the new Channel feature is the integrated ads that hover on the lower portion of the video during play. MetaCafe is heavily ad-supported and with the new Channels feature they’re giving back more to the producers, thanks to the advertisers handing out more for the new views.