ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — Online video has grown into a staple of the internet surfing/researching experience, this we know. However, the future and proper monetization of such a fast-growing sector has been up for debate. Dale Bock, founder and president of OVGuide, and online video search engine, spoke with Adotas on this lucrative part of the industry.
ADOTAS: How has the position of online video shifted since the inception of OVGuide?
BOCK: It was a struggle in the beginning to hunt down even a few dozen good sites. We now have over 1,800 outlets with dozens of site submissions per week. The quality and quantity of videos have gone up significantly. Most of the TV networks now have full-length online episodes for many of their shows. Web-only productions with big-name producers and talent are also starting to come out. In a relatively short amount of time, online video has come a long way from watching a squirrel run around a tree. Lots of niche content sites have also started to pop up, such as food sites dedicated to chocolate baking videos.
ADOTAS: What provoked you to create a video search engine?
BOCK: It started out more as a video guide and the video search followed naturally as a way to locate specific content across the sites we list. Nobody else that I knew of was doing it at the time, and I felt there was a definite need. About two years ago I started to see the growth of great video sites besides YouTube, but they were hidden for the most part and it was almost like you had to be in some type of ‘secret club’ to know where to find them. It seemed like an obvious need at the time, and based on our traffic numbers, the demand has been growing stronger each month.
ADOTAS: What are common issues that arise with an audience searching videos?
BOCK:Understanding the audience and what they really want is important and something many video search engines completely miss. Video search engines often assume you want to see a bunch of short clips when you search for something, which may be the case for some searches, but often the user is looking for a result that catalogs the results and provides full-length content of it, if possible. For example, if I search the term ‘Simpsons’, a good result might be a landing page on Hulu that has all the full-length episodes, as opposed to 1000s of short clips from the show.
ADOTAS: What do you do better than your competitors and where are your weaknesses?
BOCK: We have the latest video sites and content, since site owners often come to us first to list and index their content. Our search is very intelligent and gives people what they want. Part of the secret is that we only search content that is screened by human editors and do it in the video site categories we believe match the users’ expectations. We are also a great place to discover content. Visitors don’t always know what they want to watch and we have great tools, like our keyword Buzz of active searches and top 10 lists that can help with the discovery process.
A weakness we have based on feedback from users is that the site can seem overwhelming with information to first-time visitors because we have so many sites in our database. However, power users love us, but it can be too much for new users not familiar with the site. We are working on a new interface to make it more focused and simpler to use, but at the same time keep all the main features people like.
ADOTAS: What is the future of online video?
BOCK:Online video is still in the very early stages. I see it as being where cable TV was when it first came out. However, this time things are operating at ‘Internet speed’, so the migration of watching content on a completely different system and having it become the dominant format will happen much faster. It seems very likely that users will choose to consume video online over traditional formats, since the selection and variety is extremely compelling. With faster broadband and better compression, the quality is going to be as good or even better than HDTV. We will also see an integration of online video with the living room TV and couch experience. Early adopters are already hooking up their laptop computers to their TV and it is only a matter of time before it becomes easy enough for ‘regular folks’ to do it. Newer TVs already have computer inputs. TVs will most likely have an online video extended channel option with broadband access built into them. We are already working on OVGuide prototypes for this type of seamless integration.
ADOTAS: How do you ensure inappropriate videos do not leak into your system? Or is there any discretion?
BOCK:A human editor screens every video site. We then classify it according to content in one of our 50+ video site categories. Videos are then set to be crawled and indexed by a human editor too, so there are safeguards. This ensures inappropriate videos do not leak into the wrong section when searching. We do have an adult content section and you need to be specifically searching in that section to find those types of videos. However, even with adult content, we have standards and guidelines regarding what is appropriate.
ADOTAS: How is the deployment of DoubleClick’s DFP going to shift business at OVGuide?
BOCK: DoubleClick DFP is a great platform to serve ads and will help us earn revenue from the millions of daily page views we get. However, we are going to stay focused on content and quality. Ads will be integrated, but we plan to only show advertisements that have something of true interest to a user, such as relating an ad to a search term, category or type of site being visited. Advertising even can add value to a site if it is properly integrated.
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