Getting into online video: Easy is hard

Jim O'Neil

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a request for some help, guidance, or just commiseration from the CEO of a video distribution business who wanted to get his company's videos online. He wanted to aggressively change his business model and really jump into the online video game.

His problem? The complexity of it just overwhelmed him a bit, and this is a guy who's business IS video. He'd played with all the OVP trials and demos, talked with some salespeople and was just a little befuddled.

I received a bunch of replies, and I've forwarded them to him.

The general feedback from you all was that yes, online video is a challenging, and at times, daunting industry. It does, in fact, require a fair amount of handholding.

I want to share a couple of the responses, although there are far too many to print. I did, however make sure the CEO got all or most of them.

One reader, Ron Guthrie of 
Maritime Communications Systems, brought up what he sees as an ongoing bandwidth issue that will hamstring any enterprise's efforts at moving forward with online video.

"How is the industry going to handle the problem of restricted bandwidth? If Comcast, ATT, and the other major network providers start throttling back on what is usable by the consumer, then there will not be a future for this media. I mean after all, with Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii and then the various set-top boxes that will allow VOD. There isn't enough bandwidth to go around. The Internet is getting progressively slower as time goes on. I don't see small companies getting into the market unless they can be guaranteed enough bandwidth to be profitable. At least for the next 5-10 years."

Chris Savage, CEO of Wistia, which provides a business video sharing application, posed a couple of additional questions that needed to be answered:

  • How do you make it easy for non-technical buyers to solve video problems?
  • How will video play with their other systems?
  • What's the ROI of video for my business?

Generally, more offers of help--in the form of advice, consulting and just conversation--came in than anything else.

Reader Chad Goehring, of OVP, said he'd faced the same issues when he launched his business two years ago. He said:

"The scenario posed by your emailer hits home with the vast majority of small and even medium sized business owners who would love to leverage the online video marketing space. I looked at the same OVP's, registered for every free trial and spoke with an untold number of sales reps. What your emailing CEO needs is a company that can provide an easy to use video platform but also assist in video concepts & campaign strategies (basically, low cost consulting - the hold my hand stuff). I got what I wanted by creating my own video platform and because no one was available to 'hold my hand' on how to actually market with video... I learned that too."

Paulo Ferreira, director of business development for Acetrax AG in Switzerland (yep, it spans the world) offered up a potential partnership opportunity.

"We are interested in both receiving content to sell it through our European portal as well as interested in 'renting' our platform for B2B partners, thus partners would be tenants of Acetrax but could have their own look and feel as well as manage their own shop independently. Surely this model of a managed platform would have much lower entry cost."

A solid resource, in any event a good start point from small businesses, is probably Kris Drey's site, which walks online video neophytes through some of the biggest questions they need answered from "Affordable OV solutions," to "Video for Marketing," and even "Pricing Structures."

Still, as Drey wrote: "All this said, I agree it's a messy space and there are so many businesses today just getting their feet wet whom need baby-step guidance."

He's right; for most business people the difference between thinking about an online video strategy and actually launching one is huge. And, until we really make it a simpler proposition it remains just too hard to do. Sorenson's CEO Peter Csathy (see an interview with him here) told me his company's strategy for bringing online video to the masses was a simple one, although a true bear to execute: "In the overall customer experience, ease of use really matters. What I've said many times is 'easy is hard.'"

Indeed. -Jim