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Posts Tagged ‘user generated content’

Streaming Media East Wrap-up

May 19, 2014 Leave a comment

StreamingMediaEast_LGI took the time to head over to Streaming Media East last week for the first time in a few years. I used to go regularly with a previous employer but circumstances hadn’t permitted over the last few shows. I thought it was time to get back over there to see what was latest & greatest in the world of online video.

The short summary is that I learned an awful lot, and it’s still kind of the wild west out there. While a lot is going on in terms of distribution options and content development, there just isn’t a single way of achieving success with a program. My preferred space of the enterprise was not as well represented as I’d like which is probably a combination of few proposals and not a ton of interest from the rest of the audience. The vendor floor was also much thinner than I expected based on previous experience – participants I remember seeing for years weren’t there and the space seemed emptier than I recall.

Key takeaways? Cloud cloud cloud; when some organizations are talking about large live events, they mean over 750,000 concurrent users; the technical infrastructure for ad serving is incredibly complicated. In the end I learned a lot, saw some old friends and made some new connections along the way – which is all anyone could really ask of of a conference. I only managed to get there for Tuesday, so I can’t say this is a full overview, but here’s my detailed wrapup:

Tuesday Keynote – Matthew Szatmary, Twitch

Call the keynote my big OMG moment – it’s only occasionally that I hear something that makes me stop and say “wow, I had no idea, but it makes a lot of sense.” Twitch, in addition to being next on Google’s list of acquisitions is among the largest delivery systems for live video anywhere, and all those people are watching other people play video games. One of my kids is a fan of those videos and I thought it was just her – turns out there are a LOT of people who enjoy being spectators to online gaming. Dan Rayburn shares some of the numbers here from Szatmary’s presentation and they’re astounding. Granted there are more people total watching the some of these events when TV is added to the mix, but online there’s no comparison. Frankly, 1 million broadcasters a month is the giant number to me – I haven’t heard of anyone that comes even close. He explained a lot of the behind the scenes needed to get this many broadcasts to work and it’s just one more facet of the streaming universe that has grown so enormously over the last 10-15 years.

Session B101: Big Streaming: Technical Challenges of Large-Scale Live Events

Not my bread and butter here as I’ve never streamed to the kinds of large groups that MLB and WWE do, but it turned out to be a great session on the specific challenges of streaming to large groups of people. The “how large” issue was another “whoa” moment for me – they explained they mean over 750,000 live viewers and above. As the panelists pointed out, there’s a huge gap between many small events and the giant events baseball and wrestling are called on to deliver. It’s not a simple question of scale, but a whole other way of thinking about how you deliver your streams. Some of the keys here are thorough pre-planning, contingency planning and on-the-fly metrics reviews. The latter was an interesting point – you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with reporting or you won’t get what you need in timely fashion; you also don’t want every jot and tittle or you won’t be able to separate the important information from the junk. Social is also a big key – hints about which games are heating up can tip the production teams off about likely increasing demand for those games. One last thought that should be applied in all cases – when your viewers are paying for a premium product, they expect the best experience possible and you just have to deliver excellently.

Session A102: Content Management Strategies for Enterprise Content Platforms

Surprisingly, not my favorite session of the day. It was one of the few targeted specifically at the enterprise user and I think I was expecting a bit more than I got. The presenters were fine, but a lot of it seemed to focus on how they built their programs and not on the content management process itself. I admit I know more that some people on this subject, but to me the meat of this would be in the content decision making process and the internal/external production debate. Every organization goes through those kinds of exercises – what stays in house, what goes out and why? More discussion about the use of user-generated content would have been welcome as well.

Session B103: Choosing a Corporate YouTube System

A pretty good session overall, though it turned into more of a comparison of available systems and specific implementations of those systems than I think I was expecting. I’m interested here in the strategic thinking – do we allow user generated content or not? What restrictions do we put in place? How is it administered? What kind of security is needed? Again, more strategy here would have been welcome, but in retrospect I don’t think that was the intent of the session.

Session A105: Server-Side Ad Insertion: Reducing Video Player Complexity & Improving Reliability

Another wake-up call for me in this session. I know much less about the ad-delivery world than I should, and based on this session there is an enormous amount to learn. The technical aspects of this are quite complicated and I admit freely I was lost at more than one point during the discussion. For a lot of companies on both ends, however, this is life & death. For the content owners, revenue depends heavily on the ads; for the advertisers, the eyeballs are what they care about; and for the ad serving companies, there are a lot of moving pieces to ensure that both forms of content (ad and programming) are delivered smoothly and correctly. I don’t have a lot of interest in the ad delivery side of things, but it was a good session to go to as a reminder of the huge impact advertising has on the streaming ecosystem.

Image courtesy of StreamingMedia.com; used with permission

Managing Video Content Types

October 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Broadly speaking content within the enterprise can be almost anything, but I believe there are four basic areas of corporate video: Marketing, External Communications, Internal Communications and E-learning. Almost everything produced within an organization will fit into one of these categories, so let’s look deeper into the nature and issues related to each of these categories.

Marketing

This is the primary category – perhaps the only category –  of video within the enterprise for a lot of people. I don’t happen to agree, as I think it’s merely one part of a much broader program. One of the reasons it’s so central to some people’s thinking (and the easiest to read about across the web) is that it’s both the easiest category to explain to management and the one that fits best into an ROI discussion. I won’t bother to explain what Marketing means generally, but from a video perspective it’s a video type designed primarily to sell the organization’s capabilities and products.

This can take many different approaches from the very hard sell to the very soft, but there’s a pretty clear purpose to these videos and almost always direction from a marketing person or team to meet their needs. It’s a critical part of any corporate video effort and provides the team the best opportunity to demonstrate the value the department brings to the organization. Where an external agency may be brought in for big ticket productions like TV commercials, the in-house team will often be tapped to develop lower budget, smaller audience pieces. With new web- & mobile-driven distribution channels available at a fraction of the cost of TV & Radio ads, the internal team can really prove their worth by producing high quality marketing pieces for far less than the external vendors.

As I said, executives understand marketing budgets & ROI, and if they don’t get the value of a video program before you get involved in a formal marketing video, doing a great job on a marketing piece will go a long way to getting them to understand its value.

External Communications

I deliberately separated external communications from marketing to draw a line between video designed to sell and video that isn’t, or at least not obviously. Every video released to a public audience is in some way intended to deliver messages about the organization’s strengths; each piece will reveal something to outsiders about the company and it’s important to remember that before a piece is released. But again these videos are not designed as marketing tools, and the tone should reflect that.

Almost anything could fall into a “non-marketing” category, but I think there are certain regular types that appear across the enterprise universe:

  • Educational pieces – product demos & training videos
  • Executive communications – earnings calls, TV appearances, new product announcements
  • Staff communications – conference/paper presentations, expert testimony

Again it’s a broad category, but these pieces are designed more to inform than to sell. It’s important, particularly for the executive communications, to make absolutely certain the subject is presented in the best way possible. As I wrote about the Yahoo earnings call, someone on the video team should’ve made sure the CEO was presented in a way that made her seem natural, at ease and in command of the event.

These communications are a great opportunity to cross paths with influential people within the organization, and thus a great chance to sell the capabilities of the department. Make the CFO look great and you make an influential friend in the c-suite; help a senior manager make a great presentation at a conference and you ensure that she’ll recommend you to others and you can build a network of supporters across the organization.

Internal Communications

Nearest and dearest to my own heart, Internal Communications are often the most undervalued type of video production, and I would argue the most important. These productions are often devalued within the organization and by senior leadership because the audience for these pieces are already owned by the company. The assumption, often erroneous, is that the company’s employees already know everything there is to know about the organization. They’re getting paid, anyway, so why bother selling or marketing to them – their salaries and benefits should be enough to keep them motivated?

I think this misses some essential problems, most critically that all employees by definition understand the company, its purposes and its current strategies. Many employees in fact have little grasp on the broader picture and their place within it. During my stints managing the day to day video operations, every one of the rare executive communications saw tremendous traffic. The employees in fact are often desperate to hear from the company’s leadership as an opportunity to understand where things are and where they might be going. Obviously a video should not give away vital company secrets, but each video outreach is an opportunity to build morale, community feeling and a sense that leadership appreciates the part each employee plays within the organization.

Another problem missed by the assumption that employees know what’s going on is that each employee is part of a much broader network of family, friends and other contacts. You have a captive audience of potential salespeople – your 50, 500 or 5000 employees can spread the word far beyond the reach of your marketing & PR teams. In the very social environment we live in, why ignore the opportunity to get the company’s out via the employees? Make them excited about the company’s future and they’ll tell their networks. Your next employee, your next customer might be in those networks, and you’re missing a chance to reach them if you don’t communicate within your own organization.

The nature of these videos depends on the company and the leadership. Informal or formal, talking head or audience presentation, highly produced or low-budget – as long as the communications come out in my mantra of Regular, Frequent and Two-way these videos are critical to a corporate video program. If you take the additional step of allowing user-generated content, you have the makings of not only a very powerful communications tool to a key audience, but you’ve developed a tool for maintaining institutional memory and knowledge sharing.

E-learning

The last category is E-learning/online education, and may or may not fall under the corporate video team’s responsibilities. It’s often a dotted-line relationship to HR or a formal education department within the company. In almost all cases the educational content is developed by others – they have educational goals to meet, and the video should be designed to support those goals. They may include software demos, regulatory education requirements or continuing education.

It’s important for the video team to provide input during the planning process so concerns about user engagement and video production are balanced against the needs of the educators. I found with software demos, for example, that anything longer than 5 minutes was much harder on end users to process – halfway through a long program they couldn’t recall what they learned in the first 5 minutes. Breaking down a complicated software package into digestible steps and assembling them into a reference library often serves better than an hour walkthrough of every feature. It’s not always possible to focus on the user experience – Continuing Ed, for example, often has set requirements for program length that have to trump viewability. For e-learning, the video team should serve as an advisor to the educators, but the requirements will have to take precedence.

So there are my four broad areas of video within the enterprise – feel free to argue if you disagree, and comments are always welcome.

Video Blogging!

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

New Year, new approaches. I have jumped on the bandwagon and started video blogging. I will NOT use the term “vlog” – no way, no how.

I’m actually quite pleased with how this turned out, considering I had to light, mic, and shoot the whole thing myself on a camera I’ve never used before.  Other than a bit more headroom than I think was really necessary, it looks pretty good overall.

Anyway, please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of the effort and especially the content.

In this introductory Video Blog, we examine the basic efforts needed to begin video blogging and its role in the Enterprise. Issues covered include executive buy-in, technical management, approval and moderation, and support models.

Chris Anderson’s TED Talk on Online Video

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I had seen much of this before, but my colleague JP from CMMA was kind enough to post it on LinkedIn, which reminded me that it would be helpful to post it here.

While some of the airy-fairy planet saving talk doesn’t mean a lot to me, the overall discussion is a brilliant exposition of the power of online video to innovate and collaborate.  In the Enterprise sphere, showing people how to do things, communicating effectively, and allowing creativity to surface from every corner of the organization may be the difference between success and failure.

Pay attention particularly around 11:30 in – I think Anderson nails the extra power video brings to communications.

User Generated Content

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a bit of a hot topic these days in the multimedia world – there were a number of sessions on the subject at Streaming Media East this year, and some discussion of it at the Communications Media Managers Association (CMMA) meeting I attended last month.

(Incidentally, both of those fine organizations are linked on the blogroll to the right – highly worth checking both of them out.  Dan Rayburn over at streamingmedia.com is a one man industry monitor/guru/genius, and the CMMA folks are an extremely gifted bunch of people in the trenches at the enterprise level.  SM sessions are online from all of their conferences, including my celebrity debut at a panel on Webcasting Tips & Tricks for the Enterprise [/shamelessplug].)

The theory of UGC is pretty straightforward – you’ve got a body of knowledge and a wealth of talent in your organization, and allowing them to produce content provides an outlet for them and an instant knowledgebase for the organization as a whole. The reality has been a little different, I think, and as usual it’s a complicated story. Read more…

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