Curated video: A winning formula?

By Rob ORegan
Video is hot. Curation is hot. So why not combine the two?
That’s the premise of,
a video publishing platform designed to help publishers build libraries
of videos culled from a variety of sources. The company claims a
customer base of 69,000, including publication websites such as New York Magazine and associations such as American Business Media.
A few key themes emerged from a phone interview I had with Magnify’s founder and CEO Steve Rosenbaum. 

Three sources of content
First, unless you’re a broadcast or cable company whose business is
creating video content, you’ll never have the resources required to
create enough original video to scale – at least to the point where the
cost of making it is less than the revenue you draw from it. Rosenbaum
doesn’t discourage publishers from making their own video content, but
he sees it as just one component in the overall video mix, complemented
by video that exists broadly on the web (e.g., on YouTube, Hulu, or on
corporate sites) and video that your audience submits directly to you. 
Those three sources address the volume issue. The differentiator,
Rosenbaum said, is a publisher’s ability to curate those videos in a
way that’s contextually relevant to its audience. Simply aggregating
video is not enough, considering all the banal or inappropriate content
that would be scooped up as part of a fully automated solution. Which
means no cute cats – unless those suit your audience. “It is possible
to have Magnify put videos on your site without human interaction, but
we do not recommend that,” Rosenbaum said.
Magnify automates the feeds but lets the publishers decide which
trusted content sources to pull from, and those sources can be set up
with different levels of permission. Some videos, for example, might
require approval before being posted, while others can be published
directly to the library.
Monetization options
Another key element is how Magnify can help publishers monetize
their video libraries. By embedding videos on their own video channel
instead of on YouTube, publishers will see higher CPMs. In addition,
those videos will likely draw additional traffic as they are syndicated
across the Web. “Once a video through Magnify is brought to your page,
everywhere it goes from there, all that traffic comes back to you,”
Rosenbaum said. “We’re crediting value to the curator.”
Publishers are also creating an additional revenue stream by
integrating sponsored video into the Magnify platform. New York
magazine has done this with a series of videos from Target (scroll to the bottom of the page on this link). 
Filling a niche
Another key point: Rosenbaum believes there’s enough video content
on the Web to make curation a viable option for even the nichiest of
“Niche magazines are looking for new revenue sources. And in some
ways, the further you get into the niches, the more surprising the
level of quality [of video] you get back,” he said. “If you’re
‘Industrial Bedsprings Weekly,’ there are videos that every one of the
suppliers and manufacturers in that industry have made that are sitting
somewhere on a server, waiting to be aggregated.
“The ABM has a very narrow, long tail,” added Rosenbaum, “and we have no trouble finding content for them.”

Warming up to UGC
Rosenbaum also noted that publishers are warming up to the concept
of publishing user-generated videos. “If you’re Golf Digest, and every
reader has a camera that they’re taking on their golf vacations, why
wouldn’t you want them to share those videos with other passionate
There’s a clear economic benefit as well, because the publisher now can directly monetize those videos.
All the more reason, he says, for wary publishers to begin
cultivating user-submitted videos. “If you’re not raising your hand and
inviting visitors to send you video, you can bet that someone else is,”
he said. “And once users commit to doing that for another site, it’s
much harder to steer them back to you.”
Magnify charges a monthly licensing fee for its enterprise platform,
which encompasses a full content management system for locating,
retrieving, uploading and organizing videos, embeddable players and
thumbnail widgets, advertising and campaign management tools and 
analytics (there are also free and pro versions for smaller sites). The
company also takes a cut from any revenues derived from the videos.
“We want our pricing model to reflect your revenue model,” Rosenbaum says. “You sell on a CPM basis. We charge on a CPM basis. We don’t believe publishers want to buy bandwidth.”
Rob O’Regan runs the editorial operations for eMediaVitals. A longtime journalist
and editorial consultant, Rob has written extensively on media,
marketing and technology topics for a variety of publications and
corporate clients. In 2006, Rob founded 822 Media, a consultancy that
advises clients on editorial strategy and content development. 
Previously, Rob worked at IDG’s CXO Media, where he served as
general manager of online operations and as the founding Editor in
Chief of CMO, a critically acclaimed monthly magazine and website
targeted at senior marketing executives. The publication received
numerous awards during O’Regan’s tenure, including the ASBPE’s Magazine
of the Year award in 2005. He was named one of Min magazine’s “21 Most
Intriguing People” in 2005. 
Prior to CMO, O’Regan was a senior editor with McKinsey &
Company, the global consulting firm. Before McKinsey, O’Regan spent 14
years at Ziff-Davis’s PC Week (now eWeek), where as executive news editor he directed print and online news coverage for the award-winning tech newsweekly.
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