November 1, 2007
Looking at the Panoramic View: The State of Online Video

Robert Doornick and his robot were not the only interesting people I met up with yesterday. I also had the chance to talk with a couple of very savvy guys who are looking toward advertising models for the new media space. One is Ilya Vedrashko, an alum of the Consortium who now works The Advertising Lab.

Joining us was Sorosh Tavakoli, one of the founders of VideoPlaza who was visiting from Sweden. The company looks at how to monetize online video in the European market.

Sorosh was in town for a conference in downtown Boston, and we had connected initially after I wrote this blog entry back in September, focusing on a study conducted by Swedish television measurement company MMS, looking at what media audience members in Sweden were consuming, and how. Turns out, Sorosh had been involved with that project, so we had a chance to meet up briefly and chat about that project.

Ilya hosted us at HIll/Holliday, which resides in four floors of the John Hancock Tower downtown. We're quite proud of the new office space we have for C3 and the rest of the research groups in the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, but I will have to say Ilya trumps me with his view. I have a parking garage over at Cambridge Center, while Hill/Holliday has a panoramic view of the city.

It was while staring out over that landscape that, ironically, the three of us started talking about the frustrations of the market for online video. Sorosh said that online video was being monetized and experimented with more commercially in the U.S., which raised some discomfort from Ilya, who understandably is frustrated at how slow of an emergence this new media is.

Perhaps it was the "big picture" view Ilya has that inspired me, but I couldn't help to think back to a theme I've written about here often on the C3 blog: that it is precisely the panoramic view that people like Ilya have that can make this so frustrating. The industry is slow to change, and technological infrastructure can often be even slower, so for a market as big as the U.S., while we may have more experimentation done, the broadband penetration still lags behind many European countries, while the advertising model still isn't finding that "sweet spot" quite yet.

I first wrote about these issues in a series of posts back in July, pointing out:

Change takes time. When we look at where we are now compared to where we are 10 years ago, it seems a major difference. The number of people who have reliable Internet connections in the past decade has mushroomed. Yet, I hear others talking about how we might all be wirelessly connected in five years, and I think about the technological bubbles many people live in. The length of time it takes for technology to move from early adopters to the public at large, the difficulty of infrastructure reliability on a national basis, the digital divide that is too often ignored, and a variety of other factors can't be forgotten.

For more, look here, here, and here.

For online video in particular, it's much like I said last month:

The future of online television continues to get brighter. Why? Not necessarily because any of the particular series that have launched are of such high quality that it will make a major difference. In fact, I'm trying to take a quality-agnostic approach here. I'm convinced rather by the proliferation of online video series. As the number of television series that launch online continues to skyrocket, the chance of online distribution becoming a viable market increases.