Non-copyrighted video marketplace a booming new field for advertising

10 Nov 2008

The non-copyrighted segment between user-generated and professionally produced video content online has grown 600pc, and is tipped to be a major source of advertising revenue into the future.

According to Gartner, the non-copyrighted video market – or protail video – is becoming one of the fastest-growing segments of the online video marketplace, offering consumers a wide range of higher-quality niche content and providing advertisers a safe, targeted inventory in which they can place ads.

The amount of protail content has grown as much as 600 pc in the past year, despite a complex distribution labyrinth and fragmented monetisation opportunities.

Worldwide protail advertising revenue is expected to total US$75m in 2008, and grow to in excess of US$1.5b by 2012. This segment will offer advertisers in search of targeted non-copyrighted video inventory a major placement opportunity.

Protail is defined as the segment between professionally produced content and user-generated content, and consists of the short clips that make up the majority of content on such sites as YouTube and Metacafe. Typical traits include higher-quality production and content produced in a more consistent or episodic manner.

“Essential to protail reaching these advertising revenue figures is the establishment of effective networks that connect advertisers to large protail communities,” said Allen Weiner, research vice-president at Gartner.

“These Web 2.0 communities may be established around the vast expanse of protail content, with videos ranging from sitcoms to travelogues or large horizontal slices of this content, for example, a site specifically devoted to French cooking.

“These communities will become ‘clean, well-lit’ places that are comfortable both for advertisers and for consumers looking for selection and tools for sharing and recommendations.”

As protail content becomes more mainstream, some niches are gaining greater popularity than others.

According to leading protail creators and syndicators, some of the current hot areas include how-to, scripted sitcoms, scripted dramas, new forms of reality programming, niche news and lifestyle content (travel, food/cooking).

In some cases, protail producers with an eye towards ad revenue will reach out to potential sponsors and ask for topic/content ideas, with a possibility of pre-production ad agreements or product placements.

The Screen Actors Guild strike, which began in November 2007, inspired writers to look into alternative creation and distribution scenarios for their work, which would afford greater control and a larger cut of the revenue.

Dr Horrible, a web show created by striking writers, is an example of video content created by industry professionals seeking greater control in both distribution and monetisation.

A one-week run on advertiser-supported netted more than 1.1 million streams. According to leading video community sites, digital studios can create four-minute protail episodes for between US$2,000 and US$5,000.

“With protail’s explosive growth in the sheer amount of online content, a few market dynamics need to harmonise for it to reach its full potential,” Weiner said.

“A more fluid distribution network or series of networks that bring content creators together with advertisers looking to spend money on well-produced niche content would benefit those with strong video production skills who lack an understanding of Web 2.0 content syndication.

“Today’s distribution model tends to favour YouTube because it has become the place for creators in search of eyeballs. Sites such as YouTube and Yahoo Video lack a means for consumers to easily identify protail content within their large video mix, and do not offer uniform partner programmes for protail creators in search of either ad revenue or a strong promotional presence.

“Companies in the forefront of the protail distribution market stand to reap the benefits of bringing together advertisers in search of targeted, rights-ready video with these new protail creators,” Weiner added.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years