Digital Trend Day - ntSummaries
8 May 2007, Mercure Hotel Amsterdam aan de Amstel, the Netherlands
More than 100 participants from 26 countries
Summaries by Laurel Brunner
Concrete steps towards video on the web
Randy Covington, Director of Ifra Newsplex (USA), Ifra, USA
The Newsplex philosophy is that we live in a multimedia world, one where people follow stories throughout the day. Covington explained that broadband is driving the new media conversation, with 43 percent of broadband users likely to access news sites, whereas only 25 percent of dialup users do so. Broadband users are more likely to stay on the web and according to U.S. research, 30 percent of all media use is now simultaneous. Young people especially use media differently, as Covington demonstrated with the six-minute "Evolution of Dance" video clip. Broadcast on YouTube, 48 million viewed it, more than double the typical U.S. audience for popular TV programmes.
Covington described three trends for newspaper websites:
- slide shows with audio,
- video for the experience of the story, and
Using several examples, he explained how newspapers create different relationships with the reader, with complementary and alternative media such as photographs with audio and experimenting with different video formats. He said that according to 2007 research by the Piper Jaffray organisation, online ad revenues are projected to increase 21 percent over the next four years. Global revenues will reach US$81 billion by 2011, and video ads are driving the next major growth.
Covington presented a "convergence checklist" for newspapers and said if newspapers don't get into video on the web, others will; and readers will drift to the medium that most attracts them.
Web TV - A learning curve at de Volkskrant
Bas Broekhuizen, Head of Video Department, de Volkskrant, the Netherlands
For de Volkskrant, circulation is less important than reach, hence the decision to get into video. The project began in 2003 with specially trained journalists, although Broekhuizen emphasised that it is the organisation that should be multiskilled, rather than just individual journalists. In 2006 de Volkskrant created VK.TV to function alongside web and broadcast channels, and hopes to make money within six years.
By January 2007, Broekhuizen's team had produced 500,000 clips for the web. By December they want to have produced one million clips for web and IPTV, with between 250,000 and 500,000 Euros of revenues in fees and commercials. Webcasts have breaking news, features and expert clips, delivered over IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), and the site has extended the newspaper's reach.
Broekhuizen said newspapers should put their best journalists in front of the camera, branding them so that viewers can put a face to the name. Advertisers and viewers alike need to be educated about web TV.
Features & documentaries: getting staff on board
Jonathan Landman, Deputy Managing Editor, The New York Times, USA
The New York Times now has a 22-person video unit, and 10 of the newspaper's correspondents have video equipment. The newspaper is producing 100 in-house videos per month, with 4.7 million video streams per month on the site. Landman said that this is three times as many as in 2006. This number illustrates the explosion of video on newspaper websites. However, video requires additional education and skills, because it has different rules than text, photo, or audio journalism.
For Landman, training has been key to the NYT's success, but it must be consistent and follow a number of guiding principles. Among these are:
- newspapers should not try to beat television networks,
- values are important, and
- learn and understand what web video is, because it's not the
same as TV.
Landman said the NYT's move to web video has been so successful that journalists compete for video resources. The newspaper plans to do documentaries for the web, and is looking into working with user-generated content. For these initiatives and others, he added that the newspaper is open to partnerships.
Syndication & synergies
Tomasz Jósefacki, Head of Internet Division, Agora, Poland
Agora's web portal, gazeta.pl, provides newspaper readers with vertical information services, forums, blogs, free e-mail and classified services. Jósefacki said it has 406 million monthly page views and 5.2 million unique users.
In Poland, online advertising accounted for 4.6 percent of ad revenues in 2006, compared to television's 49.9 percent, but research suggests that online advertising is growing 33 percent year-on-year. Video sites are visited by 7 million unique users per month, 54 percent of whom are aged 15 to 24.
Jósefacki started Agora's web project in August 2006 to build competence in web TV news production and an IT infrastructure for video distribution and syndication. He also wanted to develop advertising. The team of three full-timers and three freelancers produces 250 items weekly, attracting 400,000 unique users monthly, for 5 million monthly video views. Content comes from the team and is sourced from wire services. Agora's own content is widely syndicated, both to domestic television and overseas. There are close synergies with radio stations within the Agora group.
Jósefacki has learned that videos should be no longer than 2 to 5 minutes and that success with video on demand depends on usability, search, content and good ideas well-executed. He said there is huge potential in sponsored formats and product placement, which he is looking into this year.
Monetizing web TV
Jacob Andersson, Head of Programmes, Aftonbladet, Sweden
Andersson has spent the last two years at Aftonbladet developing web TV and a dedicated TV channel based on the newspaper's website, the largest in Sweden. This strong position underlies the strategy behind Aftonbladet TV7, created six months ago in a market dominated by traditional TV.
The newspaper started with web TV in 2004, moving to mobile TV in 2005, and in 2006 Aftonbladet made the move to digital TV to extend the newspaper's web TV project and maintain the pre-eminence of Aftonbladet's web site. The idea is that content created for the web can be published wherever possible, such as to iPods, phones, screens in supermarkets and anything else.
His advice to newspapers is not to be afraid of learning from TV or of experimenting. Newspapers are the experts on their audiences and should trust themselves with TV. Andersson encouraged newspapers to remember that newspapers are experts at understanding their audiences.
Video distribution through multiple platforms
António Torres Pereira, Head of Research and New Products, Impresa, Portugal
With interests in both TV and print (newspapers and magazines), Impresa's goal for web video was to improve services and journalism. A multiplatform edition better fulfills clients' needs because users don't have to wait for the editor's responses to gain content access. Impresa emphasises training and knowledge sharing with the group's own SIC TV journalists. Field journalists are encouraged to use video for the website, exploiting the medium with new skills to reach different audiences and expectations.
Impresa is achieving synergies between TV and print journalists trained at Ifra Newsplex and within the company. There is a video studio permanently set up in the newsroom for journalists to use. They are encouraged to make sure interviewees understand the multiplatform model, to create content elements suitable for television, web and print.
Like CBS News with YouTube, Impresa distributes content using other platforms, because it's better to bring the content to the readers than expect readers to come to Impresa's platform. With YouTube, Impresa reaches more viewers and can bring them into the Impresa space. Pereira said the biggest difficulty has been to change journalists' and marketers' mentalities to treat news in a multiplatform way, and to expand digitally without spending a lot of money.
Creating local news content
Clarence Chang, Senior Correspondent and Executive Content Producer, Straits Times Interactive, Singapore
Straits Times Interactive is responsible for the newspaper's website, which in 2005 moved to a subscriptions model. Visitor numbers dropped from 200,000 with 30 million hits per month, to 5000, before rising to 13,000 monthly subscribers with 4.4 million hits per month. Significantly, ad revenues went from 300,000 Euros per year to 200,000 Euros, supplemented with 650,000 Euros in subscription revenues annually. That is why the company turned to video.
Chang and his team started with vodcasts, video podcasts, in December 2005, in order to drive traffic to the site. The team now produces four local and four foreign vodcasts, plus radio content, with six full-time journalists and two cameramen with a third anticipated later this year. The vodcasters also do web radio broadcasts, and although the impact of vodcasts on site is currently very small, it's growing rapidly: from 4,823 to 80,345 hits between March 2006 and March 2007.
Chang says that STI generates its own content and uses wire services rather than compete with the company's sister site, where users can submit their content. STI's vodcasts last 1.5 to 4 minutes, focusing on diary events, breaking news, and crime stories. The vodcasters don't work very closely with their editorial counterparts in print, but concurrently. There are 270 staff on the print side of the business and only 20, including text and multimedia people, on the STI team. Only 0.8 percent of the newspaper's ad revenues now come from the web, and although it isn't making money yet, Chang is confident it will. The challenge is to make web TV rival live TV.
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