How Newspaper Makes Money with Online Video

When will local newspaper websites and hyper local blogs start making money with video? Short answer: When they start sharing their video equipment with sales department.

For now, the big money in online video is NOT in editorial & news content. Rather, it’s in promotion, demonstration & advertorial-based video content. Some production companies like the Yellow Pages, Cable TV, TurnHere and AOL’s StudioNow are taking advantage of this fact.

Take a look at this short video promo that is targeted to small business.

It’s insane that newspapers and independent websites aren’t paying more attention to this trend.

Instead, they’re still primarily focused on editorial & news video where journalists mimic the old school techniques of TV reporters.

Investment in digital video for the staff, Final Cut Pro editing software and training are good things. But who’s the genius that decided these smart video investments were for newsrooms only?

Tracy Record of West Seattle Blog captures breaking news video next to the big boys

In theory, producing video-based stories or enhancing text-based stories with video seems powerful and compelling. In practice though, it’s been a money pit at the local level.

TV-like video ‘packages’ might work in a linear 30 minute newscast, but they usually fall flat when online. A well produced 3.5 minute report on the 11pm news looks sweet with footage of a fire, quick sound bites and an attractive field reporter. Place that same clip online and on-demand….and it usually gets limited viewership. I’ve seen it first hand in my work with TV.

Even if you could get a $50 cpm, the limited video views will make it difficult to adequately monetize.

TIP: If you MUST find a way to sell your editorial-based video, offer advertisers a share of voice (SOV) in the pre-roll position. Bundle it with banners and other digital sponsorships for now.

‘Newspaper tried to make money with video, it doesn’t work’. Boy, do we hear that alot. But the truth is, online video DOES make money…..just not in the way local news sites have been doing it.

Lately, we’re seeing more anecdotal evidence that the enthusiasm for online news video is waning. Not from the video journalists, but from high level newsrooms & sales execs. These bottom line focused executives echo a common refrain in their weekly meetings:  even the best production value and subject matter doesn’t always translate into journalistic and revenue success.

Some culprits that contribute to this issue:

Does the video on left, bring anything of value to the editorial story?

While the smart journalist is comfortable in front of a camera, this is just placing a camera in front of a radio talk show host. It’s not helpful to the viewer at all, and advertisers wonder why they want to be associated with this content.

While the basic production quality is solid, it cries out for still image overlays or video b-roll of the issue being discussed.

Sound like too much work? Then don’t do this type of video. Especially if you can’t attract viewers and a sponsor.

When to Consider Editorial Video?

We recommend that video should only be used if the story can be made better by sound and motion, otherwise it’s just ‘shooting video for video sake’.

Editorial video can be done in 3 basic ways:

  • Story Teller A TV-like, fully produced ‘package’ that includes editing, stand-up reporter, graphics & narration. Typically 3.5 minutes in length.
  • Story Extender Raw footage that works as a complement & provides greater understanding to a text based story. Footage can be embedded within or adjacent to the body of the online text story.
  • Have to See It, to Believe It Example: by monitoring police/fire scanners, you may be able to capture some exciting fire footage, a 20 car pile-up, or a perp walk, etc. This type of video could go viral.


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