A More Personalized Video Experience

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We often hear the phrase “maximize video content” when it comes to online publishers and video. While this term provides an overall vision for making the most of online video assets, we don’t hear much about how publishers can actually do it.

It’s one thing to provide compelling video content — it goes without saying that this is vital — but how do you keep people coming back? And, how do you get them to stay on a site longer to watch more videos? The challenge is that people have less time to watch videos these days, yet publishers are offering more videos than ever.

We are in the throws of an “Internet Gold Rush” almost on par with the heady dot-com boom in the late 1990’s. Simply put, video is the “king of content.” In July 2009 alone, an astounding 158 million U.S. Internet users — or 80 percent of the nation's online population — watched online videos, according to data from comScore Video Metrix. We know people are watching video, but the challenge is how to best maximize and monetize this trend, while providing good experience for users.

In today’s Internet model — where users have more control over content than at any other time in the Web’s short history — giving the people what they want will clearly satisfy today’s Internet users while promoting user engagement and boosting the bottom line for Web publishers. The easiest method for ensuring that content is fully maximized is to provide a more customized video watching experience based on personal preferences. This means that — based on viewing patterns, tastes and preferences — video should be served much like a custom-made piece of furniture or musical instrument: always providing a unique product.

The most common pitfall by publishers is to provide a commoditized video experience that causes users to migrate elsewhere, or revert back to focusing on written content. As with any Internet business model, a competitor is one Google search or click away. In the highly-competitive online video landscape, publishers have too much to lose by not taking the necessary steps to provide a customized user experience.

Fortunately, there are ways of using mathematical algorithms to scientifically analyze video viewing patterns and to truly understand human interaction with video. This extends beyond the type of content (i.e., watching home improvement videos) to actually gaining insight into video length preference, time spent on the site, day of week, geo-location, total videos viewed per user, and multiple other metrics to determine user engagement. The intent of this scientific approach is to gain a true snapshot of each user’s needs, preferences and desires in real time, then providing additional personalized videos.

This new method will cause the concept of “content discovery” to eclipse the idea of “content search.” This means that users will be on a voyage of discovery each time they read articles, and will be enticed to watch corresponding or recommended videos. And, for publishers, it will mean having the confidence of knowing that you are giving the people what they want on a scientifically proven level, which will naturally generate better monetization opportunities.

The challenge is that only the most forward-thinking online video publishers are embracing this true discovery concept. In the next 12-24 months, we anticipate that this type of approach will bring content discovery into every Web users’ world — from the earlyadopter Web 2.0 fans to the casual surfer. All content will be served on a personalized platter. It will actually have meaning to the user, and will provide strong revenue streams for online publishers.

While there is no crystal ball for predicting what the next Internet revolution will be, today’s user-generated, social media-oriented Web will surely continue to proliferate. In due time, users will essentially own the Web and will demand that each online experience have personal meaning. Now more than ever, content needs to be significant to the user, and there is a new science that allows online publishers to provide videos that meet this demand.

About the Author: Adam Singolda is the Founder and CEO of Taboola, provider of video recommendation engines for major content publishers of CNN, NBA, Kiplinger, Howcast, eHow, Demand Media, 5min, VideoJug and aniBoom.

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