Online mags increase videos, readership

While it's no surprise that online magazines are trying to provide fresh content to readers, many publications - most of which are traditionally text-based - are increasingly employing video to escalate readership.

While it's no surprise that online magazines are trying to provide fresh content to readers, many publications - most of which are traditionally text-based - are increasingly employing video to escalate readership.

When launching a video-specific Web site, or a portion of an existing online presence, publications often have three familiar goals: increase reader attention, provide large amounts of content, and see advertising inventory gains, says Staci D. Kramer, co-editor of PaidContent.org, who adds that publications must also ensure that video Web sites meet its larger editorial goals.

"[Publications]... have to think of [the same things when] they're [launching a video site]: 'Is it relevant to their audience? Is it relevant in terms of the size or length?'" she says. "What are they adding when they add video? If they add video just for the heck of it, everyone will know that's just what it is."

Monthly business magazine Fast Company launched a new Web site last month dedicated entirely to video. In the case of the creation of FastCompany.tv, Mansueto Digital president Edward Sussman aims to provide his business-focused readership with a new point of view on how technology impacts the financial world.

Sussman already had a star in mind for the new online destination: Noted technology blogger Robert Scoble, who already had a Fast Company column. An entire portion of the magazine's online presence based on the former Microsoft employee's video journalism added a unique perspective to the magazine's financial coverage, he says.

"We didn't have an offering that really covered the ins and outs of technology and innovation on a daily basis," Sussman says. "[Scoble] is the most credible, and one of the most followed, technology bloggers on the Web. He's been doing it for seven years now... and has connections that are incredibly deep in the industry. He has access to both hosts and interviews that only a small handful of people out in [Silicon Valley] can boast."

When Sussman hired Scoble, he wasn't just getting a reporter, blogger, and videocaster. Sussman also provided his readership with a respected brand, as Scoble was already a well-known technology source. Since the launch of FastCompany.tv, Scoble has led thousands of loyal readers and viewers to the Web site. Two primary reasons are Scoble's unique level of access and the extended length of his videos, Sussman says.

"He's inside the research labs at Microsoft, and [viewers] get to visit the company, not just read the interview, and [they] really learn a lot when [they] go on the video tour and see how people are working in those conference rooms. He doesn't just interview the CEO, he goes around and interviews the employees," he explains. "It's presented often in a very long format. We don't cut it down to three-minute segments; we just let it run. Some of his shows are 30 to 40 minutes long."

Although publishers are aware of their unique readerships, online video pages are not unique to specific verticals, such as technology. Many general news Web sites, such as CNN.com, have sections exclusively dedicated to video footage, and politics Web site TalkingPointsMemo.com uses a video section to supplement its news coverage.

"Talking Points Memo, with Joshua Mitchell, will pull out [video] pieces that it thinks will stand out that are usually 30-second snippets... that adds to their news coverage," Kramer says.

Many publications are also aware that portability is likely to become a factor in determining the success of video Web sites, Kramer adds.

"Eventually, what is going to come into play is portability," she says. "If this is for businesspeople, [they] might [watch] more of what Robert does if they can download it and take it with them."

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