Corporate backing helps online video gain validity

If the famous ascent and pulling of Saturday Night Live's "Lazy Sunday" clip from YouTube.com was online video's adolescence, recent events have ushered it into adulthood.

If the famous ascent and pulling of Saturday Night Live's "Lazy Sunday" clip from YouTube.com was online video's adolescence, recent events have ushered it into adulthood.

First, NBC entered a promotional deal with YouTube whereby the network would provide promotional material - and some exclusives - for the online startup. While not a direct embrace, it was, at the least, a validation to the market.

Then there is the emergence of Veoh.com, an online video distribution network backed by Time Warner that lets users view videos, access them via an RSS feed, put them on their iPods, and embed a player onto their blogs. Google Video has since started allowing bloggers to embed their videos.

Veoh is also set to launch a monetization capability where content providers can sell ads around their videos, charge a monthly fee, or create pay-per-view videos.

Veoh and YouTube's progress with traditional content producers is turning the online video market into something PR pros should be thinking about: a viable, corporate-backed environment for promotion and education.

"Time Warner being involved provides legs to a video content site like this," says Annie Heckenberger, VP of MMC CoNEXTions at Marina Maher Communications. "It could reach an entirely different viewer who might not be as aware of online video sites."

Dmitry Shapiro, Veoh CEO and founder, notes that as people turn more to online video, what they view can transcend mere entertainment or tomfoolery.

For example, Cisco could use a product manager to reach potential customers with an extended video demonstrating products.

"The problem is that Cisco does not have a cable channel," says Shapiro. Veoh's business proposition is to provide anyone who partners with it the opportunity to create their own "television" channel online and monetize it.

"Look at how 'accepted' MySpace is now after Fox bought it and how blogs became so mainstream after Google bought Blogger in 2004," says Alan Rambam, SVP of Fleishman-Hillard's Next Great Thing practice. "It all helps with the mainstream positioning and adoption."

Key points:

Corporations are getting more involved with online video sharing networks

Consumers are looking for educational videos online just as much as they're looking for entertainment

Partnering with online aggregators lets companies easily create "channels" that they can promote with links from their home page

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