YouTube ‘snacking’ leading to video-related obesity?

January 26, 2012

At my video company Tap Bang we’ve been bragging for a while now to anyone who would listen about the number of videos viewed in the UK as a justification for why it’s so important to have a video presence online. The figures used to be impressive. Persuasive even. But now comscore have just released a bunch of stats on European online viewing figures that are simply startling.

They tell us that in the UK alone 32.5million people are collectively watching over 5 billion online videos every month. That’s 166 videos a month (or between 5 and 6 a day) for each of those 32.5 million viewers.  Let’s face it, 166 of anything a month is a lot.

YouTube unsurprisingly accounts for more than half of the videos viewed in the UK with BBC videos (including all the stuff on iplayer) coming in a distant second.

The time watching these all these 166 videos equates to 17 hours. That’s still a long way short of TV. The googlebox still lives up to its name with a staggering 120 hours a month of viewing for the average Brit. But the gap between TV and online video viewing  is closing fast. More importantly I’d hazard a guess that the engagement with the respective advertising from the four hours of daily telly is roughly equivalent to that of watching 6 online videos. (

It seems the ever-rising number of video views is accountable to the habit of ‘snacking’ on a sequence of videos. In other words we follow a link to a video we think we might like. Once we’ve finished watching that video YouTube or the BBC suggest several other videos we might like to watch and we just keep clicking. A video ‘snacking’ session is typically 6 online videos in a row.

If we keep going at this rate we’re really only a few years away from the full-blown snacks turning into meals. Mmmmmm tasty.


Pre-Roll Ads : You secretly love them

December 13, 2011

Rupert Murdoch created a big talking point when he put the Times Online behind a firewall – demanding that people pay to see the content. The jury is very much still out on whether it will be a successful tactic. But in the world of online video we’ve become increasingly familiar with a strategy to make our content pay: serving up pre-roll ads. You know the ones. You click on a video link, eager with anticipation for the content that it promised, only to be met with one or more ads for cars, or beer, or that frickin’ meerkat, that you are forced to watch before your video starts playing.


You’d think people wouldn’t like doing this. After all the earliest adopters of online video wanted to watch premium content for free with no advertising. YouTube’s early success was driven not by user- generated content, but by episodes of Top Gear, The Daily Show and The Simpsons. YouTube didn’t have the right to syndicate this content, of course, so they never placed ads in the videos. Once the big media companies started publishing video on their own sites, they also avoided ads because they saw online video as a marketing channel, not as a revenue-generating distribution channel. Publishing video online at that time was also difficult and expensive.


But the times they are a changing. More and more pre-roll advertising precursors web video. Even YouTube’s getting heavily in on the act for its more popular and commercial videos. This all suggests that contrary to the perceived logic of the mid-to-late naughties people are actually willing to put up with watching ads if the promised video after it is sufficiently appealing. Interestingly some research by Ooyala (who admittedly are a company that act as a middle-man between advertisers and video producers so are likely to promote such research in their own interests in a British-American-Tobacco-smoking-is good-for-you-stylee) suggest that the number 1 reason why viewers abandon a video is not bad content or heavy advertising, but constant buffering – the stop/start annoying-ness you get on videos when your internet connection isn’t feeling at its most perky. Data from tubemogul (the web video distribution company) – albeit a year old now – suggests that at least 16% of viewers abandon a video when confronted with pre-rolls. But again that’s not as high as one might have expected.


Will this trend of serving increasing amounts of pre-roll ads on web videos continue apace? As Zhou Enlai (the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China) said when asked of the impact of the French Revolution, it’s too soon to say. But given that putting ads on videos has the potential to massively impact the revenue streams of small web production houses like mine, do-us-a-favour and keep watching those pre-roll adverts would you?

Is the YouTube ‘Playbook’ going to create a generation of web video geniuses?

November 15, 2011

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to phone someone at Google? The chances are you will not get much further than trying. The other day I wanted to have a chat to someone in the UK’s Google office about a project. It was a multi-million pound project too. It wasn’t that I’d just forgotten how to log-in to Gmail. After hours of searching on their own search engine as well as several others, the best I could find was a number for Google’s office in Ireland. When I called that all I got was a recorded message. In other words it seems that for all their touchy-feely branding Google are about as transparent as the Maoist government holding a meeting in a lead-lined politburo chamber. Indeed the secrets behind their money-spinning algorithm is (like the ingredients for Coke or the colonel’s secret recipe) only known to a select few.

When Google took over YouTube it was rather the same story there with little direct engagement between the video sharing site and their users. But gradually signs emerged that Google staff were beginning to communicate with the most successful of YouTubers and encouraging them to boost their hit-rates even higher. Recently something of a gear change has occurred with the release of the YouTube ‘Playbook’. Those familiar with American sports will know that a playbook is a Coach’s personal strategy guide from which he directs the team’s tactics for the next phase of the game (known as a ‘play’). So as one can imagine from the title the Playbook is YouTube’s attempt to offer the advice it so far has only shared with a handful of YouTubers, for anyone who can be bothered to download and read the 70 page document. Like me.

So is it any good? Well, certainly for a novice it’s handy stuff. It offers advice like making the first ten seconds of your video exciting and to make sure that you upload regular content to keep an audience interested. But to be honest for any experienced web video types there’s very little in the Playbook that we didn’t know already. What might be a bit more interesting is revelations on the more refined mysteries of YouTube, such as what makes a video with 200 views rank above one with 20,000? But there’s no reference to that sort of thing.

So ultimately YouTube (and by extension Google) aren’t giving too much away with their Playbook. But hopefully this will just be the start of a greater era of engagement and dialogue between You Tube/Google and its users, which will only be good thing for both parties.

Why video increased the Japanese Earthquake’s impact

June 7, 2011

2011 has been an astonishing year for news and we’re not even half way through. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’, the ongoing economic troubles, The Christchurch earthquake and floods in Australia have all been massive stories. As if that wasn’t enough a few months ago what could unravel to be biggest news story of the year hit our screens – the monstrous Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in Northern Japan.

Who would have thought that the battle to topple Gaddafi, not to mention the effective invasion of Bahrain by Saudi troops would be completely wiped off the news agenda? The earthquake was obviously a very substantial news story, but its complete dominance of the airwaves was in itself remarkable. This was in no small part down to web video.

The Japanese earthquake was the world’s first mass-videoed-mass-uploaded-major-natural-disaster. It’s a stereotype of the Japanese that they all take pictures or videos all the time, but it’s fair to say that the country that gave us Nikon, Toshiba & Sony is likely to have a few handycams, smart phones and stills cameras on hand at a moment’s notice. As the Japanese are pretty blasé about earthquakes – small tremors are a part of everyday life – when the quake first struck people’s instinct was not to dive under a desk or huddle under a doorframe but press record on their 720p enabled HD smart phone and capture the whole event. It was only as the quake continued to rumble and the ground shook so violently that many people realised how severe the quake really was – yet for many that was all the more reason to keep taping the unfolding scene, and as soon as it was over upload the whole thing to YouTube.

So half an hour after the earthquake hundreds of clips showing absolutely incredible footage sprung up on the internet for the world to see. A small selection are included here.

Buildings shaking violently:

Inside a supermarket:

Inside a shopping centre:

The rolling news channels pounced on the footage. As more and more clips surfaced the networks wiped their schedules to accommodate them. The world was hooked on the story due to footage from ordinary people.

I spoke to an aid worker who was flying out to Japan a few days after the earthquake. Tellingly she said she was now seriously considering spending a chunk of her charity’s money in their other disaster zones on handing out video cameras alongside aid to survivors so they too could capture the horrors of their situation and get some of that much needed attention from the international community.

Although it was for all the wrong reasons the Japanese Earthquake is one of the best demonstrations yet of how if people can see something (rather than just hear or read about it) they will give it their absolute full attention.

Beginner’s Video Class?

May 23, 2011

We’ve been toying with the idea of creating a class for people who have video cameras (or maybe even just a smart phone with a video camera) and basic editing software and just want to create nice neat videos for their friends and families. It would probably be a one off class costing about £30 for 2-3 hours, with the possibility of extending the course if the class fancied it. How does that sound?

New Hubble blog 3D web video or not 3D – that’s the question

March 17, 2011

I’ve started blogging on a site called the Hubble alongside some other London based entrepreneurs. You can check out my first article on 3D web video here.

School Promo Film

December 2, 2010

Recently Tap Bang were commissioned to record the ‘day in the life’ of two pupils in the reception class at Old Palace School in Croydon, just outside London. Having filmed there for a day we can testify that they have created a fantastically happy environment with all sorts of creative, energetic and academic activities going on. The school are rightly keen to show this off to as wide an audience as possible and have wisely chosen web video as a way to get their message out. Apart from getting up at 5.30 in the morning it was a joy to make! Here’s the resulting film.