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Microsoft video

October 1st, 2007 Comments off

Microsoft has now launched its online video service out of Beta.

Aside from the fact MSN Video will distribute content for NBC Universal and News Corp, and this video content will include full-length programming, movies and clips from at least a dozen television networks and two major film studios.

Forget the fact that they have years of experience in encoding and distributing video across the Internet, or their robust and scalable content delivery network. 

The real buzz is the other side of the new MSN Video portal.

It’s Microsoft’s "User Generated Content" section called SoapBox on MSN.

There are over 100 websites that offer the ability to upload your videos for the world to view, most notably YouTube and Google Video.

So why would Microsoft’s SoapBox be important?

Three words: "Mass Market Reach".

For the last 24 months Microsoft has really been investing in a collection of integrated services and products called Windows Live.

The most familiar is Windows Live Messenger, the replacement for the market leading MSN Messenger.

So wouldn’t it be a nice idea if Microsoft would let you create a list of videos on MSN Soapbox and then actually watch them with your friends and family in Windows Live Messenger.

Well you can… here is an image of how it looks:

Now realize that Windows Live Messenger is free to download and is available in 26 languages and is used in more than 60 countries by more than 240 million active accounts each month. And you should start to see the attractive nature of this new video portal.

Can anyone say "Viral Video"? But it does not end there.

Microsoft is adding MSN SoapBox functionality directly within other Windows Live software that can be downloaded free of charge.

Windows Live Writer (Blog posting software for the desktop) and Windows Photo Gallery (desktop photo/video management software) now offer SoapBox support for uploading videos to Microsoft’s portal, and in the case of Live Writer actually posting SoapBox videos you find directly to your blog.

Also don’t forget the Microsoft Search engine "Live.Com" which serves up videos direct from its own MSN Video portal!

After purchasing YouTube, Google always seemed to be unrivaled in terms of online video.

But that may be about to change now Microsoft has entered the arena in a big way and with a sound business model included. Whilst you may argue SoapBox is no YouTube, Microsoft does have a huge user base to tap into – and it is!

Let the battle begin.

Marc Liron
Microsoft MVP

Note from Ken:

P.S. Did you know I’m on the road this fall?

For the first time in three years, I’ll be
offering small group trainings in Internet

Here’s where I’ll be and when:

Toronto – October 13
Los Angeles – November 3
San Francisco – November 10
Vancouver – November 17


Categories: Internet TV Tags:

Think again – about Internet video

September 27th, 2007 Comments off

I like this promotion from the magazine Streaming Media

It expresses the urgency that small businesses should be – but for the most part are not – feeling about the unfolding Internet video revolution.

It’s an advertisement for a white paper on Internet video and education, but it equally applies to anyone who has a story to tell or a product to sell.

The old adage "the more you tell, the more you sell" is as valid as it was 100 years ago. Internet video is evolving into one of the premiere ways to tell. Ignore it at your peril. I guarantee your more ambitious competitors are not:

"Think the video revolution is limited to user-generated content and online movie downloads? Think again.

And you’d better think fast, because learners of all kinds-whether college students, outside sales forces, or technicians in the field-are increasingly demanding the ability to receive both traditional academic courses and training materials on video. They also expect that video to work as seamlessly and easily as YouTube and with the portability of their iPods, but with the kind of interactivity and supplemental materials they’d receive in a traditional classroom.

All of which means that academic institutions and enterprises alike are looking for the most advanced, efficient, and cost-effective ways to teach and train online…"

Categories: Internet TV Tags:

Three business models

September 23rd, 2007 Comments off

Here’s Shelly Palmer, president of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the guys who award the Emmy’s. Palmer shares some very good business advice for people who want to create Internet TV channels.

Of course, the smartest use of Internet video is for entrepreneurs to use it to sell and educate their customers directly without a media middleman.

This is a hard concept for people from the traditional television and advertising industries (the middlemen) to grasp. They’ll get it – some day. In the meantime, here’s some state of the art advice on niche video publishing.

Categories: Internet TV Tags:

YouTube for the Enterprise

September 22nd, 2007 Comments off

I’m going to keep saying this until it become "common sense":

Video is the new paper.

Some quick history…before the second half of the 19th century, paper was fairly expensive and it not rare, it was not ubiquitous.  There were no mass market books; newspapers existed, but sparingly; and there were no catalogs.

Industrial sophistication made paper cheap and launched the print explosion. Yes, Gutenburg invented the printing press way back in the late Renaissance, but in those days printing presses were like mainframes or television studios. They existed, but they were high capital items.

Moving pictures have been around for a little over 100 years. Video for about half that. Most of the population has been conditioned to think of moving pictures in terms of movie theaters and television screens. This conditioning has been so strong that most people over the age of say 25, don’t get that we are in a Brave New World as far as moving pictures are concerned.

Video is going to be EVERYWHERE.  (It already is for those who use the Internet with awareness.)

Here’s what this means:

Just as print communication became a necessity for businesses once paper became inexpensive, so will video.

Video won’t be a relatively rare experience that only shows up on certain screens according to a railroad- like timetable (how 19th century!) and produced only by specialists in NY and California. 24/7 on demand video will become part and parcel of every day commercial life: to sell products, to provide customer service, to train…you name it.

A little more history:

The web started with engineers and scientists, then migrated to digital artist/activist types, then spread to bleeding edge entrepreneurs and consumers with lots of random time on their hands, then colonized "the enterprise" (aka Big Business staffs), and then became ubiquitous.

That’s the very path that Internet video is on.

The bleeding edge entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) are all over it and Internet video is slowly being seen as a useful internal communications tool for The Enterprise. The next stop: true mass market ubiquity, or as I’ve been putting it for the last three years: Video is the new paper.

Here’s a sign of how seriously The Enterprise is talking the idea of Internet video as an everyday corporate communications tool: YouTube for the Enterprise

Categories: Internet TV Tags:

Video reviews on Amazon

September 18th, 2007 Comments off

Amazon has long used its customers comments to help sell books. Customer reviews and recommended book lists have led the way. (I wonder if that makes them a pioneering web 2.0 company?)

Now Amazon has joined the video age.

Go to Amazon, pick any book and select the "review" option and you’ll be given two options: 1) the standard text option and 2) the new video option.

Just like with YouTube, you get an easy-to-use interface to upload your video to Amazon.

Interestingly, Amazon recommends the PureDigital line of video cameras we first reported on a year and a half ago.  I remain amazed that Google/YouTube hasn’t made a similar deal with PureDigital (or bought the company.)

PureDigital seems to be thriving in spite of their low profile. New cameras with new features. Where’s Apple? Micro video cameras is a cool niche that fits their mission to a ‘t.’

Categories: Internet Video Ads Tags:

TurnHere – Again

September 7th, 2007 4 comments

When I started this blog two years ago (after patiently waiting eleven years for Internet video to catch on), one of the first companies I featured was a modest little start-up called

I really liked’s model which was to take video into neighborhoods and small businesses and give those otherwise unheard voices a chance to "be on TV."  Video  is, for better or worse, the ultimate marketing medium, but until the cost of producing – and distributing – video messages was prohibitive, for all by the most deep pockets organizations.

No more and I’m happy to say that TurnHere has turned out to be one of the true movers and shakers in this movement. When I first profiled them, they had a network of less than 50 videographers. Now they have thousands.

This video features a somewhat rare interview with Brad Inman the mastermind behind Before taking a leadership role in the Internet video world, Brad was – and still is – deeply involved at the intersection of the Internet and real estate. He’s the preeminent publisher in the field and his traveling conferences on the subject are top notch.

Listen to what he has to say about the opportunities in Internet video. The door is wide open, especially for people who are smart about finding niche markets to serve.

Categories: Internet TV Tags:

Internet video watchdogs

August 19th, 2007 No comments

Internet video has created some interesting new business opportunities.

Viacom pays $100,000 per month to have its copyrighted videos scrubbed from YouTube. "Video analysts," the employees who spend their days searching YouTube and other online video services for copyright infringements, get paid $11 per hour. 

Categories: Internet TV Tags:

Will video crash the Net?

August 18th, 2007 9 comments

You’re going to hear a lot on this topic in the months and years to come.

In a way, it’s an old concern. The web’s inventor was reportedly furious with Marc Andreessen for creating the image tag because he was afraid that the increased bandwidth demand of transferring tiff and jpeg files would crash the Internet.

It  didn’t happen. Then again, video files are exponentially bigger than graphics files and video watching on the Internet is evolving into a very popular activity with a hockey stick like growth curve.

Here’s a video produced by an industry group that has a stake in the outcome. Great example of using video to make complex ideas more easily comprehensible.

Categories: Media Industry Tags:

The winner: video customer reviews

August 11th, 2007 12 comments

In advertising, we call them "testimonials," but in truth customers couldn’t care less about them.

What they really want are real life case studies if they’re business buyers, or product reviews from other customers, if they’re consumers.

When we, the advertisers, say something, or even relate a customer comment second hand in the form of a "testimonial," our much-abused and rightfully skeptical prospects take it with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, when a real person says it, credibility skyrockets.

Since I started my latest round of writing about Internet video in 2005, I’ve often repeated my hunch that one of the slam dunk uses of video was going to be to capture customer reviews. In fact, as far back as 2000, I was making sure that every time I did a live event I grabbed video from customers. This video has been, far and away, my most effective selling tool.

Now the studies are coming in and guess what? About 80% of consumers put more faith in advertisers who present customer reviews than those that don’t.  Over thee out of four customers say it is extremely or very important to read customer reviews before making a purchase.

And not just any old reviews. They want customer reviews and prefer them 6 to 1 over "expert" reviews. 44% of online shoppers say that consumer ratings and reviews are the most useful e-commerce  feature.  No other eCommerce shopping feature came even close.

Another study came up with different but similar numbers.

First, 85% of consumers research big ticket purchases like travel, electronics and cars on the Internet before they make their purchase. And what do 63% of them most want to see on a web site? You guessed it: customer reviews.

In the consumer electronics category, Amazon and Circuit City  are the most trusted vendors, Amazon because it’s familiar and Circuit City because it’s the easiest to use. Less trusted, at least in terms of online buying, are Wal-Mart and BestBuy. Guess who doesn’t provide customer reviews…

But that’s just changed. Last week, Wal-Mart started offering customer reviews on its web site. Wal-Mart’s own self-reported numbers state that 85% of their customers are Internet users. Sounds a little high to me, but then again, Wal-Mart’s got a pretty good record of tracking customer behavior (an understatement actually.)

General Motors is also getting into the act with big media buys at Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers, in case you didn’t now, is one of the granddaddies of user generated content sites. Members ask questions and other members answer them. Yahoo claims 90 million users and 250 million answers posted worldwide. Notice the theme: people talking to people without the mediation of pesky "experts."

In the online video arena, one company is making business of video customer reviews: These guys are harnessing the two biggest forces on the Internet today: consumer-generated content and video.  Currently, the site has over 50,000 product reviews, all provided by consumers who shoot, edit and upload their own videos.  ExpoTV then turns around and syndicates this content to sites like,, AOL and Yahoo.

ExpoTV pays its visitors $5 for every video they submit that’s accepted. Interestingly, the company says that  only 5 to 10%   of videos submitted by its users have to be rejected on purely technical grounds like bad sound or lighting. Clearly, huge portions of the world are now not only comfortable watching video on the Internet, they’re also comfortable and capable of shooting and uploading their own videos. (Thank YouTube for kicking that revolution into high gear.)

So what’s the take away from all of this?

1. Are you making it possible for your customers to post reviews of your products and services so other prospects can see them?  If not, you may be missing out on a huge credibility builder.

2. Don’t think that text-only "testimonials" are enough. Consumers are getting used to the idea of seeing video customer reviews.  The first player in your niche to take advantage of this lesson will quickly leave the rest of the competition behind. 

Remember the numbers from the surveys:

1) Prospects value the opinions of customers over "experts" 6 to 1, 
2) Well over half of all Internet users believe that customer reviews and ratings are extremely or very important, and
3) The single most popular feature on eCommerce sites, by a very wide margin, is the availability of customer reviews.

Bottom line: Customers want to get their product information from each other. Not from advertisers. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Ken McCarthy

P.S. For a free highlights version of this blog go to:

Categories: Internet Video Ads Tags:

Make or Buy – Part Two

July 18th, 2007 3 comments

Internet video continues to demonstrated its effectiveness and superiority over text.

As proof of this, you can hardly find a single big numbers Internet marketer who has not made a serious investment in mastering the medium.

What about you?

I know from first hand experience how expensive and time consuming it can be to sort this stuff out.

That’s why I’m always on the lookout for good *educators* in this field.

Here’s one I recommend very highly:

Jay Douglas.

He may have put together the best, most comprehensive, lowest cost way to get up to speed and fluent in
Internet video fast:


Ken McCarthy

P.S. I’m of the opinion that the tools for Internet video production have become so cheap and easy to use that everyone should at least look at the potential of  making their own sales videos.

You wouldn’t hire a typist to write your e-mails and sales letters for you, would you? That would get awfully burdensome.

It might makes sense to run up the learning curve on video, just the way you did on typing.

Here’s a great resource to do just that:

Categories: Internet Video Ads Tags: