The exponential rise of digital video in recent years is testament to its value as a form. Everyone has video, every business, every casual internet browser, every channel, every broadcaster. There are many different approaches to monetizing video content; video monetization platforms are not rare (just Google the term to see what we mean). But to find a service which suits exactly what your business needs, which provides a comprehensive video content management platform to fully optimize your digital assets, which can help with every stage from cataloguing to global distribution – well, that’s a little more complicated.
We’re not just talking about viral cat videos and celeb-spotting here. Obviously YouTube is the giant video elephant in everyone’s room, and it has its place, but that’s not always the best solution for your business. And if it is, then we probably aren’t.
There are hundreds of companies out there to help you make money from video content, whether you’re an individual or a corporation, and many of those services are actually pretty impressive. Deep analytics, video heatmapping, interactive app functionality, the works. But if you’re looking for the next level up – we’re talking, hundreds of thousands of hours of video, entire channels of programme content, years’ worth of footage and high speed global distribution of broadcast-ready video content – then chances are, you’re going to need a bit more help.
So how can you monetize video content?
Well, there are all sorts of ways, and they range from viral volume video (think cats, cute baby animals, people falling into things) where you get paid pence per thousand views (or million – check carefully before signing up) to full-scale business model video monetization via a dedicated platform. (That’s us, in case you were wondering.)
Many platforms enable you to monetize your video content through targeted advertising and affiliate marketing links. They make it easier for you to embed your videos seamlessly in your website, and to embed clickable ads within the videos, so you make money that way. The sophistication of advertising online is always increasing (despite the appearance of your average local news site). There are multiple platforms which claim to help businesses generate incremental revenue with in-image or in-video advertising, promising relevance, customer traction, high conversion rates and more, and there is a lot of competition in this area. Whether you’re promoting your own products, or creating revenue streams by placing paid adverts or linking to affiliate sites, there are plenty of opportunities there for added commerciality.
The other main way to monetize your video content is by selling the content itself. Again, there are different methods depending on what you do, how much content you have, and what type of content it is.
For individuals, there are numerous sites acting as digital media broker, seeding out potentially viral or otherwise valuable pictures and videos to various paying customers; for example, those in marketing, PR or education, any number of content-hungry websites and of course, news channels. But if you’re talking professional content licensing (the licensing of clips for use by individuals, channels, broadcasters, filmmakers etc.) or programme licensing (selling whole series or channels’ worth of footage) then you’re going to need a bigger boat, so to speak.
For content owners, sports channels, television and film production companies and distributors, news corporations, education institutions and more, monetizing your back catalogue and current broadcast feeds is no simple task. In many cases the sheer volume is problematic, let alone the inconsistent formats, archiving systems and actual content quality. Whether your content comprises sports footage, series upon series of TV shows or thousands of hours of politics, business videos or educational material, whether it’s still archived on VHS, in desperate need of digitization, or stored in bulk on servers – much of it has great inherent value, and enormous potential for monetization, if managed properly.
There are three well known models for bulk video monetization:
Advertising video on demand (AVOD) – video content can be viewed for free but will be have adverts before, during or after the footage (or in some cases, all three). Think YouTube, 4OD etc.
Subscription video on demand (SVOD) – viewers pay a monthly (or annual, for services like Amazon Prime) subscription fee to have access to footage. Think Netflix, Wuaki.tv et al.
Transactional video on demand (TVOD) – users will pay a fee to access individual pieces of content, such as a programme, or for a series, or for stock footage, music footage etc.
Combinations of the various VOD formats are common; for example, you may pay a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime but some content, such as new releases, can be bought or rented on top of your usual monthly payment.
At Imagen, we’re all about the content itself, making your content work for its living, making it more marketable to people and businesses, as well instantly available, worldwide.
Quality as well as quantity. Yes, that’s a thing.
Often the success and commercial potential of your video content will come down to how well managed the whole process is. Video content management comes in many forms so it’s important to understand what you need for your own business circumstances. It’s the video content management that will streamline workflows, and make ingestion, production, publishing and syndication easier and more efficient. And that all contributes to the effectiveness of your video monetization strategy.
One of the keys to making vast amounts of footage monetizable and marketable is how well it is catalogued. It’s no good having more hours of premiere league football video footage if you can’t find the moment when that 40 yard screamer slammed into the back of the net in 2006 (and yes, “40 yard screamer” is actually a surprisingly popular search term.) That’s where video metadata comes into it – we won’t go into the detail here and now. But suffice to say, we make sure that the footage we are dealing with is loaded with valuable, relevant, searchable data so that whichever news channel, documentary maker or sports pundit needs it, they can find it and access it at broadcast quality, instantly, from anywhere in the world.
We understand the ways people consume video, which means we understand how they pay for it. Our new payment models promote consumption and video content is available on a self-service basis, offering broadcast-quality footage with lightning-fast processing and delivery. It all adds up to make the optimization, distribution and ultimately monetization of your video content the best it can possibly be.
Sometimes it’s about saving, not making
For every “free” video monetization opportunity, there are plenty of very much non-free things to watch out for. Most video monetization platforms have strict limits on the amount of video you can upload, use or distribute, and rest assured that when you go over those limits, you pay. Sometimes, you pay a lot. Most will offer different packages to reflect your predicted usage, and the prices rise dramatically when you get into the higher volumes. The resolution, bitrate, sound quality and so on will all have an impact too, so it’s pretty complicated to work out exactly how much you need. Then there’s the distribution aspect, which again needs to be set up right to avoid frustratingly slow transfer speeds and endless buffering. Instant, slick, global video at broadcast quality usually comes at a price, so it’s best to know exactly what you’re getting for your money up front.
So yes, there are many ways to monetize your digital content, and plenty of video monetization platforms you can use to do it; and in the interests of fairness, ours will not be the best fit for everyone. Weigh up all the pros and cons of each one before you decide – free is not always better, and definitely not if you’re dealing with video on an industrial scale. If you are working on a significant scale and want to stand out from the competition, then you need a video monetization platform which combines the best of commercial distribution and availability with the most comprehensive video content management.
A quick word of warning about copyright
Always make sure you either hold the licence for the video content in question, or have contractual permission to use it. You may think it goes without saying but the laws around the use of images, video and soundtracks are extremely strict. If you’re not sure, or just want to find out more, check our guide to Understanding Video Licensing.