Comment: YouTube Paid Subscriptions Are Not for Everyone

Written by on Monday, May 27, 2013

YouTube launched paid channels, a long rumored expansion to their revenue program, for 54 chosen producers ranging from movies to children’s programs. For as little as 99 cents to as high as 10 dollars a month, you are now able to subscribe to an ad-free channel with full episodes (assuming you have Google Wallet). It seems like a natural continuum for YouTube as prime time media consumption is moving online from TV.

A solid idea, except for a small hiccup. In the US, there’s been discussion about forcing cable companies to let customers pick and choose channels as they wish. So, goodbye for packages and hello à la carte menu items. Google has brought this principle to YouTube without realizing what separates YouTube from TV. While traditional television carries separate channels hosting multiple different shows, YouTube mostly consists of channels with one show, around a single topic. The TV model may work in a TV environment because there is still variety within a channel, but the question is whether YouTube’s iTunes style offering is enough in a Spotify era?

Lets put things in perspective. Would you be willing to pay a subscription fee for every single show you follow for, lets say $5, a month? And I’m talking per show, not channel. The bill quickly adds up when you realize you have to pay a fiver for Anthony Bourdain, another for MythBusters, another for that cooking show with the guy who was supposed to be naked. You end up getting less for the money that you are used to (a month’s Netflix subscription costs 7.99 euros). This is the situation with YouTube.

I’m subscribed to 111 channels, most of them being partner channels. If even four of those turn into paid-to-view, depending on the fee, I would probably have to lose some of them. I don’t see this as a viable revenue plan for single topic channels, however, for channels that have more variety this could work, for example, movie channels, documentary channels and National Geography for Kids on YouTube. Pay-to-view is probably a more viable option for TV broadcasters or big content networks such as Machinima than for single YouTube creators.

So, flop or not? The pay-to-view revenue plan is not for everybody and that’s fine. What determines whether YouTube will become the next Netflix or Hulu is how well Google will market the service. The company is great at creating awesome services but the challenge has been raising awareness or not having a realistic take on existing market conditions when it comes to positioning. Also being able to pay only with Google Wallet might result into a minor road bump.

About the author

Satu is a YouTube certified Producer who besides producing videos looks after publishing and distribution at online video agency KLOK. She has a web development background, which has given her an edge at research and development. She excels at creative problem solving and figuring out solutions where there seems to be none. She works at developing audiences, acquiring media, researching different services and platforms as well as data analysis. She spends way too much time on YouTube.

Collaborative Videos Challenging The Old Ways Of Filmmaking

Written by on Wednesday, May 8, 2013


When we made movies with my friends as a kid we used to end the films with the credits “Made by” and then just add all our names. There was no director or screenwriter. Everybody did everything. It was a true collaborative process.

But in the professional film industry you have people with individual responsibilities. To make a professional film you need a screenwriter who writes a good three-act story, a producer who manages the production and finally a director who is the creative lead. And of course many, many more people to finish the project. This has been the way since the dawn of film. Is it perhaps the time to really question these conventions?

Recently Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released their new music video “Can’t Hold Us feat. Ray Dalton” and in the description of the video on YouTube they also released a small statement.

Ryan Lewis writes: “There are so many variables that are completely equal if not sometimes more complicated than directing, it’s a shame that so much credit comes down to whoever fulfills that position….

We simply don’t work within the conventional hierarchy of the film industry (director, producer, etc.) Sure, people have concrete pre-defined roles based on their expertise, but our team has the remarkable ability to wear multiple hats. Can’t Hold Us was a video that showcased this well”

Later in the description on the video you can find each and every one involved in the production credited. Also the video credits three writers, producers and directors. The video very much feels like a collaborative process. It feels too grand and diverse to be thought up by one mind. At times it feels like it’s a bunch of kids who grabbed a camera and went crazy.

YouTube and online videos are changing the way we make films. You no longer need to be a great established director with a multi million dollar budget in order to make a film. You just need to be a person or a team with an idea. Anyone who works in any creative industry knows that the best way to come up with interesting ideas is to do it with collaboration. So instead of saying “We need to hire a good screenwriter for this project” one could say “We need a good team for this project”. Creating interesting and multifaceted ideas are rarely the work of one person. When you work in a team, all bad ideas can be instantly recognized and dropped and good ideas can evolve quicker and better.

The “Can’t Hold Us” video is indeed a good showcase of this. Also, it’s a kick ass tune.

True Story: Product Videos Help Consumers Make Purchase Decisions

Written by on Thursday, May 2, 2013


Do videos influence purchase behavior? There is research out there suggesting that is the case, but not all videos seem to be equally effective. It looks like product videos are the best at converting consumers into customers, even though most online videos by brands are still traditional TV ads.

A recent study by Invodo and e-Tailing Group found that the majority of consumers gain confidence during the purchase process from watching product videos. Videos also made them spend more time on the retailer’s website and they felt more engaged with the brand.

Moreover, the study concluded that shoppers prefer product videos that are informative and demonstrate the product features in a simple, non-distracting environment. Product videos that were more of a branding exercise with less information, the preferred style in most TV ads, were not found as appealing.

It is safe to say that product videos are more important in certain categories than others. Consumer electronics is at the top of Invodo’s list with computer hardware and software in second place, and automotive in third. All the categories represent complex, high value purchases. And it makes sense: consumers want technical features translated to an easy-to-understand language and user benefits communicated through concrete examples.

Consistent with the Invodo findings, Google and Compete also made a similar study in 2011 that looks at the role of video in the smartphone purchase process. The research found that 39% of smartphone shoppers watched product videos while researching and shopping, and 77% of those watched for more than 10 minutes. And more importantly, viewers take action: 61% visited a store and 53% a website that sells smartphones after viewing videos.

Google suggests product videos are consumed throughout the consumer journey. Buyers first watch it to learn more about the product, and then narrow down their choices watching more videos and reading reviews. They even go back to the video after buying the item. Therefore, product videos are a successful format for getting a message across, building up consumer confidence pre-purchase and even reducing dissonance post-purchase.

IKEA Uppleva: a product video with Swedish flair and humor

Apple iPad mini: a longer product video that manages to sustain audience interest by continuously changing things up with new music and speakers

Ipsy: a beauty subscription service product video that explains the idea behind the new service in an inspiring way