Discovery, Curation, and Social Media
There are a many external influences on the online video distribution market. Some have strong effects on the success of individual models. So far we have discussed the consumer proposition in terms of technical delivery, audience measurement (to underpin commercial models), and the ability to offer good content.
On top of the primary foci of ensuring that good content can be delivered well when it is requested, a successful model will also ensure that consumers are able to watch what they want to watch. At the top of these influences is “discovery.” Discovery in this context embraces a range of technologies and service modes, ranging from the familiar billboard and “TV” promotion, through to textual search of metadata, image and audio fingerprinting, and ultimately refined into a fine art with “recommendation engines” While recommendation engines are complex and involved, they are in many ways an attempt to “artificially” replicate the intelligence of a human curator or editor, or even “the DJ”
Also important to understand is the effect of the audience on itself: social media is now a central communications capability that at least a quarter of all net users regularly visit, and far more visit on an occasional basis. The ability for social networks to create “herds” or “flash mobs” to various online events or publications is proving to be complex to harness but invaluable in engaging audiences, and the “share” ability that most such networks thrive on ensures that the individual can do a lot to avoid being isolated in a case of “left-out-ITs” Once something “goes viral,” the overhead of growing an audience is passed, in a massively distributed way, to the audience itself, making audience growth “frictionless.” Thus risk gets reduced to producers, publishers, and promoters of that content alike.
Used well, social media can be a massive asset, but there are also many online streaming companies that have launched naively optimistic strategies, reminiscent of the dot-com era, and obsess about volumes of “likes” or “re-tweets” and gauge these as a currency that they infer is empirically “valuable” In fact that “currency” is just as fickle, and the supply in the market (the competition to the model) is also endless. This easy to attain oversupply means (at best) a social media response has a short-term burst of value, and then invariably quickly fades, but more often than not even huge continuous numbers though social “engagement” have proved difficult to directly correlate to value.