Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why is it that many publishers still don't understand what spreads video?

Rolling Stone, in conjunction with their cover story on John McCain has created a great video hitting the highlights of the story, Five Myths about John McCain. It's clearly the kind of video that, in this politically charged time, would be passed around the web, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. That's the gold standard, in fact, that most online publishers want: a video that goes viral.

But too often those same publishers don't understand what sends a video viral in the first place: The ability to embed it other places. Years after YouTube took off, this simple setting still mystifies most publishers making the transition from print to online. Instead, they cling to the concept that people need to come to their websites in order to consume the video they created, thusly exposing them to the lame advertisement they have placed next to the video player. But it doesn't work that way anymore (in fact, it probably never did).

Now, it makes more sense to spread your video far and wide, while branding it in a way that will make people realize that you've got good things to offer, and they'll seek you out later. In fact, if you watch the Rolling Stone video, you'll see that they do exactly that: bumpers at the front and end of the video that clearly call out Rolling Stone, plus continually referring to the cover story of the magazine throughout.

In fact, it's that last point that makes it even more mystifying why this thing isn't embeddable: It's an effective ad for the magazine. I haven't bought a copy of Rolling Stone since my subscription expired in middle school, yet I'm thinking about buying this issue because of the video. Embed it. Spread it. It will only help.

Just look at the recent success of, the first video site sponsored by the major studios to see any success. A big reason for that success? Embedding. Studios used to be so afraid of sending their content off-site that they'd lock it away behind firewalls and streams. Hulu allows me to embed any of the content they have, including this piece, available almost immediately after it aired last night:

That's how you spread a video.

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