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Vlogs: Richer Rich Media?

  |  January 6, 2005   |  Comments

Bloggers are ready to 'show' instead of 'tell.' Are video blogs poised as the next rich media breakthrough?

No question, 2004 was the year of the blog. Everywhere you turned, Internet users were talking about the latest posts on the greatest Web logs. Everywhere you looked the media was either touting the attributes of this erstwhile technology or marveling at bloggers' candor.

Now, at the height of their popularity, blogs don't look as though they'll be fading from the spotlight any time soon. In January, Fortune magazine unapologetically named blogs the top Tech Trend to Watch in 2005. According to blog search engine and measurement firm Technorati, there are 23,000 new Web logs created each day.

In 2005, a new type of blog may emerge on center stage, marrying blogs with online video. It's called the video blog, or "vlog."

Anyone who ever studied English surely knows the expression, "Show, don't tell," commonly used to encourage students to better illustrate their essay points. When it comes to vlogs, I doubt a more appropriate mantra could be found. Vlogs are exactly what you think they are. Instead of using text and the occasional graphic image to express opinions, rant, and share information, some bloggers now opt for video as their online medium of choice.

In a recent BusinessWeek article, the author tracks a number of current vlogs, including one belonging to a film editor, another run by a video producer, even one by a common citizen who assumed the role of Web journalist by shooting and uploading amateur video news reports.

All the above video bloggers belong to a Yahoo Group devoted to video blogging. A TV station employee formed the group last June.

The concept of vlogs may be fairly new, but it's already captured the attention of online media behemoths such as Yahoo. Word is the company, which launched a video search service late last year, is working with a group of grassroots media advocates to develop a video version of RSS (define). RSS aggregators, of course, are commonly used to find blog postings and stories from around the Web. Yahoo's service could just turn out to be the instrument that takes video blogging mainstream.

If you're an online media buyer, planner, or advertiser, you're probably already salivating at the thought. Ever since blogs took off and made their way onto millions of marketers' collective radar last year, progressive souls have been racking their brains for ways to utilize this tool. Some companies, such as BizNetTravel, created their own blogs to interact with customers and clients online. Others, such as Lee Jeans, launched blogs as part of cross-media promotional campaigns.

Those who simply wanted to advertise in an existing blog, however, found placements hard to come by. Although some opportunities do exist (and new ones are cropping up), the channel definitely left something to be desired.

If we're lucky, vblogs will change all that.

Nearly as popular as blogs in 2004 was online video advertising. Demand for video formats and placements remains high. According to a year-end survey conducted by video ad developer Unicast, as much as 70 percent of advertisers and agencies plan to increase online ad spending by an average of nearly 50 percent this year. They say they're particularly interested in boosting their online video usage.

Those stats are consistent with what Jupiter Research (a Jupitermedia Corp. division) reported last summer. It estimated online video ad spending would grow fivefold to reach $657 million by 2009.

As marketers' obsession with online video advertising grows, what better time to introduce a placement that unifies the power of video with the value of blogs? By inserting unique, unconventional ad messages into video clips on vlogs, marketers may just be able to take both video and blog advertising to the next level.

If vlogs take off as expected, it's likely only a handful will accept advertising or provide enough traffic volume to make a placement worthwhile. Whether blog readers will tolerate the more intrusive video advertising also remains to be seen. If they do, the Internet industry may be singing the praises of yet another new online ad format by this time next year.

Bloggers are ready to "show" instead of "tell." My bet is advertisers will devour this next generation of blogs.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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