I recently visited the centre of the online video universe, California, and explored how the media landscape is changing and where it is heading.
The motive of my visit was to work out the direction Overlander.tv is going to take, after changes to youtube have reduced my ad revenue to unsustainable levels.
The California visit was well worth the time and effort as I now have a clear plan of where I must take things to continue my charmed life of being able to afford to travel the world making videos.
Below are some of my findings:
YOUTUBE IS DEAD – for the independent creator!
Youtube wants to become TV on the internet and copied old media techniques to do this. They funded studios or networks pushing the original creators to the side. This lead to a bit of a goldrush where in the last two years television production studios were given wads of cash to produce online content. There is no way someone like myself, producing travel content, can compete with the likes of the vice empire that received millions in funding. The situation now for these tv production companies is they find they are producing more online content for less money. I was amazed to discover daily rates some producers were willing to work for, were well below those received in Australia.
One negative side effect of the ‘corporatisation’ of youtube is that now you can no longer trust organic search results. One can get found on youtube now, but it will cost you! While visiting the Philippines I saw the white hat factories where rooms full of pinoys click ‘like’ on the content of large multinationals. It is cheaper for these corporations to use such techniques than to pay the likes of google and Facebook for advertising.
THE FUTURE – Niche Curated Content
There really is too much content online now, particularly travel content. One of the most common things people post on facebook are their travel photos and videos. I believe the future for independent content creators involves establishing niche platforms that curate the best content on the net. Previously I didn’t believe stand alone websites were sustainable, but with social media platforms becoming more and more overcrowded, and changing their structure to suit advertisers, I now think it is a viable option.
So what will I be doing next? Well you will just have to wait and see! Another thing I learnt in California is that the days of a friendly community of independent creators sharing ideas and encouraging each other are well and truly over. It’s dog eat dog now, with everyone competing for eyeballs.
It took six years for youtube to replicate television. It will be interesting to see if they last another six years, or whether another entity, can seize the cognitive surplus of independent creators, left behind by the channel they helped create!
Google’s contribution for 2012! Dumbing down media? Put on you clown suit and join the circus!