Monday, August 11, 2008

Fundamentals of Online Video: Post 2: Definitions and Terms


We define online video as a visual multimedia experience that occurs online, via a PC connected to the Internet.

We define digital video s a multimedia experience delivered to a PC, phone, or other mobile based Internet access device.

While some would broaden the definition of digital video to include VOD (video on demand) or Interactive TV, for this set of posts I am going to exclude those platforms from the discussion.


Ad sales rights: This refers to the right of a person or a company to monetize a particular piece of content with advertising. Content owners can sell ads in the content they own themselves or grant selling rights to other kinds of companies, including:

  • A publisher that airs the content

  • A rep firm

  • An ad network working with sites that will air the content
  • Content owner; Content rights owner: These are the people or companies that own video assets that can be shown online. For example, Procter and Gamble, the company that produces the soap opera Guiding Light, is the content owner and will want to be compensated when the content airs online. Similarly, Disney and Pixar own the content of Cars and Wall-E. Content owners are important in online and digital video because they have the assets that people will want to see online.

    Content quality tiers: This term is used to classify video assets into categories of quality. They are used by publishers and advertisers to determine the appropriate ad rates to charge to air messages within a piece of content. While definitions of these four tiers vary, the following offers a starting point on how to think about the relative value of content:

    1. Superpremium: Broadcast quality content. Example: an episode of Ugly Betty that runs on

    2. Premium: Brand safe content produced for air online. An example would be a webisode produced by AOL.

    3. Tonnage: Lower quality content, professionally or semi-professionally produced, often brand safe.

    4. UGC: User generated video, which can be brand safe but often isn't, and is not usually adequately indexed to ensure brand safety. The big problem with this segment isn't what it is, it's what it might be.

    Overlays: These are banner like ads that run on top of videos as they play. The typical overlay system operates like this: Video starts and a smallish Flash banner appears at screen bottom, inviting the user to click for more info. If she does, the video playing stops and the screen switches over to the ad message. Close the message and you can return to the video you were originally watching. Many view overlays as a more respectful, less intrusive way of delivering messages in video than pre-roll. Indeed, YouTube is counting on that being the case as it struggles to monetize the billions of view a month that it serves.

    Player: This refers to the viewing platform that carries the video content. Different sites use different players that also come in a variety of sizes, with the result that there is some complexity in the process of preparing and fielding video content across all these platforms. Fortunately, standards are converging.

    Pre-Roll/Mid-Roll/Post-Roll: These are ads that run like commercials within the stream of video that you request. For example, if you click on an ABC news story, in some cases the video you want to see will be preceded by a "pre-roll" ad. If the ad appears in the middle of the news report it is a "mid-roll" ad. If at the end, it is "post-roll."

    UGV/UGC: The UG in these acronyms refers to "user generated." UGC is user generated content. UGV is user generated video.

    There are lots of other terms in online video -- this is definitely a jargon filled category. But these are some of the most important.

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