I’m liking some of the innovations coming out of IDG’s InfoWorld these days (my old digs). I’m told the podcast advertising is working really well for them, but I’m particularly interested to see that they have begun screencasting in earnest…and it’s sponsored, to boot.
He begins by pointing out which libraries he likes and then proceeds to build a web page that utilizes the code. You can watch the screencaster type out his code and then demonstrate how it works.
Though raw in quality, the content was exactly right. The viewer is able to watch over the shoulder of someone who is at their computer working. It’s the online equivilent of Jacques Pepin…well, the finished product didn’t look all that tasty, but I learned something nonetheless.
Editor Steve Fox describes how screencasts answer the creative writing mantra ‘Show, don’t tell‘:
“After all, if you’re reading about how something works, you want to see it in action. That’s where the Web’s presentation capabilities open up stunning possibilities.“
Now, here’s the best part of the innovation…it has a video preroll…yes, an ad! A very brief video was baked into the beginning of the episode. Of course, I doubt Microsoft paid for this exposure being that it is so experimental, and they will be unable to measure success through traditional means, as there will be no clicks.
But show me an ad anywhere on the Internet that can capture my undivided attention better than this. And tell me how you could find a more targeted viewer than someone wanting to learn how to accomplish a specific task. It’s the best of both worlds – targeting and brand marketing.
What if this video clip was socializable (is that a word?) and caught fire around the web? InfoWorld should offer the embed script with each screencast so that someone can post it to their blog or their favorite video sharing site. And even better than that, the InfoWorld screencaster should actively post his screencasts to every video sharing site he can find and try to get some comment love from the people he’s connected to out there. Each screencast could live a contagious existence as people socialize it in different ways. InfoWorld already baked in the logo into the video stream, so any loss of control in the distribution is automatically mitigated by guaranteed brand exposure.
I’m sure critics will say that video on the Internet and video ads have been around for a long time, and podcasting already acts this way. I’d argue that this is actually really new.
Not only is the screencast format easier to produce than live action video and more compelling than podcasting, but the instructional nature of it gives the viewer and the screencaster a uniquely engaging relationship. As a result, the advertising in this environment can be much more relevant than your typical preroll video ad on news or entertainment content.
Of course, they can be fun to make, too. I’ll bet the editors are much more excited to narrate a screencast they can edit and produce on their own and distribute through the proven web page and RSS methods than they would be to sit in a mock studio with the marketing team telling them how to look good for the camera. It can’t be fun acting like you’re on TV fully aware that your webcast video audience will be a few hundred people at best after the clip gets posted behind an awkward lead capture wall.
Well done, guys. This is the kind of investment that could kick your online growth path well beyond the revenue tipping point.