Tony Pfau @ large

Writing about whatever comes to mind. Real Estate, Video, Etc.

Monetize Web Video- First things First.

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In 2009, 187,000,000 videos were streamed online.[1] Many businesses, believing that just having any video is enough to race off and jump into the cyber-ocean with their ill thought, talking head “video”.  Instead of finding increased business, leads, and fame, they find themselves as a brine shrimp in a sea of unwatched talking heads, baffled about why they aren’t seeing immediate sales increases. While everyone wants to find out how to make web video make money, many over look the basic foundation that enables them to do so. If you take a look at how the funny viral videos that do make money you’ll get a clue. Business promotion videos have the same requirements as do the entertainment videos on the web. The first step to making web video work for your business is to have something good for the audience to watch.

Much like a home won’t sell if it doesn’t show well, neither does a talking head, or disjointed video that’s boring, that the audience doesn’t watch. You can’t expect to promote your brand and make money, if you’re putting a crummy foot, half effort, forward for your first impression.

Jessica Kizorek and Steve Young, [2] online video marketing experts, point out that even if you are to get millions of hits, poor quality, boring material works against the marketing efforts.
Unfortunately, apparently facts don’t matter to some. There is still a mindset that regarding web video, quality doesn’t matter and that audiences expect, low resolution, home made video.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. You are wise to reject that notion. When did your image, your brand stop mattering? Simply take a look at how television, commercials, radio, movies and advertising business works. The audience experience matters. Every picture has a purpose and should convey something to the viewer.

Simply making a video is not the same as creating a good, effective, cohesive, interesting, short video that a viewer likes and responds to. Can you afford run off your business? With millions of talking head social videos out there, that all look and sound the same, one promoting themselves needs to do something to stand out, that is quality.

Certainly, if the audience is enjoying the content, the low technical quality, and the non-professional narration is overlooked but, they won’t forgive you for wasting their time. Quality isn’t just the photography, sound or editing. Quality applies to the content, the delivery, the structure, and the approach. It is about having something there for the audience.

While some might get lucky with the home candid camera, successful creators considered what the audience wanted to hear and see, clarity and cohesion. The video is short, on point and engaging. Good video content can be created even with limited technology, but simply scripting then shooting it isn’t the starting point.

Creating good content, or quality, starts by having a clear objective, a strategy for the video or web series, and spending time designing and planning.  It requires knowing, who you wish to reach and what you want to say to them, then developing an interesting approach and “language” to do so. It requires defining clear and substantive objectives. The distribution must be taken under consideration.  Pencil and paper gets used, long before a camera rolls. Your video’s objective should consider what you want the audience to think, do, feel.  It should be more than just, get exposed, inform them, or generate sales. You should consider the “how”.

Video is a great medium for emotion and perception, but a lousy medium for detail. Not wasting your audience’s time is one aspect of a quality video. What many talking heads on Youtube spend eons explaining things “at us”, that can be communicated more clearly in 15 seconds if it were simply thought about beforehand. And yes, they scan ahead to see what’s in store.  Perhaps you could illustrate a concept, or use props in your presentation do demonstrate.

Video is motion pictures, a language of its own. It is enjoyed when there is motion, substance, things changing and offers even a basic enjoyable visual experience. It is a great medium for creating emotion, perception, and basic overview, but a lousy one for details, and you have them for about 3 minutes these days.

Consider this; why does a skateboarding dog video get so many hits? Simple, there’s something there for the viewers. They question one must ask when considering their video message, is, what is the “skateboarding dog” part? What can be done that will intrigue an audience? Yes, you can! It might be that you’ve filmed your video in an interesting place, or have a cool, and non-profound tip to share, or even bothered to shoot more than one angle, or had other illustrations or pictures.

Hits don’t matter if the media isn’t engaging. Thinking about only hits and making money is putting the cart before the horse, the horse being good video.

Regarding viewer choices,  In a white paper for The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA)  Jessica Kizorek explains, “Their behaviorisms exhibit a strong sense of opinion and correlated action..” [3] She highlights a few viewer perceptions when they consider watching, or continuing to watch video on their screen:

“I’m not interested,
“You are boring”
“You are not worth my time.”

I would add, “this sucks”, “what an idiot” and “give me a break”. If your audience just thought that, your efforts failed, if not backfired. Despite the facts, we continue to see a mishmash of boring long video that we’re supposed to be thrilled with.

You create the audience experience first by solid objectives and approaches, then what you do with all of the elements that make your show.  Your appearance, delivery, the content, language, pace, camera, sound, the frame, the background ALL go into the audience experience. Just because you made a video, starring you, doesn’t mean it is good, or worth watching, or engaging, or effective, despite what your close friends might say. If all you are going to do is have one shot and speak for four to five minutes, you’ll probably have better luck with an audio podcast versus video. Show your audience pictures, graphics that’s why they’re watching! Given the ease of shooting, integrating pictures, graphics, sounds into the edit these days, there really isn’t any excuse not to depart from the low bar of a straight talking head video. Small tweaks can make huge differences in your production. If you won’t take the time to learn it, I guarantee you, your competition will. Digital media production courses are now becoming business degree requirements at many universities throughout the country.

Don’t make the common mistake that video is video. That is like saying a 10 year old Chevy Geo is the same as a new BMW since they’re both cars. If the video is just you talking, is that enough to distinguish yourself from the millions of others doing the same? Now, if it were you talking while juggling cats, perhaps might be onto something.

As an example of having something there for the audience, in one of my real estate virals, I use a free computer animated software called Xtranormal® to create an animated scenario that makes one simple point about low-ball offers. It was done to intentionally attract a younger audience that might be buying a home the first time. It gets watched because, there’s something there for them, a little entertainment and visual interest, in a form they identify with. Is it immediate business? No. Did it build trust and leads for later? Yes. Does it fit with my overall video objective and online web video marketing efforts? Yes, I get remembered. You can see more at my YouTube channel.

The fact is that web video is maturing. Business video doesn’t get a hall-pass, like the funny home videos. Delivery, content, subject, quality matters, your brand matters, all taking the most important factor into consideration, the audience. Just as one’s website creates a perception in the consumer’s mind about that business, so too does one’s web video. Simple preparation and simple techniques can vastly improve the overall quality of the videos you produce.

To continue to publish the typical talking head web video is like saying; “please don’t hire me for I don’t have the sense to get help to do this well, and even worse; I don’t care about you the viewer.”
This doesn’t mean you need Hollywood budgets to create professional looking work. You can make good content, even low quality, if you are willing to spend a little time thinking things through, and get some basic guidance. Racing off to lay down your wisdom on camera, is not a great way to do this.

There are many situations where the video quality can be awful, but the piece still works. Take a sewer line repair company where the contractor wasn’t well spoken, but, there were shots and explanation of what they do. The technical quality lacked, but, there was something for the audience, a story on how they replace sewer lines. The point is, the ditch digger wasn’t presenting himself as a skilled negotiator, a financial professional. In his case, the video was cohesive with regards to what he was presenting. Imagine if he was in a suit and tie, in an office.

The location you film in and what’s in the frame matters. These are part of your show and the audience experience, and as important as your words. In video, it is a concert of many elements that differentiate the good from the bad video. Seriously, something as simple as opening up the background and composing where the subject is in the frame can make a huge difference.

So, the answer to those seeking ways to make money with web video is to start with a solid foundation of something good that an audience will enjoy watching, then get some help distributing it. Bloggers, experts, marketers including The Economist [5] and Wall Street Journal [6] write about the move towards video content.  Ray Flanders, from WSJ  makes it clear that “great content” is a necessity and the foundation for any effective web video effort.[7]

How To Create Good Programming Without Experience 

So, how on earth do you create good material without any experience or talent?  Take some time to really think about the audience experience, the video’s objective, subject development, approach, thoughtful production and editing. Consider your business, your customers (audience) interests & needs and design your approach to that. The slick camera, the editing system manufactures the material into a show, the technology does not make the video, nor will just your great personality. The gray matter does. The old saying, “if it isn’t on the page, it isn’t on the stage” applies to anyone seeking to make good content. Once you have some clear objectives, a target audience, you need to develop your script and find that “skateboarding dog”.

If the objective is only what you want to say, or hire me, you’re short changing yourself. A good objective would be;  to build brand trust (sell me) by presenting an unknown, yet helpful & profitable tip in an interesting fashion. Or, to present boring information, short and sweet in a clever way that demonstrates a that I care about my audience. Or, to integrate something personally identifiable, a non industry regular life tip.  Be sure these are good tips, not like ” don’t touch a hot stove” profoundness.

A good way to start is by taking a blank piece of paper. At the top, put I wan the video to… or I want the audience to…, and start brainstorming.  Write down anything that comes to mind.   If you want your audience to watch again, that’s a different objective  than I want them to call right away and you’d consider different approaches, language and topics.  Now, how many of those talking heads have you seen that appear to have designed their piece that way.

Get some guidance. If you go searching for a video about how to do a video, you might find yourself a little disappointed. Don’t worry! The craft is actually learned by getting a little guidance from a mentor, a nearby film school, books, hands on seminars, tech tutorials online, and practice. A quick search on Amazon for “web video production” will return many useful books. You might even consider finding seminars and workshops available in your area.

With a little bit of thinking, a little bit of guidance, and simple tricks, you can begin making good videos that help you stand out. Just to begin thinking about something other than just a talking head has you on the right road!

So, grab a legal pad and a few pencils, and start jotting down what you want your video to accomplish, what you want your audience to experience and start there!

Making Money

According to two leading online video distribution experts, Jenni Powel & Susan Miller, “There is no quick fix, no formula to making money with web video” . [4] But, a sure fire way not to make a dime, is to put up your talking head, annoying brand busting video that is just another grain of sand on the beach.

My expertise is about creating the good content and I’ve done that time and time again. I leave the distribution and monetization who do that for a living. There are plenty of companies that can help you get your video out there. Here are some companies that help businesses create or market their videos and offer other tips:; Jessica Kizorek’s site and good example of a not so boring talking head.
Turnhere distribution

Those who still subscribe to the “it doesn’t need to be good for the web” fallacy, are in for a big surprise in the near future when their competition blows their doors off, creatively speaking. The technology is getting easier to use and readily available. Hopefully, the surprised are your competition.

Tony Pfau is an award winning film and commercial director with over 30 years of experience. He’s been teaching at the Colorado Film School for over a decade. He offers workshops to help businesses and organizations develop good effective video presentations for their web video marketing. Find out about getting seminars for your organization here:

See his collection of real estate web videos here: (please email me to get the links, the videos have been turned to private when author put license inactive)

[1] Jessica Kizorik 2010 web; Trendstream & Lightspeed Research


[3] “Free Brief”



[6] Flandez, Raymond, Wall Street Journal “Threee Best Ways to Make A Viral Video” Web.

[7] ibid

Written by Tony Pfau

August 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Op Ed

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