When a fellow named Adam Wilbur won Major League Baseball's promotional contest celebrating the 100th anniversary of the song, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," last year, he got to lead the crowd at the All Star Game in Yankee Stadium in the singing ritual that occurs in the middle of the 7th inning of the national past-time.
Wilbur was one of some 620,000 fans who had entered the contest by submitting videos to the MLB contest site. That's a lot of video to quickly integrate into any website, and that's where Fliqz enters the picture. Based in Emeryville, across the Bay from San Francisco, Fliqz (pronounced "Flicks") provides "full-service, plug-and-play video solutions" to marketing initiatives for businesses of all sizes.
"We currently 15,000 clients from the very large -- North American Media Group, WebMD, and MLB -- to the very small," CEO Benjamin Wayne told me yesterday. "We help Yoga Journal integrate video onto their site, and T-Mobile create training videos."
One of the most noticeable trends in the media industry is the attempt by so many companies to produce, host, and serve multiple types of media on their sites. And this trend goes beyond the attempts by some newspaper sites to add video; National Public Radio recently added long-form text stories to its site; a classic music radio station in the Bay Area deveoped a promotional video for its site; many kinds of media companies provide podcasts and other audio files; and companies large and small are increasingly turning to video clips to tell at least parts of their story to their customers.
So, from an overall perspective, there is an integration of media types across platforms, and a great wave of experimentation as to how to achieve the right balance.
There's a very good business reason for the rise of video online -- it works. "The research we have seen indicates that 80 percent of the online audience will click on a video before reading the text," says Wayne. "And in some industries, it is incredibly effective. Real estate agents report that they book four times as many rental units when they use video, as opposed to only using photos."
Wayne says he is optimistic that the tipping point for online video has arrived: "I think video will become ubiquitous within the next twenty-four to thirty-six months."
If he's right, of course, that will be very good news for Fliqz.
"Our business is mostly domestic," he adds, "But we have about 20-25 percent internationally. Some kinds of videos stay pretty much the same across cultures, for example, pet videos. We must have at least ten countries with pet videos and they all work pretty much the same. And that's mostly true for news sites also. But other types of videos really vary in content and quality, and in many areas the U.S. is lagging behind Australia and Europe."
Still, Wayne allows that with YouTube as of yet not able to show credible evidence of a sustainable business model, the current state of online video is somewhat chaotic.
"The confusion of trying to figure out the landscape of the online video business is not confined to those outside of this industry," he says. "It's inside as well.
He points to Google's recent deals for YouTube to display content from Disney and CNN as the beginning of the "Hulu-ization" of YouTube, but said he doubts Google will be able to succeed by copying the smaller TV industry's business model because "Google primarily drives users, not creators."