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Tonight in NYC is the NY Video 2.0 Meetup. The event tonight is a bit special because several VC partners are going to review the startup pitches. Companies presenting include Aniboom, Clearspring, SesameVault and VoloMedia.
Also, Andrew Baron of Rocketboom is going to present the launch of his “Magma” video product.
Over the past 24 hours, a story has blown up regarding video blogging and the lack of disclosure. We first wrote about the issues of video blogger disclosure with regards to Morgan Webb and her show Webb Alert. When she launched the show, it was produced (and still is I believe) by ad network Federated Media.
It sure seems to me like video bloggers have a different code when it comes to disclosure. Whether it’s with stories like the above, Amanda’s fiasco with DuPont, or other video bloggers, there seems to be little to no disclosure. Is that ok?
Let’s recap what happened over the past 24 hours. Techcrunch had a post about mobile video technologies and included Sarah Austin of Pop17 in the videos. Apparently Sarah is paid by Flixwagon to use their service and for some "consulting". There was no disclosure of this on the Techcrunch post. Author Jason Kinkaid says that Sarah was just the video model and didn’t actually comment on the reviews in any regard. Editor Mike Arrington says TC didn’t know of this sponsorship deal when they wrote their post. Pat Phelan caught word of this and posted an investigation of the Flixwagon deal. There’s a good discussion about video blogging disclosure on his post.
Let me disclose that I am friendly with both Sarah and her boyfriend Andrew Baron, Rocketboom founder. When Sarah uses Flixwagon it’s not required that she discloses that she is getting paid from them. But when she is promoting their service, she does need to disclose. Here’s what disclosures I believe were missing from the Techcrunch post:
- Sarah is paid by Flixwagon
- Techcrunch sponsors Sarah’s show Pop17
These simple statements would have avoided this entire issue. Sarah notes that she always discloses but I am not sure this is the case. Earlier this week she had Rocketboom on Pop17 but there was no disclosure of her fiduciary relationship with Rocketboom or her personal one. Should there have been? Hells yes. Last night she wrote about this topic and linked to Techcrunch. Should there have been disclosure that TC is a sponsor of Pop17? Hells yes.
Now let’s take this topic one step further to really drive home the point of video blogger disclosure at the macro level. In the videos she pimps her Web site, and says her favorite blog is Techcrunch. Which by the way is her show sponsor. Now let’s watch this video outside of the context of Techcrunch and view it on the Qik site. Here we see a video with a "popular" video blogger who pimps Techcrunch. Where’s the disclosure? The key to remember is that videos will travel further than text will and disclosure needs to be included in the videos so they travel with it.
Perhaps video platforms need to build in a disclosure option – this would certainly save us from future issues like this. As product placements in videos (see Diggnation) grow, this topic will become more widely discussed.
Here’s my video with some further thoughts on the topic of video blogger disclosure:
On a side note, it’s interesting to hear that for "a few dollars more" Sarah is willing to abandon Flixwagon for Qik. She says she would never take money if she didn’t believe in the product but she’s so willing to jump ship for a few more dollars. If I was running FlixWagon, she’d be fired immediately because that statement shows she is in it for the cash, not for the quality of the service. She pulled a Tila Tequila. Update: Just to be clear, this paragraph has nothing to do with disclosure, but more to do with endorsing products.
It’s simple. Disclose your relationships. Whether you blog on video, text, audio, whatever.
Two of my favorite video bloggers hooked up today on the WineLibrary.TV set. Joanne from Rocketboom joined WineLibrary.TV host Gary Vaynerchuk for the thunder show today. I’ve embedded it below. Joanne really classied up the place — they worked very well together.
Gary is looking for people to join him and he is specifically looking for "Web 2.0 personalities" – send him a note if you are interested. I will throw my hat into the pool and I would totally bring my Giants spitcan. I don’t know a damn thing about wine but I would totally bring the thunder.
NY-based videoblog Rocketboom is said to be expanding it’s videoblog portfolio says Tilzy.tv. Back in November, Robert Scoble took Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron hostage in his car for an interview and Andrew noted that a "live" Rocketboom was in the works (currently the produce the shows ahead of time).
Today Tilzy sat down with Rocketboom producer Elspeth "Ellie" Rountree for an interview (I’ve embedded it below) and Ellie noted that she is also working on a new show which will be produced by Rocketboom and will feature "interesting content". Unfortunately someone offstage cut her mic so we don’t yet know what that interesting content will be. Both the live Rocketboom and Ellie’s show are "coming soon."
Check out my audio interview with Joanne and Andrew from 2007.
Earlier this week was the NY Video Meetup. Somewhere around 250 NY’ers attended and viewed a variety of demos and a healthy video discussion. One thing rang true throughout – online video is HOT here in the city. So many companies, so many ideas and a amazing level of excitement/passion around online video.
Here are just a few of the companies in the online video space in the NYC area. I certainly forgot a bunch, so please leave them in the comments.
- Magnify.net – providing video upload, encoding, storage, delivery, and rev share mainly for video clips (CN Coverage)
- Blip.tv – a leader in episodic content (CN Coverage)
- 5min – moving offices to NYC next month – knowledge sharing (CN Coverage)
- Rocketboom – daily video show about anything with host Joanne Colan (CN Coverage)
- For Your Imagination – creating a variety of online-only video shows
- WallStrip – filming in NYC about stocks with host Lindsay Cambell
- Vimeo – video hoster and community creator (CN Coverage)
- ExpoTV – video reviews (CN Coverage)
- Kaltura – video collaboration (CN Coverage)
- Joost – NYC office is North American HQ – television replacement (CN Coverage)
- SavoryNY – restaurants video reviews (CN Coverage)
- WineLibraryTV – ok, he’s in Jersey but we will allow it since he lives in the city – daily wine video show
While other areas of the country and the world are creating online video, NY is where it’s at. Innovation, technology, people, community, it’s all here. And Madison Avenue and Google are here to monetize it all.
Last week I had a chance to meet with Joanne Colan and Andrew Baron from Rocketboom. We met at their studio in NYC and I grabbed some pictures and a pretty lengthy audio interview. If you are planning to video blog, you need to read/listen to this interview. Andrew has an excellent discusion below on why they selected 3-4 minutes for the Rocketboom recording. Pictures are below the interview transcript.
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Click the start button below to begin the audio interview (24 minutes) (or download the mp3):
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Allen: So Joanne and Andrew, can you start by providing a brief bio about yourselves and then a brief overview of what Rocketboom is?
Joanne: I'll start with my bio because then you can do your own bio and the brief overview of what Rocketboom is. Who am I? My name's Joanne, and I host a video blog called Rocketboom, which Andrew is about to tell you about in a few minutes. I'm English, I've been in New York for a few years now, and I, prior to that, was living in the UK. I have never worked on a video blog before now, I was working in old media as well as doing a few things that were I guess unrelated to media at all.
Andrew: And my name is Andrew and I am the creator of Rocketboom and Rocketboom is a three, four minute approximately video blog of interesting stuff [laughter] that we find and then present in a hopefully interesting manner, that we do five days a week, and we are basically more thinking about our audience in terms of an Internet style more so than a traditional TV couch or film movie theater type of audience.
Allen: all right, so what I've tried to do is to put together questions, I looked at a lot of interviews you'd already done, and I tried to put together different questions so we weren't just rehashing the same stuff. How long does it take to make an episode?
Joanne: I'd say that varies depending on the nature of the episode. I'd say that each episode is not one specific episode; it's a continuation of an ongoing thought process that really happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We all kind of get together and bring inspiration from many different sources, and so what you see if you watch Rocketboom on a Tuesday is not necessarily what happened that particular day, it could be the kind of consequence of lots of different things.
But in real, more technical terms I guess, there's… we can break it down into periods of time. There's a period of time for gathering the ideas and putting them together in some kind of coherent manner, which could also be called a "script." There is time in the studio, which can take anything from an hour to maybe two or three hours I guess? And there's also the post-production, which again can vary in length. So those are the three main stages: the creation of the script, the filming of that script, and also the post-production of that particular script, which also involves things like compressing files and putting them up on the Internet.
If we're not in the studio, we're out and about, and that's then working in a non-controlled environment and dealing with things like human beings and the environment itself and traffic and noise, can mean that you can be on a shoot for five or ten minutes, or you can be on it for a day and a half.
Allen: So, I know you guys started back in 2004. What would you say has changed the most in Rocketboom since 2004?
Andrew: I would say the audience has changed the most, because when we first got started I think the audience saw us more as something that was interesting because it was new, and that it represented something else that was bigger than what we were that was new, and so there was a real sense of excitement.
Just sort of like the whole idea of the fact that you've got a couple of people in their bedroom with stuff they got from Best Buy and now they're getting distributions on their own that are greater than TV programs, and that the value of it is deemed higher for each of the audience members, so that kind of excitement within the whole financial world of things.
And with then the whole sort of spirit of the artists can have when they can find a way, basically, that that story is starting to, it's still there and it's still very important but, for a lot of people it's kind of, now it's an old thing already. Because that's the way a lot of people are out there too, they're real, as soon as they've got something, the next day it's old, it's considered old, like, "Oh, I knew that, I've been doing this for six months" or something like that.
So anyway, now, it's turned into more really trying to improve the content, and trying to just make the show itself as good as possible.
Allen: How do you find your stories, or prioritize which ones you decide to actually air?
Andrew: Well, a lot of the stories come from our audience, they send it in through the web site, and that usually ends up being the best stories that we get because they really know what, they really watch it every day, and they're the authority on what works best, and so that makes it very easy, and so it's been kind of proportionately gets, we get more and more input as it's gotten bigger, so that's kind of neat to see that part of it grow. And then otherwise just, it involves a lot of research and just kind of going out and staying on the pulse of things, and keeping up with these people and these blogs and these websites and this news and all that kind of stuff, and just it's a personal filter type of thing.
Allen: How many stories do you get from people, on average, would you say?
Andrew: Well, we get a lot, and then we end up, I say sometimes up to like 25% of our stories that we use come from audience submitted stories.
Allen: Wow. That's awesome. That really shows the community. It's not just you guys, but there's the people that actually watch and can participate so to speak. But if you could start over today, what would be one thing you'd change?
Joanne: Wow. That's a good question. The fact that I'm pausing, must means things are great, right? Wouldn't change anything!
Andrew: Now it's a matter of thinking, "Out of everything that we should change — "
Joanne: Yeah I know! Huh. An extra day in the week and a few extra hours in every day?
Andrew: That's a really good one yeah. yeah, actually, it's the issue of time.
Andrew: And having more support in order to make it better, but, me personally, I've always been, I can spend a year on a certain project and still not quite feel like it's quite ready, from an artistic perspective. But here, it's like, my gosh, we've got to meet this deadline. And if you're talking about creative output and deadlines and all of that stuff, it's really disappointing sometimes.
It's the kind of thing with Rocketboom, even, if you could take the episode and say OK, we finished it, now let's set it aside for two days and then come back and revisit it, and then see what we think with a fresh perspective and have more to tweak and stuff like that. It could get better that way, for sure.
Allen: Cool. All right, this question came from a friend of mine who says, "Now that you guys are celebrities, do you find that people notice you on the street, and will call you out, 'cause you're TV stars?"
Joanne: I don't think we're stars.
Joanne: I want to add a disclaimer on that word, "celebrity."
No, it's true, if you get exposure on any kind of medium, these days, when it seems as if randomly you will bump into somebody who is aware of you. Within the community, if Andrew and I go to a new media-specific or Internet-specific or video on the net-specific event then, of course, we recognize lots of people who he haven't necessarily met, and they may recognize us, even if we haven't necessarily met.
It's happened to me a few times really randomly, picked out in the store on the street or in the subway, but I like to avoid those moments, and I'm happy to say they don't happen very often.
Allen: Wow. OK, so what's been your favorite show so far? Do you have a favorite that you did?
Joanne: Personally, for me, I'll have to say I find that when I work in the studio with Andrew, it's the collaborative effort. Or Ian, who's not here right now. And that can be heaps of fun. We can end up having to press pause just 'cause I'm giggling too hard.
It may come from nothing that's particularly funny but I think just that energy, when you're working in a team, it's great. If you're both on the same level that day, if you're firing ideas at each other, then it's a really happy collaboration that brings good results.
And sometimes, just out and about, if you come up with a crafty idea or you meet who really is appreciative of what you are doing, then that can also be something that is very enjoyable. I can't even remember the question now.
Allen: Which was your favorite episode…
Joanne: Oh, OK. So, I'm sorry, I'm talking about very vague – in a vague way. So yeah, enjoyment or favorites just come out, really, of moments rather than sitting back and looking at a finished product and being really pleased with oneself, I find.
Andrew: We're generalists.
Allen: What was it like to work with John Edwards, and go to New Orleans?
Andrew: Well, it was exciting just because of the role that we knew we were playing. For me, personally, it came down to the excitement of being the ones to take the video, kind of nobody else in the world knows, and then upload it to YouTube. I remember even down to like, five minutes before we released it, sending emails with their team, saying, "can I send out an email now?" And they're like, "No, wait! Just five minutes," I'm like, "Five minutes? What difference is five minutes going to make?", that kind of thing.
So that was pretty neat. But I don't know what about for you?
Joanne: I was just going to say, no matter who you meet, when somebody has a particular role, and it's certainly one that involves having a public profile, I've noticed, after years now of doing interviews with people, you have that kind of limelight upon them, whether it's political or in the entertainment industry.
Some people remain so incredibly humble and down to earth, and really have a sense of realness about them. And that's something that I really, really like, and I find that – I've only met John Edwards twice now, and the members of staff that work in his team. And he really is – and I'm not taking sides here, 'cause everyone's going to think I am – but just in terms of somebody who has a public role, he's somebody who's really is just down to earth, gets on with the job, mucks in and does as much as the other person.
So that was pleasurable, being in New Orleans and just working with somebody who works really hard.
Allen: Cool. That's the only politics question I'll ask. What other video blogs do you guys watch?
Andrew: I tend to, actually, usually not watch reoccurring shows – or I don't usually go back to them all the time. But there are a bunch, sometimes they'll make news or they'll do something particular and then I'll go and watch that one. I usually like to spend that time searching for something new. Or a lot of times I'll try to see if I can understand something, at least from my own perspective. And then I tend to understand. "It's JerryTime" is one I always anticipate the next episode.
Allen: Oh, OK, then what about -?
Joanne: I'd have to say that my guilty pleasure is going onto the .co.uk sites and getting a little taste of home. It's the best way, when I'm kind of thinking, "Oh, I'm not home anymore" going to video blogs or even just reading blogs or getting radio snippets or tuning into a particular radio documentary or something that was from England is a particular personal joy.
But I, the same as Andrew, I try and get my dose that's varied from day to day.
Allen: Cool. What about creating a best of DVD? Do you have any plans to do something like that, or maybe some outtakes and stuff?
Andrew: Yeah, we do.
Allen: Oh, you do? Cool.
Andrew: Yeah, that's in the – well I wouldn't say it's in the works exactly, but it's something that is definitely – we attempted it once before, and it just became a back burner issue. We just recently hit the six-month mark, right? And we could maybe, like in a year or something, when we do "the best of" for the whole year.
Allen: Six-month mark?
Andrew: Since Joanna and I have been working on it.
Allen: Oh, really? Oh, congratulations. That's awesome.
Joanne: Thank you. Feels like years, but…
Allen: Yeah, I was going to say -
Allen: 'Cause I wrote down -
Andrew: Well, yeah, Rocketboom since the end of 2004, yeah.
Allen: Yeah, but I thought you started in July, right?
Joanne: I did, in July, yeah.
Andrew: So was it longer than that?
Joanne: Well, it wasn't the whole month of July, actually.
Allen: Oh, OK, gotcha.
Andrew: I think it was. Oh yeah, maybe middle of July.
Joanne: Middle of July, and then I was away for a bit, but I guess – so half of July, and we're just reaching February.
Andrew: Somebody said it in the comments, maybe it was the number of episodes.
Joanne: The 500th, and that was just over the holidays, wasn't it?
Andrew: Oh yeah, 500 episodes, damn!
Allen: Yeah, well, that's awesome!
Andrew: That sounds a lot more than six months.
Joanne: It does, doesn't it? No, that can't be right, we haven't done 500 episodes?
Andrew: Oh, yeah, that is – you're right, 'cause all of Rocketboom is just under 600 episodes.
Joanne: OK. So when we get to a benchmark of some description, we'll let you know.
Joanne: Apparently we haven't figured out what that would be yet.
Allen: Right. So sticking on that kind of the DVD side, which would be more on the monetization, are you guys looking at doing any monetization, or are you doing that now?
Andrew: We've just established a company called Abbey, with Jeff Colber. And we are going to have Abbey kind of take care of Rocketboom and work on some other shows too. So basically we've done some post-roll advertising, and we may do some more experimental things with advertising on Rocketboom, and sponsorships and merchandising and licensing, and then consulting are the primary avenues.
Allen: Gotcha. OK. A couple more questions. What tips do you have for new video bloggers? If somebody wanted to get started doing it, what tips do you have for them?
Joanne: I have a tip, because it's my biggest fault. Don't procrastinate.
Andrew: Yeah. I would suggest, one of the neat things about video blogging is that it involves that aspect of conversation which you didn't always get before in traditional media. I mean that's not to say that traditional media didn't have plenty of conversation. It's just the technology and everything makes it so easy. So that's been a big exciting part of video blogging. People commenting and keeping conversations going and stuff like that – being able to discover each other through searching and all of the sort of back-end web 2.0 stuff. So, I would suggest while getting started, that maybe going out and while doing your own thing, go out and start participating in other's conversations. Like if there was a website, a videoblog that you really liked, that you were inspired by, maybe just go over there and start commenting, or maybe get to know that video blogger, and start up a relationship. And it's basically relationships with colleagues that tend to be the best guidance. Because then you can always email them or you try your ideas. They'll be the first ones to speak up to sort of give you good honest feedback, and stuff like that.
Allen: Yeah, I think that's how I've hopefully gotten some of my networks to start to grow – by going out and not just putting out what I want to put out, but going out to the other sites in the same space and participating with those sites as well. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the tips.
Joanne: I'm going to say less is more, I would say. Because I've seen some people very kindly have shown me some pilot-type video blogs. And of course we all have hundreds, what is it? I don't know how many thousands of thoughts we have per second, but there are a lot of thoughts going around in any person's head. And it's true that I think knowing how to simplify things and sort of strip them down so that the message is strong, but it's not cluttered with too much information or too much visual enhancement. I think that's always good.
Andrew: Yeah, that's good.
Allen: How did you guys decide on three to four minutes?
Andrew: Entirely based on, once again, the audience. If you think about, just real quick, the audience. If you think about it in terms of distance, you can treat your audience differently based on how far away they are from the screen. So that, you're sitting at the computer there, but I can't really see your screen, so it's just you. But you're upright, and your finger's even pointed down at the mouse ready to click. Like you're so anxious to click. So that means you're a typical, just like me, type of person, who can't sit there at the computer and just do one thing for a long time. It's multitasking and this and that. So you've got to be real short and precise. Kind of just what Joann was saying about cut out all the crap and get right to the point, because I'm busy and I've got other things to do. But that's me sitting upright at the computer. If I have a telephone and the screen's even closer, the content would maybe even need to be even quicker because I might be waling along and need to look up, or I'm sitting on the train or this or that. But then also, what if you're watching TV and that distance is even further. Then you've got more time to relax and sit on the couch, and the content can go for thirty minutes. You're sharing it. If it's a movie screen, and you're finally at a really far distance, and it goes on for an hour and a half. So that matter of distance and the position is really important. It just happened consequently.
Allen: That's a really interesting perspective. I never really thought about that. Wow.
Andrew: I think in the example I made is sound a little bit confusing because I didn't go the steps from phone, to computer, and then to couch then to film.
Allen: No, no. I got it.
Andrew: It's like back and forth there. What?
Allen: Have you guys watched Loren Feldman's 1938 media clips? Have you seen those?
Joanne: I don't think so.
Allen: Those might be ones to check out. He's really good, I think. He doesn't bring any bullshit. It's like one minute, but it's right on a topic. You just have to deal with him because sometimes he's in bed without a shirt. But, yeah. So, I guess the last question is what's next? Is there a Rocketboom 3.0?
Andrew: Yeah, there kind of is, actually. We're not going to call it Rocketboom 3.0, or anything. But we have a lot of stuff that we've been working on that feels a lot like when we roll out our next iteration – it's hard to explain because it's not like anything that's in the world yet.
Joanne: There is a future. Definitely.
Andrew: It basically has to do with, more of the, even though I think we do represent and have fared well with leveredging the community, or like I was saying, actually, not leveredging, but consequently adapting to it. We've got some more technology that we're building that's going to maybe, really help us, ourselves to get more into the conversation, and help the whole thing to be more beneficial to the world, kind of instead of just entertainment or fun.
Allen: I can almost see you guys doing maybe some live video chats, perhaps, where everybody can kind of get involved from their own video cameras around the world and have this whole big webex thing. That might be kind of neat.
Allen: All right, well. That's really all the questions I had for you guys. Anything else you want to add?
Joanne: Thank you, Allen.
Andrew: Thank you.
Allen: All right. Great. Thanks so much.