Growth in Online Video

Local Publishers Go All In On Video Content

Digital media giants like Buzzfeed, Mashable, and Fusion Media Group are scaling back their video content programs as they run into an increasingly crowded marketplace, but local independent publishers aren’t all doing the same.

Frustrated by dwindling display advertising rates, some hyperlocal publishers are trying their hands at producing branded video content and publishing live video streams on their websites as a way to generate revenue.

At NOWCastSA in San Antonio, Texas, executive director Charlotte-Anne Lucas has used video conversations with prominent community members, along with live streams of events like San Antonio’s local pride parades, as a way to get people interested in what’s happening in their area. To pay for the site’s videos and live streams, Lucas has found underwriters. (NOWCastSA is a nonprofit organization.)

In addition to serving as a potential source of revenue, video content can also help local publishers get discovered via search. According to a new analysis by Searchmetrics, YouTube and other video sites perform more favorably than social media sites when it comes to SEO visibility. Searchmetrics’ analysis also found that sites delivering high-quality video content saw the greatest rewards in search last year.

Here are five strategies that local publishers should consider when developing video content:

1) Create videos that serve a niche.

For most local publishers, that niche will be the surrounding community. For example, people reading a small town news website don’t want to watch videos about what’s going on in national politics. The greatest potential exists for publishers who can identify their audiences — not just by location and age, but by interests, as well. With that audience information in hand, publishers should be able to craft highly-targeted videos that their fans will love and be inclined to share on Facebook and Twitter.

2) Encourage readers to get involved.

Publishers don’t have to invest heavily in expensive equipment to get the ball rolling with video content creation. Anyone with a smartphone can create a video these days. USA Today Network is one of many major media organizations putting a heavy focus on user-generated video content. Raw videos submitted by readers can be edited inexpensively via a number of mobile apps or iMovie. Apps like Filmic Pro can also improve the quality of films made on iPhones and Android devices.

3) Prioritize speed over production value.

Raw video is fine for breaking news and trending content, especially when a video is unlikely to be relevant after 24 or 48 hours. For sponsored content and human-interest stories with no news peg, production value matters. Professional production helps local news organizations stand apart from amateur publishers on social media.

4) Offer sponsored videos as a service to advertisers.

Small businesses have an abundance of options for placing print and digital ads. But local publishers can make their news sites stand out when they offer to create sponsored videos for their advertisers, typically sold as part of a larger advertising package. Videos can be as simple as interviews with business owners, or they can involve the production of commercial-quality content created with assistance from an outside agency. TXK Today, a news organization covering Texarkana, Texas and Arkansas, has published sponsored content videos on Facebook. TXK Today’s sponsored videos typically run three to five minutes in length. The site’s founder, Field Walsh, says he’s been able to capture the attention of his audience by pairing videos with giveaways.

5) Keep track of the analytics.

Analytics should serve as a guide for determining what types of video content local readers are most interested in viewing. YouTube’s analytics should be sufficient for the smallest publishers, however larger organizations will want to invest in a standalone product, like Adobe Analytics, for standardized video measurement. Analytics platforms should also be useful for tracking how, and when, a publisher’s videos are being viewed.