Online video: Opportunities and challenges

A number of things struck me as I sat in a briefing room in Microsoft’s main London office yesterday morning.

msnvideo The occasion was a press event by Microsoft to announce their vision for online video in Europe including their strategy for MSN Video, its on-demand free video channel on the web.

Probably the biggest news was the partnerships Microsoft has struck with Sony BMG and MTV Networks International where wide-ranging content from both providers will be available from Microsoft’s video network in Europe.

That’s what much of the subsequent mainstream media reporting has focused on.

The Times has a good angle:

[…] Part of the reason for Microsoft’s new focus on video is the nascent market for video advertising, which still makes up only a small percentage of the overall online advertising budget, but is expected to grow significantly in the next couple of years.

The ads, which typically roll before or after a video when it is played on a site – or appear around it – have so far only really made an impact in a few markets, a spokesman for MTV Networks said, and present difficulties for advertisers trying to measure reach.

That was my thought, too – it’s about online advertising and revenue. Yes, it’s also about destinations, social experiences and content portals, as Microsoft explained yesterday, but it’s really about extending a market opportunity and driving revenue growth.

And the overall online advertising pie is getting bigger according to some reports.

sonybmgFor me, one of the most interesting moments in the event came in the presentation by Ulrich Jaerkel, Sony BMG’s senior vice-president of Digital and Business Development in Europe.

He said something that clearly is representative of the struggles going on with the major record labels who are grappling with the realization that the world is changing:

The recorded music industry is facing challenges … Sony BMG is [becoming] a music entertainment company, not a record company.

Before the event started, I was wondering how the Microsoft folk would deal with any questions that came up about the Microsoft bid for Yahoo, especially as online advertising is a phrase that is so linked to much commentary and reporting about that bid as the AP story I linked to above suggests.

Well handled, actually, with an up front statement from Marc Bresseell, Microsoft’s EMEA manager for Digital Advertising Solutions, that this was a topic not on the discussion agenda. No one argued with that.

Only one journalist made reference to it in a question, in spite of the earlier disclaimer on the topic. And deftly deflected by Microsoft.

One other thing that stuck me – every time I go to a media briefing, I have trouble getting online with my mobile phone. Nothing wrong with the phone, a Nokia N95 8GB, it’s the network connectivity.

There was wifi there available for guests to access. But it needed an authentication key and I didn’t find time to ask to get one. I thought I’d be ok with the normal cellular network.

Not so! Very poor cellular signal in the basement presentation room. So no live Qik and seesmic mobile video streaming, which is what I had in mind.

A real treat was finally meeting James Cherkoff in person, who was also there. I think we were the only two bloggers present, or at least the only two non-journalist bloggers.

I’ve known James for several years because of our blogs, even though we’ve never met until yesterday. Shel and I interviewed him on FIR in April 2005, along with Johnnie Moore, about open source marketing.

I do have one niggle about yesterday’s event, and that’s about the press releases. Three in total, nice crisp printouts. Handy to have for quick reference and to get the formal messages.

Yet I find such paper useless. I can’t link to it. And I can’t copy and paste. I want electronic copies, either a file I can open up on my PC or on a website somewhere.

So I go hunting on Microsoft’s websites to find the online versions.

But there are none.

Nothing in Microsoft’s UK press room. Nothing in Microsoft’s EMEA press room. And nothing in Microsoft PressPass, the company’s main media website.

Even after spending a bit more time searching these various sites, nothing shows up.

I count that as three strikes. As the saying goes, three strikes and you’re out and if I were a journalist, it probably would be by now.

I want to find something online I can link to in a post like this. For instance, the second paragraph above includes the phrase "vision for online video in Europe" that would be perfect to link to Microsoft’s press release. But I can’t.

I see that as a wasted opportunity for Microsoft, more than anything.

The only press release I can find online is Sony BMG’s.

But, that niggle aside, I found it a useful event to hear some thinking from some interesting people who are driving forward some great ideas about video in Europe.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. neville

    Thanks for that link, Chris.

    Now you’ve got me curious about where is the Microsoft press release that was in the pack I got yesterday. Don’t see that on LiveSide. That’s the one I would like to link to.

    Any idea where that is?

  2. Kris Hoet

    Thanks for the comment Neville, as I mentioned in my email it’s something we just started doing on or ‘Live In Europe’ blog. A blog that from now one will also be mentioned on the press releases, so it works both ways.

    Since this blog is only quite new it wasn’t mentioned at the event I think, but the press releases are there:

  3. neville

    Thanks Kris.

    My curiosity is still piqued as I can’t see the Microsoft press release on that site, the one with the headline “Microsoft Sets Sights on Online Video Market in Europe,” one of the three printed press releases in the press pack I got.

    The MTV and Sony BMG ones are there but not the Microsoft one. Just wondering why that’s still not online anywhere. Or am I missing seeing it somewhere?

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