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Video sages declare convergence is upon us!

Chad Hurley, CEO and founder of YouTube declared earlier this year that we are now in a transition where the use of, and differences between TV and online video are beginning to blur. In a video interview for Sky News Hurley suggests that consumption of online video and television content will simply coalesce into ‘video’ that will be viewed wherever and whenever the user wants – in the family room, on your laptop, on a mobile device or on other portable network devices. This will more than likely increase the need for cdn performance monitoring, as usage is going to skyrocket like we cannot imagine, meaning the need to maintain uptime all over the globe is a necessity.

Paul Sagan took it a step further in his key note address yesterday at the Streaming Media East Conference by declaring that we have reached the ‘tipping point’ where consumers will now start to view online video the same way they view television. Sagan, the CEO of the global content delivery network, Akamai refers to Malcolm Gladwell’s use of the term ‘tipping point’ being when a critical mass is reached in the adoption of new product or technology a new market/service becomes firmly and finally entrenched.

Sagan points to recent online events such as the Obama Inauguration and NCAA “March Madness” where comparable numbers of viewers watched events online and on television. Sagan also points out that online HD video is the game changer where “Internet quality now matches TV.”

Ignoring the fact that it is in both of their interests to herald the arrival of a convergence that will bring millions of dollars (assuming YouTube works out the advertising thing) to their companies, it’s difficult to argue that convergence is not happening. If the only question left is when, not if, then what are the consequences of this convergence?

1. Ad dollars will migrate. Assuming a fixed promotion pool television, newspaper and radio advertising will continue to take a hit. Old media companies have to adapt to survive. Denial isn’t a particularly good long term strategy.

2. The video ad unit will never be the same. Ad agencies have followed a simple formula over the past 50 years: Create something memorable in 30 seconds. No standards exist online and in spite of everyones’ best efforts no ‘standard’ will emerge in the short term. Online viewing behaviours and content formats continue to change – so will the ads that pay for all that content.

3. Interactivity changes everything. By and large video is still video, today – a linear medium consumed in a relatively ‘lean-back’ position. Immersive technologies, gaming, behavioural targeting of content (not ads), multiple endings of entertainment content, next generation ad placement (real time changes to video), new 3D formats and who knows what else is going to change how we consume and monetize content.

4. Content formats are fluid. Movies are 90 minutes, television is either 1 hour (44 minutes) or 1/2 hour (22 minutes). Pretty simple. Advertising will have to adapt to new content formats. “Two minutes is the ‘right length’ for an online promotional video, correct?” Who knows? “No one watches any video online for more than 30 minutes right?” Wrong. Advertisers and television producers set the agenda and pretty much stuck to it over the last 50 television years. Online is different. The Internet is a big sandbox where everyone gets to play. We will continue to discover new styles and formats and approaches to online content creation for the rest of our viewing days. Not only will content owners begin to shift their content online, they will begin to do things with their content that they never could have imagined in the next few years

5. Communications will continue to become much more visual… more engaging. Show me don’t tell me. No, text isn’t dead, but it’s doing less and less of the work online.

6. Online measurement/metrics will drive results. Advertisers will begin to see exactly with whom, why, where, when and how their ads worked. Privacy issues aside, we’ll begin telling everyone – either overtly through our actions or covertly by our behaviours – how we feel about their content.

7. Sharing and collaborating really is a big deal. Engaging social networks and reaching out to the twittering masses isn’t possible via television. Online not only is it possible it’s necessary. Creating content that is intended to be shared (and critiqued and reconstructed and parodied) adds a new level of complexity to content creation.

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