Lately there has been a noticeable rise in the amount of attention and investment paid to online video sites that specialize in generating “how-to” videos. These include:
ExpertVillage (acquired by Demand Media last June)
VideoJug (received $30M last May)
HowCast (launched this month with $8M from Tudor Investment Corp.)
MonkeySee (launched last month)
5Min.com (received $5M from Spark Capital last month)
WonderHowTo.com (launched last month with undisclosed funding from General Catalyst Partners)
DIYNetwork (owned by Scripps)
Each is a variation on a model that involves providing thousands of how-to video — some amateur and some professional — in a number of categories. Most are ad supported, but many intend to have popular categories sponsored (JetBlue sponsors HowCast’s travel section). Additional distribution in some cases comes from YouTube and distribution deals with video networks such as Joost.
This format follows the growth in online video overall and is a natural offshoot that’s conducive to viral distribution. That is, it can be entertaining and informative. There is also a good opportunity, as pointed out in a past post, to utilize basic SEO tactics and make these videos surface in result pages for things people are searching for (i.e., “how do you fix a leaky faucet?”).
In fact, 2.6 percent of all searches are “how-to” in nature, according to Hitwise, and 5 percent of traffic from the top 10 how-to searches goes to video sites (mostly YouTube). Those top searches for the four weeks ended Jan. 26 are:
1. How to tie a tie
2. How to …
3. How to have sex
4. How to get pregnant
5. How to write a resume
6. How to win the lottery
7. How to kiss
8. How to lose weight fast
9. How to lose weight
10. How to solve a Rubik’s Cube
What About Local?
In addition to YouTube, how-to video distribution could also come from Internet Yellow Pages and local search sites, which have a clear interest in integrating video. This would involve local service providers that wish to advertise via instructional video — joining the formats they currently use (care of video producers such as TurnHere). For IYPs, the opportunity here would stem from using the aforementioned video SEO tactics to gain traffic from all these how-to searches.
It also seems this format could thrive in the IPTV environment and become almost a form of “advertorial” content that could replace traditional television advertising in some verticals, such as home and garden. Thirty-second spots will in fact be less relevant in the “on demand’ environment of IPTV, and there will be some creativity required to come up with alternatives, such as product placement or instructional video.
For instance, picture an instructional video on tiling your bathroom sponsored by Home Depot and followed by an interactive menu of supplies used. This could come with the ability to purchase or reserve items for in-store pickup. All this will be possible with the interactive capabilities of IPTV (defined here), while IP-based targeting can send or suggest behaviorally relevant content on an ongoing basis.
(A foundation for this scenario can already be seen in the local search “channel” AT&T provides with its U-verse IPTV package — see firsthand look from Peter Krasilovsky.)
IPTV is a long way from reaching mainstream penetration and more developed advertising models that leverage this IP-based delivery. But it’s not too early to begin pondering these possibilities and what they mean for local advertising as we know it. In the meantime, production of video ads — both how-to and more traditional formats — can get a head start as a growing form of online SMB advertising.
Update: In response to this post, TurnHere’s blog demonstates a how-to video they shot.