Understanding the Power of Online Video

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I was Brian Lehrer’s weekly cable TV show last week, talking about online political video and other aspects of techPresident’s coverage of the election. You can watch the video here. Hopefully it will be up on blip.tv soon. My main points:

1. Online video is the opposite of paid TV ads. People choose to watch, and most attention comes because friends share video clips with each other. Contrast that to 30-second attack ads, which are literally forced on viewers, interrupting their favorites shows.

2. Online video is deeper than TV. The typical Barack Obama video is anywhere from five to ten minutes long. YouTube only counts a video as “viewed” if the viewer watches it all the way through. Thus, for Obama to have more than 8 million views, or 600,000 the day after he won the Iowa primary, tells you that many more people have probably watched part of one of his videos. This is yet more example of how the web is a world of abundance, not scarcity.

3. When we track viewership, or people “friending” a candidate or mentioning them in their blogs, what we’re watching is a sign of intensity of support. Bloggers and their ilk are like super-charged citizens, and so the tracking numbers online aren’t the same as polls, but more like measures of intensity of interest and support.

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