Clapperboard video
Credit: Image by openDemocracy on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Video offers a "tremendous opportunity" for news outlets, according to Paul Marcum, head of global digital video at Bloomberg Media.

However, speaking
at the Monetising Media conference, he acknowledged that producing compelling video content was a challenge for many publishers.

For example, he revealed that at Bloomberg there had been a "
reticence" towards video due to concerns that it might overwhelm information that had previously been presented through text-based articles.

At yesterday's conference, media outlets including Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and Verdens Gang (VG) shared insights into their experiments with digital video formats and strategies.

Here are some of the key points.

Autoplay and live streaming at Bloomberg

Marcum explained there were some "hurdles" when it came to integrating video into business news coverage.

He said it may be the slowest way to consume business news, as people are usually tuned into fast-moving Twitter feeds or the Bloomberg terminal.

By contrast, video often requires users to click on content to view it, he said, and by the time it loads they could have found the news through different channels.

To find the best way to include video into their news coverage, Bloomberg has been experimenting with autoplay and live video streaming,
something Marcum referred to as "live player".

"We recognise that there is truly a spectrum of video you can include in a news article," he said.

"At one end of the spectrum you have something that's fairly background, maybe it's an interview with a newsmaker from three years ago... but it's relevant if you're trying to understand the story.

"At the other end of the spectrum you have something that's precise and relevant, maybe coverage from the afternoon of that particular story, maybe a digital original that went in depth into the technology that is at play.

"But ultimately it's something that we feel adds enough value in building up the reporting experience that we rolled out through autoplay."

Bloomberg started using autoplay in the lead image slot on 20 August, and in the first 30 days it had about 2.75 million streams (autoplays).

Marcum also said Bloomberg saw no decline in its number of repeat visitors, and only received four complaints about the autoplay function. 

"I think that we are seeing permission from end users and frankly an appetite for this if done well," he said.

Live player has been introduced in the belief that if someone is producing a TV channel, they wanted to get content in front of people as soon as possible.

Bloomberg now has a mini-player embedded into "as many pages as possible," which click through to a livestream player on its website.

As audiences understand that video is not a "tremendous distraction", said Marcum, the medium becomes a "valuable piece of news for them to engage with".

Online video can also be longform

Norwegian media outlet VG has turned its video operation team into a separate company, and is also setting up a TV channel launching in November.

Jo Christian Oterhals, chief executive officer and editor of VGTV, said that while people usually think about online video as short, VG has also been producing very long video programmes on the web.

"You don't have to cut programming because Eastenders is coming on in an hour," he said. "You can just go on for as long as things are happening."

As chess is popular in Norway, he said, VG produced a 70 hours of live coverage during the last Chess World Championship that attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.

"What's even more amazing here is that we didn't have the rights to show the matches," he said, explaining that VG was mixing of footage of their studio guests with an old fashioned chessboard visualising the games.

Last year, VG also interviewed a Norwegian historian and crime writer in a 30-hour long video marathon.

VGTV 30 hours
Screenshot from VGTV

Video drives subscriptions at The Wall Street Journal

Rahul Chopra, senior vice president, head of video at News Corp, and chief revenue officer at Storyful, noted that video was a way to introduce The Wall Street Journal to new audiences and to develop its subscriber base.

With video in front of the paywall, Chopra said using video on social networks was a good way to build new audiences.

As Facebook now averages 1 billion video views a day, Chopra said: "it's a platform today that we can build an audience on from a video perspective with an eye towards monetising it in the future".

He said by posting engaging content on YouTube and using features like annotations effectively, "you can see upwards of 20 per cent click backs to your original content".

The Wall Street Journal is also looking at using video to add value to subscribers, offering for example high profile interviews or live events and conferences.

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