SxSW: Video Blog Business Models

by March 15, 2006

The Video Blog Business Models panel at SxSW2006 debated how video entrepreneurs could profit online. Small, medium, and large (Rocketboom) video blogs were represented, as were video aggregators (FireAnt) and video publisher tools (VideoEgg).

Ad Models

  • It takes a while to get numbers to where advertisers are interested.
  • Rocketboom went to eBay to sell ads because they were having a difficult time going to traditional industry. As they haven’t had much luck with traditional ad models they didn’t feel typical ad models would be effective. Alternatives require a lot of explanation.
  • Hard to approach companies to do integrated advertising. Have to go through an agency. Need a salesperson to make it happen.
  • Local video documentary blog (Minnesota Stories) had Google Ads, which provided enough for hosting but they ultimately took them down. The power of a local video blog is to capitalize on local ads. MS is out in the community a lot- connecting with people.
  • Online video service providers are looking to empower people to make money.
  • Video is more expense to serve than text or images. Many video sites can't survive very long due to expense. In the short to mid term it is hard for a company to turn on video for free. New video bloggers need a hosting solution.
  • But video online is not expensive compared to TV broadcasting. Nonetheless, you need to take technology costs into effect.
  • Solution needs to be found for monetization. 15 sec. ad in front of video worked for some sites.
  • Know your audience - connect your audience to the right advertising.


  • Fireant is an aggregator: video is going to exist in a multitude of places the biggest challenge is helping to find and discover new content. Fireant provide s people ways to give feedback. The TV guide is most watched station. They want to be TV guide by highlighting what video is out there and what people's think of it.
  • Rocketboom’s syndication deal with Tivo has more promotional value more than actual return. Tivo thinks RSS and delivery over IP is very important moving forward. Tivo is a good audience: wealthy, advanced.
  • Most producers understand technology (Silicon Valley) but don't understand editorial voice (Los Angeles).
  • Public sponsorship –media is a public good.
  • Subscriptions? Proliferation of devices helps. If porn is a sign of things to come, then yes.
  • Sponsorship of sites or content. Companies can create a video blog to promote their products (Microsoft’s Channel 9).
  • Rocketboom: we want to maintain the integrity of our content. Our audience likes what we are doing so we make ads for our advertisers. Hopefully the audience likes those as well. They are at the end not, the beginning of videos.


  • Video blogs are a new kind of media: not TV, not movie. Three minutes is the perfect length for media content online. Easy to view and make well.
  • Need editorial control over content otherwise you loose the value you provide.
  • It’s still very early in online video. That’s why we’re not taking too many risks with advertising. Don’t want to compromise the content.