Rocketboom–and Online Video–Desperately Seeking Biz Model UPDATED


We think the business potential for most online video efforts is overrated, at least over the near-term  (First, there’s the cost of serving the darn things.  Then there’s the inability to generate much revenue from them–see below for an update on the latest attempts)  So it’s not surprising to hear from Wired’s epicentre that one pioneer, Rocketboom, is still struggling to find a business model.

Of course, Rocketboom’s troubles may be even greater than those of the industry at large.  According to Compete, the site’s traffic is down 57% year-over-year, to a measly 5,000ish visitors a month.  (In March, Marketwatch reported that Rocketboom users download 200,000 videos a day, seven days a week, but it’s hard to reconcile the two statistics.  Perhaps Rocketboom has a tiny but fanatical user base that does nothing but watch an average of 40 videos a day, each?)  UPDATE: Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron explains.

From Wired’s write-up, it also seems as though Rocketboom has a case of Wallstrip-envy (who doesn’t?) and that founder Andrew Baron thinks that the problem with most online-video-networks-as-businesses is that they produce crappy content.  That is indeed a problem, too, but the larger issues is that even awesome videos aren’t bringing home the bacon.

A WSJ piece last week ran through many of the new vid-ad formats, some of which appear to be generating positive early results.  These include:

  • Short pre-rolls (5-seconds, with ticker counting down)
  • Skins (video embedded within static ads)
  • Bugs (clickable tickers roll at the bottom of the video)
  • End rolls

The success of many of these early efforts seems to be judged on the usual Internet metric: clickthroughs (or calls to 1 800 numbers).  This strikes us as a mistake.  Video viewers, like blog readers, aren’t looking to click on anything.  And they are almost certainly getting some brand impression whether or not they click.

Also see:

Yahoo: Video, Video, Everywhere!

Boring WSJ Video Shows Strength of Plain Old Text