Considering Audio and Video’s Potential on Your Web Sites?
It’s the craze that everyone is talking about: adding audio and video content to your Web sites. Audio, video, webcasts, and digital editions of magazines are being heralded as money-makers, and some publishers’ success with them is making the rest of the industry drool like dogs anxiously waiting for the food someone else is eating.
Unfortunately, there’s not much available in the way of established guidelines or well-worn paths for incorporating these into your strategy. The result: Many publishers are running in multiple directions, asking everyone they know for input, trying to figure out how to tap this new surefire way of luring visitors to their Web sites.
To help give this pursuit some structure, Publishing Executive contacted publishing strategy consultant Lou Sabatier, principal of Sabatier Consulting (www.SabatierConsulting.com), and asked her what advice she can offer publishers looking to jump headlong into the audio-video future:
“I like to think of magazines as anchoring a brand. And to leverage the brand and monetize it, we have moved beyond being ‘print-centric’ to multiplatform. This includes using audio and video and Internet,” says Sabatier. “Content will always be king.”
Therefore, says Sabatier, “A key question to ask is, ‘Does this add value for the reader/viewer (whether that be information, education, entertainment or all three) that I can monetize?’”
A key factor in considering value is determining whether any audio or video content will engage the audience, she adds. “Engagement with the audience (notice I did not say ‘readers’) is what video, audio, webcasts is all about. That can get a little tricky, however, because all three of these media tend to be passive modes of engagement. Computer users like to control choices. There is a difference in the user experience—users most often don’t have control [during webcasts].”
Sabatier also suggests there are a few guidelines publishers can follow when using multimedia on their Web sites, which she recently read in Alertbox, a newsletter on Web usability:
• Keep it short—Web videos are best kept to one minute.
• Don’t use video if the content does not take advantage of the medium’s dynamic nature.
• Keep distracting elements out of the frame.
“As we think about how to incorporate video, audio and webcasts with our Web sites, the best advice I can offer is to have a strategy for the site. That’s a written plan that defines what the site is doing and can do for the brand,” says Sabatier. “Then determine functionality and how to generate revenue from the site. Make it a separate P&L tied to the print product. Let’s not do with the Web what we did to print years ago, when we started giving our content away or selling it for pennies. Where is the value proposition with your site and with your audience?” she asks. “If you can answer that, you can easily test all forms of media on your site and expect somebody out there to pay for that experience.”—NS