In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin yang is “used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Yin yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, although yin or yang elements may manifest more strongly in different objects or at different times…” (Wikipedia)
I first examined this concept in my first book, “Course to Success,”where I applied its tenets to how successful individuals achieved their objectives. However, the concept can be extended to companies, too. Indeed, balance is a fundamental aspect of any successful strategy, for without it, any tactic taken to the extreme will backfire.
Some time ago, I examined how successful online marketing requires some kind of balance between the expectations marketers have and the promises some salespeople make.
In the online video space in particular, it is becoming clear that balance is required to achieve any modicum of success. This balance needs to be manifested in multiple ways, including:
Quantity vs. quality. It’s possible for any video content producer to hit it out of the park and create a “hit” — but to build a business around that hit is challenging. It’s also possible for a content farm to churn out content that is good enough to be indexed on Google but bad enough not to retain any users.
Ultimately, to build a business, you need enough quality to get branded advertisers to take you seriously, but enough quantity to be able to offer sufficient scale (as measured by ad inventory or reach).
Balancing the two is art and science. Few have cracked the code, let alone crafted a recipe for success.
Branded content vs. pure content. No two online video content companies are similar. There are some companies that are extremely strong in branded content initiatives. Others produce great pure content that is informative and entertaining without any advertiser underwriting the production or distribution.
Ironically, both branded and pure content face challenges of adoption: in the former case, most viewers tend to tune out when content is too commercial or promotional; in the latter, pure content lacks the promotional muscle to stand out of the clutter.
Ultimately, the two need to coexist and collaborate to make either one successful, and ideally, a combination thereof can actually make the sum of the parts more valuable.
Destination vs. distribution. The first video producers (dating all the way back to Steven Spielberg’s Pop.com) spent a lot of resources trying to scale destinations. Soaring bandwidth costs curtailed those ambitions, while anemic user adoption killed any shred of hope. The next wave of producers also invested heavily in building out Web sites even though few users cared to stop by. Exacerbating the challenging financials was the slow uptick of video advertising, which pretty much killed all of the early pioneers.
Conversely, many producers of the post-YouTube era built audiences on third-party video file sharing social networks (YouTube et al) but faced greater challenges when it came to monetization.
Content creation vs. content aggregation. This one manifests itself at two levels. First, some companies scaled by aggregating mainly a) user-generated content and b) prosumer content. Over time, they realized that marketers favored c) made-for-web premium content and d) traditional media companies’ super-premium content, so they set out to sign such licensing deals to meet advertisers’ demand.
Second, aggregators realized that they need to differentiate and survive by creating at least some original content. Conversely, some creators sought to offer more content to their own users through aggregation of third-party content.
What content you produce vs. how you produce the content. Last but not least, balance is being manifested by balancing the art and science of creating video content for the Web. Right now, with video advertising remaining embryonic, we are seeing that how you produce video content is being rewarded more so than the actual content you are producing. For proof, look no further than
– AOL’s $36.5 million acquisition of StudioNow;
– Yahoo’s $90 million acquisition of Associated Content (which mainly serves as a platform for articles);
– or even Forbes’ recent acquisition of True/Slant (which serves as a platform for journalists).
When it’s all said and done, for online video to continue to move from an expensive hobby to an actual business, all players in the ecosystem will need to determine how to better balance their strategies and tactics. Those who don’t take this step won’t be healthy enough to survive, let alone succeed.