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Cable/Video

Cats With Yarn Balls

2:20 PM -- There was no shortage of interesting things to report from day one of Streaming Media East, but yesterday's highlight was the panel discussion on User-Generated Consumer Video with Veoh Networks Inc. CEO Dmitry Shapiro, Forrester Research Inc. VP James McQuivey, Vator.TV Founder and CEO Bambi Francisco, and Lycos Inc. COO Brian Kalinowski, and moderated by Brightcove Inc. VP Raghav Gupta.

The big question, of course, is about monetization. Veoh's Shapiro noted the astronomical advantages in targeting that tagged digital video offers advertisers. He pointed out the inefficiencies of TV ads by asking why he is ever shown a tampon commercial. Of course, videos tagged with keywords are less accurate than entire video Websites catering to a single audience, and Bambi Francisco hammered home that point by quoting impressive CPMs for her Vator.tv site, where entrepreneurs pitch ideas.

But the bulk of Internet video sites are still broad and horizontally minded, and there are still plenty of digital video wastelands. They will all keep losing money until somebody comes up with a way to get paid from what the panel referred to as "Cat With Yarn Ball" -- the candid and personal shots that make up so much of the Internet video landscape. Kalinowski reminisced about the days when search engines (such as his own Lycos) were loss leaders for Web portals. He was bullish on the prospect that with the sheer number of Cats With Yarn Balls, someone is destined to find gold in them thar cats.

It seems more likely to me that somebody would launch a whole site dedicated to Cats With Yarn Balls, possibly with the help of the ingenious folks I spoke to yesterday at Magnify.

Even if Kalinowski is right and some brilliant sumbitch finds a way to optimize advertising through amateur video, nobody should sit back and wait for the long tail to pay off. Viral videos are fickle and unreliable, and professional outfits have their choice of better-curated outlets. More to the point, observe how many awful shows premier on TV every season, and how many great ones get canceled: Talent scouting is not easy.

— A.L. Friedman, Editor at Large, Light Reading

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