Launch & Learn: Real-Time Lessons With Web Video

On June 20, TechWeb, the online subsidiary of CMP Media LLC, which publishes InformationWeek, launched "The News Show," an online video digest of tech news and trends.

John Soat, Contributor

August 12, 2005

2 Min Read

On June 20, TechWeb, the online subsidiary of CMP Media LLC, which publishes InformationWeek, launched "The News Show," an online video digest of tech news and trends. The strategy was simple: Online video equipment has become inexpensive and easy to use, so why not let reporters create personal video wherever they are--conferences, interviews, even a home office--to present on the Internet in near-real time. And we would deliver that information with an emphasis on entertainment.

But online video isn't only for the news media. It can be a competitive tool for any organization. Here are a few lessons learned from launching "The News Show":

  • Internet video isn't television--or it shouldn't be. Television is passive. The Internet is intended to be an active, collaborative, participatory medium. Companies shouldn't just try to re-create television in their online video presentations. The goal should be community building, interactivity, a sense of involvement and ownership by viewers. "The News Show" solicits feedback and collaboration from viewers as E-mail comments and video participation. So far, it's been tough to motivate our community to create their own videos for the show. But it's only a matter of time.

  • Naked is as naked does. Business consultant Don Tapscott, in his book The Naked Corporation (Free Press, 2003), says companies need to reveal themselves to customers and partners. Online video can do that, offering the immediacy and intimacy of visual communication. But how naked is too naked? To get immediate communication, you must accept that it's hard to predict and even harder to control. "The News Show" correspondents are all smart and opinionated--and it can be tough to balance discretion with passion and edgy entertainment.

  • When it comes to rules, the Internet is both Wild West and country club. Nothing is written, yet there are rules of etiquette. We launched "The News Show" as an "autostart" on techweb.com, information week.com, and networkcomputing.com. A significant number of people objected, but our reasoning was that we have a new product we want our readers to experience. It took viewers awhile to realize there's a "disable autostart" button for those who find it intrusive.

We'll certainly learn more. The advantages of online video outweigh potential problems. Communication is both the means and the goal.

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