Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

YouTube Offspring Create Niche Sites

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

YouTube Offspring Create Niche Sites

Article excerpt

User-generated video, or UGV, is a snappy term coined in the digisphere to denote home-grown footage of everything from little Joey's first birthday to clandestine news footage of Tibetan monks in rebellion.

The river of UGV flowing across cyberspace has nearly doubled in size over the past year, topping 4 billion last month, according to Nielsen Online. More than 95 percent of this UGV online traffic runs through the behemoth website, YouTube. But, say media watchers and digital world doyens, as bandwidth has grown and become more widely available and costs to offer interactive video on a fledgling website have drastically dropped (from thousands of dollars to below $100 for a simple interface), the Internet is poised for a new explosion of user-generated video. In what some have begun to call "Web video 2.0," this phase of online UGV will see the appearance of more niche websites with carefully targeted audiences and more sophisticated user tools.

"We are at the cusp of something interesting," says Benjamin Wayne, CEO of Fliqz, a video technology provider. "In the first phase of Web video, sites pushed video out to users, but now we're going to see interactive video becoming the norm on both big and small websites."

In the shakeout during this first phase, consolidation of the financially strong has become the norm, says Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association. He points to the top-dog website YouTube, now backed by Google's deep pockets. Many would-be competitors such as revver.com have stumbled for economic reasons, but, says Mr. Potter, "with the costs of creativity and production now so low, the innovation cycle and the entrepreneurial cycle never ends."

Expect this innovation to produce a slew of sites with more carefully targeted demographics, adds Mr. Wayne, which will make it easier to attract advertisers. Small websites will not try to compete directly with powerhouses such as YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace, says branding expert, Joey Rahimi, managing director of Branding Brand Communications. Some will use the major platforms to create "buzz" for their sites, but, he adds, "You can make a good living targeting your niche audience. …

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