Lights, Camera, Action!

By: Nu Yang

Lights, Camera, Action!

Video may have killed the radio star, but it’s bringing new life to the newspaper industry. According to Pew Research Center’s 2014 State of the News Media report, 63 percent of U.S. adults watch online video. eMarketer reports digital advertising is also on the rise, growing 44 percent from 2012 to 2013. As more readers adopt smartphones and tablets into their lives, online video is clearly becoming a daily habit.

Although print still brings in the majority of revenue for many publishers, they’re not afraid to explore other avenues, such as video advertising. Some newspapers have spun off into digital agencies; some have added a video studio into the traditional newsroom. Even though video is still a growing medium—particularly when it comes to creating revenue—it’s one that can’t be ignored as publishers realize they need to go where their audience is consuming content.    

Fade In

More than 200 newspaper publishers have partnered with Tout (, a mobile video publishing platform that enables journalists to capture videos on their smartphones or tablets. According to Tout, for its clients such as The Wall Street Journal and Digital First Media, engagement plays an integral part in creating revenue opportunities. Based in San Francisco, Tout offers several packages to its publishing partners that include mobile capture, real-time widgets, real-time analytics to track engagement and advertising campaigns, and social sharing capabilities.  

Tout chief executive officer Michael Downing said he is seeing three ways newspapers are monetizing video. The first is pre-roll video advertisements, where papers are selling 15-second pre-roll ads before a Tout video. According to Tout, The Wall Street Journal has successfully sold ultra-premium pre-roll advertisements inserted into every four-to-six updates as viewed on 

“While most papers are dealing with display ads with a CPM (cost-per-impression) of under $1, papers can sell these pre-rolls at $10 to $20 CPM to national advertisers,” he said.   

Second, Downing said he sees papers selling pre-roll ads to their local advertisers especially in the automobile, dining and real estate markets. “Some papers can charge a higher premium because local advertisers know the local paper is good at connecting with the audience. Papers already have that relationship.” Downing said papers have also used Tout to shoot the 15-second pre-roll ad for the advertiser.

Lastly, papers have been using Tout for sponsorships. By promoting an advertiser’s brand through content and programming (for example, a Top 10 Places to Eat list with accompanying video reviews), it allows advertisers to pay for sponsorship placement.  

Tout also helps with distribution by taking that list and pushing it out beyond the newspaper’s website. With the growing number of mobile applications, Downing said videos can appear on entertainment guides, maps and local business distribution channels.

SendtoNews ( is a digital news agency with offices in Vancouver, New York, San Francisco and London. The company focuses on the control, distribution and monetization of sports video highlights, and serves sports organizations, news broadcasters and digital publishers (newspapers and digital-only). By partnering with more than 70 sports organizations (among them the NFL, NASCAR and the PGA), SendtoNews is able to provide its content to papers. More than 35 million people watch its video content, according to CEO Greg Bobolo.

When Toyota Canada wanted to announce the re-launching of its Highlander nameplate during the Super Bowl this year, the auto company used SendtoNews to distribute its campaign across the digital assets of more than 125 Canadian publishers, including the Postmedia Network, parent company to papers such as the National Post and Vancouver Sun.   

SendtoNews combined 15-second pre-roll ads and in-video brand overlays for Toyota Canada. This year’s game hit a digital record as the most watched Super Bowl online in Canada with 7.6 million verified viewing impressions via the SendtoNews network. The company helped Toyota Canada take advantage of those numbers by placing Super Bowl content “above the fold” on the homepages of newspaper websites. As a result, Toyota’s Super Bowl pre-roll campaign achieved a completion rate of 77 percent. 

“With publishers receiving 40 percent in revenue on our projects, digital dimes are a thing of the past,” Bobolo said. “Advertisers now realize there is a return on investment there.”      

Headquartered in Perrysburg, Ohio with offices in New York and Los Angeles, Bluefin Media ( is a lifestyle and digital media company that provides publishers video content through four verticals: GossipCenter Network, Fashion First Media, Global Food Media and Extreme Fitness. According to CEO Brad Mandell, the company publishes 1,000 verticals a month and produces 350 original videos a month across all its verticals.      

Bluefin Media offers an array of turnkey advertising opportunities, including standard display units, pre-roll video and custom rich media units.            

“All publishers have to do is put the video player on their site and generate the activity,” Mandell said.    

He added that one of the benefits of partnering with a company such as Bluefin Media is the cost savings. “The number one concern is how much is this going to cost? There are two main models: one is where you don’t know how much bandwidth you’re going to charge, so you don’t know how much money is going to be made; the second is where you embed a code, but you have control of the content and advertising. With our model, they can fill in the inventory with their own advertisers and a fixed CPM and charge a flat rate regardless of bandwidth or video uploads.”            

Their lifestyle brands are also the most in-demand among advertisers. “When we worked with the Toledo Blade, their biggest issue was that their newspaper audience was a lot older than the average demographic. They needed to bring in a younger audience to consume their news in order to stay relevant,” Mandell said. “And they’re watching video clips, not reading articles.”       

While classifieds have dropped off in the print product, video has been reenergizing the advertising section online. Companies such as Digital Media Communications ( are producing video clips for publishers focused on classifieds ads, such as employment, real estate and auto. With offices in Columbia, S.C. and Denver, DMC is a video production, sales and marketing business that transforms print and online ads into 30- to 40-second ad videos featuring voiceovers and music. Videos can be shot onsite or created with stock images. According to co-founder and co-president Evan Neubeiser, DMC produces several thousand videos on a weekly basis for markets across the country.       

“Publishers come to us with three challenges: What can I do to help my local advertisers with video? Can I make money off that? How easy is it for me to do?” Neubeiser said. “Now publishers can go to an advertiser and turn their ad into a digital video ad on a desktop, tablet or phone.”

With their widget, a paper’s website can run up to 150 videos at a time. DMC also utilizes print by placing QR codes in the paper that once scanned, readers can watch the video clip.  

Vice president of sales Dan Contreras said publishers today have too many products to push, but it’s his job to “show them the value of video and show them why they should choose to sell and produce it.”     

Job clips are one of their most popular services and Contreras described the clips as a “conduit” to get the readers’ attention.  

The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. has worked with DMC for three years, utilizing video to promote help-wanted ads on the newspaper’s website, on television and on The paper offers video in a bundle and as an add-on.   

“We’ve seen a 70-to-80 percent take-on rate with those ads,” said vice president of advertising Marty Carry.      

Although print still drives a majority of the paper’s revenue, Carry said having video allows the paper to reach a much larger audience, particularly the “passive people”—those who are not actively looking for ads, but happen to come across it either on television or on the website.      

Carry called video a “robust solution…that has helped secure revenue with sustainable results.”      

As more newspapers add on digital efforts, Carry understands it’s something he and other sales departments have to do. “The danger is not to run in different directions,” he said. “Print is still our best product, but video is just another facet.”   

NOLA Media Group director of classified platforms Tricia Etienne has worked with DMC for 15 years over the course of her career at various publications. She brought DMC’s services with her to the New Orleans Times-Picayune when she started in her position two years ago.

“DMC has a turnkey solution with our employment market,” she said. “It was easy to integrate with our sales process.”    

Etienne said she uses video primarily in her real estate and employment markets because they bring in the highest revenue. DMC creates the video using stock footage with custom voiceovers and music. All the sale representative has to do is sell the advertising and provide the ad’s copy to DMC, who then creates a script from the content. Turnaround time is usually within 48 hours.      

The result for Etienne has been repeat business from her advertisers. “Videos can range from healthcare, white collar business, drivers, retail…it can fit in with any industry.”       

As print advertising declines, Etienne said from a reader’s standpoint, videos are working more effectively for advertisers because they produce higher click-through-rates.  

“Publishers should jump right in,” she said regarding video advertising. “Videos should be a part of a package. It’s an easy up sale.”  

And the Emmy Goes to…

 While newspapers continue to chase Pulitzer Prizes, the Oklahoman’s won a 2013 Heartland Regional Emmy Award (Commercial—Single Spot) for a commercial promoting its coverage of local NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.            

Oklahoma Publishing Co. (parent company to the Oklahoman and created its own video department in 2007, constructing two small studios on the seventh floor of the Oklahoman. In 2008, the company opened a larger 1,500-square-foot video studio (including a control room). According to OPUBCO director of video David Morris, his team has produced more than 34,000 videos since 2007, and continues to produce an average of 400 videos a month and 100 per week.  

In his role, Morris oversees a staff of seven, whose focus is on all the paper’s video efforts. “We function as an agency, building video for advertisers, editing video from our reporters and photographers, and overseeing marketing projects,” he said.      

When the video studio was first built in 2007, Morris said they had the idea to become an agency, but they knew to be aware of finding ways to monetize the new platform. Since then, the company has found several ways to create revenue through video.            

“We focus on three things: Pre-roll, which brings in good money; sponsorships; and client production,” he said.     

Morris said one of OPUBCO’s successful campaigns was shooting video for the local YMCA. The two-to-three minute videos shared stories from staff members, parents and children, produced on site at the YMCA, to promote the facility. The videos can be easily shared through email or on social media channels.

“A good video tells a story,” Morris said. “It has a vision and brings the story to an audience.”   

Since Morris and his team don’t work with outside vendors, he understands the challenges of going at video alone. “You don’t want to get overwhelmed,” he said. “We know we can’t do live video like the TV stations and there are probably better things out there on the web and with technology….the challenge is finding where we do fit in?”       

Manpower is another concern for Morris, but he’s thinking outside the box. “We’ve hired people from our local TV circuit and trained reporters to use their smartphones to shoot video. More videos means more stories and on the revenue side, more opportunities to sell pre-roll.”   

According to Morris, the OPUBCO offices will move to a new downtown location next year. As a result, the studio set will lend itself to producing videos with a more conversational format with a street side view, similar to morning talk shows such as Today and Good Morning America. With this new direction, Morris would like to work more with livestream video and possibly find ways to generate revenue through mid-roll ad placements or through branding.  

Planning the Next Step

As mobile and the small screen continue to grow rapidly, Dream Local Digital founder Shannon Kinney said a publisher’s best bet to make video work is to plan.    

Dream Local Digital ( is a digital marketing agency based in Rockland, Maine, providing online marketing services such as social media, email and video. Dream Local Digital’s team works with media partners and advertisers to create video content, from simple slideshows to in-depth videos shot at the place of business with the team’s in-house filmmaker.  

“A lot of what I tell small businesses can also be applied to publishers,” Kinney said regarding video. “They should always ask, what is the message? And they should say it quickly. It’s very rare to wait until the end of the video for the message. The big thing is the why? What is the action I want the viewer to take? Is it to learn more about the business? To get in touch with them? To tell a story? Videos can add depth and tell viewers who they are, and it can work (better) than text.”       

Creating good video content also doesn’t have to be expensive, said Kinney. “Very few businesses can afford high-end video production that can cost $10,000 to $20,000. The solid average is $750 to $1,500. You can still make a nice, straightforward video, but can still be cost-effective.”

Downing echoed the thought. “When you look at consumer behavior, they’re not engaging with the highly-produced content. They can turn on the TV for that. It’s the short videos on YouTube being consumed.”   

Looking ahead into the future of video, Downing said, “Display ads will continue to be a race to the bottom. Papers who throw those out early will be more successful. We’ll see more papers moving away from interruptive ad units and more into the blended experience such as native advertising.”       

Bobolo expects more automation in the digital advertising landscape especially with programmatic buying, while Mandell sees more dollars typically used for TV moving toward the Internet.      

“Video is the biggest piece of the pie,” he said. “It’s important for publishers to be in that space in order to be successful online.”   

At the State Journal-Register, print may still be its best product, but, Carry said, “Adding video is adding to our arsenal.”

6 Video Trends to Watch in 2014

By Greg Bobolo
SendtoNews CEO

1. The digital video audience is growing and we can’t stop it. It’s bigger than all of us.
In the U.S., the video audience will grow from 70.8 percent today to 76.9 percent of all Internet users by 2016. Globally, consumers are devouring 6 billion hours of YouTube video every month, up 50 percent from the previous year.  

2. Advertisers will pay a premium CPM for targeted opportunities.
As the various digital platforms, from smartphones to tablets, become more sophisticated so, too, will marketing strategies that target selective consumers in highly creative ways.  

3. 2014 will be mobile video’s coming-of-age party.
Smartphone penetration in the U.S. now sits at 60 percent. Globally, there are an estimated 1 billion smartphones in use, a number that’s expected to double by 2016. Currently, more than 50 percent of smartphone users will view a video on their phone at least once monthly.  

4. The 10-second video advertisement.
Ever-quickening connection speeds and increased data limits will open up opportunities for marketers, and this will result in a more finely tuned, short-form video ad—varying from the typical 30-second spot common to Internet applications, to the shorter 10- or 15- second hit, better tailored to on-the-fly smartphone and tablet users.  

5. Sports are about as brand-safe as it gets for marketers, and fans are increasingly seeking out digital video highlights and player interviews.
Metrics indicate the average sports fan is more upscale than the blue-collar stereotype traditionally suggested. This will have profound impacts on marketers, enabling them to target their advertising campaigns based on the hyper-locality and specificity of the sports fan.

6. Video will continue to drive a long-anticipated newspaper correction
. Newspapers might finally be on the way to righting the foundering ship of sagging ad revenues, with a more sophisticated understanding of monetizing web content. Second, digital video is playing an increasing role in this correction and is set for an exciting 2014.

This article has been edited for space and content. To read it in its entirety, visit

Getting Started
By Shannon Kinney
Dream Local Digital Founder  


Determine your resources:

  • In-house or outsource?
  • If in-house, source equipment. 

Break down the process and the costs

  • For each type of video, understand the length and needed steps to prepare, shoot, edit and produce the video. 

Anything is possible, but understand what is efficient and profitable.The biggest cost drivers are length of time, complexity in editing, lighting and number of people. 

Set client expectations

  • Plan, plan plan!

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Published: May 2, 2014


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