NEW YORK, Search Engine Strategies conference — Video, you may have heard, killed the radio star. You can thank The Buggles for that gem, and you can thank lazy headline writers — “Video killed the AOL Star,” “Video killed the MP3 Star,” “Video killed the podcasting Star” — for an endless parade of corny iterations. That’s not to say the phrase isn’t appropriate; “Video killed X” instantly focuses on the dependable truism that online video has wrought havoc in established markets.
But the phrase also obscures an equally important truth: Online video will make all of us– from bloggers to executives to musicians — better journalists. The reason is simple. Everyone is learning what a news peg is and how to exploit it.
A news peg, as many of you may already know, is simply the current event that makes a feature article or analysis piece timely. Businessweek’s recent article about Google’s multi-market influence, for example, used the Viacom lawsuit and the News Corp/NBC video plan as its news peg. In print journalism and especially in the blogosphere — where it 99% of posts are pegged to current events — the news peg is old hat and second nature.
But not so with video. Video may be an immensely popular medium right now, but we’ve only recently started to understand how to take advantage of the medium’s hotness with timely video. A good video, after all, is quick to go viral, and viral videos are quick to rise in organic search results.
For example: Seven Minute Sopranos, a plot-summary video published two weeks before The Sopranos’ last season debut. Now there are plenty of Sopranos fan sites and plenty of Sopranos plot summaries that go back several years, but Seven Minute Sopranos suddenly jumped — after only a week — to the fifth position in Google’s SERPs for the phrase “Sopranos recap.” The moment was right, the video garnered attention, and rose.
You might argue that this isn’t a new phenomenon. Ever since YouTube debuted there have been posters commenting on current events. But the lesson to learn here is how to apply this phenomenon to businesses not traditionally involved in newsmaking. Sherwood Stranieri, search marketing director for Catalyst, drove this point home during a panel at Search Engine Strategies today: “Every electronics vendor should post videos of the first iPhone they receive.”
His reasoning is clear: When the iPhone arrives in stores, searches for words like “iPhone,” “Apple” and “mobile phone” will spike. You want to have a video ready to capture that traffic. The same goes for any other product. Just think about it: Right now, searches for “oceanfront rental” are trending upwards. If I was a rental agency, I’d put together a quick vid of all my houses, set it to music, and upload it to YouTube, AOL Video, and a handful of other sites.
You may not be a newsman, but in an online marketplace that privileges current information, you have to think like one.