Tag Archives: journalism and viral videos

On babies farting and laughing at kitties: chasing pageviews and the future of the web

I remember one of my young employees in the late 1990s talking to me about Cold Fusion and dynamic websites. That conversation changed my picture of the future and consequently, my world. I suspect that discovering the projection by Cisco about the use of video on the web may have a similar impact. Cisco said that in 2010 30% of web traffic was viewing video, but that by 2013 it will be 90%. That is truly astounding and if correct, it means that websites will be used primarily for distributing video.

But, and this is the question faced by anyone in marketing, what do people watch? What goes viral? With the gazillions of options for information and entertainment (really only infotainment), why do people choose one thing and not another? Anything that offers a hint at what attracts audiences is of interest to me. That’s why when Nieman Lab offered an article on Gawker’s experiment in driving pageviews, I tuned in.

Gotta admit, I’m a little depressed after reading the article. Sure, I laughed at the baby’s hilarity over the kitty chasing his blanky. And the baby who burst into tears after being frightened by his own noise, that’s cute. But to think that this is what journalism is coming to, where you hire people simply to find the videos that will go viral to feed page views, well, I find that a little depressing.

On the other hand, I just talked to Dave Statter, one of my favorite bloggers and a man who is having tremendous influence in the world of public safety, helping bring those leaders into the light of the Internet realities. He has created tremendous value and a great audience by making available to the fire and public safety professionals the incredible range of videos about fires and other emergencies. Not only is the public fascinated by these stories (witness the focus of local news channels) but they are also very valuable for professionals to learn about fireground tactics and the like.

Web video is here to stay–which is one reason I’m getting into that business. If you have a website (and if you don’t, I doubt you are reading this) there is almost a 100% certainty that in the next months or years you are going to be dealing with the issue of how to produce an on-going stream of videos. And the question of what it takes to get people to watch them, and even better, share them with others will become very relevant. Please, please, don’t just rely on farting babies and cute kitties.