Veoh’s new CEO on the challenges ahead

28 07 2007

Some interesting (if obvious) quotes in this Ad Age interview with Steve Mitgang, the former Yahoo exec tasked with leading the company’s ‘Panama’ search iniative and recently appointed CEO of online video aggregator Veoh:

Ad Age: Why has it been so hard to create a viable business around online video? It seems to be wildly popular among consumers.

Mr. Mitgang: According to the reports, YouTube only sold $30 million in ads last year because they didn’t build a system to support … that healthy tension between editorial and advertising. They just didn’t build it. They were trying to grow [an advertising vehicle] out of a legacy position as opposed to starting out the right way. We’ve built and are enhancing a discovery and recommendation engine to give users the right video and discover gems. Not just show you what you’re looking for. The flip side of understanding those user behaviors and recommendations is for targeting purchases. We can say, look at the car enthusiasts … [these ones] are primarily interested in German cars or muscle cars. Being able to tell that to the brand manager of Mustang or Mini, we’ll be able to help them better than anyone else. Whether watching user-generated or premium content we’ll help target against the right users.

Ad Age: From a consumer standpoint, how does the recommendation engine help?

Mr. Mitgang: There are big problems on horizon for video that we’re solving. In a world with billions of videos, it’s harder for people to know what’s interesting. That’s why building discovery or recommendation engines is key. Search only solves a transactional problem. Whether you’re shopping at Amazon or Netflix that discovery process is an important one. When people are using video more completely, in a 100,000 channel world, discovery’s important. How you manage videos is important, along with how you manage your bandwidth and disk space.

Online video: nota bene

30 06 2007

The-still-to-be-named online video tie-up between NBC Universal and NewsCorp has hired former Amazon exec Jason Kilar to head up the new venture, slated for launch this September, or possibly later still. According to the LA Times, TV industry heavy-hitters weren’t interested in the role, “in part because of Hollywood’s pockmarked history with partnerships and the inherent difficulty of keeping the interests of the two giant media owners aligned.” Kilar’s 10 years at Amazon saw him forge strong relationships with the studios and beef up the e-tailer’s bottom line for physical (DVD) and online sales of TV and movie product. He also moved on to take overal responsibility for “facets of the online customer experience”, with a direct reporting line in to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Who’d sniff at a job which links two of the US’s biggest content owners, and sews up up 90% of online distribution? Good luck, Jason.