The NY Times has an interesting piece about the concept of ‘video snacking’, a new focus for media companies as they gain a certain savvy about the internet. They’re increasingly targeting the ‘lunch market’ for office workers, creating short to-the-point videos that can be consumed over a sandwich.
Brian Stelter: In cubicles across the country, lunchtime has become the new
prime time, as workers click aside their spreadsheets to watch videos
on YouTube, news highlights on CNN.com or other Web offerings.
The trend–part of a broader phenomenon known as video
snacking–is turning into a growth business for news and media
companies, which are feeding the lunch crowd more fresh content.
In some offices, workers coordinate their midday Web-watching
schedules, the better to shout out punch lines to one another across
rows of desks. Some people gravitate to sites where they can reliably
find Webcasts of a certain length–say, a three-minute political
wrap-up–to minimize both their mouse clicks and the sandwich crumbs
that wind up in the keyboard.
"Go take a walk around your office" at lunchtime, said Alan Wurtzel,
head of research for NBC. "Out of 20 people, I’m going to guarantee
that 5 are going to be on some sort of site that is not work-related."
The midday spike in Web traffic is not a new phenomenon, but
media companies have started responding in a meaningful way over the
last year. They are creating new shows, timing the posts to coincide
with hunger pangs. And they are rejiggering the way they sell
advertising online, recognizing that noontime programs can command a
In 2007, a growing number of local television stations,
including WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, began
producing noon programming exclusively for the Web. Among newspapers,
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., and The Ventura County Star in
California started posting videos at lunchtime that have young
journalists as hosts and are meant to appeal to 18- to 34-year-old
The trend has swept across large as well as small independent
sites. Yahoo’s daily best-of-the-Web segment, called The 9 and
sponsored by Pepsi, is produced every morning in time for lunch. At
MyDamnChannel.com, a showcase for offbeat videos, programmers have been
instructed to promote new videos around noon, right when the two-hour
traffic spike starts.
"Based on the traffic I’m seeing," said Miguel Monteverde,
executive director of AOL Video, "our nation’s productivity is in
From an apartment in Greenwich Village, Rob Millis and Will
Coghlan are hosts and producers of a three-minute daily Webcast,
Political Lunch, done around 10 a.m., followed by an hour and a half of
editing, in time for uploading just before noon. Political Lunch, which
was introduced in September and appears on several Web sites, is viewed
10,000 to 20,000 times a week, with a peak in traffic from 1 to 3 p.m.
"It’s an Internet version of appointment viewing," Millis said.
One man who takes his midday video schedule seriously is Jason
Spitz, a merchandise manager for a major record label in Los Angeles.
He trades links to videos with his friends all day–usually low-budget
sketch comedy bits from FunnyOrDie.com or CollegeHumor.com–and
stockpiles them to watch during lunch breaks. He and his colleagues
like to look at the same videos at the same time from their separate
desks, turning the routine into a communal activity.
"The clips are shorter than a full 30-minute TV show, so we can
cram several small bites of entertainment into one lunch break," Spitz
said. "The funniest moments usually become inside jokes among my
Noah Lehmann-Haupt, the founder of an upscale car rental
company in New York, said that video snacking on short clips is "a good
excuse to stay at my desk during lunch, which I prefer since it keeps
the momentum of the day going." He often watches segments from The Daily Show, now that Comedy Central has put eight years’ worth of episodes online for free viewing.
Plus, the format leaves both hands free to consume the day’s takeout
meal. "I can’t exactly surf while eating, and it’s healthy to step away
from e-mails and work for a few minutes a day," he said.
Some content plays better over lunch. CNN.com,
which draws an average of 69 million video plays each month, tends to
promote lighter videos in the middle of the day. ("Cloned cats glow in
the dark" and "Bulldog straps on skateboard" were among the most
popular on a recent weekday.)
At NBC.com and other network Web
sites, shorter videos draw more lunchtime traffic than longer ones,
which are more often downloaded at night. For that reason, sites like
NBC.com emphasize short-form highlights during the day and entire
half-hour or hourlong shows in the evening.
From an advertiser’s perspective, the Web is a more flexible
medium than television, because technology makes it easy to monitor
people’s behavior and adjust programming accordingly. Better still,
marketers have found that consumers are up to 30 percent more likely to
make a purchase after viewing an advertisement at lunchtime than at
other times of the day.
"Not only is advertising volume and Internet use increasing
during the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. time period, but people are actually
buying and purchasing and reacting to advertising," said Young-Bean
Song, vice president for analytics at Atlas Solutions, a unit of
Microsoft that helps companies with digital marketing campaigns.
Sticking to a set schedule turns out to be almost as important on the Web as it is on television. At blip.TV,
a video-sharing site, Mike Hudack, the chief executive, encourages his
producers to post videos at the same time each day or week.
"Continuity and consistency is incredibly important," Hudack said.
"If you want to attract a loyal audience, you have to give them what they expect when they expect it."
Via NY Times