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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From Web Video Summit: Dina Kaplan of Blip.tv

I'm at the Web Video Summit in San Jose (right now sitting in a panel on "San Francisco-Style Video Innovation").

I moderated a panel this morning on video production for the Web, and got a chance to chat a bit with Alex Lindsay of Pixel Corps beforehand; he was one of my panelists, and I found him in the speaker lounge just before our session. And a plug for later: I shot some video with animator M dot Strange, which I hope to post here soon.

I also had a chance to sit down for a few minutes with Blip.tv co-founder Dina Kaplan. Some rough notes:

- Kaplan divides Web video into three categories:

    1. Viral video (YouTube dominates here)
    2. Friends and family video sharing
    3. TV shows on the Web


Blip is focused increasingly on that third category. She mentioned shows like Galacticast, The Burg, Goodnight Burbank, and Feed Me Bubbe, all of which I need to check out.

- Kaplan said she has been surprised at the role Blip has begun playing as "new media talent agents." When shows hosted by Blip get an offer from mainstream media, the company's executives wind up helping connect creators with attorneys, get them headshots, help them deal with contracts. She also said that some creators had turned down these mainstream deals -- they wanted to retain ownership or control.

- I asked her what was going on with Blip's initiative to hook up sponsors with video creators. She said that Blip is constantly out talking to media buyers, trying to convince them that underwriting video series or advertising on individual videos is something that makes sense for them. The company has sold sponsorships for Amanda Congdon (Dove) and Ze Frank (Dewar's).

- Can sponsorship work for a series of videos that target a niche-ier audience? Maybe, Kaplan said. They're trying to package together several shows on a particular topic to collect enough viewers to be of interest to advertisers. (Kaplan was squishy about how big an audience you need to get onto an advertiser's radar screen.) Kaplan said Blip is working on sponsorship deals for the "top 5 percent" of their content producers; anyone else can sign up to have plain old advertising inserted. Blip works with ad insertion companies like Brightroll, ScanScout, PoDaddies, and Immen.se.

Her big concern, she said, is "proving that [sponsorship] works - that corporations can sponsor videobloggers, that they'll get the impressions they're expecting, and that people will click on their ads."

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