Make Video Curation the Center of Your Content Strategy in 2013

December 20, 2012

Author, curator, and entrepreneur Steven Rosenbaum explains why 2013 is going to be such a big year for curated video content, and provides two examples of companies that have embraced video curation as the secret to their success.

video curation

Jeff Bewkes from Time Warner looked into his crystal ball and predicted the future. What he saw was shocking.

Since the 1950s, television has increasingly been delivered by cable television. A single coaxial cable that replaced over-the-air broadcasting with a private wire. Much has been written about ‘cord-cutters’ but Bewkes wasn’t terribly concerned about that. For folks who grew up on cable TV, there would be no real replacement. The trend he uncovered — with a furrowed brow — is the emergence of a new generation of “cord-nevers.”

You know what he means. Chances are you have one in your family. Any teenager or below gets their video in a whole new way. They piece together their personal network with a few YouTube channels, some Hulu, a bit of Netflix, and a few downloads via Bit Torrent.

Video has broken free of its cable confines, and is now running wild across the web. And in doing so, it’s no longer simply a ‘pastime’ entertainment medium.  It’s about information, knowledge, social networks, and shared experiences. Video has grown up, with a new expanse of uses that extend far beyond the behavior formerly known as being a ‘couch potato.’

Why is this so important — some might say game-changing — for marketers?

Because, in the new world of video, there’s a big open green field. Who do you ‘trust’ to watch thoughtful TV programs? PBS? Discovery? Nat Geo? Sure. What about movies? HBO? Sports? ESPN? Those are the easy ones.

But what about medical information for orthopedic surgeons? What about innovations in designer/modern furniture? What about the best in beauty products and style tips?

The future of niche media isn’t likely to be coming to your cable box. Instead, there’s a new hybrid curated content model that will forever change nature of both content and commerce. Today it’s called ‘content marketing’ for lack of a better term. But really, video is going be the driver that merges content and commerce in many currently un-served or underserved niches.

Video curation is at the center of this trend, providing sites with a treasure trove of high quality content that they can gather, organize, contextualize, and share.

Here are two examples of how embracing content can drive engagement, community, and ultimately commerce.

Birchbox utilizes video curation

Birchbox: Creating Value with Context

In the consumer space, there may be no better example than Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp. The two young women were students at Harvard Business School when they determined they wanted find a new way to explore and share fashion. They went looking for a way to connect commerce to content — and found an old broken piece of the fashion industry that was ripe for revamping: the free sample.

Cosmetics companies and fashion brands have long given away sample-sized free product, hoping to turn a trial user into a lifelong fan. And consumers have typically valued them based on what they paid for them (free = not valuable). But Barna didn’t like the experience — in fact she says she found trying to sort out her own fashion tastes daunting. The beauty business scares customers – and they wanted to change that.

“People just throw away samples. You have to give them context,” says Barna.

She found context in content.

Together they founded Birchbox, a subscription where customers PAY for boxes of curated samples, a magazine, and educational videos.

Customers are encouraged to explore new products, and share feedback via surveys that are sent to the beauty brands. Birchbox learns from feedback, and adjusts personal shipments to women’s coloring and makeup routines — at the same time providing online tutorials, videos, and interviews with beauty pros to encourage members to experiment with new looks and techniques.

The magical connection of content and commerce has turned the moribund beauty sample business from loss leader to a massive profit driver.

Birchbox launched with just with 660 members. The company hit its year three goal for subscribers in just 7 months, and now has more than 100,000 regular subscribers paying $10.00 a month for samples that the beauty industry used to give away.

And embracing curated video content isn’t limited to the consumer space.

Welcome Clinical Advisor

Clinical Advisor: Becoming a Go-to Resource

Jim Burke is the Vice President of Digital Products at Haymarket Media, a UK based B2B publisher with offices in Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. Burke runs the medical publishing division.

Clinical Advisor is a closed circulation magazine serving the Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner market. But Jim knew that Clinical Advisor couldn’t be just a print publication any longer. As he made the shift to digital he needed to respond to visitors’ interest in — and advertisers’ need for — video.

“We are in the process of really transforming our company from a legacy print business to true media company. Video was part of that progression” said Burke.  “We knew we couldn’t just send out a journal anymore.”

The challenge for Jim and his team was how to get video content to his readers without expending content creation dollars he didn’t have advertising to support.

They originally looked at building a studio and trying to shoot their own videos. But other publications at Haymarket had gone down that road and warned him away — the cost of original production for B2B sites was simply prohibitive.

What Burke and his team determined was that there was in fact already too much video on the web around his editorial focus. What his visitors needed was an incisive and professional editor — a ‘curator’ of web video content.

“Content curation really allowed us to gather a lot of videos, and create a really robust channel very very quickly,” Burke explains. “If we had created a studio it would have taken us months, if not years, to have that really robust channel with a lot of video on it.“

Within three weeks of launching a video content curation platform Clinical Advisor was offering visitors access to a vast, and growing collection of high quality curated content.

“All of our journals are always very timely and relevant. Our editors, who our readers already trusted to bring them good information, now do that for them with video on a regular basis.”

Now Burke’s team is selling advertising that includes video pre-rolls, something he couldn’t do before he added curated video content.

Two business leaders, each looking at the nexus of content, curation, and commerce in their own way. Both of them carving away at the one thing that all humans have in limited supply – time.

As content sites morph into commerce, and commerce sites embrace content, users are finding that they have to make choices about how they spend their time, and who they trust to help them sort out the noisy world. This trust is best earned when content and commerce are curated well, and a engaging and useful mix is achieved.

Simply put, the future of the web won’t be about content sites that drive traffic to commerce sites. It won’t be about shopping sites or price matching sites that drive consumers to the lowest price sources. The future is about curation — the thoughtful and useful aggregation and organization of content, context, and commerce.

And the implementation of those “Three C’s” will provide the building blocks for the emerging Cloud Economy for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

We want to hear from you!

How are you incorporating video into your content strategy? Have you had success with curation?



<strong>Steven Rosenbaum</strong> is an author, founder, and public speaker. His book <a href=""><em>Curation Nation</em></a> was published in 2011 by McGrawHill Business. He is currently writing <em>Adventures in the Cloud Economy</em>, an exploration of how new technology platforms are providing entrepreneurs with flexible and cost effective building blocks for the new digital economy. Rosenbaum was named NYC's first Entrepreneur at Large, and blogs and speaks regularly about digital overload, emerging video form-factors, and curation. He is the CEO of <a href=""></a>.