On Friday afternoon, Carla Marshall reported on the latest data from the comScore Video Metrix service showing that 188.5 million Americans watched 46.7 billion online content videos in August 2013. Over the weekend, I decided to compare and contrast the latest data with similar data for August 2012. Why? Would you believe that I’ve been waiting for this moment since August 2012? That’s when comScore introduced three important methodological enhancements to its estimates with the release of its Video Metrix data, preventing me from making an apples-to-apples comparison until now. Anyway, when I compared and contrasted the August 2012 data with the August 2013 data, here’s what jumped out.

  • AOL has climbed into second place with 55.9% more viewers than it had a year ago.
  • On the other hand, Yahoo! Sites have 18.2% fewer viewers than they had a year ago.

Seriously, here’s the comScore Video Metrix data in case you want to compare and contrast August 2012 with August 2013 for yourself.

Property Unique ViewersAugust 2012 Unique ViewersAugust 2013 % change
AOL 45.7 million 71.2 million +55.9%
NDN 37.5 million 50.7 million +35.0%
Facebook.com 47.7 million 62.2 million +30.4%
Viacom Digital 38.7 million 44.4 million +14.7%
Google Sites 150.2 million 167.0 million +11.2%
VEVO 49.3 million 49.4 million +03.6%
Microsoft Sites 53.7 million 48.9 million -08.9%
Yahoo! Sites 55.0 million 45.0 million -18.2%

And even if you compare and contrast video content views instead of unique viewers, I’d still rather be marching in AOL’s band rather than in Yahoo!’s.

Property Video Content ViewsAugust 2012 Video Content ViewsAugust 2013 % change
Facebook.com 261 million 803 million +207.7%
NDN 396 million 570 million +43.9%
AOL 725 million 992 million +36.8%
Microsoft Sites 522 million 690 million +32.2%
Google Sites 13,772 million 17,438 million +26.6%
Viacom Digital 405 million 453 million +11.9%
VEVO 595 million 610 million +02.5%
Yahoo! Sites 529 million 369 million -30.2%

So, did AOL “get smart” while Yahoo! Sites were trapped by KAOS? They were both were early pioneers in the video search engine category – with properties named Singingfish, which was acquired by AOL in 2003 and ceased to exist in February 2007, and Yahoo! Video, which was launched in May 2005 and was renamed Yahoo! Screen in October 2011. Their world-takeover plots were thwarted by their nemesis, YouTube. But, AOL seems to have received a call from CONTROL on the famous shoe phone, while Yahoo! Sites seem to be stuck under the Cone of Silence.

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To find out, I asked Sarah Borton of LaunchSquad, who is on the PR team working with AOL’s video arm, to set up an interview with the best person at AOL who could talk about this topic. That person was Frank Besteiro, AOL’s Vice President and Head of Business Development and Partnerships for Video.

Don Adams as Maxwell Smart

Don Adams as Maxwell Smart

Instead of speaking under the Cone of Silence, I insisted that we use a relatively newer gadget: The shoe phone. So, here are my questions and Besteiro’s answers:

Greg Jarboe: How did AOL climb into the #2 position in the latest comScore.com rankings of online video content properties?

Frank Besteiro: It’s really been because of the strength of our own AOL.com library plus the strength of third-party content from The Wall Street Journal, AP, BBC, Reuters, Hearst and other properties in our network. We’re helping them to monetize the massive ingestion around premium video content and they’ve helped us climb higher in comScore’s rankings.

Greg Jarboe: Can you give us an update on AOL’s original content programming?

Frank Besteiro: Our investment in premium original content has been tremendously successful. For example, “#CandidlyNicole”, (which features Nicole Richie), now has over 14 million views across the AOL On Network. “Hardwired”, (which features Justine Ezarik aka iJustine), has also gotten a great response. Attracting the right audience with the right talent has led to a great mix. (In addition, AOL On has just launched the newest addition to its lineup of original programing – “FLAT OUT”. The documentary series, which is co-produced by NASCAR Productions and Vuguru, features 10 unscripted episodes that grant viewers an all-access pass into the life of 18-year-old, NASCAR driver Dylan Kwasniewski as he balances family, friends and newfound celebrity status on and off of the track.)

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Greg Jarboe: What trends are you seeing from other publishers?

Frank Besteiro: There is this notion out there that ‘Let’s all go out and create content.’ This is great, but you also need distribution. You can’t just throw content up there and hope an audience will come to it. The AOL On Network has proven the power of syndication. Contextually matching videos to content on the page, AOL On Network’s syndication platform allows marketers to build a strong, organic audience for content through distribution on AOL’s owned-and-operated sites and partner sites. We’re seeing more and more people looking at distribution and taking an active role in getting eyeballs to the sites where it makes sense.

Greg Jarboe: You've been working with big publishers to push their content around the web. How is that effort working out?

Frank Besteiro: We do work with big publishers like the Discovery Channel, A&E and Martha Stewart. We have specific criteria of who we work with because we want only premium content, and one of our biggest strengths is our network. Content is still king, but a lot of those content providers need our distribution points. So, they come to AOL. In a lot of ways it’s been a great marriage of content and distribution.

Greg Jarboe: What are your thoughts about the syndication economy and how it's evolving?

Frank Besteiro: It’s become a proven strategy for NDN (News Distribution Network, Inc.) and other folks. As I said, people have to realize content is still king. It’s going to be a failure if you don’t make the investment in the right partners and the right content. But, you don’t have to remain on your own website. Syndication allows you to scale your own business, and you can drive traffic to other pipes.  It’s evolving really well and that’s why I’m optimistic about the future as the syndication economy continues to mature.