PopScreen To Help Monitor and Predict The Rise of Viral Videos

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PopScreen, which I first wrote about last fall, is a fantastic service.  I remarked at the time that it filled a definite void for me as a video viewer—specifically in how it allowed me to keep a running list of all my favorite web videos all in one central place, and even let me re-watch those videos straight from the PopScreen interface.  The browser button made it super easy to mark videos and have them added to my personal list, and I’ve continued using the service since the writing of that article.  You could call me a fan.

It’s so easy to use from the browser button alone that I go entire months without visiting their actual website.  So you can bet I was intrigued to hear that PopScreen is making some big changes.  They’ve released a beta version of the new PopScreen, and  from the looks of things… they’ve changed a lot.  I thought it would be a good idea to follow up that original review with a new look at what the company is doing differently with this new beta version.  So let’s dive into the changes:

PopScreen’s New Layout and UI

While the color scheme is largely the same—beige and green with splashes of blue, red, and orange—the layout is dramatically different.  Here’s a look at a screenshot of the standard PopScreen site:

And now one of the new PopScreen beta site:

Gone is the green band near the top of the page telling you what PopScreen is all about.  Gone is the grid of video thumbnails—replaced by a single-line streaming from top to bottom.  There’s also an added sidebar widget about channels that previously didn’t exist.

New Mission?

In fact, it looks like the whole darn business model might have changed.  On the original PopScreen site, the site’s purpose is stated with a rather large white headline:  “Bookmarking tool for online videos and live web shows.”  The new beta version has a very different mission statement:  “Measuring the Pulse of Online Videos.”

They’ve gone from a simple bookmarking tool to something that is part discovery, part tracking and analytics, and part sharing as well.  And to be fair, a lot of the discovery and sharing aspects were in place on the first iteration.  But changing your tagline from “bookmarking tool for online videos” to “measuring the pulse of online videos” sends a clear message that the core purpose of the service has shifted.

Maybe they got so much great data in their initial run as a bookmarking site that they realized they could do more.  Maybe their corporate goals changed.  I have no idea.  But they’re now sounding a lot more like Bitly.tv than Delicious.  And I’m alright with that.

New Data

There’s some really cool data below each video title on that home page list, starting with the number of “influencers.”  Influencers seem to be sites talking about, sharing, or embedding the video and run the gamut of online sources from New York Magazine to Huffington Post to Perez Hilton.  The home page has a sidebar box listing the Featured Influencers by category should you desire to go straight to any one source to learn more.

Along with the expandable list of influencers under each video, you’ll get a snippet of that site’s comments about the video.  Near the bottom of the list of influencers is a red time stamp that tells you when the video began getting popular, what category on PopScreen the video belongs in (Humor, Tech, etc.), and the hosting web portal for that clip (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).  Oh, and there’s a Facebook “like” button for each clip too, in case you want to join the legion of influencers and help spread the word.

New Features

You might notice that on the home page of the new PopScreen beta, there’s an option to filter by videos that are “Popular Now” and videos that are merely “On Our Radar.”  Sadly, right now, the Radar section of the beta is still unreleased… to most people.  I was able to get Glen Gutierrez, the Co-Founder and COO of PopScreen, to give me a sneak peak at it.  And I’m impressed.  When you switch to the “On Our Radar” view, the tagline changes as well, to “Discover the Next Viral Sensation.”

See, I spend a lot of time looking for videos that have only recently gone viral.  I am always looking for new hot videos to feature in the weekly Viral Video Round Up articles here at ReelSEO.  And there are a number of great sources for finding videos that were hot over the previous seven days.

But I also write the recurring Viral Nostradamus column, where I foolishly try to predict what videos might be just on the verge of widespread success.  And finding those videos–before they go viral–is a lot tougher.  A lot tougher.  But I’ve managed to find a handful of sources that—when used correctly—can be a good indicator of videos nearing viral liftoff.  It’s far from perfect, and usually still requires me to simply make a gut call and take a flying leap on a video here and there.

PopScreen’s Radar tool could change all that.  If Bitly.tv is showing you videos that are hot right this second, then Radar aims to show you videos that will be hot tomorrow.  And it’s doing a good job, from what I can tell.  Without giving too much away about my own methods or sources, I can tell you that PopScreen Radar is featuring videos that my other sources also indicate are likely to go viral.  In other words, it does a good job of predicting which videos are most likely to explode–or at least as good a job as the other sources I’ve found.

This is a fantastic idea, and quite possibly the future of whatever PopScreen ends up becoming.  Everyone wants to be the one to break news to friends and family… to share the latest funny video or shocking local news development.  We love being the herald to our friends and family.  As online video continues to grow, there are going to be more and more viewers looking for a way to find that special video clip that no one in their social circle has seen yet.

Additionally, brands are going to go after this kind of information in a hurry, if they aren’t already.  The faster an ad agency can see what kinds of videos are going viral right this second, the faster they can recreate it or piggyback on it or respond to it.  Assuming Radar is able to effectively find emerging viral hits, it will be a huge success.


Personally, I’m both extremely thrilled and tiny bit bummed.  I primarily used PopScreen as a bookmarking service, more than pleased to have a central database of all the web videos I’ve liked, regardless of date or platform.  The web was long overdue for such a service, and it is so simple and so smoothly integrated.

And that part of the service is still active.  It hasn’t gone away… it’s just been deemphasized.  But it’s a little sad for me personally, because it’s what made me fall in love with PopScreen.  And now they’re all grown up.

However… that being said… the new services show a lot of promise, and I’m ready to fall in love with the new features as much as I did with the bookmarking portion.  I’m very impressed at the data we’re getting on the new beta on both established new viral hits as well as rising or possible ones.

The Radar section is where it’s at, for me.  Being able to stay one step ahead of the average viewer on what’s hot… what’s new… what’s the next big thing… it’s invaluable.

And I don’t blame PopScreen one bit for changing the focus..  Most online companies grow, shift, change, and expand services.  At least PopScreen is staying true to who they are and what they’re about—finding, watching, saving, and sharing your favorite videos.  I’m looking forward to the official roll out of the new PopScreen, as well as whatever they become in the future.


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