Can UGV Work As A Business Model? Interview With Wikipedia CEO Jimmy Wales

Can UGV Work As A Business Model? Interview With Wikipedia CEO Jimmy Wales

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ReelSEO’s Grant Crowell interviews Wikipedia CEO and Co-Founder Jimmy Wales at the adtech conference and asks: Can consumer-generated media (CGM) work as a monetizeable business model for video like it has for text? What are the challenges with incorporating video into public Wikis? And, can traditional news companies use the wiki model for incorporating CGM video and build back their own news communities, or are the challenges too great? A special report from the ad:tech conference in San Francisco.

Jimmy Wales opened up the adtech conference Tuesday with his keynote presentation, Wikipedia, Wikia, and The Future of Consumer Generated Media. Jimmy talked about how consumer media is becoming as dominant, even saying its just as valuable as professional-generated media.“CGM is an incredible steal right now” for companies to both build platforms over and advertise around, he says.

The business challenge with CGM video

However, traffic and consumer activity doesn’t equate profit. You need to see no better example than Youtube– a company that’s captured 90 percent of the entire online video viewing audience, but despite several years in operation and massive growth and mainstream media publicity, has yet to turn in any profit. So even with the dominance of consumer-generated video, it’s fair to ask Jimmy: is there single monetizeable business model today around large-scale consumer-generated-media (CGM) with video?

“Unfortunately I haven’t heard of one yet.” Says Jimmy. “Video today is where text was in 1989. Some of its really great, some of its really awful; a lot of it is really laughable and funny.” Now that’s good for building audiences, but is it the right type of audiences that advertisers want? Truth is, consumer-generated video is still content that many advertisers shy away from. And without a sustainable and growing advertising base, CGM with video seems to be more of a loss-leader as part of a larger brand. (Hence, YouTube being the loss-leader for Google.)

WikiNews – Consumer-generated and collaborated news, but no video

Jason also showcased a video to the adtech audience touting Wikipedia’s Wikinews – a model that he touted as the future of news journalism – coordinators and ambassaors, citizen journalists and volunteers – all collaborating on stories. However, the model doesn’t yet lend itself well to video collaborations for public consumption. There are no video uploads, like you could do with Yahoo!’s You-Witness News or CNN’s iReport) Issues with bringing in consumer generated video for news publisher sites.

“What we haven’t actually seen is communities come together to produce bigger projects around video,” that will be available for public collaboration as well as consumption, “but I think we will see that sometime.” Says Jimmy.

Legal issues with consumer-generated-video for news publisher sites

Jimmy also discussed how legal departments at news publications will have issues with consumer-generated video; whenever you publish outside footage, especially outside opinions, you run the risk of libel. “This does require extra oversight and fact-checking… but the very best bloggers understand the law and they don’t go there.” says Jimmy. “But I think bloggers need to be very concerned about libel in a way that a New York Times columnist doesn’t, because the NY Times columnist does have the infrastructure to take on legal issues, as well as have insurance for libel defense. But in general, in terms of what I’m seeing, I’m not seeing really great bloggers being deterred from writing really great stuff.”

So what Jimmy is saying is that citizen journalists being on a CGM site should not find themselves impervious to legal action for the coverage they promote on the site, and especially with any video content. Perhaps its a good opportunity for local news media, especially newspaper companies, to open themselves up to top-tier local bloggers to both publish and monitor the CGM portion of the websites, and especially for video.

Additional coverage on CGM for online video

For some earlier coverage on this subject, read ReelSEO’s article by Christopher Rick’s, The Death of User-Generated Online Video Content?


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