The audience network

CBS continues to extend its notion of the audience as the network, today announcing a bunch of deals with social services to enable and encourage embedding of their clips — among them WordPress, Ning, and Voxant. I’m not sure, for example, what a deal with WordPress means; I can already embed clips from a number of CBS’ distributors. But it’s the thought that counts. And that thought, to repeat the words of Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive: “We can’t expect consumers to come to us. It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.”

The head of one of these distributors, Voxant, just emailed me with his success stories. Voxant enables embedding and pays the embedders. Jeff Crigler emailed (and note that as far as I’m concerned, he misuses the term ‘mash’ — which means to remake and manipulate — when he really means ’embed’):

I know you have been following this long-tail syndication stuff. We’ve had an interesting couple of months at voxant. I think its kind of relevant to how ultimately new media gets its legs.

About a month ago we signed the NHL deal and got their hockey videos up in Three weeks ago we started blogging about it and sending very personalized emails to some of the top hockey blogs and small web sites. Then an amazing thing happened. One of the hockey blogs came to TNR and mashed [that is, embedded -ed] some clips. then a couple of others…. then a swarm of others. All of the sudden we are driving gobs of traffic to hockey sites who have grabbed our game highlights and “hockey fights” videos from the news room. The echo chamber actually started working. Before you turn around a third of our traffic was hockey stuff and we had bloggers and web sites coming back on a daily basis to get the latest game highlights.

So, for demonstration purposes, here’s a CBS clip via Voxant. This is one of those ridiculous you-could-write-them-before-you-see-them stories TV loves to do: Amercians are taking to the road this holiday weekend… gas prices are higher/lower… the triple-A says…. yadayadayada. Note that I just made fun of the segment and got paid for it. But that’s good: you want to be in the midst of the conversation, sometimes starting it.

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  • Actually… we really do mean Mash! “Embed” has come to mean referencing a media file at some second web site. That isn’t what you do when you mash the code snippet from Voxant, and why we call it something different. You are actually creating a very sophisticated application.

    When your blog or web page loads with the Voxant Mash code snippet a bunch of interesting stuff happens:

    1. we download a small flash application that reads the page its “on” to get context. It then
    2. Talks to the Voxant server to understand ad targeting based on that context. It then
    3. Talks to Double-Click and tells them the content playing and the context… so for example we don’t run an airline ad on a story about an airline crash. It then
    4. Displays the ad banner and/or pre-roll advertising and communicates back to Voxant and Double click that an ad has played. It then
    5. Requests the url of the video to be played from Voxant. It then
    6. Requests the video stream from Akamai and it plays. As it plays it also
    7. Notifies the Voxant e-commerce server to credit the account of the web site. If the web site is at a threshold, it then
    8. Sends money to paypall. Finally,
    9. It requests, optionally the titles of other relevant videos to be viewed.

    Wow!…. lots and lots of stuff going on. And actually much MORE sophisticated than the code you would use to “Mash up” a database of Manhattan Public restrooms with Google maps… which is the classic Mash application.

    oh… I forgot. Between step 2. and 3. above it checks to make sure the advertiser and content provider permit any of this to take place on the web site its playing…. so if you are viewing on a porn site or a hate site…. or potentially a competitor with the content provider or advertiser… the process stops there.

    I would welcome a discussion on mashing and embeding. We’re doing a lot lot more than your typical YouTube embedding!

    Jeff Crigler

  • Jeff,
    Not meaning to quibble, but “mash” means that I can affect the content itself: editing it, commenting directly on it, combining it with other media. Perhaps your company mashes some technology and that’s great. But I still think your use of the word is a misnomer that ends up pointing out what we can’t do with it. I’m not criticizing the funtionality but the word choice.

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