Dailymotion first achieved success as a platform for citizens and independent journalists during the Paris riots of 2005, but it has gone past its roots in user-generated content to become one of the leading publishers of professionally produced independent video content in Europe. Creative director Digby Lewis, who will be keynoting at Streaming Media Europe on 17 October, spoke with Eileen Broch recently about the company’s development and future plans.
First, a little bit about your background. How did your work with Google and DoubleClick prepare you for what you’re doing at Dailymotion?
I joined Dailymotion after six years working in television and online media. Before that, I worked in the print publishing sector as a writer and editor for newspapers and magazines. I’ve always worked on the editorial side of things, and Dailymotion provided an excellent opportunity to put my experience to use in an exciting, developing medium. It’s also interesting, having been a content creator before, to be able to see things from the other side and act as a curator in this role.
How does a site like Dailymotion distinguish itself from YouTube? What’s its value proposition for users? What about for advertisers?
Firstly, the most noticeable aspect for the user is the video quality. Dailymotion has led the field in high-quality streaming video and we were the first major player to introduce HD video streaming this year. Professional content creators want users to have the best possible playback experience and Dailymotion delivers that.
Secondly, we have very strong links with the independent film sector, from students right the way through to Oscar-winning directors like Michel Gondry. Our Motionmaker programme is all about giving talented young professionals the tools and visibility they need to succeed in the industry.
We then act as curators to programme the best of our contributors’ work-both Official Partner and Motionmakers-on our local homepages and channels. So when someone goes to the Dailymotion homepage, they should notice a significant difference in the quality of video content available on the platform.
All of this is attractive to advertisers-Motionmaker and Official Content provides a safe environment for brands. We have developed a number of products, display and instream, to maximize the opportunities for advertisers.
What advertising strategies do you predict will be most successful moving forward: typical text/banner ads, video ads, or perhaps branding and placement campaigns that blur the line between “advertising” and “content”?
We offer advertisers a suite of products and branding opportunities because we recognize that clients have different needs and business models. The key thing is to be as dynamic as possible. Display advertising provides a great starting point. In-stream is still finding its feet, but done well, can be far less intrusive a user experience than the standard pre-roll format which we have seen to date.
Original sponsored or branded content is clearly another very exciting arena for platforms like Dailymotion to work alongside advertisers. Once again, the key thing for us is to maintain our core values of quality content, so a project has to be just right for us to develop it beyond the concept stage.
Brands are also keen to engage with our Motionmaker community, and we have run successful campaigns in France which have harnessed our own “production team” if you like, and we hope to replicate this in the UK.
Do you have a geographic breakdown on viewers and users in terms of Europe vs. elsewhere?
Dailymotion is now the 50th largest website globally and the world’s second largest video entertainment website with 38.8 million monthly uniques. Our home territory, France, is still our most dominant user-base, making up about a quarter of that total audience. Our next biggest community is North America, with around 6 million uniques. Belgium, UK, Italy, Spain and Germany are our other principal European territories, ranging from 1.5 million to 600,000.
How much of your emphasis is on professionally produced content as opposed to user-generated?
Dailymotion started life as a platform for user-generated content and during the Paris riots of 2005 because synonymous with citizen journalism and editorial independence from mainstream broadcasters. While UGC continues to make up a large portion of the videos uploaded to Dailymotion, the landscape for streaming video has changed remarkably in the last 12 months and we believe that users are now hungry for professionally produced, quality video content. We are constantly signing Official Content partnerships-broadcasters, production companies, film and gaming studios, record labels, you name it. What’s exciting is that these partnerships are not about pushing TV content online, but creating web-specific content with professional quality production standards. As a former TV producer/director, that’s very pleasing to see on the site.
What sort of traction is your HD content getting, and how important do you think HD content will be to Dailymotion’s future success?
Dailymotion pioneered high-definition streaming video on a mass scale and it works well both for our users and content providers. These days, everyone from home-movie enthusiasts to super-indies can shoot in HD, so if you can provide a means to distribute this online it has to be a real bonus. As technology moves forwards and current data transfer limitations are overcome, high def streaming video will become the norm.
Will delivery to mobile devices figure into Dailymotion’s roadmap? And what about getting Dailymotion content onto TV screens? In the long run, can companies like Dailymotion compete against traditional broadcasters without a presence on the television screen?
While our website remains core to the business, we want people to be able to access Dailymotion videos wherever and whenever they choose. We’ve just announced a partnership with Orange World, which will launch in France over the coming weeks, soon followed by other European regions including the UK. We have also partnered with IPTV platform Channel Neuf in France to show Motionmaker videos. We don’t consider traditional broadcasters as direct competitors, in fact I think they are more concerned with reaching the digital audience than we are trying to reach the highly fragmented cable or satellite audience.
Finally, a big-picture kind of question. As you look forward, what kinds of online video initiatives do you see as being most successful in the next year or two? What are current video sites doing right, and what do they need to be doing differently?
Longtail UGC will become much less appealing to the online audience as we move towards an era of greater quality content-both in terms of production values and playback. But interactivity will also remain crucial to the user experience, so how do you develop those aspects further? Original sponsored series, as we have seen on a few of the major social networking sites, can be a fantastic fusion of sponsorship, entertainment and user interactivity (although the product placement can still be clunky and the scripting/acting a bit dire, so I would expect the standards to be raised here).
Dailymotion is also working to take its online communities offline-we have a monthly screening of Motionmaker films in Paris called ‘La Séance’ and looking at venues to do the same kind of thing in the UK. We are also partnering with major film festivals in Europe and the US to strengthen this bond between our Motionmakers and the independent film industry.