Notes from the “Man vs. Algorithm: Online Video Curation Face-off” discussion at SXSW, featuring Marc Husvedt of Chill and Neetzan Zimmerman of The Daily What:
Sixty hours of videos are being uploaded to YouTube every minute. Thinking about it differently, a century of video is uploaded every 10 days.
The sheer volume of video available online is why we rely on some forms of curation – simply put, people don’t have the time or ability to winnow through all that content.
There are three types of curation:
- Editorial, such as the Huffington Post or Daily What
- Algorithmic, as you see on YouTube or search engines
- Social, specifically, your own personal social graph
As an example, most of the algorithms used by YouTube (which is, at its core, a search engine, and employes numerous algorithms) fall under the categories of search and recommendation. YouTube is trying to help answer the “unarticulated wants’ of site visitors, who want to be entertained but don’t necessarily know what they want.
Zimmerman (who, incidentally, is the guy who first posted the Rebecca Black “Friday” video, which is the most-watched online video ever), noted that while algorithms are great at crunching data, they are terrible at predicting what is universally funny. They don’t understand humor.
YouTube curates video for users a variety of ways, but one method – the “recommended videos” – accounts for 60% of all views. The recommended videos are clicked 200% more often than top-rated or most-viewed videos.
Not surprisingly, Zimmerman is pitched constantly, and his advice to PR agents on pitching him is also great advice on making a standout video.
Simply put, the video has to offer something unique. It must be amusing in a way that’s not pandering to the audience (e.g., trying to mimic Old Spice videos). Good curators can see right through those tactics – and your audience are curators. His advice: If you are trying to get a message across, do it on your own terms, not in a way you think would “work” for a site like the Daily What on purpose. It’s fairly easy to see through that.
Some other notes on pitching him:
- If a video is pitched directly by a PR agent, he immediately deletes it.
- If they try a bit harder by get creative in copy or the approach, he may look at it if it introduces the content in a way that would be interesting to the Daily What reader.
Conclusion: When it comes to curation, we need both the human and machine elements.
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