Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

Another One Bites the Dust

It’s happened again, online video lovers. This morning I received an email from AOL Video informing me that they’re the latest video site to throw in the towel. Here’s an excerpt from the email that was sent to all registered users today:

Dear AOL Video Uploads User,

We’re writing to inform you that the AOL Video Uploads site is no longer accepting new video uploads and will close on Dec. 18, 2008. We hope that this does not cause you an inconvenience.

And another one bites the dust, it would seem. For those of us using TubeMogul to distribute videos, the list of valid sites seems to shrink on a daily basis. (Side note, even if you don’t “mass deploy” every video out there, Tube Mogul has some exceptional tracking and statistics info. Sign up – it’s worth it.) So why are all of these sites dying? Well, we’ve got a fresh body on the table, put on some gloves and join me for a video sharing site autopsy.

We know that Video killed the radio star, and that I shot the sheriff (but I didn’t shoot the deputy!), but what killed AOL video and possibly a number of the other corpses of video sites out there? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Overzealous censorship – People, especially us overweight, needy Americans, are used to expressing ourselves however we want. One of the major issues with AOL video was that where most sites have very mild censorship (think YouTube here folks) AOL video was very restrictive.
    Naughty Jim! Crap is a baaaaad word!

    Naughty Jim! Crap is a baaaaad word!

    How restrictive? Well here’s an example. About three months ago I created a video about the air cannon I built, which I fittingly dubbed the craplauncher. Using Tubemogul I uploaded the video to a dozen different sites. One site, and only one site rejected the upload: AOL Video. Want to guess why? The term “crap” is apparently offensive and unfit for AOL video. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture! Now I’m no fecal matter specialist, but I don’t find “crap” offensive. My friends at the conservative Southern Baptist church I grew up attending used the word, for crying out loud! Ultimately, people want to have freedom of expression, so they will avoid places that are highly censored.

  • Inconsistent censorship – Okay, so an amusing little video with the word “crap” in the title is unfit for AOL’s viewers, but this shining gem has been on their site for 15 months! If you posted that video on YouTube, you’d have it taken down fairly quickly (at least in comparison) and you might even get booted off the site if enough people flagged it. Here’s the deal – if you’re going to censor innocent fun and allow lascivious behavior to sit there, I don’t want to be a part of it.
  • Awful Interface. As much as we YouTube regulars complain about the 500 Internal Server Errors and quarks that pop up, the bottom line is that most of the time the site works. In contrast, most of the time AOL video didn’t work. I found myself constantly dealing with problems, like having a video upload, but it wouldn’t show up for a week, or when a video uploads, when you click on my name to see what other videos I have, it would spit out pages with stuff like “No videos” or “No such user” etc… It was just unpleasant.
  • Branding identity issues. They started out as Uncut Videos. Then they were AOL uncut. Then they were AOL videos. Imagine going to the store looking for your favorite soda (in my case Jones Soda) and discovering a soda that looks just like your old soda, comes in the same packaging, and is even made by the same folks, but has a different name. Maybe you would buy it, but if that happened a third time, I think the confusion would cause you to go to a more consistent brand, such as CocaCola or Pepsi. This is one of the reasons I am “somecallmejim” everywhere I go online. It’s branding, baby! AOL’s many faces and name changes very likely confused some would-be regulars.
  • They’re not YouTube. Let’s face it, when YouTube came out, they stirred up so much of the world that they instantly became the brand associated with online video, just like how Sheetrock is associated with drywall, Kleenex goes with facial tissue, and in much of America Coke is with carbonated soft drinks. First faces in a new market have the potential to become the household name for that market, and that’s one of the reasons YouTube is still around despite a lot of mistakes. AOL had a well-known brand, but was relatively unknown as a source of online video.

What’s my final thought? I think non-YouTube video sites can exist. One day, such a site might even surpass YouTube for popularity. But for today, let’s stitch up the body and let the next of kin know that AOL was pretty much doomed from birth. Rest in Peace, oh fair and gentle site. Rest in peace.



November 18, 2008 - Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is a means you are able to remove me
    from that service? Kudos!

    Comment by evo pill source | December 4, 2014

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