User Generated Video Quality: The Bar Has Been Raised.

YouTube Creator InstituteThe bar is being raised on the quality of user generated video.  Before I begin, I want to clarify what I mean when I use the word “quality” because it falls into a few different areas.  When I talk about quality video I’m specifically referring to production, content and distribution quality.  In short, production takes into account single or multi-camera set up, type of camera, lighting, sound, framing, angles and editing.  Content addresses what you’re actually saying on camera, along with enunciation, body language, eye contact and word emphasis, etc.  Distribution is how you leverage your final video asset to convert, build brand awareness, increase viewer engagement and track your stats.  With that said, I’ll move on.

There is a clear focus and motivation for YouTube to increase the video quality generated by their partners.  Currently, YouTube has more than 10,000 partners and is monetizing over 2 billion video views per week globally, but how exactly can they help their partners create greater quality videos?  Open a university and problem solved.  Enter, the YouTube Creator Institute.  The program is hosted by the USC School of Cinematic Arts in LA and the Columbia College Television Dept in Chicago.  Students will learn content creation – from story development to production, how to build a voice and themselves as a brand, and finally how to use world class production equipment.  The two locations vary slightly based on students’ needs, but in short it serves a big purpose of teaching how to create quality videos.  This news has been out a while, but it got me thinking, what will this eventually mean for new and existing YouTubers out there, retailers and online video in general?  Moreover, how can we prepare for the next curve in online video?


Existing content creators will likely focus on their production value, create a new niche, remain steadfast and confident in their content and delivery, and compete or stop producing all together.  New content creators will face an additional barrier to entry when trying to build their following in areas already serviced by YouTube grads and others.  If you have two videos covering the same content and one has a much higher production value than the other, people will likely flock to higher production value.  There’s a reason Hollywood doesn’t shoot all their movies like The Blair Witch Project.  Most likely, new content creators will immediately create a new niche and expand online video’s reach into new areas.  One area worth mentioning is YouTube Live.


Retailers already leveraging YouTube in their video strategy roll out should be excited to get a shot of quality with their existing video program options.  If you’re curious on how you can leverage YouTube in your video strategy, Rich Fahle recently posted an article on hauling videos.  It’s worth the read.  There are many ways to leverage YouTube in your video strategy and I believe more retailers will be interested in creating a strategy around these new high quality video assets.  While the cost of engaging with quality content providers might swell with probable increases in competition for their services, I do feel confident the ROI on the back end will more than adjust accordingly with the right strategy.

Better Video for Everyone

Online video in general will get better.  I believe that as the monetization of quality videos originate from the user level, companies creating their own video assets will eventually have to boost their production value and possibly their strategy to maintain the status quo.  From a consumer perspective, this is great; there are more videos out there that speak directly to you.  However, from a retailer’s perspective, it is possible that these changes can come at a high cost depending on the quality and quantity of their current roll out schedule.  For companies still considering a video strategy, it’s important that quality is built into the solution,  whether you use a full-service or in house solution.

What’s Next?

For retailers preparing for this next curve in online video, the first step should be making video a priority if you haven’t already done so.  Start small, get the ball rolling by familiarizing yourself with a variety of online videos.  Do some key word searches of your products or services on YouTube, watch those videos and begin thinking how they can work with your current social media marketing activities.  You can also contact a full-service solution like Video Aptitude and just start asking questions.

For retailers already creating video, I believe a good place to start is to watch one of your videos critically and try to define the first thing you can do to improve its quality.  It may be as simple as adding an additional light or using a lapel mic for better sound.  From there, you can begin to line item quality improvements by priority and apply them to your video strategy budget.

YouTube is currently ahead of the curve.  Classes for their university will start for the very first time this summer.  It will take some time before the full impact of their grads can be seen, but it will happen quick.  Online video is the new medium to acquire and generate a loyal customer following and YouTube’s creation and investment in this university is further proof of this.  Oh, and they’re paying for all their students to fly out, for all their food and living accommodations and to take their classes for free.

Kevin Edwards is the Co-Founder of Video Aptitude, a full service video strategy production solution for eCommerce sites. Find out more at: