TubeMogul’s new tier system – An interview with TubeMogul CEO Brett Wilson

Brett Wilson

A few weeks ago I had lunch with Brett Wilson, CEO of TubeMogul, and we were talking about the partnership between TubeMogul and Viddler. We also talked about surfing and family, but for now we’ll focus on TubeMogul and Viddler.

A few days later I asked Brett if I could ask him a few questions about something he mentioned over lunch, TubeMogul’s yet-to-be-announced although already launched tier system, and publish them here on my site.  Brett being the great guy that he is didn’t even hesitate.

When TubeMogul turned on support for its users to upload to Viddler as a distribution channel, we began to see all sorts of “spammy” videos and members showing up.  We always had abuse on Viddler, and there was certainly more good than bad coming from the TubeMogul partnership, but we wanted to see if we could help them solve this issue.  Brett explained that they were already working on that.  I’ll let him explain.

Thanks for doing the interview Brett.  Real quickly; can you give us the broad strokes of what TubeMogul aims to do?

Brett: First of all thanks for having me, and hello to all of your readers.  Our goal at TubeMogul is to solve problems for content creators.  First, we make it easy for content creators to deploy video to multiple sites in one shot.  This saves content creators time and often increases the size of their audience.  Next, we bring all of the available analytics back into TubeMogul and give the content creator an aggregated view of their video’s consumption along with easy to use reporting and data export tools.  And TubeMogul is free.

Me: The power of TubeMogul, and the simplicity behind its goals, are palpable. Essentially you can log into TubeMogul, upload a video, choose all of the video sharing sites you want it to appear on, and then track your statistics right there on TubeMogul, without ever having to visit every single video sharing site.  TubeMogul fills a very big need for people like video podcasters who, on their own if TubeMogul didn’t exist, were doing this anyway.

Can you explain what problem the new tier system solves and a little bit about how it works?

Brett: Some video sharing sites we work with are selective about the content they accept.  For example, HowCast is a How-To site and only wants instructional videos.  Other sites, only accept professional quality or episodic videos. While we have nothing against cheap Viagra or making millions from home, many of our partner sites consider these videos to be spam.  To address these issues, we are asking content creators to go through a one-time review process to deploy video to certain sites.  This will be a painless process – fill out a simple form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.  Approved content creators will be able to deploy to any or all sites of their choosing.

Me: I can tell you that from Viddler’s perspective, this system is really great and means a lot to us.  This shows that TubeMogul is interested in creating a quality product, not a spammy one.  TubeMogul could have easily allowed spam-like content to any of the channels, and left it up to us to weed out the crap.  This would have “fluffed” their statistics, made them appear bigger than they really are, and would have looked good on paper.  But they didn’t do that – they are focused on building a product that is both valuable to the content producer and the content consumer (all the way down to the viewer). 

In other words; if you start seeing less spam on your favorite video sharing site – send Brett an email and thank him and his team for their hard work.  They are cutting the problem off at the bud.

Brett in India

Brett in India, 2006

Do you have any plans, or have you already, to add actual SPAM  filtering techniques to TubeMogul?  Obviously there are some “repeat  offenders” with video spam, some of which could be detected?  Or do you feel it is a moving target?

Brett: The tier system we are putting into place is a trust-based system.  If a content creator tells us that they have appropriate videos then we will give them the keys to the kingdom. If we see abuse then I suppose we will have to take away the keys.  Do keep in mind that very few of the tens of thousands of videos that we deploy each day are spam.

Me: He’s right. The vast majority of the video that we see at Viddler from TubeMogul is not spam.  But as all of us that have dealt with publishing systems know, spam always becomes a problem.  It started with the postal mail system, spread onto the Internet in the form of email, comment spam, and now we’re seeing video spam.  It is a sad inevitability.  I’m happy TubeMogul is choosing to use a human system to battle it rather than a electronic one.

I think the best part about TubeMogul is that hard working video producers can easily share their video on multiple services quickly and easily, and also have a one-stop area to view statistics from each of those services; how do you see this new tier system being of benefit to high-quality video producers?

Brett: If we can help to eliminate spam in the online video ecosphere we help to keep everyone’s focus and energy on content that people want to consume. And of course less spam means lower infrastructure and bandwidth costs for all.

Me: Have you ever seen a better sentence in your life?  Read it again, I urge you.  What he is saying is that by building this system they are helping to find the signal through the noise. Actually, he is saying they will cut down the noise entirely.  By doing so, people can find what they want easier (which is better for viewer and producer alike), and services like Viddler won’t have to pay to host spam.  This helps everyone.

Side note: If I told you how much Viddler has had to pay to host spam and pirated content, you’d fall out of your chair.  Behind-the-scenes we’ve been building and refining our methods to combat these issues, and we’ve gotten really good at it.  But this new tier system from TubeMogul is going to help us a lot.

You said, in a recent interview I saw, that the big problem now is monetizing these videos.  TubeMogul helps by providing accurate statistics for videos to deliver to potential advertisers.  Does TubeMogul ever envision themselves having potential advertisers ask them where the hotspots are based on your analytics?  Has this already happened?

Brett: Yes, we do intend to utilize the cross-site data we are collecting to help advertisers discover content creators that can help them to reach their desired audience.  By the way, this is absolutely in line with our mission to help solve problems for content creators.  

We also realize that for many content creators the endgame may not be ad revenue…in some cases the name of the game is fame; and in other cases the video itself is the ad or serves a promotional capacity.

Me: He sorta dodged that last question (probably not on purpose and maybe he’ll leave a comment on this post if he sees it).  My guess is that if you want to advertise with video on the Web, TubeMogul is going to become a major source for accurate statistics to place those advertisements efficiently.  I’m excited to s
ee what the future holds both for TubeMogul and Viddler as we work together to help video producers earn a living from their hard work.

Well, always be sure to direct any advertising interest towards ok? ;)

Brett: I’ve got my Viddler shirt on now :)

Thanks for doing the interview and thanks to you and your team for building a great product in TubeMogul.

Brett: My pleasure and likewise. 

Me: My reasons for doing this interview with Brett are many-fold.  First, I wanted to show why Viddler’s partnership with TubeMogul was an easy decision. How innovative and proactive the TubeMogul is.  When we added support for TubeMogul to Viddler many people were happy about it (as they’d been asking for it for months beforehand).  However, there were some that were disappointed because of the influx of videos that were coming to Viddler, who were not part of the community on Viddler.  Uploading through TubeMogul is definitely not a warm, community-like experience.  It used to be that you were a Viddler member, you interacted with other Viddler members, and Viddler members were the people viewing, commenting, and favoriting your videos.  Now we’re seeing people that upload video to Viddler that never fill out their profiles.  This has caused a small amount of community displeasure, but it is a problem we’re going to work on solving – and with the TubeMogul team at the healm, I know that we’re both up for that challenge.

As a small suggestion to video content producers: Interact with the communities that you share your videos with.  It will go a long way towards building a large, interactive audience.

The other reason is that I’m still a firm believer in niches.  Brett touched on it with his example of How-Cast and how some videos “belong” on one service but might not fit on another.  I believe the future of online video is going to be in niches (it is already happening) and I think TubeMogul, and services like it, are going to be one of the ways this separating work occurs.  The question is how to we, Viddler, fit into that vision of the future and work with companies like TubeMogul to provide the best possible platform to host video regardless of the niche.  I think we know how and we’ll continue to execute on that vision of the future.

Thanks again to Brett and TubeMogul for all of their hard work.