Category Archives: vquence

My first released WordPress plugin

A screenshot of the gallery that the external video plugin creates

I’m pretty proud of this, which is why I’m dedicating a short blog post to it: today, John and I released my first WordPress plugin as open source to the WordPress plugins site.

It’s got the boring name “External Videos” and builds a bridge between your WordPress instance and videos of channels on a video hosting site – currently supported are YouTube, Vimeo, and DotSub.

It does this by using a brand-new feature to be introduced in WordPress 3: custom post types.

Check out the screenshots on the plugins page to see more – I’m unfortunately not yet running this Website with WordPress 3, so am not yet using this plugin’s features.

In the admin interface of WordPress, you enter the video channels that you want to pull videos from. Then it goes and pulls the videos with their metadata from these sites and creates video posts for them. That pulling is done once a day to update with new posts. The videos can be looked at in the admin interface under a separate video post section. They can be linked to WordPress posts and pages where the video may be discussed in context.

The video posts can be exposed on the WordPress site through a gallery, which is created by a short code, that can be added to any WordPress page. The gallery of thumbnails clicks through to an overlay with each video and its metadata as well as a link to the related WordPress post.

You can also add a widget to the side bar of the WordPress site with links to the most recent videos.

There are many more features that I want to develop for this plugin. I’d of course like to move it to HTML5 video instead of Adobe Flash. But for now I am happy with it.

I’d like to say thank you to John Ferlito, who helped with some of the coding, to Jeff Waugh for suggesting that it would best be developed using the new post types feature, and to Senator Kate Lundy and Pia Waugh at her office, who funded a part of the development. I am hoping they will find it useful to give their awesome collection of videos better exposure.

NOTE: you can post your issues with this plugin now to the wordpress forum at

Google video: 2.5 years later, my predictions come true

When Google bought YouTube in October 2006, I wrote a blog entry about how Google video is a hosting site and that with the purchase of YouTube, Google has the opportunity to turn the Google brand back to video search.

Well, today, that prediction has come true and Google video has stopped hosting videos for users. So, things are now clear: YouTube is a video publishing site and Google video is a search engine.

Hold on: not so fast.

According to ComScore’s most U.S. search engine Rankings for August 2008, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Web, ahead of Yahoo. At Vquence, we explain to customers that many people now use YouTube search as their entry point into the Web. Video is their Web. And when it comes to video, it’s all about YouTube.

Because people search for videos on YouTube, most videos that get published will have a copy on YouTube. Thus, YouTube is the dominant place to find video – not Google video. Also, YouTube is turning more and more into a search engine like Google: just this week they published “featured search results“, making a YouTube search result page look almost identical to a Google search result page: there is some featured content on top of the actual search results and there are some paid-for ads on the right.

Since it has taken Google such a long time to move Google video from hosting service to search service, I wonder if it’s not too late for Google video already. It feels now just like an add-on to YouTube – a place you go when all other searches fail.

Yahoo video search was once the best video search around. Then came Truveo and blinkx and a whole bunch more. Now, nobody writes about them any more – everybody just goes to YouTube itself or to Google Universal Search to go and find a video.

It would be nice if Google video search stayed around – if only as a discovery tool for when Web video goes directly onto our TVs. But I doubt, Google will find a good way to monetize it. YouTube’s search will be monetized quicker and more effectively.

Website madness of marketing agencies

I have spent a lot of time recently researching Sydney-based agencies to invite to the upcoming Launch of our Vquence VQmetrics service. This involved finding their websites, finding out about their target business (do they do online video?), finding a relevant contact, and emailing an invitation to them.

I am close to institutional confinement!

I do understand that agencies need to show off their creativity on their Website. The result of this is that most agency Websites are completely written in Flash. Fortunately I have the latest version of Flash installed, so I can load them all. But my Web browser and MacBook do not deal well with having more than about 5 tabs open with Flash content – my machine almost grunts to a halt. So, there goes the idea of opening multiple tabs at the same time while waiting for the lengthy Flashs of the sites to load…

Then, once the pages are loaded, it is always a surprise to see what the agency has come up with. At the beginning of the exercise it was a surprise. Later it became a nuisance. Now, I am utterly terrified before opening another agency Website. Will it break my browser? Will it start playing a video? Will it start playing music so loud that it blasts off my ears? Will I feel really stupid because I cannot navigate the site? Will I be able to locate the “Contact Us” section? Will they have bothered to publish an email address or do I have to fill in a stupid contact form that I know nobody will look at? Will the contact email work or just bounce?

It almost feels like the creation of the Website is a competition between the agencies as to who can create the maddest, most unusual, and most unusable Website.

Please, please! Can I just have a simple, usable site with obvious navigation, a simple and fast loading list of reference work, and a list of key people working at the agency with their email contacts?

Oh, and Mumbrella has just published a post that gives me scientific proof that this is a conspiracy against me by the agencies! No, stop that – I am not ready to be locked up yet!

Top 10 commercials for 2008 on YouTube

I spent the last few days doing some nice research for Vquence, where I was able to watch lots of videos on YouTube. Fun job this is! 🙂 The full article is on the Vquence metrics blog.

One of the key things that I’ve put together is a list of top 10 commercials for 2008:

Rank Video Views Added
1 Pepsi – SoBe Lifewater Super Bowl 2008 3,652,217 February 02, 2008
2 Cadbury – Gorilla 3,338,011 August 31, 2007
3 Nike – Take it to the NEXT LEVEL 3,184,329 April 28, 2008
4 Macbook Air 2,648,717 January 15, 2008
5 Centraal Beheer Insurance – Gay Adam 2,512,425 May 30, 2008
6 Vodafone – Beatbox 2,380,237 March 17, 2008
7 E*Trade – Trading Baby 2,061,818 February 01, 2008
8 Guitar Hero – Heidi Klum 1,068,055 November 03, 2008
9 Bridgestone – Scream 980,406 January 30, 2008
10 Bud Light- Will Ferrell 966,177 February 04, 2008
Favorable mention OLPC – John Lennon 527,953 December 25, 2008
Favorable mention Blendtec – iPhone 3G 2,711,195 July 11, 2008
Favorable mention Stide Gum – Where the hell is Matt? 15,859,204 June 20, 2008

There are many more details over at

Enjoy! And let me know in the comments if you know of any other video ad released in 2008 in the same ballpark number of views that is an actual tv-style commercial.

NOTE: I just had to change the list, because the SoBe Lifewater Super Bowl ad of 2008 actually came out ahead. It’s difficult to discover an ad that has neither ad nor commercial in its annotations!

YouTube features overview

Over at the Vquence metrics blog, I have just posted a blog post for this week that summarises all the features a publisher and reader can use on YouTube.

I thought it would be a simple task, since I have been following all of YouTube’s blogs and have previously published videos on YouTube. As it turns out, YouTube’s features set is so massive, that there were some surprises in stock even for me. It took a week to collect all this information (admittedly not full time).

Go and check out the blog post and see if I have missed any!

“Venuturous Australia” at Pearcey awards event

Yesterday was a long and fascinating day of discussions about innovation in Australia.

At this year’s Pearcey Medal and NSW Pearcey State Award event, the focus was on the recently released innovation report from Terry Cutler with a focus on the effects on ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

If you only look at the summary report, you will miss the structure of the full report, which is why I have outlined it here:

  • Chapter 1 stalling not sprinting
  • Chapter 2 the national innovation system
  • Chapter 3 innovation in business
  • Chapter 4 the case for a public role in innovation
  • Chapter 5 strengthening people and skills
  • Chapter 6 building excellence in national research
  • Chapter 7 information and market design
  • Chapter 8 tax and innovation
  • Chapter 9 market facing programs
  • Chapter 10 innovation in government
  • Chapter 11 national priorities for innovation
  • Chapter 12 governance of the innovation system

I took home a few very interesting observations from reading the reports and from the discussions at the Pearcey event.

But before I can comment, I have to state which organisations I see as ICT innovators in Australia.

  • The government-funded ones are the Universities, NICTA and CSIRO (CRCs fall in the same general class).
  • The big drivers of transforming new research outcomes into business are start-ups and the SMEs.
  • Further innovation happens in large companies and multi-nationals with a stronger focus on incremental innovation rather than disruptive innovation.
  • In ICT, we need to add another big driver of innovation: open source software. I’ll explain this later in more depth.

The following observations on VenturousAustralia and what I took away from the Pearcey awards are on these topics:

  1. Support of fundamental R&D in ICT
  2. Commercialisation of ICT innovation
  3. Enabling SMEs to succeed
  4. Regard for the contribution of Open Source

TOPIC: ICT and innovation

At the Pearcey awards, we had long discussions about whether ICT was appropriately represented in the report and whether the recommendations are pushing ICT further into a supportive role while missing our opportunities to innovate and lead in core ICT.

It is generally accepted that ICT has a major effect on the productivity increase of almost all Australian industries. DCITA reports show that in service industries, between 35 and 65 per cent of productivity growth is estimated to have been driven by technological factors

Ogg Theora video, Dailymotion and OLPC

Today, three of the worlds that I am really engaged in and that tend to not have much in-common with each other seemed to come to a sudden overlap.

The three worlds I am talking about are:

  • Social video publishing (through my company Vquence)
  • One Laptop Per Child (I am really keen to see more OLPC work in the Pacific)
  • Open media software and technology (through Xiph and Annodex work, as well as FOMS)

I was positively surprised to read in this blog message that Dailymotion and the OLPC foundation have partnered to set up a video publishing channel for videos that can be viewed on the OLPC. The channel is available at You can view it on your computer if you have the appropriate codec libraries for Windows and the Mac installed. Your Linux computer should just support it.

To understand the full impact of this message, you have to understand that the XO (the OLPC laptop) does not support the playback of Flash video by default. OLPC cannot ship the official Adobe Flash plugin on the XOs because it is legally restricted and doesn’t meet the OLPC’s standards for open software. Thus, children that receive an XO are somewhat cut off from social video sites like YouTube, Dailymotion,,, and others, even though there are lots of education-relevant videos published there.

The XO however ships with video technology that IS open: namely the Ogg Theora/Vorbis video codec and software. This is incidentally also the codec that the next version of Firefox will be supporting out of the box without need of installation of a further plugin.

Unfortunately, most video content nowadays available on the Internet is not available in the Ogg Theora/Vorbis format. Therefore, Dailymotion and the OLPC Foundation launching this channel that is automatically republishing all the videos uploaded to the Dailymotion OLPC group is a really big thing: It’s a major social video site republishing video in an open format to enable it to be viewed on open systems.

Congratulations to Julian

Julian Frumar used to be our Visual Communications Manager at Vquence until last year, when he left for new grounds and created a startup with two friends in Palo Alto called Omnisio. They received Y-combinator funding and worked hard on creating this video-centric Web2.0 startup in a very short amount of time.

Today, Techcrunch announced that Omnisio were acquired by Google to extend the YouTube technology base for an estimated US$15M. Congratulations, Julian!

PS: Rodney Gedda wrote a good review on this over at Techworld.

W3C Video in the Web activity

The W3C has just released a set of proposed charters for a new W3C Video in the Web activity with a request for feedback.

The following working groups are proposed:

  1. Timed Text Working Group
  2. Media Fragments Working Group
  3. Media Annotations Working Group

Two further ones under investigation are:

  1. Codecs and containers
  2. Best practices for video and audio content

It is worth checking out the site and the three different working groups they are planning to create. Sure – the codec discussion is a big one. But it’s not as big as some of the other activities as to new functionality for video on the Web.

“Commercialising Video” conference in Sydney

On Tuesday 24th June I attended the “Commercialising Video” conference held in beautiful Jones Bay Wharf in Sydney’s harbour. AIMIA and Claudia Sagripanti from VentureOne organised it together.

It was a mixture of case studies and panels. The case studies were talks by successful digital media companies, including Sony, Bebo, Viocorp, Clear Light Digital and Fox Interactive Media (really: mySpaceTV). The panels constituted each a moderator and a small number of industry experts that briefly presented on their knowledge on a specific topic and then discussed this topic led by questions from the audience.

I thought the format was very successful and the conference covered a broad range of current topics of interest in digital media. Panel topics included:

  • mobile: challenges for getting video onto mobile and making a return on it
  • business models: how to make money from online video
  • sports video: what business models work with sports content
  • metrics: why we need to measure video and what and how
  • innovations: what innovative products are to be expected in the near future in video

I was one of the panellists on the metrics panel – my slides are here. The very last slide provides a very basic preview of the video metrics service that is in development at Vquence right now. Expect the final product to look much more professional, once I’ve included the awesome designs that we have just received from Chiz.

One thing that I took away from the conference is that the online video market is finally maturing and we are seeing business models that work. While they can roughly be classified into ad-supported, sponsored, and user-paid, there are many details that you have to take care of dependent on the service that you are providing. Ad-support can be inside the video e.g. in pre-roll, post-roll, mid-roll, overlay, or accompanying ads e.g. in dynamically loaded roll-outs, banners etc. Sponsorship is mostly used for non-profit sites. User-paid models are e.g. subscriptions, pay-per-view, pay-per-download. General video sites work not so well for ad-support as specialised sites. There is a lot of money for videos in specialised areas where your community is very keen to receive the latest video content fast, e.g. in sports.

In mobile in Australia, video business is still hard going, because the bandwidth costs are high, extra production cost is high, and because of challenges to get video into a usable form on such a small screen (e.g. soccer-ball is too small to be more than a pixel). This also means that the cost for consumers to get video is high, while the quality is still low. This obviously does not make for a very good market. The size of the iPhone screen, combined with the slow realisation by mobile phone providers that they have to drop prices for video transfers, may however totally change this situation.

Finally, I noticed that there was a large call for metrics. Measurement of the use of video and tracking the distribution of videos around the Internet, as well as measurement of advertising that relates to videos are all being requested to get more transparency into the business and mature the market. Initial services are available, in particular from existing Web Analytics and Internet Market Intelligence companies. However, the technology is new and we have a long way to go online and even more on mobile. This is a great opportunity for Vquence!

Thanks very much, Claudia, for organising this event and I hope there will be more to come in this space.