In 2007, as the video marketplace began to expand with the entry of TV episodes, mashups and shows made specifically for web audiences (aka low attention span theater), it became evident a segment was evolving that was nestled between time-shifted episodes of “Desperate Housewives” and YouTube’s “swinging a cat in the backyard” fare. In a rare moment of inspiration, I dubbed it “the Protail.” For a short while, it even garnered yours truly a Wikipedia mention. A vast majority of Protail content deals with consumer passions such as health and fitness, travel, cooking and how-to videos but has expanded to include short comedies and even reality programming.
A year later, according to video hosting communities, the Protail is hot and a represents 30 percent of all video content on the Web. In a recently published report, “Protail Videos; Future Growth Tied to Harmonizing Distribution and Monetization,” Gartner predicts that advertising revenue on protail content will reach in excess of $1.5 billion by 2012, offering advertisers in search of targeted, noncopyrighted video inventory a major placement opportunity. As the title suggests, the report maintains that the amount of Protail content on the Web lags behind the business opportunity due to a complex distribution hierarchy and a lack of sufficient Protail hubs where advertisers can monetize this target-friendly content.
The Writer’s Strike was one factor that sped up the growth of Protail as out-of-work writers and actors got together (when not walking the picket line) and imagined a future in which they controlled the creative, distribution and even the revenue parts of the media value chain. An example of such output can be found in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog,” a hilarious 43-minute comedy-musical, written by TV writer/director Joss Whedon, starring Doogie Howser (aka Neil Patrick Harris). The show was produced for a fraction of the cost of a traditional hour-long network show (which runs about 43 minutes less commercials).
Beyond “Dr. Horrible,” if you are looking for a finer point on the Protail, check out Howcast (www.howcast.com), which features a vast variety of “how-to” videos (How To Make a Homemade Lie Detector) and Austin-based On Networks (check out my favorite, “Stump the Chef”)