AOL On. All bets are off for online video competitors

Ran Harnevo has the AOL On Network well-positioned to become a leader in internet video.

NEW YORK, October 12, 2012 — AOL On is the web’s largest curated library of premium video. Launched this year, it’s an impressive solution that meets consumer demand for multi-screen viewing and allows the company more opportunities to extend the reach of their brand. AOL is well positioned to create targeted advertising. 

Ran Harnevo is the Senior Vice President of Video and leads the AOL On Network, a curated video experience providing the most relevant content for every topic in 14 channels. In addition, Harnevo overseas the creation and production of high-quality original programming at AOL.

His background and perspective are why you want to read this interview. His video content firm 5min Media was acquired two years ago by AOL for $65 million. Ran provides incredible insight in to both internet video and the blueprint for entrepreneurial success. 

1. What did you learn from your experience with 5min Media?

A lot! That’s a big question…

Most importantly, I learned how important and different content and distribution strategies are, and that they needed to work in tandem. Prior to the Internet era, content was paramount - even more than it is today - but distribution of that content was far less complicated, usually even operated within the same company. Because of this, publishers had to approach content and distribution more evenly. 

Both are obviously still very crucial to long-term success, though creating content is now just one part of the overall equation. At 5min, we understood that every content provider needs to create a strong distribution strategy so that they could meet consumers where they are - on every website and every device. Because we embraced this right from the start, and realized that fragmentation couldn’t be ignored, 5min was able to build one of the strongest syndication platforms - allowing content creators to reach new audiences that they didn’t own, while allowing publishers to aggregate the best content creators out there and showcase them to their audiences. 

2. How can advertisers better utilize online video?

There’s still a lot of confusion about online video, and the onus is on the industry to better educate advertisers to help move things forward. Media buyers still don’t understand what inventory they should buy or at what price – the inventory is not well tiered, the definition of premium is vague, and advertisers still haven’t decide what’s more important: content or audience. In addition, I still see too many advertisers repurposing television spots for online video without taking advantage of the formats we offer. I also think buyers need to be better at making all of their campaigns cross-platform. Video is video, no matter what device it lives on, and buyers should be getting their ads on every screen with every buy.


3. What has you excited about the AOL On Network?

In the last few years, we have seen that tech companies are creating the next generation of MSOs. It’s basically a new set of pipes that are growing the overall ecosystem for video advertising, and at one point will disrupt TV as we know it. With this new ecosystem, the industry has the potential to create the next phase of television networks and that is what we’re doing at AOL On. How? Well, every television network needs great content and great programming at scale. The challenge is how you do it in this new, highly fragmented, environment. We’re implementing this and reinventing “television” and “online video” in the process.


4. What are your expectations for online video in the next 12 months?

I am excited and encouraged for what’s to come. In the last six months, I’ve had more meetings with TV buyers than I have in the last six years combined. And the conversations are a lot more meaningful. I’m seeing that TV buyers are starting to understand how online video is disrupting their industry in the same way that cable disrupted broadcast television years ago. With all of this, I expect to see a more significant shift of TV dollars to the web. To facilitate this process, publishers need to create a trusted environment so buyers can make more apples to apples comparisons, and buyers will need to take some risks to invest with us and continue to develop the ecosystem. Basically, this is our time to shine.


5. What is your favorite app right now?

I’m an early adopter, addicted to my phone, but the best app for me is the simplest one. I moved to the U.S. 4.5 years ago, and while I love this country, the measurement system still drives me nuts. So, my favorite apps are the converters that allow me to translate everything to the metric system so I can get a sense of what the weather will actually be like as well weight, distances and other forms of measurement. These apps are life-savers! J


Jeff Barrett is a recognized leader in public relations, experiential marketing and social media. Co-Founder of Status Creative, 2011 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and record holder for Most Strikeouts in Tee-Ball.  


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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 



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