Greenspan and his team view Revver as the perfect platform for their operation because, in addition to earning a constant trickle of income from revenue sharing, they don’t have to pay for Web hosting. Another bonus is a boosted image. “We really wanted to avoid being ‘YouTube guys,’” Greenspan says, because Panda Smash’s employees see the website as synonymous with amateurish and low-quality content. As professionals, their primary purpose is to attract leads to other gigs in the film and entertainment industries.
The move to Revver seems to have paid off. The latest Panda Smash video, a parody of a first date that lampoons the styles of various online video sites, received well over half a million views in the first week. Using Revver, fans embedded Panda Smash’s video into their own Web pages, so the company earned a tidy profit. For Greenspan, this “proved that Revver will work,” in spite of some of the company’s other short films being rejected by the website for being too risqué.
Business professionals, on the other hand, are more pessimistic about the long-term possibilities of revenue sharing. They cite obstacles including low profits, poor quality-control standards, and technological challenges. Advertisers may be reluctant to place their ad online if it might appear alongside a video of a guy lighting his farts on fire. Additionally, there is currently no viable way to quickly and accurately identify the source of duplicate or copyrighted videos. Consequently, advertising rates for this new entertainment medium lag behind those for television and radio.
Companies such as Revver are fighting these problems with people power: they’re having an employee view each submitted video before it’s put online. This is a costly and time-intensive process that YouTube and other non-revenue-sharing video sites prefer to skip, but some see it as essential to keeping advertising rates and video quality as high as possible.
Revver’s Gyetvan defends the seemingly antiquated practice of individual content review. “We will never rely on a fully automated process … partially because the automation isn’t 100 percent, and I’m not convinced it ever would be,” she says. Despite the slow speed, personalized approval allows Revver to better connect content with the right kind of advertisers in order to earn the highest payout. “We actually really like some of the benefits of having human review applied to content,” Gyetvan says.
Gyetvan feels that the marketplace for online video will shortly experience an evolution, leading to standards in advertising and compensation programs. “The audience is arriving now, so it’s just a matter of time before it feels like a mature and well-populated market. We’re pretty assured of that fact at this point.”