I have no beef with Ominsio. The company engages video viewers by allowing them to add text bubbles to videos and easily create compilations of existing clips. Ominsio turns up the social-interaction elements of video-sharing, especially for those who prefer not to fire up their webcams and contribute their own video content.
My fear here is that adding Ominsio's tools in YouTube is like dropping a pound of sugar sticks in a preschool playground.
"As you probably guessed, we're big fans of anything that lets people interact with online video and gives the YouTube community the chance to express themselves in creative ways," the YouTube team wrote, announcing the Ominsio purchase on the site's official blog yesterday.
Ominsio certainly fits the bill there, but empowering viewers -- in some cases, millions of viewers -- can be a pretty scary thought.
I checked out a few of the Ominsio videos yesterday, and some of the clips with the greatest number of embedded comments are practically unwatchable. The comments rarely enhanced the actual clip, unlike the Video Annotations feature that YouTube rolled out this summer, which lets video creators add clickable text to one of their existing clips. In contrast, Ominsio's overlaid comments can number in the dozens. Can you imagine what the sophomoric community on YouTube could do with this sort of video graffiti?
Ominsio's clip-compiling features pose another problem: What if the original content creators are unhappy with how their content is being manipulated? Even if YouTube gives video creators the option to opt out of viewer "enhancements," and makes the community opt in to see the Ominsio text bubbles, I still see trouble ahead.
Sure, YouTube needs to increase its interactivity. Shashi Seth was brought in to head up efforts to monetize the site last year, but after struggling with that tricky task, he bolted last month. Every single major portal -- Google, Yahoo!
Google spent $1.65 billion on YouTube, and the site has only grown in popularity since. If making an already sticky site even stickier by engaging the community helps YouTube make money, I'm all for it. That said, when it comes to stickiness, there's a fine line between flypaper and quicksand.
Further sticky Foolishness:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a "clip culture" fashion victim. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.
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