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PCMag’s Editor-in-Chief on the Modern Tech Reporter

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 11:00 PM

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, CNET had an impressive set that broadcast live much of the time. CNET journalists took turns mounting the round, white lacquered stage to relax on the plush red couch and chat about digital trends and gadgets. 

CNET's serious investment in live video made me wonder how other tech outlets (especially those without a major broadcast parent company like CBS) are using new media to cover this saturated beat.

PCMag.com's editor-in-chief, Dan Costa, kindly joined me for a live video discussion (how meta) to discuss his vision for his newsroom and how video fits into his strategy.

PCMag.com's video strategy is based on licensing. Video reviews of products, about a minute in length, are licensed and never uploaded to YouTube. Those earnings then pay for further investment in video production.

"We are more focused than we used to be. The formula that's working well for us is creating 'longer tail content,' stuff that's going to last a month, 3 months, maybe even a year and still have some utility for the viewer," says Costa.

While 20-30,000 views on YouTube is great, he says, those views don't generate enough advertising revenue to support his newsroom. But Costa says he still wants a solid YouTube presence. Why? Because the site is the second most popular search window and drives traffic back to PCMag.com.

A new series within PCMag's YouTube channel is called This is A Test. Journalists upload raw video of their testing process. Here’s a clip of a home surveillance "puppy cam," for example…

The 60-Second Expert

Costa says he is encouraging his reporters to create more video that illustrates how PCMag reporters work.

"We have to get used to being what one journalists here called The 60 Second Expert: quickly understanding a story, processing the facts, and then being able to get up and speak to it. That’s a broadcast journalist skill that most writers, certainly I have, need to work on over time. It's part of being a writer now," he says.

The aim is to shoot videos that enhance reviews but don’t rehash them. Costa doesn't think his audience makes its purchasing decisions based on quick 30-60 second videos. But if the video demonstrates a gadget's feature and then drives the viewer to read a review, it's a win for the site.

Get Inside The Lab

Costa says he's most looking forward to creating video with his team that doesn't need to make money. Expect to see more casual, on-the-fly videos that show off PCMag's testing process, he says.

"I've got a lab right outside my door with a couple thousand of technology products. I want to make people feel like they are inside that lab."

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