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Soapbox Video : MSNTube

Soapbox Video : MSNTube

MSN is making its bid to get in on the YouTube phenomenon with its new “Soapbox Video.” The product launches in an “invitation only beta” today. Here’s the WSJ’s (sub required) coverage.

From the Microsoft press release:

Soapbox on MSN Video utilizes powerful Web 2.0 technologies to provide a dynamic, fun and entertaining experience and offers these benefits:

  • Easy uploading and sharing of video creations. By providing single-step uploading, background server-side video processing and acceptance of all major digital video formats, Soapbox makes uploading videos a snap.
  • Finding and discovering the most entertaining videos. Viewers can search, browse through 15 categories, find related videos, subscribe to RSS feeds, and share their favorites with their friends — all without interrupting whatever video they are watching.
  • Participation in the Soapbox community. Soapbox users can rate, comment on and tag the videos they view, share links with their friends via e-mail, and include the embeddable Soapbox player directly on their Web site or blog.

MSN already has a solid audience for video. According to May, 2006 data from Hitwise the top five video sites are:

  • YouTube: 42.94%
  • MySpace Video: 24.22%
  • Yahoo! Video Search: 9.58%
  • MSN Video Search: 9.21%
  • Google Video: 6.48%

Whether it gains traction as a sharing/user-generated content site will be dependent on how user-friendly its tools are and how much content the site attracts. Part of the reason that YouTube is so popular is that it’s perceived to be the place where you can find anything you may be looking for in video. That has generally proven to be true in my anecdotal experience and usage of the site.

If Microsoft is successful building a meaningful audience for its new video offering it will be able to serve pre-roll, PPC and display ads against the streams. This could become valuable new inventory for adCenter.

But why isn’t it being branded “Windows Live?

Related: Here’s a ton of launch-related coverage, including a critical review from CNET. And here’s the definition of “soapbox” from the Oxford English Dictionary: “a. A box for holding soap; orig. and still occas., a small receptacle for a ball or bar of soap; later esp. a wooden case in which soap is or may be packed, traditionally used as a makeshift stand for a speaker; hence used fig. and allusively.”

Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.

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Soapbox Video : MSNTube

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