Slate V – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Aspects of Slate’s Video Site

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Slate (magazine)
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This week in my Web Strategies for Storytelling class, we are looking at how print-focused websites are implementing video.  A couple years ago, my favorite online magazine – Slate.com – launched Slate V, a video focused piece of their website.  I was initially very excited about the site, but honestly haven’t paid much attention to it lately, which may or may not say something abut the site.

Slate.com consists primarily of political commentary, with a few lifestyle articles mixed in.  What I like most about their magazine is the smart, non-mainstream commentary they use in their writing.  This same commentary is also applied to their videos.  While some videos are serious clips, most of them are humorous.  For example, this video pokes fun at the failing print media business:

The videos all have an amateur feel to them, which I think is a plus.  The user interface of the site is also pleasant.  It is easy to click through videos and fairly easy to share video (although the code is fairly hefty).  The videos are embedded using Brightcove, probably so they can put ads at the beginning of the videos.  I find this fairly annoying and actually am deterred a bit from using the site.  Even worse, while an ad is playing at the beginning, I am unable to click through other videos.  An ad for Red Robin blocks the other videos.

Slate V might want to reconsider how it displays ads.  I don’t mind sitting through a short ad if I’m watching a TV show, but I don’t want to when I’m watching a 2 minutes video clip.  What is even worse is the blocking of other videos.  This really detracts from the site.

So to break Slate’s video site down:

The Good

  • Funny, clever content
  • Short videos that keep my attention
  • Amateur style
  • Easy to redistribute

The Bad

  • Ads at the beginning of the videos
  • Use of Brightcove instead of something more standard like YouTube to embed (note: Slate V has a YouTube channel with these videos as well, but they don’t experience very high traffic.  They would receive much more traffic if they used YouTube.)

The Ugly

  • Ads blocking other videos while an ad is playing over the video.  I think this is a pretty big deal and really needs to be changed.

In the end, I’m still a big Slate V fan due to the high quality of content.  If they fixed their overwhelming ads and changed their primary video distribution model to a YouTube based one, I think their site would move from a B+ to an A.

To conclude, here is another great Slate V video poking fun at Twitter (This time embedded through their YouTube channel rather than their native Brightcove).

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