Need to know how to tie a tie? How to solve a Rubik’s cube? How to kiss someone passionately?
If you do, or if you just want some pointers, you can find them online—not just in instruction manual form, but in full-screen video glory.
The how-to category of online video is quickly emerging as the new Web video gold rush, with three new how-to video sites launching so far this year. Howcast.com went live late last week, while former News Corp. executive Stephen Chao’s WonderHowTo.com announced its launch in late January. Earlier in January, MonkeySee.com launched as a how-to video site featuring videos from experts in various topic areas.
They compete against existing how-to and instructional video sites such as expertvillage.com and videojug.com, as well as the plethora of how-to videos on YouTube, Metacafe and other video sites. But there’s reason to believe consumers are craving such videos.
A “How to Kiss Passionately” video on YouTube has racked up more than 1.8 million views. Also, at least two videos on how to solve a Rubik’s cube have earned more than 1.8 million views on the video-sharing site, while a video on how to tie a tie has garnered more than 600,000 views.
More evidence of consumer appetite for information can be gleaned from search engines. That’s because 2.6% of all Internet search queries in the United States are of the how-to nature, said Bill Tancer, global head of research at online audience measurement firm Hitwise.
Of the top 10 how-to search queries, about 5% of Internet traffic from those queries goes to video sites, almost exclusively to YouTube, Mr. Tancer said. “There is definitely a market,” he said. “There is a desire to find information on the Internet, and the video portion is nascent.”
How-to search traffic is also rising year over year, Mr. Tancer said. “People are really starting to get specific with search engines.”
That’s why Howcast saw a market opportunity. The site launched last week with $8 million in venture funding from Tudor Investment Corp. The site includes videos on topics such as how to fake being sick, how to decorate your locker, how to hold a baby, how to donate plasma and how to build a home security system. Howcast also offers a directors program for emerging filmmakers to submit their how-to videos.
Howcast hopes to distribute its videos across new-media sites and services such as YouTube, Joost, MySpace, Verizon’s VCast, iTunes and others.
Jason Liebman, the company’s CEO, used to work at Google as part of the AdSense team. “What we saw was that instructional content performed well, but there’s not a lot of high-quality how-to video content on the Web,” he said.
Howcast is designed to bridge the gap between user-generated videos and more professionally produced videos.
Mr. Liebman declined to disclose how many videos the site included at launch. Howcast.com offers 25 top-level categories such as business, finance, crafts, hobbies and games. The site is ad-supported and launched with JetBlue as the sponsor for its travel category. Howcast also has a relationship with media agency Starcom.
As the site pursues advertisers, Howcast will look for targeted buys, such as finding a pet-centric brand to sponsor a how-to video on dog grooming.
WonderHowTo is taking a different tack. The site does not create or commission its own videos but rather “curates” how-to videos across the Web. That lets WonderHowTo offer a sort of editorial voice and do the dirty work by culling through the available content and presenting the best of, explained site founder Stephen Chao. The site, which currently includes links to more than 90,000 free instructional videos, is funded by General Catalyst Partners with ad sales powered by Scripps Networks, itself a large provider of how-to videos.
WonderHowTo is essentially a specialized video search engine that specifically trawls for how-to content, Mr. Chao said. “We want to find and index the best results in the how-to space,” he said.
WonderHowTo went live Jan. 4 and attracted more than 50,000 unique visitors in its first month. The site is relying on ad support.
So does Expertvillage.com, which was acquired by Internet video startup Demand Media last year. ExpertVillage currently offers more than 65,000 videos and is adding about 15,000 a month. To keep up with the Joneses, ExpertVillage plans to increase the rate of new videos added to about 50,000 a month. Most of those videos are shot by freelancers and the site pays about $20 per clip.
The site generates about 11 million page views per month and about 15 million video views, both on the site itself and via distribution elsewhere, such as YouTube.
This year Demand Media will focus on wringing more revenue from those videos through new ad formats such as overlays as well as display ads, said Bill Jeffries, VP of business development at Demand Media.
Top 10 How-to Related Internet Search Queries for the Four weeks Ending Jan. 26
1. How to tie a tie
2. How to …
3. How to have sex
4. How to get pregnant
5. How to write a resume
6. How to win the lottery
7. How to kiss
8. How to lose weight fast
9. How to lose weight
10. How to solve a Rubik’s Cube
Daisy Whitney's New Media Minute Tackles How-To Video