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News and Events
December 04, 2008
The CozmoTV Content Syndication Network
Cozmo has gone into a bit of stealth mode over the last 6 months as we have been working on a slight shift in our model. We’re wrapping up early stage technical implementation and we’ll be launching with a few key partners in early January. Until then we’re going to stay pretty quiet about or efforts outside of this blog.
I’ll be detailing some of the new functionality now and with a few more posts over the coming weeks. In early January I’ll begin tying it all together with an in depth discussion of the new model and how early efforts are scaling. The most obvious change you will see at CozmoTV is a singular focus on providing scalable targeted syndication services for video content. We’ve played around with a few models related to edge syndication in an effort to monetize and explore different potential market angels, but none have shown as much promise in early tests as targeted widget-based video syndication.
We’ve recently posted three new overview pages at http://cozmo.tv for website publishers, content
producers, and advertisers who form the backbone of our ecosystem. Just go to the site and click on the
tabs. Within each of these pages are
very simple Sliderocket presentations that cover how Cozmo works.
More to come…
April 18, 2008
YouTube API Build Released
We’ve gone ahead and deployed the change to our production server that should resolve the issues with all YouTube channels. There are some slight performance issues, some of which are related to the redeployment in the middle of the day and some of which are related to the way in which YouTube fetches the videos. For example, we can no longer pre-load YouTube videos during the 8 second interstitial so you will frequently see the YouTube loading icon in the middle of the screen.
We will continue to work with the API to reveal additional functionality and improve performance over time. To those of you impacted by the service outage our apologies for the down time.
Widget Skin Upgrades
I overheard someone at the AdTech conference say that success in this market is defined by companies that learn to fail fast and often. This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the truth is that finding the right strategy often involves multiple failures. The faster you can learn from those errors, the faster you can perfect your model.
I think this is one of the most remarkable things about web software development today. I cut my teeth in enterprise software development during the 90s and most of the projects we developed took over tens or hundreds of man months and millions of dollars of investment. It was kind of a miserable way to innovate. Anyway…
We recently released an upgrade to our platform that included the release of various types of skins for our players. I think these skins were a dramatic improvement over the look and feel of our traditional players. 45 days in, I think we have begun to see some of the branding and monetization opportunities and as such we are going to be making some modifications to how skins are formatted and how skins can be modified by users.
These adjustments will begin to appear over the next two weeks as we roll out the additional upgrades, but you can be sure that they are a substantial improvement over the old skins. And in the process I believe that we have unlocked an entirely new mechanism for syndicating content and advertising packages in a way that can generate revenue in any site. Stay tuned…
April 17, 2008
YouTube Updates Continue
We’ve been working hard to upgrade to the YouTube API and have almost completed the process. There are a variety of factors that have made the integration a little harder than we would have hoped, but most of those issues are behind us at this point.
Unfortunately, this whole transition has resulted in a majority of YouTube driven channels to go completely dark across our network. We anticipate having these channels come back once we complete the YouTube integration which is scheduled for tomorrow night. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we hope that this weekend will represent the end of issues surrounding YouTube video playback within our widget.
April 11, 2008
YouTube API Adjustments
As some of you know, YouTube recently announced some upgrades to their platform which includes the release of an API for the inclusion of skinless players in apps like CozmoTV. We have been using a hack to play raw FLV files in the Cozmo widget for some time, but recent changes in YouTube policies have made this more trouble than it is worth. On several occasions we have had spotty performance on YouTube powered channels as new rules went into effect and you should currently notice that many channels tend to skip through videos rather randomly.
We are in the process of upgrading the CozmoTV widget to accommodate the YouTube API and we’ll be releasing the upgrade by early next week. This will resolve all remaining YouTube channel stability issues. Until then, please bear with us as we make the change.
March 30, 2008
Widget Upgrades in Preparation for Advertising
We have been working hard to prepare the CozmoTV widget for advertising that should begin running across some channels as early as May 1st. You have probably noticed the alteration in the controls across the bottom of the player area. We have made this change to accommodate overlay advertisements that will appear at the top of these controls either at timed intervals or when you roll your mouse over the player area. We also plan on running similar overlays across the bottom of the player during the 8 second interval between videos in a channel.
We are currently testing different ad units from Adap.TV, ScanScout, VideoEgg, Tremor and others for compatibility with our platform. There are a variety of issues with each and we are working to resolve these issues such that we can carry advertising from multiple platforms in a way that ensures a smooth experience for users. We are specifically trying to avoid the use of pre-roll and post-roll ad units as we think that they do not respect the attention of our audience. We respect this attention and are basing our model on delivering relevant ads that encourage user interaction as opposed to ads that interrupt.
We are testing a variety of formats for these interactive ads, but generally this interaction will be initiated by users clicking on a banner to launch a video clip, an external website, or even an application within the skin of the widget. We are refining the forms of interaction that will occur within our player to give advertisers maximum flexibility in terms of how they can interact with this audience. As we start running these ads, we’re going to rely upon our audience to tell us and our advertising partners how to improve this experience so as to provide each with maximum benefit.
As we begin testing some of these ad units we will demonstrate some samples through this and other partner sites. We look forward to your feedback.
February 24, 2008
Servers Being Moved
We are in the process of moving our servers over to Boston Colocation as part of Server City's transition. Unfortunately, this means that our service will be unavailable for as long as 24 hours. We apologize for the inconcenience.
February 12, 2008
We have made a few changes
to the widget in preparation for our advertising partners that should be going
live by March. These changes also
improve some of the functions of the player and make several features more
First, we have made a basic change in how we display channel and video information in the player. The transparency on the old screen made reading the descriptions difficult. We now pause the video while you view this information on a black background.
Add to Widget/Channel
We have removed the subtract channel button and consolidated all functions into one button. By clicking the ‘+’ sign you are now taken to a menu that allows you to add or subtract a channel from a widget or create a new widget. By consolidating these functions we can remove some clutter from the guide pages and make these buttons bigger. These changes have also been applied to the creation of a channel.
Save as Favorite
We have moved the favorite button to the bottom of the player and we are now storing the state of the player at the time the favorite is selected. So when you save either a channel or a video as favorite you are saving the channel as it appears in a widget or the video as it appears in a channel.
We have also moved these buttons down to the bottom of the player and we are storing the state of this recommendation. When another person receives this recommendation they will see it load up in the same player and the same channel where you originally sent the e-mail.
Most importantly, we have added 2 separate types of advertising units. The overlay is a simple advertisement that appears over the bottom quarter of whichever video is playing. These overlays can be clicked on to redirect you to a different site or can expand to cover the player area. These ad units can be served by any third party ad network. Expect to start seeing ads appear in select channels over the next month.
We have inserted an 8 second break between each video clip. We have done this so that the underlying video can begin downloading which minimizes buffer on slower connections and so that we can identify the next video that will be playing. You will see this video identified using the same data as the Information screen described above. At the bottom of this screen is an interactive advertising unit that can scale to fill the entire skin area if a user decides to click on it. Within this advertisement we can play a long form video or promote a specific product. When the user is done interacting with this ad, they can minimize it and continue watching the channel. We think this unit strikes an appropriate balance between user control and advertiser value. These will roll out along with the overlays in select channels over the next month.
We will continue to evolve the player over time, but this represents a major revision and again, we would love the [email protected].
January 31, 2008
Analytics/Telemetry Provider DomoDomain Selected
We are pleased to announce that we have selected DomoDomain as our exclusive provider for widget analytics. We have been working with Domodomain for several weeks to come to terms and we are currently beginning integration with their API.
DomoDomain will enable Cozmo to provide a self service interface to affiliates, content owners and advertisers that would like to see how their widgets, channel or ads are performing real-time in syndication. DomoDomain has a superb product that is going to dramatically improve the visibility our partners have into how their assets are performing in our network. We’re delighted to get this partnership underway and our partners and users should expect to start seeing results from this relationship as early as March.
We’ll post more about this relationship shortly.
January 29, 2008
Admin Improvements and Widget Customization
You may have noticed over the last couple of days that we have begun adding new features to the Widget Manager page. These changes will be finalized by the beginning of next week and include the following changes:
We are resolving a number of bugs in the interface that prevented the easy management of channel lineups in a widget. The last of these major bugs should be eliminated when we deploy the final version next week.
We are changing the flow of both the widget manager and channel manager to make the process of creating both more manageable. When you create a new channel or widget you will only see each step appear in order. All steps will still appear if you are editing a channel or widget.
We are adding preview buttons to allow you to more easily preview channels and widgets. The widget preview will also be moving to the bottom of the page so that a full size sample can be shown complete with any selected skins.
We are adding widget descriptions, categories and tags which will allow others to find your widget at a later date. We will ultimately use this information to create an index of all available widgets so that others can find pre-built widgets they like and grab these widgets for embedding in their own sites.
We are adding a new section to the widget creation process that allows you to change sizing, intro sequence, skins, background and font colors, language, and other options. You are able to see these changes as you make them in a live preview of your widget. We will be adding many more options to this customization step over the coming weeks, most of which will involve adding new branded skins, new skin formats, and new languages.
We are going to update the Featured Channel list and continue to update this listing more frequently with fresh channels.
That’s about it. We are about to start working on some minor evolutions to the player as soon as we have finished rolling out the changes to the cozmo.tv site. If you have any issues, bugs, potential features that you would like to see, just send them to [email protected].