By Daniel Tedford
Friday, August 22, 2008 8:23 PM PDT - Kirk Kopic was recently named president of Vimation Inc., an interactive video media firm that has created a platform allowing users to use video to gain information not just through watching, but through navigation, shopping and other features.
Kopic comes from an extensive technology, video and Internet background that has allowed him to garner praise in the industry. He has been an executive or in leadership positions at DirecTV, CBS, the Walt Disney Company and Google. Recently, Kopic was part of a leadership team that took Google's first steps into offline media. Kopic spoke to the Daily Pilot about the future of media and video and how they intertwine with the Internet. For more information on Vimation, go to www.vimation.com.
When did you first realize Internet video was the future?
I've always been an early adopter of technology. I remember having a cell phone when the phone and battery probably weighed 20 pounds, but it was just something that made sense for me at a time in my career when I had my own company and was traveling a lot. When the Internet first crept onto the scene, with video not all that far behind, I just knew, when speed of delivery of video improved, it was going to be huge. The way my teenage daughter consumes media is totally different than the way my generation does, and she has no problem watching a movie on her computer, or some video on her cell.
You worked for Google, the leader in just about everything that is the Internet. What was that like? What do you take from there to bring to your new endeavors at Vimation?
Google really opened my eyes to looking into the future in a big way. There are a ton of really bright people who work at Google and they are always forward-thinking, and it starts at the top with Eric Schmidt, the [chief executive], who is a really strong advocate of free thinking, and that there's no such thing as a stupid idea - sort of a new age approach to brainstorming, and that's why Google for a long time will be at the forefront of where all of this technology can lead us. I certainly bring a better understanding of how this technology works, what it's capable of, and because of my work on Google's wide array of offerings, how it all works together.
I have a little bit of a twist on the second part of your question. Because Vimation's solution is so far ahead of any other solution when it comes to how users will consume video on the Internet moving forward, it's really, what will I be taking from Vimation to Google? So to speak. That's what really attracted me to Vimation, the fact that I could "go back" to Google with something that would make them raise their eyebrows.
What is interactive video?
Video on the Internet, in its early form, was pretty rudimentary - you clicked on it, watched it until you didn't watch any more, and you stopped. Vimation, and its founding partners, Peter Huh and David Hemingway, had the vision almost five years ago - when video was barely a blip on the Internet screen - that interactivity was the future, and voila, Vimation. They have built the VIM video platform to be back-end driven or dynamic, which creates a much better experience because the built-in intelligence of the platform allows the content to be more targeted and relevant to the specific individual.
If you're watching a video on a new Lincoln Mercury product, for example, maybe the user wants to know more about how the video was shot, or the seating configuration of the featured vehicle, or even the dealer nearest to them. They can pause the main video, act on these prompts and impulses, and resume the primary video when they want.
How will interactive video affect the market online and change the way media does video now?
Interactive video will create a more compelling environment because the consumer is now leaning forward and engaging with the content. In addition, advertisers and marketers now have the ability to use video as a direct sales tool instead of just a branding vehicle that is passive and linear - they can present their product that is tailor-made to individual consumer desires. A win-win scenario.
What is the future of "offline media" and what exactly does it entail?
I think the future of offline media is strong at the end of the day, especially in Southern California and other major markets where we sit in our cars for ever-increasing amounts of time. And when television came on the market in the late '40s, everyone thought it meant the demise of radio - obviously not true. Google two years ago began their venture into offline media, because they knew, at the end of the day, that traditional media strengthened search and display, Google's bread and butter.
The future may be in downloading - no DVDs, no CDs, but digital copies of everything. How does the rest of media transform to the trend?
It's really just another method of consuming, just like 8-tracks in your car were replaced by cassettes, and then CDs.
Why has movement to interactive been so slow?
I think, like most new technologies, everyone's trying to get their arms around using it in a way that can be helpful to their objectives and it's a brave new world, but forward-thinking marketers are beginning to figure it out - especially with Vimation's help.
Will interactive video and downloading make sites such as YouTube almost outdated?
My best guess, knowing Google, is that products, like virtually every Google product, will continue to evolve and improve, so I don't see any time in the foreseeable future where a YouTube will be gone, just different than we know it today, and better, knowing Google. The key point here, though, is the distinction between user-generated video (as seen on YouTube) and professional-generated video that you see on corporate and brand-specific websites. Professional-generated video offers enhanced story-telling capabilities that better meet marketers' objectives and provides a much better video experience for the consumer.
There's a place for both user and professional-generated video, but as more professional generated video becomes available, consumers will gravitate toward that because it will better meet their expectations when they're online.