#PortadaLat Q&A: Mark Larkin – CNET “Nothing like video entertains, informs and engages, all at once”

mark larkinPortada interviewed Mark Larkin, SVP and General Manager of CNET at CBS Interactive, as part of the #PortadaLat interview series.

Below, Mark Larkin discusses his vision on online video, how they create and use video at CNET, his own history regarding video and CNET TV, as well as his opinion about where will be video ten years from now:

Portada: What is your experience in your long career in online video?

Mark Larkin: I have always been a champion of video. People love to read, but they also love to watch. Here at CNET and CNET en Español, we create video because there is enormous appetite for content that entertains, informs and engages all at once – and nothing does all three like video. Back when broadband was just coming into focus, I launched CNET TV,which gave rise to all of the video you see on CNET and CNET en Español today. In fact,I led the team that made sure CNET was one of the first online publishers to embrace video on the web. In my 18-year career with the company, I’ve directed other video-centric brands within our portfolio, including CBS MoneyWatch and CBSNews.com, where I launched a slate of successful web shows including @KatieCouric, 60 MINUTES OVERTIME and WASHINGTON UPLUGGED. Today, CNET and CNET en Español have more than 500,000 pieces of premium-content video in our combined archives. And every year, we rapidly expand our palette of programming.

Portada: How is online video in text content integrated if at all at CNET?

Mark Larkin: Video is at the heart of everything we do here at CNET. It’s where we started and it’s where we’re headed. We have a robust in-house video production team that produces tens of thousands of pieces of video content every year – and that content sits alongside the written content we produce. Together, CNET and CNET en Español offer live video coverage of news events, such as press conferences at which the latest and greatest consumer products are revealed. Our reviews of newly released products are accompanied by videos explaining the pros and cons of each device to our audience. We offer a full slate of ‘How To’ videos, in which our editors show consumers how to make the most of their products. And we have a number of recurring series in English and in Spanish that help viewers keep abreast of the rapidly occurring changes in consumer tech. What’s more, all of our videos are available across all platforms, whether desktop and mobile (Android, iOS, Windows 8) or on “Smart TVs” or distributed through our partners like YouTube, Roku, Xbox and more.


Portada: Where will video be 10 years from now?

Mark Larkin: I envision we will see more video content than ever as screens proliferate across platforms that we may never have initially imagined. Any platform that can stream video will have video on it – and we’ll be there. With advancements in wireless technology speeds, and with new ways for consumers to access content, we expect to reach consumers not just in the home or office, but in unexpected places like cars (where video has already made considerable inroads), through wearable technologies, and on devices that one might not normally expect to encounter a screen (such as refrigerators with built-in streaming technologies) and more. What it really boils down to is this: More ways for us – and our marketing partners – to reach consumers at nearly all points along the marketing funnel to help them make smart purchasing decisions.

Portada:  How do you integrate video with your social media platforms?

Mark Larkin: Video is critically important to our success on all social media platforms. We highlight individual pieces of content regularly across our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest accounts. Video is critically important to our social strategy – and video is also critically important to the success of Facebook, Twitter and all of the social platforms. Which is why you see them consistently modify their algorithms to prioritize premium content/video higher within their users’ news feeds and streams.


Portada: What is the most striking feature for you at CNET en español?

Mark Larkin: The fact that we’ve grown so quickly in such a short amount of time. We knew there was a market to deliver premium content – and, specifically, premium video – to Spanish speakers here in the United States. Seven months after the launch, we’ve seen page views and engagement increase with ad inventory remaining scarce. We are thrilled with the response but we continue to learn along the way and we invite our readers to give us continuing feedback about the content they see – and want to see – across all of our platforms.

Mark joined CNET in 1996 and over the course of his career with the company has directed other brands within the CBS Interactive portfolio, including CBS MoneyWatch, BNET and CBSNews.com, where he served as vice president and general manager and tripled traffic during his tenure. During that time, Mark and his team launched a slate of successful web shows including @KatieCouric, 60 MINUTES OVERTIME, WASHINGTON UPLUGGED and successful blogs like Crimesider and Political Hotsheet.

Our discussion with Mark Larkin joins those with LatAm Summit speakers Annika Blockstrand and  Caio del Manto, both of Mondelez, Fernando Calderón of OCCMundial and  César Salazar of 500 Startups.