Warwick casts about for new audience

January 26, 2007

YouTube, the website that first came to public notice for hosting video clips of "happy slapping" incidents, is now carrying adverts for Warwick University featuring academics talking about their research.

Warwick targeted YouTube and several other sites, such as Google Video, metacafe and Blip TV, as part of a £250,000 public engagement project called Warwick I-Cast.

It is already paying dividends by bringing new people to the university's website and drawing attention to the work its academics do.

Podcasts such as "How to custom-build a diamond (and why you might want to)" have had thousands of hits, while others have drawn smaller audiences, such as "University of Warwick bowling conga line".

Tom Abbott, who manages the project, said individual film statistics depended on whether a video service chose to profile the film.

The diamond video, for instance, had been viewed nearly 5,000 times as it was picked up by Google Video and given a promotional slot.

He said: "It's not about student recruitment or advertising services. It's about putting up short videos about the work that researchers are involved in, the way the university engages with people and how it has a positive impact on business and communities locally, nationally and internationally."

To date, Warwick has broadcast about 30 videos on YouTube.

Mr Abbott said: "We're still learning about how some of these channels operate and how to produce content for them."

It is impossible to tell what will appeal, he said. "Sometimes science-based research is popular - but not always.

"And 2,000 people have downloaded a video about Maureen Freely on her work translating Orhan Pamuk (the Nobel literature laureate)."

The university also has its own podcast programme, with more than 50 audio broadcasts about a range of research topics available to download. This gets about 15,000 hits each month.

Mr Abbott said: "Warwick I-Cast raises awareness of projects in the university as well as outside it. People get a sense of the breadth of activity going on, and academics get a chance to talk about their work and reach new people with it."

Details: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yzQcvP5K6k

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