Update 7th December 23:30 CET
I have compiled a list of the reasons I believe people should be interested in uQast (and what attracted me in the first place)
It also mentions my uQast Bonus
Just over a month ago I watched a preview presentation of a new “software as a service” application called uQast. Whilst watching the presentation I had a browser open and did a little digging around, found the development site and started poking to see what it offered.
I then dropped a friendly email to the developers who I already had extensive contact with from their current & previous ventures with some feedback. I could see a lot of promise with the site, as I had with its predecessor.
Hints were made bilaterally that some more formal feedback could be provided in some capacity, though I really wanted to avoid a drawn out negotiation period, and I could see a rough diamond that I could help polish. Just polish… not cut & shape as most of the real work in creating a massively scaleable digital delivery platform was already done.
At the time I was in the process of puting together my own tightly integrated membership site here on andybeard.eu and to play a proactive role I was going to have to at least postpone those plans for a lengthy period of time.
There was also a ton of products I wanted to promote as an affiliate, articles & commentary that really needed to be written, including formally writing about my weird Pinocchio SEO stuff in public with over 2 years of research.
Somehow things worked out and I have been busy for the last month.
What Makes uQast Different To What I Planned?
For 5 years I have had a bee in my bonnet about creating a platform that in some specific way enables both publishers to publish content and affiliates to promote it with some unique technology or “special sauce” sticking it all together and allowing me to leverage my skills & experience.
uQast isn’t it
I say that in a good way – in many ways my entrepreneurial yearning to create a specific platform, and all the preconceived feature requirements that I had built up over a period of 5 years was a double edged sword – both allowing me to come up with solutions to complex problems almost at the drop of a hat, and at the same time instilling an urge to make uQast a surrogate of what I wanted to create rather than the established mission.
So the largest barrier to overcome in my own mind and in negotiations was that uQast is something different despite whatever significant synergies exist.
uQast Is What Exactly?
uQast’s mission is to be the world leader at collecting, ordering and monetizing valuable digital media content.
You could call that the short form elevator pitch I would probably have to worry about remembering if I was talking to important people.
Digital media content is anything that can be downloaded or streamed. Video, Audio podcasts, eBooks & white papers in PDF or doc format, even software in a zip file is possible.
In theory the platform could be used for hard goods, services etc though there might be issues with delivery validation for the credit card processors that have to be carefully thought about.
There is no advertising on the site – the majority of the business model depends on users actually selling products they create.
As well as being able to use promotional content on the site itself, it is envisioned to be able to embed the content on “any website in the world” and have actions & transactions take place “in situ”.
I say “envisioned” – the player has a lot of great unique functionality but it is currently most suitable for videos, but doubles as audio.
Transactions include actually buying product, signing up to a real email list right in the video player, giving a “tip” for a free video and various sharing and embed options.
Having the content playing on “any” website is going to take a little time. A lot of time over the last few weeks has been spent on embed code improvements, and it is early days yet. The long term goal is to get the videos embeddable on Facebook & Twitter via Oembed, and even viewable in Google Reader, Buzz etc.
There are special requirements to be met and obstacles to overcome – one example is player size – whilst the 640×360 widescreen player can be resized, some of the intenal windows for shopping can’t.
There is also some special functionality I want to add that will help take things one step further and make uQast the defacto platform for video SEO, though discussions are fairly early days.
The video player is highly customizable and it is something anyone can do.
One of the big features that is hard to equate is the tip jar – I don’t know how this micropayment system for free content is going to work. Ooyala has had micropayments for a while, and recently introduced Paypal Micropayments platform.
The uQast micropayment system is their own… there are some hurdles to overcome but it is functional.
Oh, and Ooyala is extremely expensive compared to any planned uQast offering I know about.
This Is A Long Tail Play… For The Little Guys
The long tail is a big deal
In any market, there are a few big players who seem to get all the attention.
But their importance, influence and ability to positively affect consumers are dwarfed by the combined effect of all the small players.
- Brad Fallon uQast Founder
It is also about quality content and a ranking system within search results based upon quality reviews from consumers, that is resistant to gaming.
There are, and will continue to be added lots of advanced features with an emphasis on making them surprising easy to use.
One area I have spent a fair amount of time testing has been the upsell system.
You define a number of offsite pages which will contain your various upsell and downpage offers, and uQast provides you with the “Buy Now” and “No Thanks” buttons to place on each page.
But being able to set up an upsell chain is one thing – being able to effectively measure it is quite another.
With uQast we are most of the way there as the shopping cart is maintaining the session all the way through, and thus we can achieve quite an effective sales funnel in Google Analytics.
Andy Beard Subverted & My Most Biased Review Ever
For the last month or so my “computer home” as in what has been showing predominently on the screen of various PCs has been uQast, the Jira Bug Project & Issue Tracker being used, and various test domains – also a fair chunk of very specific research.
So I have been ripping the site apart trying to make things break all that time, though not to the same intimate level of detail as the programmers working on the project.
I could just publish a list of every outstanding bug or missing feature I know about – if you have ever spent some time delving through the WordPress trac system you would know that sometimes non-security bugs take months to come to prominence, and features might take years unless you code them yourself or they become “blessed”.
But that wouldn’t be a fair evaluation compared to the months/years of work that have already been invested in the project to get it to the current stage.
Development from my perspective is pretty nimble, there is good team co-ordination and dedication to achieve the mission, and create a phenomenal useful service.
This isn’t intended to be a full review of uQast but as the launch wheels have started rolling I needed to get some words out in the ether. Most likely in the next few days I will highlight some of the additional things I personally find interesting and feel important to mention.
And I have left tons of things out that I am sure will end up being raised in the comments… and we can handle them there.
Any questions… criticisms… fire away!
The thoughts about uQast in this post are purely my own and I have liberally peppered this post with referral links mainly because I love tracking stuff, but you might enjoy the 2 tier affiliate program that pays for a year. You can sign up for the launch affiliate program here.