Lisa McGuire heads up the new Insight24 offering from ON24. We are friends, dating back from our time as coworkers in the marketing trenches at a software company. Today she sent me a note saying that I should propose a standard for how companies catalog and post their webinar recordings.
I'm flattered by the power and influence over the industry that she thinks I must have! I'm guessing that she is running into the same problem I ran into when I started up WebEventSearch.com. As the provider of a portal service with links to people's webinars, we want to find companies with content that would benefit from being listed on our sites.
It turns out that finding information about webinars is tedious work when you start trolling through various enterprise websites. Some companies have dedicated pages set up that list upcoming events and other pages that list archived recordings. Some companies split their event listings onto subordinate pages organized by subject matter, so you only see an event listing when you stumble across it while looking for a particular topic. Still others have recordings scattered around on their system, but don't maintain any public access to them... The links were sent out in follow-up emails to registrants and attendees of that event only.
Imagine how wonderful it would be if every enterprise website added a directory of /webcasts to its primary domain. The index page for the directory would list all upcoming webcasts and all available recorded webcasts. Business customers would quickly learn that they could go directly to coca-cola.com/webcasts or ibm.com/webcasts or even on24.com/webcasts and get more information in a "rich media" format (that being the new buzzword flying around the web conferencing industry).
Once you have a standardized structure for where events can be found, you can move on to the infinitely more challenging question of what information should be listed for each event. Upcoming events obviously need the date and time (including time zone) when it will take place. I think that recorded events should tell people what language the presentation is in and the length of the recording. Throw in a title and a text description, and you have the basics you need.
I'm practical enough to realize that this will probably never happen. The beauty of the web is that companies can create any structure they want, with arbitrary names, organization, and content. But that same arbitrary nature can reduce the effectiveness of your material, simply because your audience doesn't know ahead of time where they can find it.
This whole problem emphasizes the benefits of using a public compendium service such as Insight24 or WebEventSearch.com. It gives you a fighting chance of letting people find the content you have worked so hard to create.
And as a final note to people who really want to get into this subject, I actually did create a proposed standard for event listing information that contains just about all the common details likely to be associated with an event and of interest to potential viewers. It exists as an XML data schema and you can read all about it at www.webeventsearch.com/bulk_upload.asp. I use this as the underlying structure for the information I carry on WebEventSearch.com. As far as I can tell, nobody has ever shown the slightest interest in the concept.
I can conceive of a world where businesses would simply enter an XML data node associated with a new event and it would just show up on their site pages automatically, as well as being available to external portal listing services. You would never have to manually enter text onto an HTML page to list times and descriptions and link information. If somebody runs with this and creates an event listings page format that reads the information out of this kind of an XML file, I'd be delighted to help you promote it in this blog!