Friday, June 29, 2007

Lessons from Online Video

Dotcomedy was reviewed today by Mashable. It's a Funny or Die wannabe that is ad supported by NBC. The difference with this is that there is no UGC here - all content that is posted is reviewed by NBC's editorial staff. So only the best clips make it on there. Will this model work? Well, at least we won't have to wade through that much stuff, but perhaps volume is still the way to go where people will find something that appeals to them.

What's interesting are some of the comments from the OMMA video conference as reported by PaidContent. Some of the highlights include:

  • Video Ads need to rely on visual rather than audio - most users have their sound turned off or low
  • CPMs are hitting $5-$15 for semi professional user generated content ( calls this SPUG)
  • Greg Wilson from Red Bull Tiger - One other thing he doesn't want is product placement. "It's a crock. When someone holds up a bottle of Evian on TV, is anyone being fooled? Is anyone being enticed? It's only being done because we can't think of anything else to do."

So that's another week in the wild west of online video. It appears that more and more brands are turning toward branded entertainment, but the big issue is still search. How can we find videos that are relevant and interesting to us? Will these ads pop up? Some but not all. The sunglasses falling on my face video was sponsored by Ray Ban but for everyone of those there are many more viral ads that barely make their view count out of the 100's. Are those considered successful? What are the metrics here? Greg Wilson's comments take out product placement, but what are our alternatives other than sending someone over to sit next to you and talk about products. I think that technology has been maxed out here. After all, you can't control content, filmmakers will make whatever they want. How do we get this stuff paid for?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MySpaceTV looks a lot like YouTube - Prom Queen stats

MySpaceTV launched today and it really does look very similar to YouTube. Besides its cluttered landing page which is stuffed with banners, MySpaceTV has nearly the same exact layout as YouTube, which isn't necessarily bad. MySpace users most likely have visited YouTube and know that site fairly well. All they need to do now is hang onto their traffic instead of direct it to YouTube. Given that it launched today, I'm not going to discuss their very slow load times as I'm sure they are working out the kinks, but I think that with all of the folks that YouTube pissed off (especially on the pro content side) MySpaceTV is a viable alternative. It's already #2 and with this new setup could overtake the top spot. The more I look at it, the more its an EXACT copycat of YouTube. Everything from the layout to the categories to the way that its sorted (although some of the things don't really work).

An interesting point to note about MySpaceTV is that PromQueen received a majority of their traffic through the social network. I'm looking at the PromQueen page and seeing that different episodes get a different number of views. I would expect recap episodes to have a low hit count, but some of the videos that have low hit counts just don't make sense. Granted I haven't been watching so perhaps the prior show lead in was weak or there was some type of grand PromQueen promotion....But the variance of views goes from a few hundred thousand to 20,000. Strange huh? Is that really the way that we consume our video? I would compare all 80 some episodes of PromQueen at 1:30 each to a 2 hour feature film. Are we really that impatient that we will skip the boring parts and fill this in with our own perceptions? My initial feeling was that Prom Queen episode 1 would be the most watched. It's not. It's episode 20: Off like a prom dress with 1.2 million views. Could that have been the day that Prom Queen was featured on the front page of MySpace? Or was episode 19 really that good? Was it the name of the episode? Because episode 67 was called Naked n the Rain and that only received 139,000 views. I'm glad that MySpaceTV captures all of these YouTube like metrics (and hopefully more) as we'll soon be able to dissect our viewing habits.

Overall, I think that MySpaceTV is going to give YouTube a run for its money. Why go onto two sites when you can simply stay on one?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Social Networking at an All Time Buzz

The words couldn't be out there more: MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, Bebo, Facebook. All of them are useful sites. All of them are addictive sites. But what are they really worth? Yesterday we talked about the demographics of MySpace versus that of Facebook. Today, we're going to talk about the value. Yesterday a few pieces of news turned our heads toward this social network phenomena again. LinkedIn, as broken by Reuters, could be planning an IPO "as early as next year." The site claims to have about 12 million users and expects $100 million in revenues by next year. Then, the guys that started it all, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, the founders of MySpace asked Rupert for 50 million bucks for the both of them for two years. Again, many speculate that this request was to cash out at the height of the social networking revolution. So far no news as to whether Rupert will grant this request. And just to throw it in the mix, Facebook is still independent although rumoured at at least one billion dollars (and I guess given the more educated demographic with more disposable income, possibly worth it, given the $580 million spent on MySpace).

All of this money being thrown around for user generated content platforms. Is this the height of the social networking that we've seen prevalent since Friendster days? Why are these guys looking to cash out? MySpace is nearly saturated with users, coming up on 200 million. Do they think that social networking has maximized its growth? An interesting book that I read lately is The Cult of the Amateur where the author talks about how all of this user generated content is ruining us. Is this what the owners think? Do they want to be distanced from their creations?

Regardless of their reasoning, every new website out there now has some type of social network component. The ability to not only gather information, but to find like minded people regardless of geographic boundary is extremely valuable. But upkeep to these sites is a major task at hand. Again, we'll keep an eye out on how these social networks continue or don't continue to grow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

MySpace versus FaceBook

An interesting study by Danah Boyd that we've been pointed to by Mashable, looks at the socioeconomic differences between your typical MySpace user and your typical Facebook user. Overall, she concludes that Facebook users are more educated and "good kids" while MySpace users seem to be those that are "bad" and that live in the fringes of society. Income had little to do with the outcomes of the study as a struggling actor/waiter making $12,000 would fall into the Facebook camp and that the differences emphasize a matter of upbringing. She also notes the banning of MySpace in the military while Facebook is still allowed and used by most officers. Finally she notes the cleanliness of Facebook's white background as opposed to the clutter and noise on some MySpace pages.

The results are not of a surprise if you look at the origins of both social networking sites. Facebook started at Harvard and while the network is open now to anyone, you tend to be on networks where your friends are. Hence, Harvard folks are friends with other educated folks and so on. Further, prior to opening up, you needed a .edu account to join Facebook. On the other hand, MySpace started on the fringes with the underground music scene. Soon it spread pretty quickly, but with anything mainstream, pretty soon everyone's on it. I think MySpace has lost the most value recently with the openness of the site. I get more spammers posing as lost 20 year old girls than real people, more bands and films trying to build a following, and more people that I don't know that want to be my friend.

I think that in the MySpace world - it's all about carving out your piece of the Internet; you have your own URL and many use it as a "resume" of sorts. In Facebook, its true social networking. You can't link to anyone randomly. That's the benefit of sites like Friendster and LinkedIn. To get access to others, you must REALLY be my friend (although there's a bunch of ways to get around this). Is that what Danah Boyd is trying to say? That socioeconomic upbringing is about me, me, me? Ego is everything? That kids understand why they went to Harvard, not necessarily about the education, but about your classmates and building networks? The interesting thing is that we can now track how Facebook will grow given its open nature and see if this is true.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Revision3 raises $8 million

Digg Founders Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson have raised an additional $8 million for their Revision3 website. The additional capital should allow for Revision3 to add to its 10 show slate and to expand its website and operations. The most popular of their shows Diggnation is advertising supported but has a very interesting business model where the hosts actually talk about the products (kind of like Howard Stern). The shows hit the geek demographic with shows that are called Ctrl-Alt-Chicken, Pixel Perfect, and XLR8R TV. It also allows you to take the content on the go with QuickTime downloads. Their Flash player from BitGravity is also a solid high quality flash player. Overall, a pretty solid product and the best example of monetizing online video to date.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Video AdSense - Relevant Ads

Remember Blinkx? It's the publicly traded video search site. Mashable reports that Blinkx will soon be offering an advertising network based on speech recognition. So whenever a certain keyword that advertisers bid on either shows up in Meta tags or within speech, the ad will be shown in pre, post, or mid-roll ads.

This is definitely an improvement from Revver's model of fitting an ad in (at the end) that users have to click. Relevance should improve the response that advertisers get. How well will it work? Well the service hasn't launched yet, but I'm going to preface my statements by saying that Blinkx's service is definitely something that we need in the online video space. YouTube is doing something similar but there is only so much information that you can mine from meta tags. With the ability to actually gage what someone is saying, you can really figure out what the content is. That'll really be of value to the entire food chain of users, content creators, and advertisers since more relevant ads will be served to users, content creators will make more money, and advertisers will be minimizing wasted eyeballs.

Great. Or is it? Again, I'm not sure how Blinkx's software will work, but context is everything. Let's say Apple wants to buy the phrase Apple Computer. So everytime Apple Computer is said an Apple ad should run. Well, I think that you can see where we might run into some problems. What if I have a video where a character says "Apple Computer sucks" or "Apple Computer is a piece of s--t" or worse yet "Shove that Apple computer up your..." you get where I'm going hopefully. So then the video that bashes Apple becomes financed by Apple. Probably not where Apple wants to spend its ad dollars. The problem with this model is still that we need some type of human intervention to determine the qualitative parts of the video. It's similar to MySpace problems where advertisers didn't want to purchase ads or even AdSense because they were not sure of the context of the page. Context is key and while keywords will help in relevancy and is a step in the right direction toward advertiser AI, we still have a while to go. In the meantime, good job Blinkx for taking us one step closer to free content and relevant commercials!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

David Beats Goliath

We've been talking about this story for a while....Activist shareholder Eric Jackson using Web 2.0 tools (social networking, his blog, a wiki, YouTube, MySpace etc) to organize Yahoo shareholders against Yahoo management. Well, unless you've been under a rock yesterday, you would have seen that Terry Semel, the man that Jackson was calling for to step down, resigned as CEO of the company to be replaced by Jerry Yang, co founder of Yahoo and one of Jackson's suggestions. I'm not saying that Jackson single handedly caused Semel's resignation but what I am saying is that Jackson was able to control a little under 2 million shares with his 100 shares from these Web 2.0 tools and a bit of publicity.

The story here is not necessarily one of how Semel stepped down but its about how good ideas can be spread rapidly through these new Web 2.0 tools. Diet Coke and Mentos was another interesting idea that caught on because of online video and its popularity soared with the video sharing sites (including YouTube). Ipods dirty secret also attracted many viewers and caused backlash against the popular mp3 player. The Dell laptop fires are another. Communication online is becoming ever more transparent and the Jackson example is an extreme one of how one person asked how Semel was able to justify his salary and his options given how Yahoo has fared against Google. Sure, the rest of the Street also did not favor him but I think that Jackson proved that sometimes a meritocracy works.

On the other hand, I'm sure IR folks that read this blog are wondering about how something like this could affect their company. No one wants a guy like Jackson against you. He's relentless. However, I think Apple's response to dirty secret is the suggested way to go: Admit that your product is not perfect. Dell tried to sweep the dust under the rug. Bad move. People will out you and your deception will simply add fuel to the fire. Be open. Admit mistakes. Admit that you're not perfect. No one can fault you for that. Not even Eric Jackson (who is now having dialogues with Semel according to his blog).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Brave New World

TechCrunch alerted me to a very interesting YouTube video created by Davide Casaleggio that appeared first on Read/Write Web. The video talks about the future of the Internet in a 1984 / Brave New World style. A bit creepy where everyone is connected online via avatars or as the video puts it Agav, an agent avatar. Second Life, Amazon, and Google are the short term winners but Google eventually rules the world in 2050. The Agav's have five senses built in so that you can trade experiences with anyone (i.e. Joe's European vacation can be yours too!)

The video is definitely creepy and I hope that avatar interaction never replaces real life interaction (although for some MMORPG's this is already reality). However, it really gets you to think about where the Web is going and how much more we can exploit by making the World "flat." Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat, already discusses how small the world is when you can pick up your VoIP and call around the world or email or IM someone in India for example. With Agav's this will give you the feel of knowing someone without knowing someone. However, the video also brings up an interesting point that "No one on the Internet knows that you're a dog."
I think that if this is the main way that we begin to do business, there will be ways to assure folks that you are who you say you are. Stronger security and identity measures will need to be in place.

And then finally we run into this cultural problem. The root of all of our problems right now. (I don't want to get political here but...) Online culture will be dominated by who has the most dollars. At this point, its the USA. Will US culture be the dominant one online? And if so, what are the repercussions? With information and culture so available, will other cultures be completely forgotten, destroyed, or wiped out?

Interesting points here but I think one thing remains is that one mile is one mile and that local news will always be of interest to the users. I spoke about local and the big market opportunity that this is. I think that overall the Web will be used for understanding of culture (hopefully) but the ability to broadcast your culture online and for others to respect and learn about other people. After all, like the movie Babel, misunderstanding is the root of most problems. Could the Web be that next Tower of Babel? Remains to be seen....

Friday, June 15, 2007

Virtual Worlds Online

We've all heard about the media success of Second Life; the addictiveness of MySpace; and the large valuations of Club Penguin. Just launched is the Virtual Lower East Side which is an avatar based approach to location based social networking. So take the best of all of the aforementioned products: the avatar based Second Life, with the social networking aspects of MySpace, together with web based aspect of Club Penguin. Just like MySpace, VLES is starting as a tool to bring bands together with their fans. Interesting play, and I think that we could be seeing more of these web based virtual worlds, especially as bandwidth becomes less of an issue and Flash continues to pack in the power in small sized bytes.

Virtual Web based worlds are very interesting to the marketer since we have clearly seen the power in social network marketing and the power of word of mouth. However, what the virual world allows is also a chance to build a strong robust application with little capital outlay. What does that mean????? MySpace really didn't have a strong business model until it reached a critical mass of users and even then CPMs are reaching $30 or so. YouTube didn't have any business model at all (and still might not). These virtual worlds do. Club Penguin charges $6 a month to customize your penguin and users gladly pay. Second Life items cost real money and users gladly pay. Not all users but some and I think that will be sustainable enough for social network and virtual world builders to build a robust application and will allow for more entrants into this brave new world.

Will MySpace become virtual? They have the easiest userbase to do so with. But will it happen? I doubt it. The code that MySpace is written on is so unstable that if we were to have some virtual users and some static users we'd crash the system. So there's an opportunity here! Could VLES be the next virtual MySpace in the 3D Web 3.0? I don't know. But I do know that there's an opening here for someone to create a rich application with decent cash flows that if successful will probably rival a valuation like YouTube's. (Since MySpace was bought for $580 million and Club Penguin was flirting with $450 million at a fraction of the users of MySpace).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Value of Portals

I'm going to write today about how portals have really changed the way that we do business. Before (and I mean back in the old days prior to 2000), we would register a trademark and a company name and really blast that trademark out there and build goodwill as well as brand recognition. Companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds, IBM, Apple, and others were extremely valuable and most of them really were marketing companies (Apple for example gets most of its parts overseas and simply assembles them to sell to you). Today, these brands are extremely valuable as end products. However, online, purchasing these products has never been easier or more competitive.

Think about how your web browser fires up. It usually opens to some type of portal page (most are set to Google). In fact, the most searched for term every month is "MySpace" or some variation of. So that really does change the way we do branding. If you are selling the latest no frills mp3 player, how can you compete against iPod? You can't, but you can optimize your website to be on the first page of search results.

In fact SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a ever growing field where firms charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a hundred thousand dollars per month to ensure that your site stays on top. And usually if your site is on top, very few people pay attention to your URL. So even if you have a it won't matter because people are clicking on the link anyway. Which leads back to making sure that your page is optimized for those terms that people search for. There are a bunch of different tools out there that determine "keyword density" and a bunch more that tell you how often a given term is search for.

Overall, if you are running an online business (or conduct more than 50% of your business online), I would think about hiring an SEO firm before you purchase another full page color ad in the New York Times.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Tipping Point

Something that I've been looking at is why and how things "tip." How does a site like YouTube go from 0-60 in 3 months? Why is MySpace the premiere destination for social networking? Has Second Life "tipped" or is it still a geek's toy? Why did FaceBook grab so many users? Let's look at some thoughts into why these things happened...

YouTube - YouTube was launched by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, exPayPal employees in November of 2005. Shortly thereafter (around December or January) the trio has no one but the copyright infringer who uploaded SNL's Lazy Sunday to thank. Traffic spiked at that point. And even more traffic came to the site when it was reported that NBC asked them to take it down. But by then it was too late, YouTube was the "it" place to be for user generated video and any kind of online content.

MySpace - MySpace was founded by the friendly Tom Anderson in November of 2003. It started as a site to share music and eventually became "a place for friends." MySpace could be attributed as one of the first successful social networks that really brought about the entire Web 2.0 revolution. However, traffic for the site didn't really tip until what I think was the entire Friendster debacle. Friendster arguably the first social network, was experiencing slowness and server difficulty. A message was sent around Friendster saying that they would start charging and that MySpace was free. Many addicted social networkers flocked to MySpace and that was all they needed. With the newness of social networking, MySpace quickly grew and that rolling stone gathered enough momentum that MySpace is a household name.

Second Life - Second Life is the avatar based role playing world. So far its received a lot of attention in the media and by brands. However, as you can see from the chart, it still hasn't tipped. I think that its a combination of things here and one of the big barriers is the user experience. Second Life for the non techy is hard to use. That's agreed upon. Secondly its a separate software download. That's a pain. Compare this with Flash based ClubPenguin who's traffic is slowly creeping up on SecondLife, and was recently offered $500 million from Sony.

Facebook - The darling of Social Networks - Facebook was rumored to be worth in the $2 billion range. How did a dorm room start up at Harvard become one of the most valuable properties on the web? The chart below shows how Facebook really hit straight up growth in the beginning of 2006, which corresponds to their high school out reach. But why did all of these high schoolers want to join Facebook? I think here the tipping point was based on what Malcolm Gladwell calls influencers. And there are many influencers at Harvard the birthplace of Facebook. Would Facebook have survived if it started at another school? Princeton? Perhaps. University of Middle of No Where? Probably not.

I think that its interesting to look at the different ways that these things "make it." YouTube had a unique piece of content, MySpace was positioned at the right place at the right time, and Facebook had influentials behind it. What will it take for Second Life or the plethora of Web 2.0 companies? Sometimes its dumb luck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Best of 2.0: Video Meets the SocNet

PaidContent brought to our attention this morning. It's a social network based around webisodes that are loosely spun off of Showtime's The L Word. It's worth noting that the Long Tail social networks centered around content seems to be working. PaidContent reports 72,000 users and over half a million hits thus far and there's only one episode up (although the social networking aspect appears to have taken off). The creators report that the show came first and then the SocNet was built around that. and GirlTrash (the webisode series which is clearly NSFW!) is a perfect example of how the Long Tail works. Our favorite Web 2.0 applications, web video and social networking come together to bring a certain demographic together, in the case of, lesbians. It's certainly a very specific demographic that is valuable to some advertisers (most of the banners I've seen are for content from Showtime's The L Word, to XM Satellite Radio's LGBT "The Agenda" programming, to a True Colors concert series. While the numbers are not staggering like MySpace or Facebook, this is a very targeted demographic where advertisers know that every pair of eyeballs could be a potential customer as opposed to a MySpace where there are many "wasted" impressions.

The combination of professionally created content around a social network seems to be a very powerful combination. I'm very interested in how other content can be as perfectly segmented as GirlTrash and OurChart. There hasn't been much content out there that has a definitive audience as GirlTrash. Perhaps a WallStrip and StockPickr joint venture is next?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Video Roundup

Babelgum launched over the weekend (Friday to be exact I think) with some mixed reviews. Babelgum is in competition directly with Joost for quality P2P delivery of content. Lacking content (although Babelgum has Spike Lee on his side), lack of social networking, and difficult interface are some of the problems that have been cited with for Babelgum. Well, Joost started somewhere too right? I think Joost has the high profile of its founders which led to some great content partnerships and if Babelgum can do the same....

One of the early pioneers in video revenue sharing is Revver. Unlike pure views count, like Metacafe, Revver shares revenue with content creators by sliding a clickable ad at the end of the video. If a viewer clicks on it, then they are brought to the company's website and everyone gets paid. Well, Mashable reports that CEO Steven Starr is exiting the company six months after its previous CEO left. What's happening at Revver? Perhaps people aren't ready yet to click on ads at the end of a video?

Eefoof relaunches as VuMe. Reviews came in as somewhat negative and I think the only differentiator of VuMe from other video sharing sites is that revenue is shared based on actual revenue instead of video views. We'll continue to watch what VuMe is doing in this already crowded space.

Finally, my friends at Four Eyed Monsters have placed their entire feature length film on YouTube. It's the first feature available on YouTube at a whopping 72 minutes. And my friends tell me it'll be available for a week, which could be steps toward YouTube protecting their content? (Or I guess someone could suck down the video and reupload in 7 10 minute clips?) The film is actually also a pioneer in this space with a real relationship being started and grown through podcasts and technology. Pretty cool.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Social Networks on the Go

Sprite Yard, a mobile social network created by Coca Cola, will be launching on June 22 in the US. The social network launched in China last week and Coke hopes to have a global presence relatively quickly. Using simple bottle cap printed codes, Coke will give users the ability to win downloads, webisodes, ring tones, even virtual items in Second Life. However, with only one way to access the social network, will this ever be able to build a critical mass?

Old economy Coca Cola is definitely pushing the envelope in digital marketing and media. After having missed the boat on the Diet Coke and Mentos phenomena, Coke is making sure that they allow for their brand to be fully interactive. They've been one of the first to hop on the Second Life platform and with this social network, one of the first that I've seen to create a social network purely in mobile form. However, we've seen many problems with the mobile platform that may provide a difficult time for Coke to build an audience, at least in the US.
  1. Segmented mobile carriers and lack of standards. CDMA, GSM, What? The US market has four major carriers and two major standards, whereas the rest of the world is mostly on GSM networks (the ones that T-Mobile and Cingular use).
  2. Walled Garden Approach. I think that this primarily applies to Verizon. I can't type in a WAP enabled URL into Verizon without it going through some kind of Verizon proxy server to make sure that I'm not accessing T-Mobile's site through Verizon's network. I can't blame them but definitely a barrier to innovation.
  3. Too many Handsets! The carriers aren't the only ones to blame here. There's so many different types of handsets, resolutions, color schemes, etc that to develop for mobile means that you have to develop for hundreds of different phones and types. QWERTY keyboards, keypads, a combination of both (Blackberry Pearl), etc. Agh!

But all is not lost. Coke will definitely be positioned for first mover advantage when things change with the carriers. I think they realize the value of content over their networks but the behemoths of companies are moving so slow that who knows when this might be. Some of the things that Coke has going for it:
  1. Brand. I don't want to pull apart Coke's balance sheet but I'm sure Goodwill is a pretty hefty figure here. People will recognize Coke and realize that its okay to interact over your phone. But then again look at
  2. First mover advantage and campaign integration. The same message over multiple platforms. Coke's size and clout allow it to do this. Integrating their Second Life with their social network with their web with their print with their TV etc. creates for consistent messaging and a better user experience.
  3. Mobile's Hot. Kids and teens (the target market) are probably regulated by what they can do at home. Parents have all kinds of mechanisms to restrict Web sites and watch what their kids are doing. But on mobile, you can go anywhere and do anything. Kids like that. Parents don't. But mobile has other advantages like constant communication and that wins out. I think that until someone creates a monitoring device for mobile (which will probably be soon) kids will love that medium more than the computer.

I think its great that Coke's taking the plunge. The pros and cons are fairly even. I'll track what happens in the space and to Sprite Yard and watch for the launch on June 22!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Some Interesting Numbers

Frames of Reference, a study from Online Publishers Association, (via paidContent) released a study regarding online video advertising. Some of the highlights from the study:
  • 30 second outperformed 15 second
  • 52 percent of users take an action (learning more to purchasing)
  • News was number one, followed by weather, and then humor
  • Companion ads (static banners with video) were most effective

The results of this study are pretty interesting especially for those of you living in New York exposed to the branding campaign that NBC Uni is promoting (via bus shelters and phone booths) about how they are innovating beyond 30 seconds. I'm also very surprised about the high number of users that take action following a video ad. Personally if an ad is irrelevant to me (for example on I can't wait to "click to continue" as soon as my requisite 30 seconds are up. So this means that somehow, ad servers are serving up relevant ads. I'm not sure how since YouTube is barely rolling out there new ad serving product, but I'm curious if anyone out there knows what they are doing. Companion ads are kind of an obvious thing which is what does. No brainer there. Content wise I'd also agree that news and weather are the most watched. And again this is fairly obvious. We live in a world of Long Tail entertainment and the only common thread that everyone on the planet shares is the passage of time. So keeping up with what's new and keeping up with how you should dress (if its cold or warm, not fashion) is pretty obvious.

Marketing wise what does this mean? Well our intuition is wrong but the study is a bit fuzzy as it mentions that results were taken from 1,422 online video users. Are they YouTube watchers or watchers? A mixture of both? Joost users? After all only has 30 second companion ads. Also the numbers are fairly small. And of course if you have to sit through 30 seconds you will have better recollection than if you sat through 15 seconds. So this result could be skewed.

The big (and best) part of the study is the high call to action provided by those surveyed. This shows that users are not only in there for a passive experience but have their fingers on the mouse button ready to click away. It's a great sign that we're ready for interative TV.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Will this Change Everything?

The much anticipated iPhone is launching in less than a month (June 29th). The implications are amazing. Many are finally predicting a convergence between Internet and mobile, Media and Commerce, and location and information. User generated commercials have popped up online.

However, is the iPhone as big of a deal as we think? Of course Apple is going to hype up their latest product which they hope will be as big as the iPod. Apple, though, is limited by Cingular and with a price tag of $499-$599 by wallet sizes. (Unlocked phones I hear are going for over $1100). I think the biggest breakthrough though with the iPhone is the touch screen interactivity of it. With this, there will be no more need for clunky QWERTY keyboards and t9 guessing algorithms.

Smaller devices will come out that can take advantage of this, being not only a phone, but a web browser, a camera, MP3 player, and camcorder ... all at the same time! But how will it affect marketing? I think the implications are obvious. Text messaging while powerful and popular will become even more when rich media can be delivered on the spot in relevant locations. Users won't be limited and programs won't have difficulty reading varied responses when web like applications appear on your phone. Overall, the iPhone is a step toward a world where we really will have the world at our fingertips, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Big Opportunities for Small Business

I think that most small businesses have felt closed out of the Internet loop. Many don't feel the need to advertise or promote to a global audience when the majority of their business comes from a radius within a few miles of their physical location (or in Manhattan a few blocks!). However, with the relaunch of Google Maps, meaningful online advertising for the small business may be possible. With their Mapplets Preview (via Mashable), the big business known as local search may become a reality.

Craigslist is one of the largest properties on the web. With no graphics, no fancy Ajax, and a staff of a dozen, Craigslist is a true success story which is focused strictly on content. What makes Craigslist so successful that fancy sites don't have? Sure, Craigslist is free and that's a big factor but the other one is the locality of Craigslist. Just like other local tools, like Citysearch, Meetup, and Yelp, Craigslist turns an online conversation into an offline transaction/encounter/meetup etc. Why is this important? I don't know if I need to answer this question, but we are social creatures and while we've been talking about great tools like MySpace, SecondLife, and YouTube, we still need to meet each other physically and not just through our computers! So enter the Local Market, which to date has felt shunned by the Internet. Very few tools out there cater to the local market and most have to do with restaurants, tourist attractions, and / or movie showtimes.

Enter Google Maps and their contextual AdSense. With Google's new street views program, this will really allow ALL businesses to have a virtual storefront. Could this be an integration of a virtual world like Second Life with the other intricacies of the Web? Could you be walking down a virtual Fifth Avenue and enter into all of the big department stores and then make a turn down 45th street and also enter the mom & pop deli? I think that Google Maps might be the key to Google's growth especially with local search, since most local businesses do not have domain names or websites (most of them still use a hotmail address if they even have one!). It could be truly interesting times, except that it might keep you in front of your computer more instead of being out there with real people like we were programmed to do!

Monday, June 4, 2007

YouTube Going Legit

YouTube previously announced a revenue share for some of its non-corporate users a few weeks ago. It recently announced a revenue share with Hearst Argyle TV - owner of local TV networks where YouTube will pay a licensing fee for some of its news, weather, and entertainment clips. YouTube also has a deal with Verizon Wireless and Apple TV. YouTube also struck a deal with EMI allowing users access to use EMI music in their clips, although EMI still owns the license and can request takedown. YouTube is also breaking ground in the pre-roll ad space sponsoring video blog Rocketboom (Rocketboom is charging $3000 for pre rolls and this number jumps to $5000 on 9/1). YouTube is slowly making the cross over into tradition media and legit media with these deals that they are striking. They're still obviously in a dispute with Viacom over $1 billion dollars.

YouTube is clearly making a splash amongst everyone out there. AdAge featured an article today about how YouTube is being used to not only advertise prescription drugs, but how consumers are reacting to it. I think the pharmaceutical business is taking a step in the right direction. YouTube is here to stay. And with YouTube slowly going legit you'll be able to see brand bashers on your television (a strange juxtaposition between UGC and professionally created content). But what can be done to protect your brand on YouTube? Honestly, not much. The first amendment protects free speech. If someone wants to "review" your product on YouTube you can't really do anything about it. However, what you can do is dispel some of those myths via a video comment, which is very different from a text comment. Video comments are almost like a rebuttal to the very video being watched at that moment. Users are more likely to watch a video comment (although it usually requires approval from the original video owner). For example, if someone posted a negative video about my BlendTec blender saying that it wouldn't blend your daily celery juice, and that video reached a critical mass of audience, I would post it up as a response the Will It Blend series. (A highly successful series featuring the BlendTec blender.)

If your video can entertain (first and foremost) and then educate (a distant second) then the video can possibly be successful to build a following on YouTube. The GlaxoSmithKline ad (via AdAge) is an extremely clever and interesting domino video that has little to do with the drug and disease, but I think that I now have a better subconscious association with Restless Leg Syndrome and GSK than I ever had!

Friday, June 1, 2007

MySpace Safe Again..? has settled with MySpace, the largest social networking site, for $5.5 million dollars after spamming MySpacers through fake accounts about their GloPhone product (which is now defunct). Other lawsuits filed by MySpace (thanks to Mashable) include TheDilly, a social network that picked up many users via MySpace messaging and Anthony Lineberry who ran MyFriendBot, an automated friend requester.

While TheDilly settled for $6000 and Lineberry, I believe, walked away unscathed, its a step in the right direction for MySpace to combat spam. The $5.5 million settlement with should deter spammers from trying to get back onto the MySpace system. However, the inherent problem seems to be the simplicity with which it is to create an account. Anyone can create an account without any verification. Should sites like MySpace and YouTube force users to enter credit card information (without any charges of course)?

MySpace has done a great job of spam and abuse reporting but could these efforts curtail any type of real marketing being done on the site? The great thing about MySpace is that its free. But if you are a small company or a non-Fox owned property you are going to have to pay for placement either on the front page of MySpace or some of the other costly real estate the site provides.

CPMs on MySpace are significantly less than CPMs on Yahoo!, and its probably the supply and demand curve working its magic. Advertisers are still afraid of being put next to content that they have no control over and therefore associated with. Most of the ads that I see are pretty raunchy dating sites, Shave the Armpit and win an iPod sites, Hit the Monkey and win a shopping spree sites, Can you Tell this Celebrity other words content that is already so outrageous that it could hold its own against little Johnny's MySpace page.

So then how does a brand propogate on MySpace? I think its through good old fashioned word of mouth while utilizing smartly some of MySpace's tools. The most powerful tool of them all...the top 8. Yes, you may laugh, but being in the MySpace top 8 ensures that you're brand or product is being seen by others when they visit someone's page. Of course you can achieve the same effect by commenting, but Top 8's change less frequently than comments. For those of you not familiar with the Top 8 its a MySpacer's "top 8" friends. These friends appear on the person's page without any need to dig deeper into the profile. Users are always curious about other folks and will mostly likely click on some of your top 8 friends. How do you achieve a top 8 status? Some profiles like the Black Carpet Screenings for Borat made you print out your MySpace profile showing Black Carpet in your Top 8. Others want you to email them when they are in your top 8. Screen grabs, the list goes on and on. So there it is, spammers why bother? We already know all of your tricks and we quickly delete your messages and comments. Have a good profile, a good product and a reason for us to put you in our Top 8 and you'll spread like wildfire. Maybe Lineberry's next project will be to work on an automatic Top 8'er.