Given that 2006 was the Year of Online Video, we’d be remiss not to look back at the special highlights of this year.
This is not another “top viral videos of the year” list. Goodness knows there are hundreds of those. Instead we’re looking at the moments that changed the industry or perception of it. Our editors debated literally for minutes on this list, so we’d appreciate your additions in the comments. We’ll revise accordingly. It’s actually just me, but I’m using a royal “we.”
- Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion. Huh? The absurd market cap that YouTube commanded despite low income and pirated content demonstrates the value of you, dear online-video viewer. There’s a race to own your little eyeballs. The moment made us uncomfortable because it flashes us back to the Pets.com era, but it validated the video space to mainstream, and taught people the power of community.
- LonelyGirl15 revealed as an actress. Don’t believe everything you watch, folks. This was a sobering moment to millions of people living parasocial relationships with Bree via her YouTube videos. Some celebrated it, and moved to LonelyGirl15 where she serves her videos via Revver. Others groaned because they felt she violated the “realness” of the YouTube community. There are still ‘Tubers that dissect each of my videos to prove they’re fake. People, I did not really steal my neighbors Christmas tree. It’s called story telling, idiots, and you can say what you like about LonelyGirl15 but it’s undeniably a story people want to experience.
- Diet Coke & Mentos. If you aren’t familiar with this movement, please turn off your computer and return to your couch. This was fascinating mostly from the corporate reaction. Mentos jumped right in and supported the video creators with sponsorship on Revver, contests and special partnerships. Coke distanced itself initially, and then eventually embraced it too late. My favorite remains the Pepsi Girl by Davideo.
- People started making money from online video. Don’t trust me? Listen to NPR’s report on it. EepyBird makes more than $35,000 on a few Diet Coke & Mentos Experiment videos. A comedy duo made more than $35,000 via Revver (a site that shares advertising revenue) from a series of videos showing elaborate fountains of exploding Coke. Later they would get a 6-figure deal with Google & Coke for a sequel.
- TIME magazine names consumer-generated media the “Person of the Year” in 2006. Hello, mainstream media — this video sharing thing isn’t a fad. It’s profoundly changing the way we consume media, interact and consume advertising. Perhaps the funniest part of this article was the instant response by bloggers, vloggers and video creators. Each decided we were individually the Person of the Year. Except me. I’m above that petty behavior.
- Michael Richards goes on racial tirade at The Laugh Factory. This was upsetting, but a reminder of the accountability power of video. Would that have made international news had someone not caught it on tape? It spawned instant spoofs like “The Lost Seinfeld Episode.”
- The Lazy Sunday Rap (Chronicles of Narnia) by Saturday Night Live goes wild on YouTube. NBC reacts by sending a 15-page “cease and desist” instead of basking in the free publicity of the ailing show. And it later partners with YouTube. Now the network is even exploring running dress rehearsals online. The sheer number of horrendous knockoffs of this video reaffirms that it was a paramount moment of 2006.
- Net Neutrality movement grows. I don’t really understand this, but I think it’s important. Here’s a video on it.
- Public Relations firm busted for making Al Gore Penguin spoof. DCI Group was exposed by the Wall Street Journal for secretly funding a video about global warming and Al Gore.
- And lastly, my favorite! Marketers give a giant “Lennie Small (Of Mice & Men) squeeze” to viral video, crushing its lil’ head in adoration. Countless big brands did Lemming dives into viral video by creating such hits as Tea Partay by Smirnoff, GM’s flying cars, as well as some additional case studies. Then there were the ailing video contests and viral commercials we didn’t forward like advertisers promised their clients. People, let’s resolve to make 2007 better on the viral video advertising front. Please read 7-Deadly-Sins of Viral Video Advertising.
What did I miss?