Is Amateur Online-Video Under Siege by Hollywood and Madison Avenue?

“Viral videos are on their way out.
You’re the Chia Pet of 2007.”

That’s from an e-mail sent last night from my sister, who produces for a major television network on the west coast.

There seems to be a great skepticism about amateur video’s endurance when the competitive Huns from Hollywood and Madison-Avenue Mongolians are storming the castle. Can will Ferrell make better videos than Nalts? Surely. Is there a proliferation of horrible consumer-generated ads? Indisputably. But we’re overlooking something here.

kevinnalts_imediaconnection.jpgHere’s a Q&A I did with Xlntads Acting CEO Neil Perry for iMediaConnection. The title was “Agencies Can You Cope with Candid Camera.” Interestingly I’ve had several discussions with media in the past week about this “viral creators vs agencies” issue.

Those deep in the entrainment and marketing industries don’t want to believe that amateur online-video content is worthy of attention or has legs. Reporters (see this piece by Bob Garfield of AdAge as an example) seem to have deep doubts about the sustainability of amateur video creation to drive brands. I say “bolderdash” (what does that mean anyway?).

Please consider these questions:

  1. How long has it taken large agencies to understand paid search? A decade?
  2. Will the need for video content increase or decrease as new media evolves/
  3. As audiences fragment into social media and niche websites, what do you project as the production cost of building relevant content to not 3-4 segments but dozens? Can you afford $250K productions or would it be easier to leverage the knowledge and “permissions” of people in those social networks?
  4. On the entertainment side, does the entertainment machine (auditions, talent representatives, SAG, studios, production houses, etc.) ensure that the best talent rises to the forefront? Or is conceivable that there’s amazing talent lurking that doesn’t have interest in quitting their day job and moving to Hollywood? Does the democratization of online video (coupled with the low barriers to entry) mean we’ll have better entertainers in the next decade?

Think about what American Idol did to find hidden gems that would never have hit our ear drums. Is it possible that a major 2009 film star is, today, entertaining 50 subscribers with his webcam in Ohio, where he has no resources or knowledge to find an agent much less know whose ass to kiss to get a bit role on a sitcom that’s 2 weeks from cancellation?

So you can see that the window for amateur-created content is certainly not closing in the next 5-10 years. And I’ll argue (and this I have to credit to Garfield) that the “brass ring” will go to the niche agency that figures out how to harness the power of good video creators and help brands reach the long-tail.

Long term, Hollywood will find ways to get mine for amateur entertainment gold. And Eventually ad agencies will figure out not just how to repurpose broadcast ads into 30-second pre-rolls but how to create engaging video content that gets passed around (this is currently a rare skillset for large marketing agencies). But there’s more to this than that, and there are also two things the agencies lack. First, they don’t live in the viral video space full-time so they don’t know the rules of social networking. Second, unlike the LonelyGirl15 and HappySlips they don’t have embedded audiences. As online video grows, we’ll see prime video creators with regular audiences that rival television shows.

You can also read this Q&A on Politics & YouTube in Review.

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

8 thoughts on “Is Amateur Online-Video Under Siege by Hollywood and Madison Avenue?”

  1. Nalts tell NaltsI I concur. Brilliant. Mull it over people!

    The internet has changed the way we communicate; it has changed the concept of community, Forever, and it’s messy.

    Brain mush. This is in no particular order and not always in context so forgive me if I sound like I’m out in left field and just got hit with an unopened can of beer.

    1. Drama. People loooove drama! How long have soap operas been around? Since the news was carried and sung orally from town to town.
    2. Adverts. Everything I needed to learn about advertising I learned listening to old time radio. How many listeners does Rush have? Talk about drama!
    3. Ǽsop’s Stupid. People love watching average people do stupid things. From Candid Camera, to America’s Funniest Home Videos, to the over produced Big Brother Reality Idol Shows.
    3. A little S&M. Guaranteed hits on any television show or youtube video are, ‘man kicked in groin’ and any ‘girls going wild.’ They are the car wrecks of online video, you gotta look.
    4. Game Shows. People generated ad contests. We’re a sophisticated bunch. The masses might not want to see the whole process, but everyone wants to see who wins, even if it’s Poindexter, and the best and the odd will always float to or near the top.
    5. A Wet Sponge. Is the net over saturated with online video and content? Yes, so keeping in touch with your fan base is very important. However, expectations are mush higher, these are the people who promote your stuff. Fans are becoming more like unpaid employees, in exchange for cash and heath care, they want more of your attention, feel as if they are part of the process and most of all appreciated. How the content creator responds is very important, two word responses or the simple yet, sincere, thanks isn’t always enough. Outside of talent part of Nalt’s success is the connection and communication he has with his subscribers/fansofnalts. This doesn’t mean kids like Katie haven’t a future in the burgeoning field of fan responses, but the core group will always expect more of your time and a more personal response. It also helps to genuinely like people.
    6. [:checkmarksymbol:]. Design and visuals are important. Develop a logo and an icon bookmark that promotes your brand, as well as, a few handy catch phrases. Just Do It!
    7. Capital T That Rhymes With P. What is in the way of personal online success? Connection Speed, Congress and Law Suits (separate topics). This is why I believe you’ll find more and more of these smaller isolated groups or gated online communities. The Burbs are popping up and building malls. ah ahh ahh ahh joost!

    Are you still reading this? Because I’ve opened the beer a while back and stared drifting.

    Will Farrell. His latest Pearl video wasn’t as funny or cute as the first, but he’s a big star and can afford to explore and discover his limits in this space. Attention spans are short regardless of who you are or were. Guys like Farrell, wealthy and invested well, can afford to experiment and test what they do and where they want to go. Face and name recognition is 60% of what gets politicians elected. (C’mon, President Giuliani?! Are you kidding?) In this medium, especially, in the beginning, fan base is everything; feet on the ground. Talent, coupled with feet, promote fingers. This is really what makes this space so valuable to the average guy. It will get you started and either kill you or keep you alive. The more buzz you generate, good and bad, the bigger you’ll get. Character and integrity arrive on display once you’ve made it. If you make it and have little to no integrity you’ve Renettoed ©.

    The Internet is one big fat and long magazine rack, there are a lot of choices, and they can be very specific, from Refrigerator Weekly, Literally Nuts and Bolts Monthly, to News Week, to People, to Hustler. What’s in your magazine rack?

    What the future holds for those who want to last and even cross over is understanding this space, digging in, following trends and promoting the best of your work. There will always be a bunch of one hit wonders and they will inspire others who will rip them off, do it better and in less time. Adding integrity is always a plus, though it might not make you rich you’ll be respected and leave a fine legacy for the archives. As long as people have access to this space they will make viral videos.

    What’s next? The ichip implant ©.
    Why are you laughing?

  2. looked it up
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-bal1.htm

    Some argue its origin lies in the Welsh baldorddus, idle noisy talk or chatter (though that is pronounced very differently), while others point to related words in Dutch, Icelandic and Norwegian, such as the Dutch balderen, to roar or thunder. It appears around the time of Shakespeare with the meaning of froth or frothy liquid, or a jumbled mixture of liquids, such as milk and beer, or beer and wine. Only in the latter part of the seventeenth century did it move towards its modern meaning, through the idea of speech or writing that is a senseless jumble, hence nonsense or trash.

    It has also been used as a verb, meaning to make a jumbled mixture of ingredients or, in plain English, to adulterate. Tobias Smollett used it in his Travels through France and Italy in 1766 to refer to French wine: “That which is made by the peasants, both red and white, is generally genuine: but the wine-merchants of Nice brew and balderdash, and even mix it with pigeons’ dung and quick-lime”.

  3. Well done, Nalts. Hit the nail on the head – or at least upside it. The perpetual problem with the “Big Boys” is they are always looking for a way to shape the changes we’re finding ourselves awash in, trying to mould it all back into the comfortable (and profitable) form of their old business model. Ain’t gonna happen. In the meantime, I’m off to quaff a pint of cold refreshing Balderdash.

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