Brands Looking for Good Video Content Are Smoking Acid

It’s very obvious to advertisers to buy media that interupts popular television shows. Supply/demand creates expensive spots for the Superbowl, and bargain prices for reruns of Full House.

But when branded entertainment became vogue, someone smoked bad acid and promoted a ridiculous concept. Get the sponsor before launching a show, and sell ’em based on the quality of the content. This assumes that agencies and video producers know what content will become popular and influential, (and worse yet that advertisering sponsors can). Wrong. Wrong. Who could have predicted ANYONE in the top 10 most-subscribed YouTube list? Who could have predicted that I’d be a most-viewed YouTube comedian, for crying out loud? And yes I know people don’t smoke acid, jerk.

GoDaddy took a sole sponsorship on “Internet Superstar” (a very clever show that’s now RIP). I loved the show, but I also recognize that — for reasons that elude me — audiences don’t flock to a well-produced show about the other video stars and shows. It similarly perplexes me that Pepsi-backed PopTub hasn’t yet developed a larger audience, but perhaps the “Entertainment Tonight of online video” defies the niche nature of online video (then again, I laughed when I saw magazines about the Internet, and some have survived).

Don’t get me wrong. I believe GoDaddy picked well with Internet Superstar, and that Pepsi found a good show on PopTub. But it’s easy and unwise to pitch an idea, get backing, and then search for an audience with the sponsor’s money.

I’d take a more pragmatic approach as an advertiser. I would promote via what people watch and not what “the suits” and focus groups predict will be hot. That means I’d partner with something as inane as Fred (assuming I felt confident that his bit had staying power). And if I found a brilliant concept (iChannel) that hadn’t garnered an audience, I’d let someone else fund their launch. As I said, online-video popularity is not about talent alone.

An exception, of course, would be Burger King sponsoring content by a known animator (Seth Mac Farlane) that is getting traction because audiences like Seth’s style, and BK is pumping it with ad dollars. And who wouldn’t rather watch “Seth sellout” rather than Burger King commercials on a Burger King YouTube channel?

But when a popular YouTuber spawns a spinoff channel, it often develops a quick following without ad dollars to pimp it or a well-known offline personality.

  • MrSafety‘s relatively new “Mean Kitty” channel is about to surpass me in subscribers.
  • What The Buck Show host, Michael Buckley, has an extremely popular channel where all he does is vlog.
  • Another spinoff (BamBamKaBoosh) amassed 50,000 subscribers in days without any videos — just because popular creators promoted it.
  • Show me an agency that has developed video content and garnered such a fast and loyal audience without promoting it (with ads that might be better served to sell their product not a lame show).

Now the power of being a sole sponsor is far greater than an interruption ad, and these programs shouldn’t be evaluated on a basis of total views but on the impact of the views (not CPM, folks, but Dynamic Logic pre/post awareness and attitude trackers).

I’d rather have a small product placement on the most popular YouTube channel than be the sole backer of an amazing show that’s in search for an audience. Even in branded entertainment, follow the crowds unless you’re extremely confident you can create your own.

10 Replies to “Brands Looking for Good Video Content Are Smoking Acid”

  1. Nalts, you don’t have to hallucinate. Hallucinogens are for people who have somewhat stuck minds without chemicals. Your mind would probably be all over North and South America on a bit of acid.


  2. This is why I’m surprised Hooking UP didn’t do better. I added up the subs to some of the big names on the series (including you) and the total came out to 1.3 million combined. 47k subs right now for Hooking UP doesn’t seem like a lot to me considering what you mentioned about how super youtubers just mention a site and it takes off. *shrugs shoulders*

  3. Network suits and agency suits are the same side of the same coin. The network suits play it safe and drive viewers and producers to the web for interesting/edgy content. The agency suits follow the viewers to web video, but play it safe by backing safe/boring content.

    When the viewers flock to a risky producer (take Family Guy for instance), the networks and advertisers view it safe enough to get behind the show. I wouldn’t call McFarlane a sellout just because he is popular enough to have networks and agencies eating out of his hand. Remember, Family Guy was canceled once. I don’t think Seth changed, I think viewers forced networks and advertisers to take another look.

    Just sayin’… Thanks for the brain food, Nalts.

  4. @7: Probably not more than me. I was a hippie back in the day. I once did about 12 hits in one weekend; never slept, obviously. It still ranks as one of the best weekends of my life.

    But I am afraid you are too old to trip, Kevin. With your ADD, etc., you’d probably go crazy.

  5. Speaking of smoking acid, can someone please change my Wikipedia bio to the following?

    “James Jarvis, or “Crazy-Ass Jarvis” to his fearful admirers, has been involved in some bizarre way or another with computers for as long as he can stand to remember. He is noted for programming rocks, worms, Trojan horses and other things too beastly and foul to even mention.

    Raised from childhood by a uranium prospector and his Cajun wife, he sharpened his software skills by imbibing mass quantities of dangerous drugs, booze and radioactive materials. He is noted for such expressions as “stinking convenient software,” “brain donors” and “a small town in France” (the last of which, some of his few surviving critics say, is stolen, although they can’t quite determine from where).

    James enjoys resting between mad body language DEFENDER marathon frenzies and fits of long distance driving by indulging in furious spurts of emailing bad craziness. As Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once said of ‘Uncle James’ : “now there goes one dangerous fucker.”

    Jarvis is author of K3101, which no longer blinks anywhere . . . ever, gawl damn it. His web site, due to failed federal and state appeals has been deemed not to be protected under the “Freedom of Speech” clause of the US Constitution. “

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