When Will Online-Video Advertising Evolve to “Buddy System”?

the haunting

This week we saw YouTube pushing its homepage advertising to a new level, selling Lionsgate (“The Haunting in Connecticut”) both the masthead and the standard right “box unit” for a new unit. It’s called the “cross talk” ad, which is a lovely name for it. It really does have a nice effect (from a marketer’s perspective). But what it gets in reach it’s missing in relevancy.

YouTube executives — according to AdAge— declined to say what YouTube charged, but one person with knowledge of the deal said the Lionsgate ad was part of a $500,000 integrated buy that included search and display across Google’s network. YouTube gets 30 million visitors to its home page daily, and delivers 56% (Neilsen) of all videos.

I find it frustrating that a disproportionate amount of the attention toward online-video marketing is on reach instead of relevancy. Let’s take an analogy —  if your buddy says you can’t miss new Haunting Film, that unarguably effects you more than finding a “Haunting” flier on your windshield for three consecutive mornings.


Naturally there’s still a vital role for the “fliers” of the medium: banners, Invideo ads, homepage takeovers and other forms of interruption advertising. They’re easy, scalable and get us lots of attention quickly. No video creator can reach 30 million people instantly. But the “buddy system” is also important (and yes I just coined that term, thank you). The online-video stars of YouTube have a “buddy-like” relationship with an audience who are influencing others.

Why are the online-video dollars (growing at 40% this year) still pouring mostly into old forms of promotion wrapped around a new medium? To me, it’s almost like seeing a 60-second television spot that’s a video recording of a print ad.

Uncle Nalts has an answer…The Digital-Marketing Mix is still driven by legacy media-advertising buyers who are cozy with CPM advertising. They know what they should spend, and how much it changes awareness (and maybe intent or purchase). They’re not yet familiar with the unique promotional properties of this online-video medium. The lower the CPM the better the deal. The lower the CPM the better the deal. The lower the CPM the better the deal.

George S., who runs the YouTube Partner program, adds below (see comments): “These decisions are typically made at the agency level, not by YouTube, and they will evolve as social media matures.” He’s right- YouTube can influence how advertisers leverage the medium, but ultimately require agencies to recognize the synergy with media and entertaining videos.

These big programs, initiated by well-meaning media buyers, fail to leverage more cost-effective and higher-impact options. Imagine dozens of known YouTube “stars” (popular characters, personality troupes, comedy troupes, and individual web shows) posting videos about the film in the week prior to its release. It would be fun to see unique creepy spoofs ala the Dr. Slasher video I did (not paid) for MySpace Dr. Slasher. The cost would be nominal relative to the media buy. And we’d see comments, replies, discussions and buzz… Of course we’d need pre-post or test-control research that proves the obvious… a “shout out” by Michael Buckley, para example, is worth more than dozens of ad impressions.

Please not, Uncle Nalts is not saying homepage takeovers are dead because those 30 million YouTube homepage visitors get us vital reach, and Buckley and his fellow creators are reaching only a fraction of YouTube’s daily audience. But the regular YouTube audience (who watch 10 plus videos, and are subscribed to some of the more popular stars) are arguably the ‘trend setters’ that are at the center of a marketer’s bullseye. So if a promotion gets them jazzed, there’s an important and often overlooked spillover.

More importantly, the combination of the homepage — driving people to engaging amateur videos by known personalities — is going to make that “Cross-Talk” work a lot harder.

11 Replies to “When Will Online-Video Advertising Evolve to “Buddy System”?”

  1. Wow. That video…ridiculous.


    Seriously…you are a marketing genius…or at least you appear to be.

    You need to get your ass in the doors of google. Stat.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, babysitterofnalts. I’m actually surprised that Google hasn’t actively recruited me (although I have interviewed casually). Honestly, my GPA is maybe the deal breaker. Believe it or not, they care. There aren’t many people that understand online-video and advertising and marketing as well as me, but my GPA at Georgetown was just okay. The MBA (Babson) was a bit better. It’s never mattered to Johnson & Johnson or others. Then again- maybe it’s not the GPA. Maybe it’s that I’m a maverick like Palin and McCain. I need to be more Obamaish. Or maybe Google can’t see Kevin Nalty past the childlike Nalts.

  3. Agreed overall. It really comes down to legacy media buying practices and simplicity of the execution, as you mentioned. These decisions are typically made at the agency level, not by YouTube, and they will evolve as social media matures. There is room for both your buddy-system and reach buys – try them both simultaneously and you’ll probably have a real winner.


  4. Online media is becoming more and more like cable tv. I literally LOL’d when I first saw “The Haunting” ad of the boy spewing something as it engulfed half of my monitor…thank god for the “exit this ad” button, or whatever it said. If only pre-rolls had a “skip this ad” button…news webpages are so bad about that, it pisses me off! I literally watch the videos I want to see then when the same pre-roll ad comes on again…I’ll usually just click off the webpage completely, even if I didn’t get to see the news coverage I was originally aiming for.

    Do tweets have ads attached to the end of them yet? Probably.

  5. I recently watched a television program about advertising where advertising company employees suggested that:

    “… on line people in that space, people are used to be tricked and they don’t mind…”


    “… we’re in the age of social media and we’re in the age of people just getting engaged with these things for the sake of it.”

    A lot of people within these industries have no understanding that the world has changed. (It is as if they’re stuck in a Bewitched rerun.) I think we’re going to have to actually wait for them to die out (or retire) before much changes.

  6. Change is slow to come – here we are in the middle of a financial crisis and talk of the problems that caused it are just being bantered about.
    Some crisis, eh?

    Speaking of grades…of course I did quite well, but in the real world it means little when it comes to instinct and getting the job done. Google survives on being close to a monopoly not innovation. With all their influence and wealth they should be far more advanced, so GPA takes a back seat to what is really worthwhile.

    Just ask Peter Schiff who predicted the downfall of the financials back in 2006. This man doesn’t hire people on where they went to school, but what they know and have achieved in the business and how what they bring to the table relates to the very successful the model he’s put together and promotes. That’s real entrepreneurship and speaking of innovation it’s what has made this country great and the only thing that will save us from the current crisis.

    I probably should have stopped at ‘change is slow to come.’

    If only this burdensome-red-tape -corporate-government mindset would get out of the way of inspiration and give us back out freedom to invent and create again. Power’s a bitch!

    Kevin you need to connect with someone who has vision and lots of money. I suggest you write down exactly what you are looking for and put it under your pillow.

  7. Thoughts I scribbled down when I lived in a homeless veterans shelter and worked as a couch guard at a nearby Culver City luxury apartment complex (oh the irony) :

    Living here in this veterans’ retirement home for brain dead, caucassian-hating, drug-addled negroes (white, black, brown and yellow; we are ALL negroes here) who are angry that their eighth grade educations don’t qualify them for upper management salaries (not that we want anything at all, oh Lord no, to do with upper management responsibilities) . . .

    . . . riding a 49 cc leafblower-with-wheels Chinese scooter through the fast food franchise-ravaged ghetto to a Sucko Security couch-guarding job in cheesy, brie-sie Culver City, land of the overpaid, souless, children of waste . . . feels less than noble today.

    God help me, I think I belong here in this homeless veterans shelter, but I’d rather be in Colorado right now.

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