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.