A New Model for Producing Television & Online-Video Ads

Okay get a coffee and sit down. This is one of my important posts. You’ll learn in this one post more than you learned in that stupid communications major (the sender sends messages, and the receiver receives them). I switched majors the day I realized half of the women in my Freshman 101 communications class wanted to be the next Oprah.

Now traditional advertisers and commercial production shops don’t much like the notion of online video ads (especially consumer created) because they prefer to shoot $500,000 commercials in lovely locations. It’s one of the perks of selling your soul to agencies. And I’ve got friends that bemoan the future of television spots as they adore the romantic trip to Europe (to film a pool that looks remarkably like one in a New Jersey suburb).

Alas, advertisers and their favorite commercial directors need not fear online video! While we marketers may request fewer $500K commercials, we’ll still need good content. Lots of it. Instead of one Superbowl spot, however, we’ll want an assortment of creative ads that appeal to our various and fragmenting audiences. So we need to get our cost-per-produced-minute down by 50% or more. And I’m not talking about amortizing the shoot by rotating three actors: a white guy, one hispanic gal, and a slightly overweight Asian transgender.

We ideally want to tailor the ad content to the medium. I was thrilled to see V’s debut (the television show) with a character on YouTube’s homepage that actually mentioned YouTube. Hey, she belongs here. Check out this Louisiana hot sauce spot by pro-amateur Jared Cicon (embedded below), and if you drool over it like I do… check out the rest of his reel. Is it Superbowl material? Maybe not, but it would cost about the same as a single ticket to the game. And I think if Jared (who conveniently puts himself in most of his spots) would probably have just the same Q rating as the best-looking transgender Asian your talent agency could find.

We have two important forces at work: advertisers need MORE video content to participate in the 30-40% growth of spending on this channel. And we have lower-cost options like Jared that do damned good work. So what’s the solution? Wel you have three choices:

  1. First, large production shops — with pricey directors and overbaked sets — can dial down their costs for the medium. I’ve talked to at least 5 production companies that are adjusting their model to bring budgets down (on a shoot for a magazine ad photo, I was happy to see wardrobe with 90 clothing options from Gap that they’d return the next day for a credit).
  2. The other option is for advertisers to put work “out to bid” to a new swarm of directors with minimal costs but talent (that won’t impact the veteran directors, is awesome for the noobs, and probably scares the hell out of the rest). Use a clearinghouse like Poptent.org, or go direct to people like Jared.
  3. Finally, advertisers can run a contest. However I don’t like to see online ads for contests like the Dove blitz. I feel like the advertiser should be selling the product not wasting it on reaching those of us that enter video contests (although they get points for trying to engage the audience). Ultimately most contests get minimal participation, and why not just reach out to ringers — especially if they have an audience online.

Mind you, Jared or PopTent offer advertisers low-cost but remarkable production quality via amateurs. What you won’t get, of course, is an audience. That’s why Hitviews, who contracts with “weblebrities” who already have an audience, makes more sense for some… you get a decent video, and fairly guaranteed views. Or, as I wrote about yesterday, you could bid for product placement on Placevine or Zadby.

By the way, I like an online-video contest that rewards the cat who drives the most views or votes, and Jared likes the ones where quality actually matters to the judges. He’s got talent and I have an audience. In the end, Jared always wins and I get a free f’ing Slurpy coupon.

In 2010 smart advertisers will commission work for less than the cost of an agency dinner. And here’s the part you say “hooray!” First, we can skip 45-stages of market research, and just flight the damned partially executed concepts and learn from them. How’s that for a dislodging that kidney stone? Maybe “ready, go, set” is better than “ready, ready, ready, ready, set, set, set…” Second, we can finally determine if the ad worked because of the messaging or the creative… because we can test multi-varied approaches.

What the hell do I know about research? I’m not even sure I used multi-varied approaches correctly. But I can tell you that I spent an assload of my employers’ money to test three sets of creative, and still wonder if we’d have been better off with a different execution of one of the alternative campaigns that died in market research maybe because the headline or image didn’t resonate with those pretend consumers that spend 50% of their life behind a two-way mirror for cash.

Can I hear an AMEN!?

Now you’ll flight 20 ads online, and take the crappy half out to pasture. See? Maybe we can finally kill that stupid quote: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I don’t know what half.” It’s about as cute as “Hang on Baby, Friday’s Coming.”

P.S. Some of you will love this ad, and some of you will hate it. But good news. Some day Google will save you the trouble of ignoring an ad or moaning over it… you’ll only see the ones you love.

8 Replies to “A New Model for Producing Television & Online-Video Ads”

  1. Hi Nalts,
    Allen Mez (faithful Nalts blog follower), gave me the heads up that you had posted this blog article. Very generous of you to include me and paint me with such a positive brush, and you didn’t once mention how fat I am. I have to say, it is one of your more interesting reads….ha ha ha.

    Anyways, seriously….thanks. If I get any business from it I’ll send you some more of my left over chicken nugget coupons. {:-])

  2. Kevin, I still find it ironically depressing how you continue to give advice about video contests after completely failing to practice what you preach when you ran your own contest (think NaltsConsulting logo).

  3. Alexis- thanks for the irony alert.
    Nutcheese- thanks for repeating assload. Can I use that in a book?
    Jared- If I was to observe that you’re well insulated I’d have to come to terms with the hound dog face dripping over my belt. Dick-do disease.

  4. I keep telling Jared this. He needs to cast the stars! He needs to cast Nalts or ShayCarl or iJustine in one of his slick commercials. Then he’d have quality AND views. But NOOOOO, Jared’s gotta be in EVERYTHING. 😉

    Kevin, why don’t you introduce him to one of your high-powered YouTube friends out here in L.A.? I bet a lot of them would jump at being in a higher quality production.

    Thanks for the tip about this post, Allen Mez.

  5. Allen Mez here. No really it’s me, not one of the many impostors riding my coat tails. Nals, I find myself agreeing with you all the time now which wasn’t always the case. I don’t which one of our views have changed in relationship to YouTube but who cares. I’m just trying to create the highest quality animation I can while slowly building an audience. (Most come from outside of YouTube). I know that I can do it better and cheaper than a production house. A brave and forward thinking sponser is waiting eagerly out there.

    Soooo…Nalts, how are your VO chops?

    Carry on-A

  6. mmmmm bbq – with LHS

    Jared’s commercials make me want to buy stuff and I don’t shop.

    so anyways I was listing to the radio and they were talking about all these cooking rags that went under cause of ad rev and online – so, I’ve got this million dollar you tube idea – who wants it?

  7. Matt’s right — for the perfect chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination of online video advertising, there needs to be a collaborative effort between the talented Jareds and the widely-viewed Nalts’… It begs the question of why someone hasn’t come up with one Youtube channel that showcases ALL the best talent that’s out there… That, to me, sounds like an online advertiser’s dream.

    That being said, if I was an advertiser, I’d be more interested in reaching the RIGHT audience, rather than the widest. Dontcha think Jared’s Louisiana Hot Sauce video would lead to more sauce sales if it ran on a food blog or website (link), where it would likely get fewer views, but by a higher percentage of people who are more likely to act on the ad’s message? I think that’s money better-spent, myself.

    When it comes to contesting, I’m on Jared’s side — I prefer judging rather than views as a criterion for selecting a winner. Not only because I have virtually NO audience, but also because I think in the long run, advertisers get a better value by choosing an end product whose viability extends beyond the duration of the contest. Something they could use online, on TV, this week, next month, etc…

    As an advertiser, before you have ANY kind of audience, you need a salient message. Then you need to get it in front of the right eyes and ears. Then your sales will go up, and only then will your promotional contest expenditure be justified. To close, I’ll add a favorite quote of mine, by I-forget-who: “Don’t tell me you liked my ad. Tell me you bought the product.”

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