CES to Illuminate Future of ITV

As the Consumer Electronic Show approaches, the “pre-game” show includes some buzz about Internet Television (ITV). We’re beginning to see better signs of a more mainstream evolution from “lean forward” to “lean back” consumption of video. It’s a race from the office to the living room and bedroom.
Even “post Jobs,” Apple is the most common buzz beneficiary. But a recent USAToday piece confirmed the challenges Apple has had with securing content deals — a far cry from how the company mobilized in the music industry:

“The problems Apple is having securing content deals were described in an interview with a person who worked in the Apple TV group and verified by two television industry sources.”
The trailblazer has been GoogleTV/Samsung, and Microsoft continues with its Xbox approach. While the Rokus and Tivos were early movers, I’d expect the true rivalry to ultimately occur between television manufacturers and cable providers, since “it’s a race to the living room.” While early adopters are comfortable with alternative devices and streaming from their computers, most Americans are overwhelmed with the prospect of using any device that’s not “standard issue” by their cable provider. But most televisions are now coming with web access, and that’s underexploited capacity.
Back to Apple after its lackluster AppleTV launch. Can it reinvent? The good news for Apple and other players is that we seem to be adding more TVs per family than ever.
“I do expect Apple to make an attempt,” says Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, “since I expect the living room to remain a center for family entertainment, and that touches on all areas of consumer products that Apple is already making.”

Can Google Leanback Lengthen YouTube Binges? Yes in 3 Ways.

Can GoogleTV’s new “Leanback” increase average YouTube binges? This is explores by NewTeeVee writer Ryan Lawler today.

While our fat asses watch five hours of television a day, our average time on YouTube is just 15 minutes. With an alleged one preroll per 7 minutes, that’s not a lot of advertising revenue. Can GoogleTV change it? Here’s my take on the question. Yes, yes and yes. Why?

1) Comfort lengthens consumption time. It’s a fact. Give me a couch and an AppleTV and I’m a veal. So by the very nature of offering web video conveniently and intuitively, we’re off to a good start.
2) “Related videos” increase online-video binges like cows sell food products. Nothing drives a session like being handed another food trough when yours is empty. That’s why we’re all using the last few seconds of a video to visually tease more content. It’s irresistible. Of course the minority of viewers make it to the end so I imagine MysteryGuitarMan will start teasing his next video at the midpoint not the end.
3) Nobody has cracked in online video what Amazon has done with “you may also like,” and nobody’s come up with an auto-curator tool, so there’s loads of upside. What do I mean? Screw the most-favorites and most-viewed. I want to know what my friends are laughing at because I’m likely to laugh too and the shared laugh is the ENTIRE reason things viralinate. We want — no we NEED — shared experiences. A good shares moment is better than a GREAT solo one. I’m pissed that more of my friends aren’t watching Modern Family because I want to discuss it conveniently.

So what does point 3 look like on Google TV? Suggestions need to be based not on the general population but my slice of reality. The WVFF back row likes it? I don’t want to miss it. I find something (like reruns of the Ricky Gervais show or the “acquired taste” of “Outsourced”) and I damn well want someone sharing in that. So I’m motivated. I want my GoogleTV to do three things and only three things:

  • Tell me what my friends like. And don’t make it a pain in the ass for them or me.
  • Introduce me to people with my same taste and obsessions. And do it gently because instant BFFs are short lasting ones. True friendships take time to blossom and the insta-friend is usually only there for you when he needs you.
  • Let me share my finds effortlessly with friends so we can easily share in the experience without changing my habits dramatically. And regardless of geography. I want right now to laugh about the fat nerdy guy from Outsourced and the way he body danced in the last episode when he thought he was selling the record amount of prank gifts. But it turns out he was getting punked by the douchebag Microsoft call centers who are Indian but speak jive, honkey, and redneck fluently. That’s brilliant comedy and I want to share t without hunting down some damned Outsource Fanclub blog forum shit. I wanna do it right from the TV. “insert lol” at the exact moment of the show so my friends see it when they’re watching and I can search for their LOLs.

Ultimately I’m betting on Google figuring out the new television because its legacy is in the relevance business. Google knows what I want when I can’t even articulate what I’m seeking.

I know I sound freaky but this is coming as sure a your mobile phone will be your portable remote, remembering your subscriptions and purchases and being indifferent to the monitor or location. This will happen soon enough because I know we not just want but need it.

Coca Cola and Google/YouTube to Publish Video ROI Study

Coke and Google are soon to publish ROI data on a campaign in Germany that includes online video. The study isolates individuals who were not exposed to television but did see YouTube promotion, and reports incremental consumption data by various digital channels. Paid search leads, of course, and YouTube ranks high (far above banners, which showed almost no impact… and outdoor advertising).

Jens Monsees, who heads consumer goods and healthcare at Google in Spain, teased the audience with info, but results are to be published jointly by Coke and Google. Monsees was speaking at Exlpharma.com’s “Digital Pharma Europe” in Barcelona today.

It’s about time we had a marketing mix study that includes online video, and I look forward to seeing the details. BTW- the average YouTube viewer is 31 years old.

One Small Step for Video Ad Standards. One Giant Leap for Creators and Brands.

One of the factors that has limited the growth of online-video advertising is the production and traffic work. Mike Shields of Mediaweek reports that the Interactive Advertising Bureau this week introduced a set of guidelines to standartize online-video advertising and make the medium “easier for advertisers to buy.”

The new guidelines cover three basic forms of online video ad formats: linear ads — interruptive video spots which are typically of the pre-roll variety, non-linear ads — which include the increasingly popular ‘overlay’ ad units, and companion ads — bannerlike ads that appear alongside video as it plays on the Web.

The guidelines, writes Shields, are the product of work conducted by the IAB’s Digital Video Committee, which is composed of 145 leading media companies, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. “This is a historic day,” IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg said, likening the announcement to a similar set of landmark guidelines put in place for banner advertising in the late 1990s. IAB senior vp David Doty said he thinks leadership and marketing, predicted “seismic shifts” would occur in the online ad business as a result of their adoption.

So while the viewer in me isn’t too excited to see the new “interruptive video spots,” the creator and marketer in me looks forward to the possibility that this may unlock some of the potential of this medium.

In related news, tech writer Leah Messinger writes about other sites beyond YouTube that offer advertising models brands can consider.

Google Engineer Fired for Failure of “Google + Virgin= Virgle” April Fool’s Gag

picture-20.pngGoogle fired the engineer who convinced Virgin Founder Richard Branson and Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to participate in an elaborate hoax (see press release) inviting individuals to apply to live on a Mars colony sponsored by “Virgle.”

Wired Writer Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides called it the “funniest April Fool’s Day spoof I have seen.” Whitesides is the founder of a local chapter of the Family Circus Fan Club, and has California’s largest reported collection of Alf memorabilia.

david scheydDavid Scheyd, the 28-year-old Google engineer who conceived the gag last February was, yesterday, inexplicably dismissed from his position at Google — a job he held for 4 years. “Scheyd presented the Virgle idea with such passion that we really thought it would be funny,” said Melanie LaForge, a Google spokesperson.

“It was with great regret that we had to let Scheyd go. It became clear yesterday to both Google and Scheyd that the attempted gag was too obvious and failed to amuse even the most affable and simplest minds employed by our company — the NYC media sales teams.”

Scheyd declined to comment except through a written release, in which he attributed the prank’s failure not to its concept but its poor execution. “The poor video deliveries by Branson, as well as Page and Brin, brought a sad and creepy fakeness to what might have been a very funny and believable bit.”

Neither Google nor Scheyd’s spokesperson could confirm if Scheyd had any credentials prior to leading the blunder.

Georgetown Business Historian Professor William Lawler called it “corporate America’s least-funny practical joke by a landslide.”

The only thing less funny than the prank, said Lawler, was the discussion group thread that had such actual unfunny quotes as:

  1. Maybe the cure for cancer and aids is on Mars.
  2. Curing cancer and AIDS would no doubt be a wonderful thing, increasing the quality of life for many.
  3. Consider, however, that once eradicated, there will be other things that crop up, things we didn’t foresee.
  4. There are several Mars analog projects that have been underway for some time, testing and trying to make colonization of the red planet a possibility for humanity’s future.

Scheyd would not confirm rumors that he has been offered a writing job for YouTube comedian Sxephil.

P.S. I’ve just informed that April Fool’s is over, and I’m not supposed to tease people with fake stories. But the ImprovEverywhere guy told me April Fool’s is amateur day. So by writing a fake story on April 2, I’m communicating to you that I’m a pro.

“Sorry, Partner” says YouTube

picture-6.pngSorry, Partners. Seems a few YouTubers have been getting the following response when trying out for YouTube’s Partner Program.

“The current level of viewership of your account has not met our threshold for acceptance.”

  • Should they announce what that threshold is on the “who qualifies” page?
  • Or provide a message that is a little more human?
  • Maybe let people know that the ad revenue would be laughable if views are at x level?
  • Give applicants a banner and credits to the Google store, which would be enough for many?

sorry partner

Nah, I think they should just send this clip without any text.

What Does Google’s Acquisition of DoubleClick Mean to Online Video?

Google closed on the acquisition of DoubleClick today, and issued this statement to address concerns (continued Dart service, as well as privacy provisions).

As a buyer of interactive media (primarily paid search but also targeted display), I like this deal. Google’s muscle, innovation and discipline from the paid search origins means this could enhance the metrics around otherwise cute but unaccountable display ads. I’m tired of the “let’s do another bloated consumer survey to find out what display does to awareness, recall and intent.” There’s got to be a way to get conversion rates tied better to display, and if anyone can now prove the “one-two-punch” theory of paid ‘n display (think chocolate and peanut butter yummy), Google now can. And should.

marketing text booksOh, I almost forgot. Here’s my “Enlightened Stupid Marketers” video I posted this morning to spoof my profession, and it touches on the impact of friggin’ newspaper ads versus paid search.  Did you know that stupid marketers have two choices: to remain stupid, or pretend not to be? The core YouTube audience really doesn’t care much for these niche videos, but readers of WVFF might.

Where was I? Oh. Now here’s the challenge. This deal kinda makes some online media buyers a little twitchy, as some get threatened by consolidation downstream. Some of those flickering-bulb types (you know- the pretty ones that talk too much if they talk at all) will feel they’re one step closer to being as obsolete as their moms or older sisters who were, naturally, travel agents. Maybe they should be doing PR afterall?

candy cornIn reality, the online media mix is dynamic and will always require smart, strategic buyers. It’s just that they’re only about 10 of them in the world, and 7 of them lose their charm exactly 6.5 days after they win the new account. Like Candycorn, the first few handfuls are delicious, and then suddenly you feel like you’re eating sweetened candles and can’t stand the site of them. You loved the little puppies in the litter, and now they’re just pissing on the furniture, biting the couch and barking all night.

So get to the damned point, Nalts. What does this acquisition mean to video? Well, probably nothing initially. But long term it’s good news for two reasons:

  1. Text ads are currently more relevant than display ads around videos. Since Revver hasn’t been selling many single-frame display ads these days, we’re seeing the Google-run text ads (Adsense) served “InVid” style. Guess what? They’re actually relevant and capture my attention more than current display ads. I watch a lot of videos, and have developed ad anethesia for the limited number of CPG companies doing “run of site” ads across YouTube. Don’t stop, guys. I owe my YouTube partner income to you.
  2. Since it’s Google buying Doubleclick (and not the other way around), we’ll see display develop some of the maturity of paid search. Harnass the visceral medium of InVid (quarter frame ads) with their sister display ads, then add the relevance of text relevancy. And if the databases can be merged in ways that don’t freak out the privacy people, then ads become even more relevant albiet sometimes creepy.

Now Google has two more challenges to make video advertising really interesting.

  1. The Google account teams have to grow beyond paid search. This is not an easy transition. SEM (search engine marketing) buyers have a very hard time with CPM (cost per million- a term for buying for an ad based on impressions not performance). Meanwhile SEM sellers need to be trained to talk to CPM junkies. It’s kinda like being bilingual. You need a translator around for a period. Currently, it’s a buyer’s market for video advertising. I am convinced that the “marketers are afraid of buying ads around CGM (consumer generated media)” hype is a big, fat, stinkin’ red herring. It’s just that nobody is showing marketers how online video ads and more creative sponsorships can move their business. Google plus YouTube plus DART should be able to pull that off, but it’s going to require behavior and organizational shift.
  2. Now the big challenge. If I get a CPC (cost per click) based on text ads around my videos, then I’ll tag them all with free Viagra, mortgage, loans, lawers and digital camera.  So we need that ever-evasive “text recognition” technology that turns my droaning voice into targetable text. Blinkx was supposed to be doing this years ago. Then, of course, I’ll just start saying all those tag words as part of my scripts. 🙂

Even My Boss Knew About This Video

It’s not often my boss mentions YouTube, and I usually try to avoid eye contact when he does. But at today’s staff meeting he mentioned that a friend from a former employer had a YouTube video called “Here Comes Another Bubble” by The Richter Scales. It’s a wonderful satire on the absurdity of web 2.0 which, indeed, begs for another bubble burst. It’s done to the music of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

No sooner had I forgotten about his Bubble video did I discover that it trumped me on the “highest rated video of the day on YouTube. And I had actually done a storyboard for my “iPod Angel & Devil” video, which involved makeup, script, and a wicked amount of editing time (parenthetically this iPod video was born out of my frustration about overlooking the free AT&T phone by signing up directly with AT&T instead of Mac, and a quote that popped out of my mouth in a meeting this week: “I just paid $400 to eliminate jealousy.”).

Kudos to the Bubble video, which will be one of the seminal viral creations. If I’m going to be beat I’m delighted to see something this entertaining (versus musical montages of funny cat photos). This was cleverly written, jampacked imagery, and self depricating (it depicts a blog post with “another lame web 2.0 music video”)