What is This Blog?

spencer.jpgFarting in Public” was just featured on the homepage of YouTube (thanks, editors!). This is my second time featured (last was for Viral Video Genius).

So this is a brief post to explain WillVideoForFood.com to curious YouTubers.

WillVideoForFood.com is a blog devoted to online video. The site was designed to help video creators monetize their work through online video sites. It also addresses trends in online video, video creation, and video creation. Occasionally it highlights a video — especially if it’s an opportunity to plug my own work.

Sorry to put you regular readers through that.

Candid Camera, Amateur Style

spencer.jpgWhen my Bored at Mall” was featured on Break.com I was reminded how much people like real reactions to staged situations. It’s what made Candid Camera, Punked and “Trigger Happy TV.”

This weekend we did two similar videos, which are currently topping the list of most discussed and highest rated comedies on YouTube (see image below). It began when my nephew’s friend, Spencer, showed up at our house eager to make a video. He’s been watching my videos, and volunteered to do practically anything.

So on Saturday, we took Spencer to the library with a fart machine (see “Farting in Public” on YouTube, Revver or Metacafe). Thanks to Brad Aronson for inspiring this prank. If you select “more” below you’ll see the dozens of honors it has at the moment, including top-rated comedy of the day today (as decided by viewers).

Hundreds of viewers fell for Spencer immediately, so he showed up for more on Sunday. My patient wife watched the kids while we took Spencer to the center of town — where he posed as a talentless caricature artist. (see “Ugly Caricature” on YouTube, Revver or Metacafe). It was fun watching people react to receiving a stick-figure caricature from the hopeless illustrator.

most.jpgWhat’s even more fun is watching how different people respond. For instance, most kids reacted immediately to Spencer’s fake farts. But adults tried diplomacy. And few wanted to insult Spencer’s art skills, so they mostly pretended to like his drawings. A few even gave him tips. I just sat there giggling behind the camera because I’m a grown-up adolescent.

If Spencer’s parents permit, we have more plans for the guy that reminds many of a G-rated version of the “Man Show” kid. I’m hoping he’ll wear a chicken suit and reluctantly hand out fliers for his dad’s new fast-food chicken restaurant. Pipistrello has already volunteered to play his angry dad, who gazes from a distance as Spencer quietely tells people the chicken has simonella.

P.S. I try to provide posts to YouTube, as well as to sites that share advertising revenue with me (Revver and Metacafe). YouTube is fun because you can read the crowd reactions. But if you’re going to post a link to these, I’d obviously prefer Metacafe or Revver… since YouTube still doesn’t pay.

Continue reading “Candid Camera, Amateur Style”

“Larry the Cable Guy” Wants to Meet Media Buyers

larry-cable-guy.jpgI’m attending a Feb. 9 (Friday) “sneak peek” of a new broadband comedy-video channel at a cocktail party and concert at Radio City Music Hall. They are offering a limited number of invites for people in the media buying community.

The concert will feature a top-grossing comedian in America, “Larry the CableGuy.” If you are on the media and/or client side for products aimed at young men, send a note with your job title and clients to RCMHBCC @ aol.com. The invites are limited so act quickly. I hope to see you there. Cocktails at 6, Concert at 8. And we will get to meet Larry before the show.

And yes I’ll be sneaking a camera in to meet Larry. What’s he gonna do? Kick my ass? I can totally… er… handle him.

Benefit of User-Testing Viral Videos

testing.jpgI hope this video demonstrates the power of user-testing viral videos to ensure they’re funny before launch. It’s the difference between being a viral-video creator and a viral videologist.

Our method was simple. The moderator had individual subjects review the videos, and we observe their responses behind a two-way glass. Laughter was recorded, and viewers were asked to rate each video according to key comedic criteria. Each viewer was screened according to a) frequency of online-video viewing, b) sense of humor, and c) ability to fake laugh.

Of course things went a little sour at the end. But this is fairly typical for one of our sessions. There’s always a “hater,” and you have to know how to deal with these people.

A Marketer’s Worst Viral-Video Nightmare. Poor Dove.

dove.jpgLet’s say you’re the interactive marketer for Dove. You finally sold your management on the concept of inviting people to make ads for a contest viral video! They said they were afraid of what people may enter. But you said, “don’t worry… if it’s not appropriate we won’t feature it.”

And then this video ends up on YouTube. Ouch. Warning: obscenity and contagious melody. Courtesy of GraniteBaySoftware’s blog.

What do you do? You laugh, and then realize your career at Dove is over.

What makes this such a cringer is that it’s not your typical “this product sucks” spoof commercial. It actually appears to be trying to promote Dove, and then just gets more and more outrageous… until the culmination “you asked for it” line.

And it’s like a car accident. You don’t want to look but you must.

William Shatner’s “Negotiator” Priceline Commercials: A Rant

shatner.jpgHere’s a classic example of brilliant advertising creative executed horribly online. According to MediaPost:

Priceline.com has changed the way it uses spokesman William Shatner in its ads; rather than playing himself, he has morphed into the character of chief negotiating officer.

Here’s a memo to the Priceline folks:

  • First, ingenious idea to have Shatner in character. Your creative agency is doing its job. It made MediaPost “Out to Launch” Editor Amy Corr laugh outloud. Me too.
  • The ads are funny, retro and reinforce the value proposition of Priceline. It’s your negotiator. It wants you to save money even more than you do.

Now the problem… this whole thing manifests itself horribly online.

Ugh. This doesn’t need to be so complicated. When the agency finishes the shoot, they hire an online specialist. Here are a few things a good interactive agency of record might have done:

  1. Forget paying the agency $500K (a guess) to over-engineer a campaign micro site that is user hostile. There’s a reason YouTube’s hot. It’s quite easy to find and play videos.
  2. Upload the videos on all of the video sites. Don’t wait until people do that for you. Otherwise you’ll find spoofs that get more traffic than your videos. They’ll be there whether you like it or not, but don’t rely on them. Use a cool username like “PricelineNegotiator” not something stupid where you’re pretending to be a regular consumer.
  3. Create a simple web page with a unique URL (PricelineNegotiator.com) and embed the videos on that site. That will take about 10 minutes and $50. Park a few more domains like ShatnerNegotiator, PricelineShatnerNegotiator, etc., and have them redirect to the main site. This will help ensure that Google searches take people to a site Priceline controls instead of to the video some guy uploaded to YouTube. Too late for this because as I type I can feel someone parking those URLs.
  4. Link to this campaign page with a callout on Priceline’s homepage. But with text not an image. If you must use an image because the designers are too vogue for text, at least“image-tag” it so the first words are Shatner, Priceline, Negotiator, Television, Advertisement. That will help secure high organic listings on Google & Yahoo. Remember that Google places much more emphasis on those first words of an image tag.
  5. Improve that paid search campaign. You may be wasting money buying text ads against “Shatner” (at least the text ads are customized to the campaign). Even if those have a low CPC, you’re neglecting to buy terms like “Priceline advertisement” or “Shatner commercial.”
  6. Develop the campaign more online. Give the Negotiator a MySpace account. Shoot some extra video for online only. Build some buzz. Put some online media dollars against it. Do some online outreach to blogs, discussion boards, etc.
  7. Create a YouTube identity and have someone respond to the community as Shatner’s character might. Don’t pretend you’re really Shatner. We know better. But give the persona an online presence.

What makes this so unforgivable is that Priceline is an online entity and this whole thing is missing a lot of new media basics. By the way- my criticism here is totally from the sidelines. I don’t know any of the agencies involved, and I have a day job so I’m not trying to get work.

MediaPost reports  that Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners created the campaign, and Ocean Media handled the media buy. I’d never heard of either of these, so I Googled the former- it’s BSSP.com. They have a division that does web stuff called SFInteractive. I’d be willing to bet that someone at SFI knows all this stuff, but the two divisions didn’t collaborate effectively. Or that everyone decided the online stuff would be “phase 2,” which you can’t do anymore. In fairness, this is complete speculation.

Why am I burnt about this? Because many companies are consolidating and making offline agencies do online work. But the traditional agencies are still woefully behind on a medium that’s almost a decade old. And even if they have the online talent in another division, it’s often untapped.

The Cost of a Viral Video Campaign

Business Week did a story on the omnipresent “The Viral Video Factory.”  Found via Adriana’s FURL.

Here’s the quote I found of interest:

Clients, nevertheless, are willing to play with higher sums. Advertisers will spend more than $1 million for a viral video campaign now, says Smith, a far cry from the $10,000-$20,000 he and Robinson charged for their earliest projects. “The market is maturing,” he says. “It has been a little bit slapdash and little bit adolescent until now. As budgets grow, there needs to be more rigor and professionalism brought into the process.”

This is a little missleading because earlier viral videos were covering production only. Now some deals are involving media dollars and larger payments to known creators.