Yahoo Begs Marketers to Put TV Commercials Online. I Puke But Understand.

(Half the fun of this post is the hyperlinked videos to punctuate the copy).

Below is an ad from a trade magazine, where Yahoo let’s advertisers know their television ads can move online. My immediate reaction (after I puked and rinsed my vomit) was that Yahoo is basically teaching advertisers and brands to annoy its users. Not a good long-term strategy.

Hey, marketer. Hey, marketer. Hey, marketer. Send us your TV spots and money. Hey, marketer.

Then again, Yahoo has long shown it knows its REAL audience is not the silly fools who visit the site, but those that give it money. Yahoo has partnered with larger content providers, fetched large integrated advertising dollars like Fagin’s army of orphans, and countered You “animal farts” Tube with promises of advertising-safe content not user-generated content.

So Yahoo goes after the path of least resistance. It’s not an entirely reckless move. If you’re an online property and see the vast majority of marketing dollars going into television… why not be “an online television set”? It’s easier for marketers to understand, and for lazy media buyers to spend without a lot of work.

No seriously. Prerolls make me obsessed with brands.

Consider the mind of the marketer:

  • My VP keeps asking me to shift dollars to online. I don’t want to hassle with a dumb ass branded Facebook page.
  • Wait- I don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars customizing my content for the medium?
  • I can just have my “Agency of Record” account lead tell his production people to send the Yahoo people a compressed version of our :30 and :60 spots?
  • Then I shift some of my budget allocation? Sign me up. Yey prerolls!

Meanwhile, the consumer is silently skipping or indulging the ads with despise (even the dumbest online site won’t measure or share data on how prerolls have negative impact on brand sentiment). The hapless user/viewer is forced to watch television ads before and during the content they want. Suddenly they start drifting away from Yahoo, and looking for less obnoxious ways to get content and entertainment.

It’s a smart, strategic way to spur a shift of media dollars, even if it comes at the expense of Yahoo’s other target audience (the users and viewers).

Will it work? It might bring some fast revenue, but its sustainability requires a) the non-ad content being so incredible that Yahoo viewers tolerating this, and b) if Yahoo can use this approach as a buyer “hook,” then quickly adapts the ad content to make it engaging (something the ad promises, but is not as easy as repurposing television spots).

A more sustainable approach would be to partner with firms that can create “branded entertainment” (whatever that means to you), or set up rich media entertainment with non-intrusive but inviting ads (the Seven Echo model). But really… does Yahoo have the time or patience for that?

You Spend More Time Watching Online Videos Than Having Sex

laptop versus sex

If you’re an average online-video watcher, then today you’ll watch about 2 videos, and spend 6 minutes doing so. You’ll most likely be on YouTube, but if you’re watching long-form television on Hulu you’re probably skewing the average by watching for much longer per session/view.

People watching online video in the U.S. now watch more than three hours per month, according to new data from Nielsen Online. Studies suggest people, on average, have sex once a week. My sources on sexual frequency and duration are a bit sketchy here, so you can do your own digging.

So, friends, you’re probably watching online-videos for more time each month than you are having sex — depending, of course, on whether you’re one of those 2.7 minute “slam bam thank you mam” YouTube people, or if you prefer the longer forplay of “Hulu-like” engagements.

And I’m not sure all of that online-video viewing is going to help you in the sex department, but it’s a more reliable, albeit often less climaxic, alternative.

Check out Stephen Shankland’s “Online Viewing Clears Three Hours Per Month.”  Neilsen is the source. Do you know how silly that headline will look by the end of the year? First, we’ll have a more difficult time what’s occuring “online” versus “offline” as devices merge. Second, because that three hours will grow dramatically as people begin to consume an episode of Lost (which is, by my crude calculations, roughly the same time it would take to consume about 20 or so short videos on YouTube).

Here are some other notable points from Shanland, and a pretty chart so you can see that YouTube is dominating viewers and videos viewed. But this is going to change when we look at duration spent per site. After all, Hulu has longer-form content, and Yahoo’s 25 million users could, with a little prompting by Yahoo, start watching more video. Hulu has more ad inventory than it has sold, and one can only assume the ad inventory isn’t sufficient for Yahoo to compel its visitors to consume video. Or perpahs Yahoo visitors are busy enjoying display ads and drinking their Tabs or Mr. Pibbs.

  • March viewing rose 13 percent to 191 minutes.   Total video streams viewed increased 9 percent from 8.9 billion to 9.7 billion. And the number of videos per user grew 7 percent from about 70 to 74. 
  • If time spent is going up faster than videos streamed, that means a) we’re tolerating 2.7-minute YouTube clips, or b) Longer form content is skewing the average, and we’re continuing to expect our YouTube clips to be 2-3 minutes. I suspect the latter, but Neilsen and the Shankenizer aren’t saying. video share by website

The market share:

  1. Google’s YouTube continues to dominate the category, with 5.5 billion videos and 89 million people using the service in the U.S.
  2. Hulu is in second place with 348 million videos and 9 million users.
  3. Yahoo is in third place with 232 million videos, but it’s got more users than Hulu, about 25 million users.
  4. Revver is not ranking.


Top 10 Best Superbowl Ads (and 3 worst)

Best & Worst Superbowl Ads of 2009


What were the best Superbowl commercials that will help you survive the watercooler this week? Check out Charlie and I as we do a video review on YouTube of the best (and worst), (see it on Google video too) and click here to view the entire ads on various online-video sites.

Note that this post and video were done before the game actually finished, so we may see some unexpected surprises and need to revise accordingly. What do you think? Have some favorites I didn’t mention, or some losers of your own?


Here’s a Hulu widget that lets you watch the Superbowl ads in HD…


Now here’s my top-10 list (you can also see Adweek for some coverage).

  • Number 10 was Coke”s avatar ad–  visually appealing and sentimental. 
  • Number 9 may be the most quoted ad: “Think With Your Dipstick Jimmy” by Castrol. Annoying at first, but it grows on you like fine wine or oil sludge.
  • For spot 8… I don’t often like repeat campaigns but that eTrade baby did it again with talking babies. 
  • Position 7 belongs to Dreamworks animated film “Monsters Verus Aliens” and the clips rocked even in 2D.
  •  Number 6 belongs to CareerBuilder for reminding us that these symptoms may indicate it’s time to brush up the resume. 
  • Number 5 goes to Denny’s who flip off iHop’s foo-foo pancakes. We need more Giggledrops, baby.
  •  The fourth best ad belongs to Coke with its medley of animated insects. Ladybugs, like cows, sell.
  • The hotly debated number 3 ad is Pepsi’s Refresh mosh up of Forever Young featuring Bob Dillon and
  • The second greatest Superbowl ad this year goes to Pedigree Dogfood video, which features no dogs but will be the most talked about. Rhinos in cars? Common, peeps. If you didn’t laugh at that ad, check you funny pulse.Now for number 1: Miller Light’s “Deliver Guy” ad by Saatchi & Saatchi  is the indesputable winner of pre and post game buzz. Windell Middlebrooks spent 17 hours taping these 1-second spots, and it worked.
Now the losers?
  • Spot 3 is the absurdly forced Gatorade ad featuring a collection of athletes and animated lizards. Puleez- 1996. 
  • The second loser award goes to for still pitching hosting solutions with hot babes.  That campaign is beaten to death, and is almost as bad as Peta’s banned veggie campaign. The absolute worst ad belongs to the biggest sellout since me. Ed McMahon’s Cash4Gold.comlong after we care.
  • I know many liked this “amateur” Doritos advertisement, but I was almost tempted to put it in the worst category. What? I’m not a sore loser or anything. Right Reubnick? Okay- here’s my losing entry to Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” contest.
Finally, some cool quotes to give you extra credit at the watercooler. Use them as your own if you wish…
  1. Gawker’s Joshua Stein: “A girl shoving a stalk of broccoli up her cooter doesn’t make me want to stop eating meat even a little.” 
  2. Although the economy meant fewer startup ads, Techcrunch Michael Arrington’s favorite is Technorati, although they cheated by using footage from one of my favorite movies. His readers were polled and agree. 
  3. “It’s sure not 2008 any more,” said Nathan McKelvey, the CEO of Poor executives…

Now what do you think?! And here is YouTube’s “AdBlitz” channel that now features all of the ads…

Youtube AdBlitz Superbowl Videos
See 2009 Superbowl Commercials on YouTube


Watch Superbowl Ads Online on 7 Video Sites

Why watch the game, when you can catch all of the advertisements on these online-video sites? And hey- most of these ads don’t have any prerolls. That goodness Madison Avenue and the online-video sites are finally cooperating. 

The Secret Sauce of Viral Video? Falling Off a Stage. And Dressing Like a Dork in Public.

It’s now officially my Halmark. I like falling off the stage when I speak. This morning I did it at a Yahoo! conference in Toronto, and practically caused the organizer to go into labor early (sorry, Adina).

Here’s the highlights, and includes some footage for a future video called “Dork Runner.” Thanks to mugglesam for finding the costume store and working camera on this footage. Dork Runner will be in Philly’s YoTube event Friday, NYC on Monday, and LA on Wednesday. Stay tuned for a montage.

On Slideshare, you can download the presentation I showed here, which is called “The Secrets of Viral Video Marketing.” The embed is below, and you can click thru to get to the download page. Please attribute it to per creative commons or whatever.

Is Yahoo TV Closing or Widening Chasm Between Online Video & Television?

Yahoo TV Verizon sponsoredWhich online-video site is mostly likely to be part of the bridge between television and the Internet? You can fault the model, and question it’s sustainability. But Yahoo TV is well poised to leverage its partnerships with Verizon and TiVo to start serving its bite-sized video content via television sets equipped with broadband boxes.

Take, for example, Yahoo TV’s “Prime Time in No Time,” a show hosted by Frank Nicotero that recaps the prior evening’s television shows. It’s interesting on at least two levels:

  1. It appeals to TV junkies. I’m not sure there’s a market for general prime-time recaps (since audiences tend to form around tighter niches). But it’s clearly targeted at TV viewers who maybe need some hand holding to start consuming via Yahoo’s mini-TV play. With some prime time promotion, I can see this audience growing.
  2. The ad model is interesting. Verizon gets a brief intro (not a preroll that I noticed), some banner wrap-arounds, and even a logo tucked nicely in the host’s corner frame. It’s dominant without being obtrusive.

Yahoo Menu No Amateur VideoSo we’re still in the infancy of the “TV and online video” collision, which is clearly going to take much more time than we hoped. I’m far less interested in television administered in once-a-day pills (instead of intravanious drips). I find the more fascinating side to be the amateur creators gaining broader exposure than they currently get (assuming they’re good enough, and have consistent content that appeal to steady audiences even if relatively small).

While YouTube is still better poised for the latter, Yahoo comes at the web more like AOL: looking more like TV on the computer than web video as most consume it now. So we see less and more polished content, but fairly superficial interaction between the content and its audience. It’s still “one to many” unlike the magic of online video “many to many” play.

It’s Amazon not eBay.

As an example, one of my few popular videos on Yahoo has 90K views but just 90 comments. While one in a thousand comment on Yahoo Video, most of my YouTube videos get 1-2 percent of viewers commenting. My Mac Air spoof got 27K views with 13 comments, while the same Mac Air spoof on YouTube got 374K views and 1564 comments.

Typically the initial online successes are “pure plays” and not an offline entity moving in. This is true with almost any industry: gaming, retail, travel and media. But it will take a few failures along the way. YahooTV is bringing TV and online video ever so slightly closer together — even if it ends up being a log over the river.

Note that Yahoo Video (the quasi amateur section) still exists, but it’s not part of the primary menu on Yahoo. In fact, I almost gave up in my search for it, so it’s not likely drawing in many Yahoo users (Alexa won’t let me isolate from, so I don’t know how it’s fairing). The featured videos seem to get paltry views relative to YouTube features, and even the Yahoo Video Awards blog post has just 35 comments 4 days after announced (by contrast, most top 100 YouTubers get that kind of views and interactions within an hour of posting).

P.S. Updated 3/27: Check out what InsideOnlineVideo has to say about Yahoo.

Top Ten Stupidest Moments of Online Video in 2007

It’s time for the first annual’s Top 10 Stupidest Moments of Online Video in 2007. This list is my first draft, so I invite and encourage moments I’ve no doubt missed.

I haven’t kept a notepad besides my bed all year, and I try to suppress these moments. That said, I did review hundreds of blog entries and perform countless Google searches to compile this starter list. Feel free to use all or parts of this post on your blog or website- link appreciated.

  1. Chris Crocker becomes a viral sensation after this weeping video defending Britney Spears. It gets 13 million views, but Crocker fails to post another video in the three months since. Lesson: It’s not the one-hit wonder, it’s about consistency. To his credit, he’s another video amateur that is “working on a TV show,” he’s been spotted at Social, and he did make Time Magazine’s top 10 list of viral videos.
  2. gives up, and embarrasses itself while trying to hype its own auction (with a paltry 2,000 visitors per day) on eBay. To add insult to injury, it sends an “exclusive” report to New Tee Vee, but accidentally sends it to The Silicon Valley Insider (who promptly publishes the entire desperate e-mail from You Are Media CEO David K. Dundas). Lesson: Don’t start another video site, and check e-mail when you leak exclusives.
  3. top 10 stupid moments of online videoSneeeer: Techcrunch publishes “The Secret Strategies Behind Many Viral Videos,” which leads to a dramatic backlash among online-video enthusiasts, bloggers and the video community. I parked “” for TechCrunch contributing author Michael Ackerman Greenberg. TechCrunch does a “follow up.” Lesson: There are appropriate ways to market your videos, and cheats don’t need a soap box.
  4. Oprah makes her debut on YouTube by taking over the homepage with online-video clichés (dog on skateboard, cats doing tricks), then creating a YouTube channel that looks more like a network PR site. Lesson: Too many for this post. See previous post about what Oprah might have learned.
  5. JewTube launches in the summer, and Google later challenges the name (based on copyright infringement of YouTube). Lesson: Niche sites are smart. But build your own brand.
  6. The Daily Reel dies after morphing from “Entertainment Weekly for online video” to a video podcast series to a video-hosting site to a video-enthusiast community site to a site thats’ now frozen in time like some parts of New Orleans years after Katrina. Lesson: Pick a core competency and stick with it.
  7. ZeFrank killed his popular online-video show in March, just as his fame was developing. He quietly returned to recently, but not on his ZeFrank “The Show” page. NewTeeVee writer Chris Albrecht called his return video “anemic” with a “spark missing.” There were rumors of a television deal, and issued this press release when he closed The Show. We won’t comment, as we have a documented history of being jealous of ZeFrank (as “caught on tape” with this Dove Evolution parody). Lesson: Stick with what you do well. And I’m not saying there’s a “Famous Amos” thing happening here, but why else wouldn’t ZeFrank populate his show page in addition to
  8. The New York Times calls YouTube “celebrities” hot property. Umm… I’m kinda a big deal on YouTube, but someone show me how the YouTube thing has changed more than a couple lives. Lesson: The “overnight” success of online-video amateurs is a bit exaggerated.
  9. Experts project that television advertising budgets will pour online. Experts project 3/4 of a billion dollars in online video for 2007. Even so, that’s a small portion of the 3-8 billion expected to go into online advertising in total this year. No word yet as to how the year’s shaping up (but eMarketers upped its estimate in August). I didn’t get my share of 3/4 billion, though. Did you? Lesson: Take advertising projections and divide by 10.
  10. Viacom demands YouTube remove all of its content and tries to build an “old media consortium” to compete with YouTube (Viacom, News Corp and NBC ). Writers who are on strike find this move, in hindsight, quite ironic (see recent video by Daily Show writers). Naturally, media executives come to Viacom’s defense. Lesson: as I mentioned in March, that old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” consortium thing never quite works out (see ComScore reports of online-video share). Still, you can’t blame someone from crying fowl about having their stuff stolen and monetized by someone else online. Unless they’re a writer, of course.

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”)