YouTube is a Giant Conference Call

concall.jpgI've been trying to figure out how YouTube managed to surpass video-sharing sites like, despite arriving to the market far later. Then it occured to me what may already be obvious to you. Most video sites are searchable television stations… putting the visitor in command to find video that appeals.

YouTube, however, is a giant conference call. It's made up of video posters watching and commenting on other video posters. They're connected, they have popularity (or lack of), and they react to each other. YouTube has recently launched the ability to send a video reaction to someone's video (instead of just leaving a comment). It's closer to MySpace in the social networking aspect. And it's what people want out of online video.

So despite previous posts, I think there will be a future for YouTube after the "wild west" era of copyright protection ends. It won't be as dramatic, but it will be there.

Interestingly, though, some of the popular video creators of YouTube are starting to migrate their content to other channels that give them income. For instance, YouTube idol, Morbeck, began posting on (a site that gives creators half of the revenue generated by ad clicks). Others (like ZeFrank) are posting via Revver and asking people not to post it on YouTube or other online video sites.

YouTube’s Accidental Rocket: Whoa, duuuude.”

"There is a sense that YouTube accidentally built a rocket and is willing to hang on to see where it goes," observes Technology Writer Kevin Maney in an article from USAToday. "Co-founders Chen and Chad Hurley can be like the main characters in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, who go for joy rides in a time-traveling phone booth and marvel at where they land with a "Whoa, duuuude!""

Here are my other two favorite parts:youtube.jpg

  1. When I ask Hurley if advertisers are seeking out YouTube, he replies, "More than we can deal with. Potential partners — that's another wave of e-mails. We're having discussions with all the major studios, (record) labels and networks."

  2. What does all this mean to the media business? There isn't a soul who really knows — except to know it means that a tiny company above a Japanese restaurant can alter the balance of the entire industry.

P.S. I'm not a soul who knows either, but that doesn't stop me from blogging about it a few times a day.

Music Industry Challenges Online Video Sites

panic-button.jpgYou just have to love the music industry's reaction to online videos. According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, The Recording Industry Association of America recently pushed for an aggressive stance against amateur videos using commercial songs. The article reports that some legal experts say the video sites are generatlly protected as long as they comply with any so-called "take down notices sent by music companies." Most sites (like YouTube) will remove material when "formally requested to do so," and that protects them from liability.

YouTube and other video sites recently entered negotiations with Broadcast Music Inc. and American Society of Composers, which collect royalties on behalf of songwriters when music is played in public or broadcast.

My favorite innovative quote goes to Alex Zubilliga, Warner Music's Executive Vice President for Digital Strategy: "I'm not going to embrace these guys and try to figure out a legitimate business model for two years."

Bus Uncle: I have PRESSURE

bus uncle.jpg

I've always maintained that web video can't be longer than 30 seconds to 2 minutes, but this 6-minute clip (Bus Uncle) provide otherwise- it will entertain you silly and you'll soon be quoting it.

Some poor 23-year-old in a Hong Kong bus tapped the shoulder of a real estate agent who was talking loudly on his cell phone. The guy (now known in Hong Kong as "Bus Uncle") proceeded to yell at the teenager for 6 minutes using absurd dialogue that appears to have been taken from a low-budget Japanese film. Luckily another guy across the bus captured the entire episode, and posted it to YouTube (where it has been watched several million times). Search"Bus Uncle" to find the original as well as a Karaoke version, the rap remix and the dance and disco take.

According to this CNN article, "Now Chan is rarely seen without an entourage. A business sells T-shirts and handbags. "Bus Uncle" Web sites have emerged, while there is an entry on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. His words on pressure have become an oft-repeated catchphrase in this teeming city."

Watch everything you do, folks. When U.S. citizens are armed with video cellphones, your next outburst could become an Internet phenomenon.

Video Viewing: Leaning Back vs. Leaning Forward

couch.jpgStephen King (not THAT Stephen King, but the one from the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto) spoke yesterday at my day job. He discussed the difference between legacy television viewing ("leaning back") and online video viewing ("leaning forward"). Obviously our attention span is different for each task- 30 minutes to hours for "leaning back" and minutes when we "lean forward," because we want to drive not passively consume.

Stephen asserts that the lines will continue to blur, and certainly the TiVo announcement is a good example. What we should watch for is a network acquiring an online video "station." YouTube has apparently been courted by many frightened networks and has (according to some blogs) has turned down offers of as high as $1 billion. If I owned YouTube it would take me 13.4 seconds to accept an offer for half that. Remember- popularity isn't profit. There's a lot of work ahead to prove that eyeballs can equal income on YouTube.

More from Stephen coming- he told me he'd give me a soundbyte on video.

Just When I thought Ad Agencies “Don’t Get” Online Video

mesk.jpgI was getting demoralized lately as I've been making my way through loads of crappy online video advertisements. The kind that feel like you're listening to a timeshare pitch because you want the resort discount. Suddenly, I received an e-mail from Jim Meskimen that showcases his new ad series for VW.

You may not recognize the name Jim Meskimen but you've heard his voice and probably seen him. He pretty much does every character on the world-famous JibJab clips. He's a comedian and impressionist like you've never heard before. He's also a really nice guy from what I can tell from our e-mail exchange since I won "runner's up" in his "caption the cartoon" contest (my co-worker won… grrrrr).

Now he's playing a German spokesperson for VW. And if you watched these without me telling you that, you'd never know it. The most exciting part? Most of this was improv!





Awaiting the Merger of Popular and Profitable Sites

A week ago today I made one of my most annoying videos yet- GoogleHeads. Here's Googlehead on Here's Googlehead on

I point this out for three reasons:

  1. Blatent self promotion
  2. So you can see the difference between Flash and Quicktime- quality and speed. For best results click the ad after the Revver version. 🙂
  3. Most importantly, note the difference in views. By recent count, more than 13,000 people had viewed it on YouTube. On Revver only 350 (which is actually a pretty good number for Revver considering the low traffic).

Right now it's hard to say what 350 views is worth to me on Revver is but let's say conservatively it's about $4. If YouTube's model had a similar content creators I'd be enjoying a few hundred bucks. However YouTube neither optimizes advertising nor shares it with content contributors.

YouTube apparently fears that inserting ads might upset their "community," so they're mostly running very low-profit syndicated ads from Google Adsense and other sources. Google Adsense is decent way for bloggers and small site owners to make marginal cash (I've made a whooping $50 on Revverberation and CubeBreak since I started). CubeBreak is far more profitable from affiliate income from Revver.

But Adsense is crazy for a site that has been drawing 14.5 million a month. If I were their venture capitalist I'd be pushing for more profitable video ads (maybe 15 second ads every third video), or at least I'd be partnering with a player like or Doubleclick for rich media ads until I built my own salesforce. The YouTube "community" represents 45 percent of the online video viewing so I doubt people would flock away to another site. It's still desirable content for free.

One day the profit-sharing sites and popular sites will merge. And that's when this space will get fun for amateur creators (who can make decent money) and viewers (who can start seeing something more interesting than people rambling about their day on the webcam). Eventually people will lose their appetite for low-budget cheesy stuff like Googlehead, but hopefully not before I've made a lil' cash.

Online Videofest from Panasonic

prize.gifPanasonic is running a contest via YouTube for videos under 5 minutes. Panasonic is the first non-entertainment company to run a promotion with YouTube. Panasonic will award prizes to makers of the four weekly finalist videos, including a first prize of a plasma high-definition TV and digital camera, worth about $5,000. The electronics company is also giving out prizes for users who rate the videos by joining the contest's group on YouTube, choosing the most creative review each week. Source- Adweek.