YouTubers Get Love from Yahoo, Google and Disney

What does it mean to top YouTubers now that Yahoo, Disney and Google are showing them love? Will we see the online-video landscape resemble network/studio relationships?

Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.
Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.

It’s a good time to be a YouTuber… or at least own a popular YouTube channel. We’re seeing the online-video landscape mature, and start to resemble how networks and studios connect. The networks (Disney, Yahoo, YouTube) are working with studios (online-video studios and some individual partners/channels) in some interesting ways….

What’s interesting about these big moves is how markedly different this is from the past behavior of these companies.

  • We saw Disney making some early bets with its own home-grown online-video content. Remember Stage 9?
  • Yahoo contacted me and other YouTubers around 2008 to discuss potential revenue-sharing deals. They were considering exclusivity at the time, and that’s a deal breaker for YouTubers that won’t give up their primary audience.
  • And Google? It hasn’t even marketed itself well, much less its partners. And who would ever imagined the tech-engineering company would advertise YouTube partners on TV, print or outdoor? They’re doing it, but you know it pains them.

So what’s all this mean?

  • These events don’t impact your typical YouTuber, but the winners of the Yahoo/Google efforts will be the YouTube creators with large audience and studio representation by one of the online-video networks. That’s because Yahoo and Google will have to deal with the complexities of Discovery to get to Revision3 content, and Disney to get to Maker channels/creators.
  • But watch for partnerships between Yahoo and smaller studios like Fullscreen, BigFrame and Collective. 
  • And what about Google’s efforts to promote YouTubers beyond the YouTube regulars? I would expect to see “the rich get richer,” because it’s most likely to promote the proven content with top views. So like a marathon’s second half, we’ll see an increasing distance between the leaders and the rest.
  • There will surely be some more attempts to lock creators and studios to “exclusive” arrangements, although Yahoo won’t get anywhere requiring that of popular YouTubers. But it makes sense. TV shows don’t get to broadcast on every channel. The networks pick the shows, and promote them to “their” audience. We’ll see that happening with top YouTube channels in coming months and years, which is why YouTube will have to work harder to cultivate relationships and keep stars/channels.

What’s your take? And where is the Global Online Video Association in all of this? How about a POV, Kontonis?

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funny Conference

So I’m sitting at Starbucks at 3, and I’ll be on stage in about 33 minutes. My presentation looks perhaps like a hotdog long before it takes that edible, if somewhat phallic, shape. Despite my morning’s panic attack, missing a flight and driving the 7 hours to Boston, I manage to catch YouTube Hall-of-Famer Michael Buckley as I pass his town. Sadly he has “a doctor’s appointment” that precludes a quick spanking or whatever YouTubers do when they meet.

It’s 3:03 as I reorder slides, fundamentally changing my entire presentation (shown below on Slideshare) I can’t help but get distracted by two nervous looking band members who appear to be meeting a new digital marketer consultant. “Our last guy, um, got really busy with school,” says Shaggy (his real name is being withheld because I don’t know it). The consultant begins to LAY IT ON THICK. Total bullshit, coated with a thick creamy topping of arrogance and a faux-pedantic snobbery crowning it all like an overly marinated cherry on top.

The topic of viral video comes up, and my face begins to literally contort as I hear the crap this guy’s advising. I couldn’t control my face. I could see some gal looking at me, and then over at them… making the connection. But I can’t help myself. When Shaggy says “I’m not willing to lose my integrity to get 3 million views on YouTube,” I think seriously about coming to his rescue. But something about this consultant strikes me as odd and dangerous. He’s far too assertive, simplistic, narcissistic, simplistic and repetitive (seems we loathe that in others that we resent in ourselves).

As I’ve finally shifted back to my presentation, literally changing the entire thesis at this point with minutes to spare, the consultant BARGES out the door of Starbucks leaving Shaggy and Scooby stunned. Again I decide to go to their rescue, hold their hand, and tell them that one need not compromise their virtues to go viral… I’ll even volunteer. But just like a dream ending abruptly, they vanish. Come to think of it, maybe it was a dream. No… I’m pretty sure it was real.

Then I gave this presentation below. To show that humor is hard to categorize because of its subjectivity, I did a live vlog (seen at the end of this video) where I followed the 102nd rule of “winning over an audience.” I secretly maligned them using a stage whisper. I was actually kinda bummed out they laughed, which is not what I expected after reading this Joel Warner Wired article that put this on my rader (and created an obsession for me).

Now for the preliminary findings, and a BIG thanks to Alexis, Kiddsock and Will Reese, as well as other contributors!

 

Crowdsourcing Data on Humor Via YouTube: Want to Help?

Per this video, I’m preparing for a presentation at the International Society of Humor Studies (yes there’s such a thing). I present on Tuesday (July 5) in Boston at the international meeting. If you’re near Boston University, please enroll and attend! This is a scholarly and professional organization dedicated to the advancement of humor research. Many of the Society’s members are university and college professors in the Arts and Humanities, Biological and Social Sciences and Education. Then there’s me.

Given my “prolific” experience as a YouTube “comedian” (220 million views, and about 200K per day) and my publication of “Beyond Viral,” I’m tackling humor from the perspective of comedy videos on YouTube and their “rankings.” My background as a psychology student (Georgetown) and MBA in marketing (statistics) also helps, and so does my decades of analyzing market research for my job as a marketer (now at Johnson & Johnson). But you, dear reader, offer perhaps other valuable perspectives.

Here’s the fundamental question this presentation (including a white paper) will address:

What can we learn about what this planet finds funny, based on the data available on YouTube?

Do you want to help? Here’s some information if you have time/interest…

  • YouTube, as the world’s largest video site and 2nd most-popular search engine after Google, is a good basis to explore humor. The videos can be sorted in many ways, and the large data sample is a rich source of insights. There are, of course, three “confounding” variables to extrapolating YouTube data to the planet’s humor preference: a) Selection bias: YouTube viewers are not necessarily representative, b) Popularity bias: videos by “popular” webstars generally get more views and higher ratings regardless of their humor quotient, c) Algorithm bias: YouTube videos for many years were ranked by “most viewed” or “favorite” videos, which created a “rich get rich” effect… once a video achieved critical mass, it received new views based on its ranking and effectively “locked” some weak videos in a place of perpetual viewing. That’s changed, and now videos are “spotlighted” based such criteria as percentage of comments, promoted videos, and other concealed factors that change.
  • I’ve spent countless hours reviewing the top 100 most-viewed comedy videos on YouTube (see preliminary findings by clicking “MORE” at the bottom of this post), and categorizing them by a dozen plus criteria. Your contribution, if you wish to help, need not be as exhaustive. I had to view, classify, expand classifications and review them multiple times. I found only about 12 of them funny by my subjective standards, but that’s not the goal. After viewing them each 5-10 times, I can say none are funny anymore to me.
  • You can help any way you have time, assuming a) you find this research interesting and b) you have time free between now and Monday (July 4). You could spend 1 minute providing a comment about how you might suggest analyzing YouTube. Or maybe you’re keen on spending a hours actually reviewing videos based on criteria/methodology you prefer (do it, don’t ask for my feedback). If you can find some interesting published method for classifying humor (edgy/cute or intellectual/emotional) than use it. Or create your own based on a hypothesis (are Asians more likely to be top-rated comedians? Are women?).
  • What’s in it for you? You’ll be part of something that, to my knowledge, has never been done (although if I’m wrong and you find otherwise let me know). We’re combining two disciplines (the art of comedy and the science of analysis/psychology) that rarely meet. I’ll be grateful for your comments and volunteer assignments, and I’ll credit you in the report and in a YouTube video if you provide ANY meaningful contribution (like a 2-page summary of quantifiably substantiated findings).
  • What do you do next? If you have an idea, run with it. You could sort comedy videos by date (time period) and look at objective patterns.
    • You could review most-viewed or most-subscribed comedians and observe similarities and differences in some quantifiable way. Just try to avoid your subjective opinion (what YOU like/don’t), and instead focus on quantifiable patterns based on what crowds like (as measured by rankings/ratings/comments/likes/dislikes)… as you’ll see by my “preliminary findings” this does require some subjective calls but be consistant and note criteria.
    • You’ll also have to rely on your YouTube knowledge to isolate “confounding variables” (Shaytards love Shaycarl and tend to view/rate his videos as high, which could lead to a faulty conclusion that it’s representative of the planet’s preference about humor. The goal isn’t to find out what hard-core YouTubers like (or specific “tribes” of people) but something bigger.
    • You could research other academic research on humor that provide clues. Or use an already researched classification model for comedy/humor.
    • Instead of focusing on comedy videos, you could explore the most-subscribed channels on YouTube that classify themselves as comedy. What are the patterns?
  • Do you wait for my okay to start? Nope– just have a go. Even if your efforts don’t produce anything meaningful, you’ll be credited for your effort (just describe your approach and findings in a simple summary). I doubt we’ll see two people tackle it the same way, so there’s little risk of redundancy.
  • Timing: Again this is being presented on Tuesday so I need to wrap it by Monday, July 4. I hope you’ll join the effort! I’ll be checking comments between now and Monday regularly.

To read about my approach and findings so far, click MORE…

Continue reading “Crowdsourcing Data on Humor Via YouTube: Want to Help?”

YouTube 5.0 Begins

Netflix is watching “GOOG” and its potential use YouTube to stream longer form content. See WSJ blog. And read about YouTube’s move to live streaming ala Ustream and Blogtv.

I’d say the concern is significant, and this marks the fifth phase of YouTube…

Phase 1: Pirate Sharing (2004-2006)
Phase 2: Amateurs & Community (2005-2009)
Phase 3: Video Search Platform (2009-2011)
Phase 4: Mainstream and Semipro Content Aggregator and producer (2010-2012)
Phase 5: Live Programming and Video Anywhere (2010-2013)

These phases aren’t precise in their beginning and end, and each builds on another. So technically there’s still plenty of pirated content, but far less and harder to find. And amateur hour isn’t quite over, but YouTube’s emphasis is on music, web series and professional content.

YouTube has not touched long-form content significantly (check the latest comScore data to see that Hulu and Netflix dominates when you rank websites and platforms based on view duration). Also find some important comparison graphics to see what’s at stake for the ustreams and others.

But since YouTube, like Google, is the “first stop” for most people searching for video content, it has a natural advantage to be the default 3-4 screen streaming media player.

This 5th stage, of course, takes GOOG and YouTube into unchartered territory that requires:
-Device dominance: plus for Android, but Apple still leads and Google TV is far from the new OS for televisions or web devices.
-Equity on search: can you be both a neutral video search engine and a content owner? Given difficulties licensing pro content, YouTube appears to be stepping up original content: example Next New Network purchase, and more recent news about investments in custom content).
-Better deals with production studios and networks (to overcome the barriers that cable and telcom are forging). But in the meanwhile it appears that YouTube’s focus is on broadening distribution as a platform and as a network for smaller producers.

What do you think? Is YouTube the MySpace of our time, or will it be the dominant platform and search engine for any/all video? Off the latter, what’s it need to do to maintain relevance?

YouTube Plus “Next New Network” Equals “Huh?”

First- the disclaimers. I share in advertising revenue from YouTube. And I’m a content partner for Next New Networks, but not an employee or quite the size of these guys. I’m just some marketing clown with a video camera, no writing staff, but 175 million views. Big deal. My blog’s still ugly.

YouTube Rumored to Be Buying Next New Networks... Perplexing But Interesting

So I’m not privileged to any discussions between YouTube and Next New Networks, and know nothing more about the alleged acquisition than I’ve read here. While I have been aware of rumors of someone acquiring NNN for a couple months, I didn’t even seriously consider the possibility that Google/YouTube would buy it. So it was fresh news to me when I got a text from ZackScott today (he wanted to brag about his recent GoogleTV gift, and how he’s become a bigger sellout than me).

My thoughts on the potential of a deal. First, “Why It Makes Little Sense At First Glance”

  • YouTube took Google far out of its core competency (from search machine to platform)… Next New Networks is another dangerous stretch. A real stretch. I worked for an Internet agency that was accidentally purchased by a telecommunication firm. That kind of stretch.

I can only imagine some of the conversations between the right-coast, roight brained NNN gang and the left-coast, left-brained engineers. It could be like a toaster trying to talk to a boom box.

  • YouTube already has deals with many content creators, so I’m not sure what it’s getting beyond some bright leadership, a library of content to monetize in new ways, and some production/marketing experience.
  • The relationship is strong between YouTube and NNN, so how is this strategic enough to offset the perceptions that Google is now encroaching on the content space? Could this send the networks a signal that Google is now a competitor to networks and studios?

Why It Makes Great Sense

  • I’ve written before that Madison doesn’t like YouTube (click to read “How Madison Avenue is Killing YouTube“). And there needs to be a buffer between creators and agencies. NNN could play a valuable role in buffering agencies from touching the YouTube rose’s engineering thorns… if YouTube/Google allowed it.
  • The control of NNN content will give YouTube a sandbox to try new content-delivery models via phone, television and mobile. It’s a sandbox but with real humans.
  • There’s a name for this. It’s called vertical integration, and it can be healthy as long as it’s not creating a monopoly (which clearly isn’t the case here).  Owning a network can help YouTube engage with other networks more effectively. A simpler example: if I run a line of beauty products, its worth owning one salon… I get real-world experience that rivals laboratory R&D, and it can inform my products.
  • This provides YouTube a presence on the East Coast (where most of the budgets originate) that is more meaningful than a sales office. Sponsored content, I believe, will be bi-coastal.
  • It could be a step toward better content partnerships. CEO Fred Seibert is a producer of some of Cartoon Networks greatest shows, and a former MTV creative director. So he’s got some clout in the entertainment world that can make/break YouTube. Having network experience inside Google will help Google be less aggressive with the advertisers YouTube needs to court. Oh, and by the way… NNN is one of the few web studios that has endured the implosion of the “New Establishment” (the name I used in my book to refer to emerging studios).

I think I sufficiently hedged this post so that I retain rights to say “I told you so” if this deal is a great success, and hires me… or if it flops insanely.

What do you think? Or don’t you care? See this is my  problem… when amazing news like this breaks, nobody in my IRL circle cares. Folks at my client and in my family don’t give a rats ass, so I need to work it out here.

Research Suggests Web Video is As Good as Television, and Viewers Are Ages 18-34.

Fresh new data about online-video views, sharing and viewers! The source is YouTube, Next New Networks and Frank N. Magid & Associates (see press release and blog), and the data was collected between May 18 and June 4, 2010. While it’s not super fresh, it’s filling a void in the past year.

Two important take-aways: First, the audience is digging its online video. More than half of those surveyed (people who have watched Web original videos) deem them to be just as, if not more, entertaining than what they view on traditional television. Did you hear that? As good as TV. And 25% find it more entertaining than traditional television. That explains why these folks are 2.5 times more likely to be “engaged.” They’re clearly watching more sophisticated content than mine.

Now before we get too excited, clearly YouTube and Next New Networks aren’t exactly objective here. Both have something to gain from convincing advertisers that this web-video fad, like the Fushigi and pet rock, is here to stay. However there are two things that make me inclined to trust the data: First, hopefully someone with a website as boring as Frank Magid’s is keeping an eye on the methodology and sample. Secondly, YouTube/Google almost NEVER shares data. So that’s a big deal.

I’m never sure what to do with excerpts like “four out of ten share videos,” because I’m more interested in how often they share. For instance, I’d be among the percentage of people who has seen my dentist in the past year (hey look I made him a website: drjeffreymercando.com). But that overlooks the reality that I’d not seen him for several years prior to my visit last month. If you surveyed me if I floss, I’d say yes. But how often?

The second interesting fact about this collective study is that online-video viewers are indeed young: mostly 18-34. There was no shame in the way YouTube/NNN and Magid depicted the demographic of online-video viewers. Rather than trying to dance around one of the leading concerns advertisers have about any new medium (that their target isn’t there)… YouTube & Next New Networks tell it like it is:

“According to recent Nielsen reports, the average age of television viewers is over the age of 50. However, this research revealed that 18-34 year old Web original viewers constituted 65% of the National sample, 73% of the YouTube sample, and 90% of Next New Networks’ sample. Not only does the coveted 18-34 demographic spend many hours viewing video online on a regular basis, but the research shows that this time spent with online video and Web original content leads to less time with TV. Web original video viewers spend 13% less time with TV than non-viewers.”

No they're actually 18-35. It's not just that they think they are.

So these fellas are kinda saying, “yeah we’re not television… but our audience is more engaged, and it’s that coveted 18-34 year olds who spend a lot of money.” And then it tosses in the fact that for these peeps, television isn’t growing. This demo, according to the research, is 13% less likely to watch the boob tube.

I present this cautiously. I recall the advertiser trepidation with the Internet itself, based on the assumption that online surfers were all college kids, and we (almost overnight) saw that change. Now, of course, online-use kinda mirrors the general population (at least in the U.S.)… that’s where this is heading. Eventually, like it’s true for the web, any target can be found via online video, with varying degrees of precision and scale. So I don’t want to let brands targeting different audiences, “off the hook.” Media buyers hold demographic data like Irish people hold grudges, and we don’t want to see advertisers write online-video off as the medium for just for Vodka, Kaplan, and Sandals Resorts. I think we need to keep a close eye on how online-video viewership of moms and boomers grow in the next months and years.

That being said, it skews young right now. Let’s face it and embrace it. Anyone up for cramming for the GMATS over a martini in Jamaica?

“The findings are an incredible point of validation for Web original programming as a key source of entertainment and viewers find it to be on par with television programming,” said Rick Silvestrini, Product Marketing Manager at YouTube, while holding in a 27-year-old fart.

Speaking of Silvestrini, below is my video remix of him, inspired by a comment I noticed about his original video where someone swears they heard a fart. Is this tasteless? Yes. Biting the hand that feeds you? Perhpaps. But could you expect me to restrain myself? No way.

No offense Rick. I’m the same guy that stuck Jordan Hoffner’s sound bite about advertisers fearing cats on skateboards into a “best of cats on skateboards” remix. And Chad Hurley still thinks of the anchovy pizza video when he sees me. It’s love… it’s just tough love.

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.

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. 🙂