AdAge Celebrates YouTube Sellouts

AdAge called out the biggest YouTube sellouts— those known for sponsored videos for top brands. Naturally my headline would have read “YouTube’s Most Prolific Sponsored Artists” had I been included in the list. For those of you whose nipples don’t get pointy when you hear words like “advertising, marketing, Mad Men, spot, creative brief, storyboards, USP, reach, frequency and single-minded proposition,” AdAge is kinda the Forbes for advertising junkies. It’s like Men’s Health except some straight people read it.

shaycarl t-shirt

The actual article is titled “Meet YouTube’s Most In-Demand Brand Stars,” and it’s a nice representation of the booming webstar, perhaps the central point of “Beyond Viral,” an amazing new book by Wiley & Sons coming out Sept. 21. Despite some conspicuous misses and a few odd inclusions, the article points to some interesting nuggets like MysteryGuitarMan (MGM) preference for a blank creative brief… his videos have never been better, and each one squashes my own confidence more aggressively than the next.

I would have also liked to read a “who’s who” of the companies that link stars with brands (Hitviews, Mekanism, PlaceVine, Howcast, YouTube). That’s something you don’t see covered well, and it’d be fascinating to read about the total market for sponsored videos and the dominant players.

TubeMogul helped compile this list, and you can see the webstar’s vital signs on the TubeMogul marketplace. The stats seem to be out of synch with YouTube’s counter and other sites (TubeMogul has me at 145 million, while YouTube alone counts 161 million…. so my views on Yahoo Video and other sites must be negative 16 million). It could be that once I “private” a video (like those I’ve buried because I no longer like them), I lose Tubemogul credit for them.

Before I could go to bed sulking for being overlooked by AdAge and Tubemogul, I discovered author Irina Slutsky sent me a note about this a week or so. And yeah I missed it. Just like the two e-mail offers to appear on AnnoyingOrange, one of the hottest web series by DaneBoe.

ADHD online-video creator and marketer seeks minimum-wage e-mail account manager from India.

These peeps don’t seem to read my blog, but I consider more than a few of them as friends… Trippy (he’s been in my kids’ bed), Buckley (he spanked me), Penna (wrote the Nalts theme and couldn’t get into bars at early YouTube gathersings), and Shay (he was new, we collabed, then he became twice as big as me overnight… and also got a lot more viewers). Others are more like acquaintances like Justine (who keeps a safe distance, but I made her what she is) and Smosh. Speaking of Smosh, Ian and Anthony get props for the recent Butterfinger Snackers video (“Selling Out”) that spoofed the criticism they’ve taken lately for doing a few too many sponsored videos. Heh. I did a Butterfinger video in 2006, a year before I goofed on this whole sponsored-video space with this video, which mentions Smosh. I’m guessing the Smosh kids never saw this diddy…

It’s me 3 years ago mimicking the emergence YouTube “sell outs” and the personalities who might desperately broker brand/webstar love connections... you know, the entities connecting brands and web stars. Most YouTube webstars know more about engaging an audience than turning a brand strategy into effective and persuasive messaging… so they need help. There are some exception- like Rhett and Link, who could just as well be their own boutique creative agency, as reflected in the quality of their advertainment and the highly unusual ratio of branded to non-sponsored views. I almost like their sponsored videos better than their brand-deficient ones because like a pro athlete they make it look easy.

And, lest I miss mentioning my book (Beyond Viral) in a single post, you’ll find mention of almost all of these cats inside the low-cost pages… including featured sections on Rhett & Link, Charles Trippy, Shay Butler and others.

Hey what ever happened to Buckley? I think he ignored me like Caitlin Hill (thehill88) and iJustine. Maybe Buckley needs an e-mail intern… I wonder if there are any Indians with the name Mason?

Video Contests: Creative Awards & Popularity Contests (Butterfingers)

Jared Cicon aka “Video Contest King” has some sage advice for would-be video contest entrants, and characterizes three types of contests (and which to avoid). Of course, he neglects to tell you not to enter a contest he’s entered. Your chances are slim against his polished creative. Don’t bother.

Jared doesn’t temper his resent against contests that allow video creators to leverage their existing fan base to jack up views and, in his view, manipulate contests. He prefers contests rely less on the creator’s social-media fan base and more on the video creative itself.

The problem, of course, is that the contest sponsor is often running a contest less to identify brilliant creative… and more to engage audiences. So a popular contest entrant with a luke-warm video entry is, to some degree, more valuable to the marketer or agency than a brilliant consumer-generated ad created by an unknown videographer. The advertiser benefits from free visits if the “popular” video creator sends his or her viewers to the contest site. Then the contest micro-site has actual visitors… something they don’t usually otherwise fetch without a significant online-advertising budget promoting it. Ideally when they get to the contest microsite, they’ll find more videos like Jared’s (versus some really poor samples I hazed on a previous post).

Nobody's Gonna Lay a Finger on my Butterfinger video contest

Fortunately for Jared — who creates television-quality commercials but has no major social-media fan base — most contests fail to capitalize on the audiences of popular video creators. For instance, I entered a Butterfinger Contest months ago (see contest site). Although the video was promoted heavily via Yahoo Video banners, my entry didn’t go to my Yahoo-Video profile but presumably to a dark FTP site. It’s not even showing up on the contest site, and I’m not even 100% sure it is being considered. Jared posted his entry on YouTube (an act of generosity or to show off his work) but says it’s disqualified because he used minors. Perhaps mine suffered a similar fate.

This is a contest built for Jared not me. I would not have likely entered knowing Jared was going after the same contest and the same category (gadgets). In fact I entered mostly because my wife kept asking me to do so (she was more optimistic than I that we could win the $25K grand prize). I typically avoid “top heavy” contests (where the winner takes all and the runners up get token prizes). Based on Jared’s previous post, I imagine he might have declined a runner’s up award… also more interested in $25K than a year’s supply of candy).

Had I teased my YouTube audience with out-takes of my contest entry, and sent them to the Butterfingers contest website to see it, the contest website would have likely had 5,000-20,000 visitors (generating that kind of traffic can cost $$$$ when you’re buying display ads). When you’re running a contest, you ideally want Jared-like creative samples (especially if you plan to use them offline) but also some actual traffic on the contest site so the contest is not an embarrassment.

So how could Butterfinger have engaged more target customers, and still ensure the winning video was actually good (and not just done by a popular creator who was able to mobilize fans to jack up votes)?

Two options: a secret panel of judges weighs NOT just the creative but the total views. Then I’ve got an incentive to send my audience to the contest (which I didn’t, if for no other reason because my video never showed). So Butterfinger gets the benefit of my audience, but I can’t completely manipulate the contest because Jared gets points for actually making a better video entry. Alternatively (and a more fair model): agencies judge a video strictly on its creative merit… then contract with popular social media and video “stars” to promote the contest by paying them to make an entry and invite their large audiences to check out the contest microsite. Babe Ruth has done this previously with Rhett & Link, although the video seems to have vanished. Maybe the pay-for-entry is disqualified from winning, or maybe the judges aren’t informed about these deals to avoid bias.

Why are contests still making obvious mistakes after three years of me ranting and ranting and ranting and ranting and ranting and ranting?

Perhaps the agency is cutting a turnkey deal with the video-sharing site, and is guaranteed a certain amount of visits/impressions (giving the contest owner little incentive to find more efficient sources of traffic).

Bottom line: Video contests are often under optimized, and its why PopTent (xlntads) and other companies exist. Jared and I offer two distinct benefits to a contest, and this is not well understood by most brands developing contests. Jared is a professional creator who will ensure the winning video can survive on television and impress visitors to the contest microsite. I have an active online-audience, and can help promote the contest to other video creators and ensure that the contest microsite actually has people to impress (without sucking away precious media dollars that might be better spent to promote the, er, brand not the contest).

Tasty Butterfinger Channel on Yahoo Video

Yahoo Video’s comedy channel is packed with good stuff, and well branded by Butterfingers.

I noticed that my Cockroach prank video had a sudden surge on Yahoo Video, where I otherwise don’t get many views. Occasionally the kind editors at Yahoo Video will show one of my videos some love, but I’ve yet to get a recurring audience or much feedback. Perhaps the Yahoo folks will find the Attack of the Easter Puppy worthy. Either way, I can’t stop watching it. I think I’ll go play it on my AppleTV to annoy my wife.

attack of the easter puppy

Anyway, I did have a point here. I found myself impressed by the Butterfinger Comedy Channel… pranks, comedy, The Onion, consumer-generated clips, epic fails. All in one convenient, and well branded section.

Try it out the next time you need to kill 20 minutes in your boring job. Or at home if you’re unemployed. Or in the library if you’re homeless. And while you’re at it, you can think back fondly to my Butterfingers contest entry where I play a 38-year-old living with his mama and dad. Then there’s the ensuing Fox interview I did about it later.

Wow I drifted on this post. But it’s nice to have Google’s search and several years of online videos when you have no memory. Do you suppose Google will ever index your memories? Wait- I know that dude. Search fried brain cells.

Butterfinger Yahoo Channel