YouTube Founders May Provide Custom Magazines

YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen may be hoping to do for digital magazines what they did for online video.

Zeen logo

According to Fusible, the duo have launched Zeen, and you can reserve your username for this cryptic new offering that may allow users to create and share custom magazine currations. Zeen announced on April 7:

In the last 24 hours, YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who now run AVOS, posted a “Coming Soon” page on the website Zeen (a take on the word zine, which commonly refers to a narrowly focused self-published magazine).

Of course PC Magazine‘s Dave Murphy offers some sage caution:

…here’s hoping the general Internet population doesn’t launch 6,000 different cat magazines once Zeen goes live.

Let’s recall their announcement video having been acquired by Google, and wonder if we’ll see a similar video when they’ve sold Zeen to their former employer, Facebook or Yahoo…

Google Eats Its Own Dogfood: 7 Ways Its Using Video

Okay let’s just get this out. I’m a big Google fan, user, and customer. I’m also making non-trivial income from Google’s YouTube Partner program (through ad sharing on my Nalts videos seen 200 million gazillian times). So I really hesitate commending the company in a post headline. It looks I’m friggin’ shilling incognito and I hate that crap (see my parody on f’ing buzz marketing).

Instead I prefer to prank, complain and criticize the company to ensure my “checks and balances” are in place. It can border on “biting the hand that feeds you,” but I’ll call it tough love. You don’t own me, bitch (sorry I’ve got an authority issue).

Today’s post, however, is to observe that Google’s brain seems to be developing a frontal lobe (the rather useless part of the brain where insanity and marketing occurs). I’ll be damned if Google isn’t using video (even the YouTube player to keep Salar “Little Superstar” Kamangar happy) in increasingly effective ways. (The marketer rubs little puppy’s tummy and says good boy, as he naively thinks he’s more evolved than a wonderfully blissful animal).

Parenthetically I literally laugh outloud every time I refer to the head of YouTube as “Little Superstar” because I’m aware it appears so completely inappropriate and racist. But I’ll trust you WVFF loyalts will know that if I really felt that way I’d suppress it incredibly well. I stereotype into only two segments: people who make me happy and people who suck away my will to live. Anyway Salar isn’t even Indian he’s Persian or Iraq, and frankly I don’t know the difference or care. I just needed something to use to “downsize” him, since my ego is threatened by him having the coolest job in the world. It was the same thing with Chad, but Chad was a much easier victim since he generally looked stoned.

I wonder if Chad and Samar ever went to Dubai together and ate sushi off of woman’s stomaches.

Okay back to the news. Google using YouTube shouldn’t surprise us at first glance, but put aside Google’s products and branding (it’s hard to do), and ask yourself a question. Do you see Google as a great marketing organization? Or put more succinctly, how well does it tap the advertising medium that feeds it? Right your reaction because I’m coming back to read ’em.

Google historically has done almost no advertising for itself. It kept quiet, muted PR, and rarely showed evidence of advertising/marketing competencies from an external view. Sure, you might credit YouTube took out a Superbowl ad years ago (side note: good luck finding it on YouTube). But I’m convinced that was not for viewers, but simply to sneak access to “Superbowl Buyer’s Man/Boy Club” to pitch well-funded brands on the merits of diverting TV dollars to web.

But now I’m seeing real signs of life. Google print ads with direct-response offers? A discount on Google ads and to encourage app purchases? Really? It’s like watching my son Grant suddenly blossuming academically and reading voraciously. I know I had nothing to do with it, but I’m proud of the double G’s. Sidenote 2: Did I ever tell you I had a clubhouse in my house that I named Google in the late 1970s? Note to self: get time machine, go to 1995 and squat domain name for your childhood clubhouse.

So now the engineering anthill is using video to engage customers and promote? How charming! Let’s review recent and cumulative examples.

1) Branded Entertainment: Today we see a “Google Doodle” (typically an illustration of the logo marking an event) taking video form. The typically clean/sparse homepage features not a small custom image, but an embedded player with a nicely done Charlie Chaplin homage.

2) Satire/Entertainment: On April Fool’s Day Google pulled its annual prank by rolling out advanced “Gmail Motion” via video. The new solution featured a typical Google product director’s awkward monotone, complemented by a model (Steve Buscemi) demonstrating how physical movements (thumbs up, waves) can be interpreted it into text. One might expect a collective drone if he/she concedes that it was a clever prank, but I liked it. Why? It wasn’t too far fetched, it was executed fairly well, and I interpreted it as a subtle diss on Apple and its self aggrandizing swipes, pinches, and three finger whatevers.

Steve Buscemi in the Gmail Motion prank video

3) Product Launch: Google is increasingly using video to promote and teach out new products (see “advanced gmail” video). Sure Google has been criticized for a somewhat dated approach to product marketing (and some “areas for improvement” in its design/test/launch). But the sheer number of new innovations have me increasing my daily time-share significantly, and I want a Google GPS, Android simulator on my iPhone, and a Google-search brain implant for “just in time” information.

4) Humor: I’m not kidding. You have to look hard, but there’s humor lurking in the hallways. It’s probably like a secret society afraid to draw attention to itself among fellow engineers. But there’s the humanized personification of Google auto-complete (Hiring Autocompleters) that was funnier than its view count would suggest. (Last minute update- I was searching for more examples before hitting post and I remembered I was part of “Demo Slam” to promote additional tools/solutions to a broader audience… now you’re going to think this whole post was motivated by that, and you can kiss my ass because I nearly forgot I did it.

5) Public Relations: Remember all the drama about privacy invasion resulting from Google Earth (buttcrack) and Google Street View pictures? This video that shows “behind the scenes” of Google’s streetview camera vehicle. It replaces the images in my head of a creepy zit-faced MIT intern driving a black van, snapping photos, and wearing no pants.

6) Education & Community: Google uses videos to support community, health education, public service and economic summit Davos whatever… but that’s so damned boring I don’t feel like writing about it.

7) There is No Seven. I just don’t like posts with six items. Actually seven is “reader’s choice.” What’d I miss?

“No Camera” is No Excuse to Skip YouTube Anymore

Sure we’ve heard all of the excuses why you’re watching YouTube but not creating your own videos:

  1. I have nothing interesting to add
  2. I don’t have a camera
  3. I don’t want my life online
Now YouTube has eliminated one of those excuses, giving people without cameras the ability to build videos via animation of existing clips. See more at YouTube Create. So now you simply need a web connection, a pulse, and some free time. Got those?
In other news, YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley may be cooking up another startup. They’re a bit cash strap given the $340 million they pocketed when YouTube was acquired by Google. To celebrate that possibility, let’s reflect back on their announcement, and my not-so-positive thoughts on the deal in October 2006.

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.

Hard Being on “Gay Leprechaun” Video

It’s hard being in a gay leprechaun video. Oh- not that hard. The “difficult” hard. Not the seedy part: shooting your part in a SanFran hotel room with filmmaker and actor Greg Benson (Mediocrefilms). Sure it felt like we were shooting a porn, but again- that wasn’t the hard part.

Here’s what’s hard. NOT meeting Matt Sloan and watching him shoot his part. Greg was on the phone with Matt to discuss various lines and shots, but I had no communication with him. Presumably he was reading up on stem cell research in Madison or Wisconsin or a similar state. And I’m a big Sloan fan — from his standup comedy (stewardess: that guy’s not going to use our first-class bathroom is he?) to his better known work as creator and voice of Chad Vader (see series here).

It’s friggin’ hard to co-star in “Gay Leprechaun” (the new “Retarded Policeman”) with a funny bastard like Sloan, especially he’s your BFF and doesn’t know it. You see, Sloan and I developed a parasocial relationship when I watched Sloan’s “Tomato mouth video.” He doesn’t know me, and perhaps has never seen me in a video until this one. But we’re virtual BFFs, damnit.

I wonder if I’ll ever get to squeeze him in person while he’s singing Cher.

Network Poaches Space-Comedy Web Series, But Changes Outfit Colors

The creators of ClipCritics are seeing something awfully familiar on SkyFy. The new show, “Outer Space Astronauts,” also looks so familiar to ClipCritics fans that they’ve written its creator, Chad Sahley, with congratulations.

Turns out Chad, who produced “When Standup Stood Out,” has no ties with the show. But, quite coincidentally, he and his team approached SkyFy with a show called “Webscapers, about a top-secret crew digitized into the internet to surf and protect the world wide web (think Star Trek in Cyber Space).”

ClipCritics Emergency
ClipCritics Emergency
Outer Space Astronauts Emergency
Outer Space Astronauts Emergency

“We pitched SkyFy a couple years back showing them our animation style along with our trailer,” said Chad. “They said they didn’t do comedies. Shortly after we decided to produce the show on Youtube and call it the Clip Critcs with the hopes of someday getting the money to produce the full idea of Webscapers.”

Of course, “Outer Space Astronauts” is a Star Trek spoof based on outer-space — not cyberspace. And although the animation style (see images) is unmistakably similar, SkyFy reduced its legal risk by changing the outfits from orange to blue.

This isn’t the first report that a network has poached an amateur, and a difficult thing to challenge. Remember when ABC featured promos with Lost action figures that were indisputably similar to the FineBrothers’ work?

In related news, ABC’s “Good Morning America” Host George Stephanopolous announced he’ll feature a 14-year-old sidekick who pretends to be a manic 5-year-old child that speaks in a squeaky-pitched voice. His name will be “Jed,”and he’ll have a crush on “Julie,” live with his drug-abusing mom, and scream about a bully named Levin.