Idiot & Cheapskate’s Guide to Automating Your House (DIY SmartHome Hubs Controlled via Phone)

When I was a kid, I had this vision for my home that included automated everything — from lighting to blinds. Until last night, it was theoretical. Now I can turn off lamps from various rooms… from an Android or iPhone, even when I’m not in the house. It’s a start. And this morning when I got to work, I had the joy of toggling the lights from my phone to freak out WifeofNalts.

Let me warn you that we’re in an odd point of home-automation maturity. We’re moving beyond the era where it was reserved for the wealthy or techno elite. But it’s definitely not ready for prime time, and requires more patience and experimentation than I’d like… but such is the cost of being an early adopter, right?

My entry into “Smart Home Land” set me back only about $125: just $50 for a Wink hub (less if you buy it with add-ons) and about $75 for a bunch of GE Link lightbulbs (get the six pack). And I’ve got a plan for growing into additional functionality like remote monitors, appliance device on/off, security/alarms and broader control of lighting without doing the nightly sweep of 50 light switches. I can’t yet spring for the Nest, which is the connected thermostat that is the best-selling in its class. Honeywell and Lux fell asleep at the wheel.

Let me cut to wide shot and tell you about your options to entering “Smart Home Land.” Home automation was once reserved to the elite and wealthy, and required a special contractor and installation. Now you can pick up a hub and some $50-$150 add-ons and do-it-yourself quickly. I’m not going to get into the really nerdy hacks, but there are plenty of forums that can teach you to customize these beyond what the manufacturers specify or even offer.

There are too many options and a shake-down is looming. There’s Belkin Wemo, Phillips Hue, Quirky Wink, GE Link, Staples Connect, Harmony, Insteon, Lutron, Revolv, Smart Things. Overwhelmed yet? Here’s a review of some of them if you want to get into the weeds.

Let’s cut to your basic entry options, and then I’ll tell you why I started with the cheap, flawed but Swiss Army Knife option called Wink… note that I’m favoring options that don’t require ugly remotes or special displays. We’ll use our iPhones and Androids, thank you very much.

Which smart-home system offers the best flexibility at the best price?
Which smart-home system offers the best flexibility at the best price?
  1. Belkin has a Wemo switch that is a best-seller on Amazon and an easy place to dabble since it’s only $40. It uses your wifi and allows you to control any appliance via your Android/iPhone (just plug appliance into the Wemo, and the Wemo into your outlet. You can add on lots of additional options via Amazon or Home Depot. And if you’re all about lighting, you can get a Belkin Wemo starter kit for $85 that comes with a little hub and two lights… nice dorm room gift for that college techno kid. But I don’t see Wemo as a serious player.
  2. Then there are the lighting-specific solutions: Phillips answer to lighting customization: the Phillips Hue, which comes with a ton of different lighting options. The starter kit will set you back $188 and the individual lights get pretty expensive. Phillips Hue is generally cost-prohibitive except for those elite wealthy who might as well higher a contractor. But Home Depot has a decent spread of expensive lights so I imagine Phillips will be a formidable player. For those without excessive cash, the GE Links are better (you can also get these at Home Depot).
  3. There are a few other hubs that I didn’t look at closely. A cool-looking Revolv smart-home automation system (now part of Nest, the Google thermostat). Haven’t seen Revolv as a player yet. There’s Staples Connect (with Linksys), which is decent player and one that will likely survive the consolidation because Linksys and Staples are serious individual players. And the Smart Things Starter kit, which seems fairly comprehensive and has the best Amazon ratings… but is $300.
  4. And there are loads of home security devices, but I’m not writing about those.
  5. And the winner/wiener is… Wink hub despite some seriously negative reviews (including my own). Setup is torture (40 minutes of trial/error), but adding GE Link bulbs was as easy as screwing in bulbs and naming them. I can’t speak yet to the pain/joy of adding things beyond GE Link bulbs, but that alone made it worth the trivial entry cost of $50.

 

wink compatible products
Wink’s interface allows you to connect with a bunch of devices from other manufacturers

Wink is the buggy but poor-man’s Switzerland of all these home automation standards and devices. It has built-in support for Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, and Kidde. It also handles Phillips Hue (with some limitations) and works like a breeze with GE Link bulbs. I also like that Wink is a product of Quirky/GE, which gives inventors a chance to manufacturer ideas.

Once you have a hub and suffer through setup, you can add all kinds of things: alarms (Kidde/Nest), blinds (Bali/Lutron/ZWave), cameras (Dropcam), weird things from Quirky, garage doors (Chamberlain and Quirky/GE), heating and cooling (Honeywell, Nest, Zwave, Quirky/GE), lawn/patio, kitchen, door and window locks, and general appliances via a power plug that accommodates two different plugs that can be controlled separately (the other two are just plain extension plugs). Warning- that power plug got absolutely hosed on Amazon comments and it’s clearly flawed.

We’re still a few years before this stuff becomes more mainstream, but it’s nice that it’s become somewhat affordable and I like that you can experiment with different components to see what’s worthwhile.

Have you tried any of these? Would love your experience and “watch outs.”

Poor Man’s SONOS: How To Make a Badass Bluetooth Audio System from Amo Box and Old Radio Shack Speakers

My badass, poor-man's semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system
My badass, poor-man’s semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system has sound that compares to the Sonos system.

Who needs the fancy Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth wireless rechargeable speakers? Or your fancy SONOS systems?

Here’s my morning project… a do-it-yourself semi-portable amplified Bluetooth speaker system made out of my grandfather’s amo box. If you already have a pair of decent speakers, this system will set you back exactly $44.84 and give you sound that competes with a $300 SONOS (although the Sonos software is really cool and Wifi range is much better than 20-25 feet of Bluetooth).

If you don’t have the fortitude for this, here’s the link to buy the Sonos for the best price I could find online ($199 on Amazon).

Parts include:

  1. A pair of speakers. I used a pair of Radio Shack Minimus 7 speakers. They don’t make them like this anymore, kids. Before there were websites, the audio mags used to rate these as the best. Again- you can bring whatever nice speakers you already have.
  2. A Bluetooth receiverBelkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver (1K plus four star rating on Amazon, and can’t beat the $24.99 price). *** Update- the Homespot NFC Bluetooth is $27.99 and worth the extra $3 because the range is better and it beeps when it’s paired. According to Amazon reviewers, it sounds better too.
  3. An amplifier. You probably already have one, but I LOVE the sound of this puppy and it’s dirt cheap: “Lepai” LP-2020A Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier with Power Supply (awesome sound for $16.85, and we’re talking 1,500 almost 5-star ratings). I think this is the best tech bargain I’ve seen in my life.
  4. Accessories: The bluetooth receiver and amplifier come with power cords and audio connectors. So all you need is some speaker wire, glue, and an extension cord.

Wish you could hear it. It’s pretty bold. Nice whoop-ass Redneck acoustical system for the pool or home. Another update Jan. 11, 2014: I just cranked it and asked a buddy and his kids to close their eyes. They picked this rig over the Sonos playing the exact same song!

The instructions are simple and, of course, you don’t need the amo box. But it’s nice if you want to move it around.

  1. Plug the speakers into the Lepai amp speaker inputs. Plug the Lepai amp in the wall. You can handle that, right?
  2. Plug the Homespot (or Belkin) Bluetooth receiver into the amplifier photo/audio input. Plug the power in the wall.
  3. Get your iPhone, iPod or laptop and “find” the Homespot or Belkin, then pair them.
  4. Turn on the sound of your device (no special app required) and it comes booming out the speakers like audible love!

Let me know if it works for ya? I can’t believe more people don’t do this!

Attic Rats, Preroll Ads & Show Your CPM

I was invited to join a web studio yesterday that provides a fixed CPM or cost per 1,000 views. That means the network promises you’ll earn no more and no less per video view… many of my friends have made that choice. It forced me to examine my current CPM and consider how that might change. Is it in my interest to accept a “floor/ceiling” amount? Or am I optimistic it will grow, and eager to benefit from that?

So today let’s look at attic rats, income for online-video ads, and contrast the sorry current state with what industry analysts predict.

Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, recently posted an intriguing article/rant about CPM prices… it’s titled “How Rats in the Attic Made Me Realize What’s Wrong With Prerolls.” Let’s examine the highlights to get a sense about why brands and online agencies have artificially depressed online-video advertising (despite shifts from print/TV to this medium).

Attic Rat

Problem (according to Louderback):

Unfortunately, even though those two video ad experiences are as different as rats and wine (KN note: Louderback was inspired having received junk mail for rat extermination and wine), they were probably priced at similar CPMs. That’s because the online video ad market – particularly the pre-roll market — hasn’t progressed nearly as far as print. Those were two markedly different experiences, with wildly different levels of engagement. However, for many buyers, agencies and brands an on-line video pre-roll is valued the same wherever it runs, regardless of viewer intent, ad placement and playback environment. It’s as if Trump and “Take Air USA” paid exactly the same for those two print placements – even though their impact is worlds apart.

Solution (according to Louderback):

If you’re a video ad buyer, understand the value differences between in-banner impressions and engaged in-stream video ads. Focus your energy on the latter, and you’ll get far better results than if you lump the two together. Even though engaged, in-stream video ads will be more expensive, they are still a great bargain – especially if when you target demographic or content affinity along with the in-stream purchase.

Now let’s pull a “you show me yours I’ll show you mine” to see what poor targeting has done to the online-video economy. 

Here’s a question for those brave enough to admit in comments below (feel free to use an anonymous name). What’s your YouTube CPM (income per 1000 impressions)? In other words, how much do you make per 1,000 views? It’s easy to compute: simply take your earnings in a given month, divided by the total number of views you get per month (divided by 1,000).

  • Example: you earned $200 last month. Your videos were viewed 100,000 times. So you divide $200 by (100,000/1,000). You get $200 divided by 100 equals $2.00 CPM.
  • Since YouTube keeps about a half, that would mean the company is fetching about $4 CPM… which is horrendously low if prerolls were used.
  • Show us your CPM?
Good news: eMarketer puts online-video advertising growth at more than 43% in the next year and 35% the next year. As marketers become more targeted and sophisticated, we should easily see a CPM lift of 20-30%.

Online Video in 2011: Ready for Drama?

Friends, online-video is going to be a fun storm in 2011 as the drama has just begun. It’s the first official business day of 2011, and that prompted me to awaken at 3:00 a.m. with great curiosity. I spent 4-plus hours diving into dozens of articles and blogs, and have wrapped it all up nicely for you. It’s my late Christmas gift.

Here are “things to watch” in early 2011, including some recent articles. See also my 2011 predictions, which is a mandatory scan. This will be on the exam.

Can WebTV tame the "Big Media" Tiger?

1. The WebTV Bloodbath Is Just Beginning: Check out this killer article by Fortune’s Jessi Hempel titled “What the Hell is Going On With TV” to get a flavor for the impending drama in this space. And I quote: “Netflix, Google, and Apple can’t just swoop in and disrupt the $85 billion home entertainment industry. The challenge lies in navigating the entrenched interests that make up the television business.” Jessi’s piece reminds us that only a 1/10th of a percent of people have left cable television for the web, yet Microsoft says 42% of the premium Xbox Gold users who rely on it to view video are watching more than an hour a day, or 30 hours in a month. “If you’re a cable provider, that should be terrifying,” says Forrester analyst James McQuivey. The author points to Clicker.com as one I’d watch closely… a made-for-web TVGuide and search tool that allows you to locate various shows (Modern Family) and select viewing options: free, per episode or subscription. But Jessi likes Comcast as a driver of a mature online-video model because it protects the financial interests of content providers (as well as its own). I sadly believe she’s right given the confusing and frustrating state of online-video on television today (which she likens to Internet circa 1998).  Fortunately we’ve got two forces to keep Comcast motivated: consumer demand and willing startups ready to meet that demand. And he, Comcast has been asked to be cool (see Bloomberg/Businessweek article).

Click image to read more of Fortune's "What the HELL is Going on With TV"

2. Online-Video Platforms Continue to Get Commoditized, Then Interesting. Frankly I’ve never been as interested in the boring infrastructure supporting online video as I am the marketing, community and content that sits on top of it (where the air is easier to breath). But Streaming Media’s Dan Rayburn explains it well. Sure the space is commoditized, but just because YouTube is free doesn’t mean online-video platform vendors can’t charge a premium for more flexible solutions that can scale and provide unique functionality. According to Rayburn’s “Commoditization Is Not a Dirty Word,” vendors are shifting from talking about how they encode or embed (yawn) and how they a) integrate with ad networks and analytics, b) deliver the right video content to the right user on the right device. That makes sense, and I would not underestimate the power of a platform that meets the needs of creators and advertisers (David Russek‘s SevenEcho, for instance, is one of the best-kept secrets for storytellers and brands). There’s a wide opening for a video platform which better meets the needs of creators and advertisers (see MediaPost article by WatchMojo’s Ashkan Karbasfrooshan). The challenge, of course, is that today traffic (not content) is king, and YouTube continues to reign by miles (comScore). Thanks to music videos, Vevo and Blip.tv continue to grow — but still small fish.

3. YouTube Community Still Alive. Is YouTube a thing, destination or community? Yes, depending on whether you live there 2 hours a day or slide over to see the latest viral clip of search for a meme. Community is still alive, and the eager and weird folks from StirFryTV are cooking up a “YouTour,” a YouTube Tour which starts in Orland on a Jan. 18 event. It will include YouTube allstars Michael Buckley, Shane Dawson and CoolGuyWithGlasses. We’re not sure if John Basedow will be sneaking onto the YouTour RV, and going shirtless to each event to pitch his “Take Control Fitness Package” (making the rest of us feel like fat asses). Paul (odcasting101) remains alive with his YouTube Gathering ning. There’s a San Antonio, Texas YouTube gathering planned in June 17-June 19). While YouTube’s Creator blog has gone dry, it points to 488 YouTube gatherings listed on Meetup.com (mostly tiny ones). I just discovered YTGatherings on Twitter too, and it alerts us to such events like Jake & Amir’s Toronto event on Jan. 27, 2011. I’d be surprised if a YouTube event doesn’t spring up as part of the popular Austin, Texas SouthBySouthwest event March 11-20. After all, there are several YouTube and online-video sessions as part of the programing and Felicia Day is keynoting.

4. Video Search Will Suck Less Get Better. Sure we’ve been saying that for years, but ThinkJose’s Jose Castillo explains why video search sucks: “The internet was never designed as a platform for video… the basic structure and platform we are using to consume visual data is an outdated system originally used for sending text messages between universities.” Castillo reminded me that Blinkx.com is still around, and that Microsoft’s Bing search has a mouse-over playback (and don’t tell YouTube, but I think Bing is curating better with a homepage of videos that I regard as more relevant than what I’m finding on YouTube). He also points to CastTV, which provides blended results from YouTube, CNN, Amazon and other sites. See also Clicker.com (point one).

5. Video Greetings Will Get More Awkward in 2011: Cheesy Christmas video greetings were hot, with some being fabulous and others being downright painful. They didn’t stop, as evidenced by Profnet’s stunningly awkward 2011 New Years video. I hate to say this, but I think we’ve only begun to see how low corporate video-greeting cards can go. Sure this isn’t an “industry shaker,” but it sure will be fun to watch.

6. Video Destinations Rival YouTube: When I pop into a few well curated online-video sites, I increasingly believe YouTube, while still growing in views, will lose share in 2011. Check out Bing’s site and you’ll find a piece about Mona Lisa’s eye codes by NBC (saw it on TV last night), the “No” baby (that has viralinated), and how to break your soda habit via Howcast. That’s far more relevant than what I’m finding when I browse YouTube’s inhumanely edited topic areas, or surf my bloated subscription box. Yahoo Video is still luke warm, but I’d expect it to steal share with the shift away from consumer-generated content in March. AOL Video is still Revverish (insert tumbleweed and sound of crickets) but getting better. While YouTube focuses on being a platform, being relevant on television and mobile, and hopefully searching video better.

7. Damn We Need Curators. It’s simply not possible to “browse” for good videos on YouTube anymore, although perhaps Google will consider some of my unsolicited New Years Resolutions for YouTube. Ultimately I’m not likely to find good content surfing the “most viewed” on YouTube (now dominated by a few niche “web stars” that appear to be “crowd sourced” by a tiny segment of apparently stoned teenage video enthusiasts). Instead, we’re more likely to find it via curators like eGuiders. Why aren’t we seeing more curators (see NYTimes blog on subject from last year). For instance, ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott carefully selected some fantastic viral highlights from last year. That was more helpful to me than combing through YouTube. I wrote a lot about curating in Beyond Viral; go buy that dang book so I’m not the laughing stock of Wiley. Hitwise’s Bill Tancer saw the migration of early YouTubers to curated content sites a year ago, but it’s been oddly quiet.

8. Online Video Gets More Social. I didn’t hit that hard enough in my 2011 predictions, so let me point to Hitwise’s report about Facebook driving the social engine of the Internet. Basically Facebook’s growth hasn’t slowed down, and MySpace and Bebo are crumbling. YouTube, surprisingly, is flat relative to Facebook. I’m telling you… watch for Facebook offering revenue sharing and see if the YouTube community shifts over to Facebook. Daneboe’s cracked Facebook via the insanely popular Annoying Orange with nearly 7 million “likes” (compared to only 1.5 million YouTube subscribers despite his 423 million views). Currently Daneboe uses Facebook to alert fans to a video, then streams it on YouTube where he generates a percentage of income. How easy would it be for him to start using Facebook if the company revenue shared? Most of us YouTubers haven’t cracked Facebook yet, and it’s high time for that. NYTimes Tech Blogger, Miguel Helft, also points to Clicker.com (someone’s doing good PR) for socializing video.

9. You’re Going to Pay More for Broadband: Video will soon dominate the percent of Internet traffic (see 2011 “Year Ahead In IT,” point 6). You .o5 percent of cable snippers are draining the economic system like illegitimate welfare recipients or those pesky entitled Boomers looking for social security payouts. Sure maybe there will be a poor-man’s broadband solution, but the rest of us are going to pay. With broadband suckers like Netflix and the new Skype iPhone Video one-to-one apps, do you honestly think telecommunication firms and broadband providers aren’t going to get wise? The U.S. is 18th in the world for speed, and we can bet that’s going to get some attention despite the historical year-over-year flat cost of broadband.

10. Google Going Beyond YouTube. Despite the GoogleTV Sony/Logitech launch running into a mix of praise and hiccupsreworking software and media-company resistance, we can expect Google to go beyond YouTube in 2011. Check out Information Week’s predictions on what Google will do this year. Among them: going Hollywood. That appears a difficult but inevitable play for Google to “organize the world’s information,” when you recognize “big media” as a large, sustainable chunk of it.

Finally take note of NewTeeVee’s Liz Shannon Miller’s poll about what force will really impact the space. Most votes are not for Hulu, Netflix, TV Everywhere, Apple or Google… most of us believe the real “shake up” or transformation will be driven by… something else. If YouTube and Facebook’s relative overnight success taught us anything about this still-maturing market, it’s that where there are problems and unmet consumer needs, there’s always something sudden and new that can keep it interesting.

Dramatic “Royalty Free” Music Sites

If you’ve worn out Kevin MacLeod’s Incompetech, but looking for free, royalty-free music here’s a new alternative… some dark, intense, orchestral and dramatic options. Check ’em out: http://www.jewelbeat.com/

Also a bunch more courtesy of YouTube’s BattlefieldDoktor via JourneysofLifeBooks:

http://ccmixter.org (click here to search royalty-free for commercial use tunes)
http://incompetech.com
http://freepd.com
http://www.jamendo.com
http://soundsnap.com
http://theslip.nin.com/
http://www.dance-industries.com
http://www.tbtmusic.com
http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/
http://www.audionautix.com
http://www.music4yourvids.co.uk
http://www.nathanwillsmusic.com

Let’s Create a Source for Free Royalty-Free Music

Let’s help build a killer index for FREE royalty-free music. Ever search for free music online? How about royalty-free music? It’s hard to find good stuff. Now let’s complicate it further. Free, royalty-free music? Nearly impossible.

But the need is there, and the benefit is high for:

  1. Viewers/listeners: Who can discover new talent, and enjoy videos without hearing the same ridiculous loops from every editing software package.
  2. Video creators: Who can stick to what they do best, but create better videos with the help of talented usicians.
  3. Musicians: Who can gain exposure from the large audiences of video creators. What a great way to market your work. If I was a musician, I’d certainly offer a few songs for free (in exchange for credit), and I’d market myself to popular video creators in hope that they’d use my tunes and credit me. I do this often, but it helps when musicians are aggressive (and talented).

Kevin MacLeod, the infamous talent behind Incompetech.com, has changed YouTube forever by offering his music for free AND royalty-free use. That means we “partners” can use it without fear of the copyright police. We want to use good music (not just our own attempts to score via Garageband or other layman tools.

Offering free music, of course, is a generous gesture by MacLeod and others, but also a brilliant marketing strategy. As I’ve written before, I’ve commissioned custom music from MacLeod to thank him… and he was fair on price, excellent in quality, and extremely fast in turnaround. It put MacLeod on the map, and is a smart strategy for any talented musician looking for fast and free exposure.

Kevin’s friend Frank Nora is offering HOURS of his music without any cost and for royalty free use. He doesn’t ask for credit, which makes me want to credit him even more! Kevin has a few other friends who have taken his approach to marketing their talent. I hope to include their websites to this post.

Are you aware of other musicians who offer their music for free? Let’s create a one-stop showcase for them, and see if we can push it up on Google for searches for “royalty-free free music” or “free royalty-free music.” If it already exists, please let me know!

Currently Google searches like those yield a lot of websites that promise it, but are actually selling really cheesy, outdated collections of canned gunk. The kind of thing that is almost bad enough for a parody of a corporate video, but not quite bad enough.

Thanks musicians! Thanks video creators that help publicize these talented musicians and make videos that are more fun to watch. And thanks to you WillVideoForFood peeps that can help make it easier to find ’em.

A New Model for Producing Television & Online-Video Ads

Okay get a coffee and sit down. This is one of my important posts. You’ll learn in this one post more than you learned in that stupid communications major (the sender sends messages, and the receiver receives them). I switched majors the day I realized half of the women in my Freshman 101 communications class wanted to be the next Oprah.

Now traditional advertisers and commercial production shops don’t much like the notion of online video ads (especially consumer created) because they prefer to shoot $500,000 commercials in lovely locations. It’s one of the perks of selling your soul to agencies. And I’ve got friends that bemoan the future of television spots as they adore the romantic trip to Europe (to film a pool that looks remarkably like one in a New Jersey suburb).

Alas, advertisers and their favorite commercial directors need not fear online video! While we marketers may request fewer $500K commercials, we’ll still need good content. Lots of it. Instead of one Superbowl spot, however, we’ll want an assortment of creative ads that appeal to our various and fragmenting audiences. So we need to get our cost-per-produced-minute down by 50% or more. And I’m not talking about amortizing the shoot by rotating three actors: a white guy, one hispanic gal, and a slightly overweight Asian transgender.

We ideally want to tailor the ad content to the medium. I was thrilled to see V’s debut (the television show) with a character on YouTube’s homepage that actually mentioned YouTube. Hey, she belongs here. Check out this Louisiana hot sauce spot by pro-amateur Jared Cicon (embedded below), and if you drool over it like I do… check out the rest of his reel. Is it Superbowl material? Maybe not, but it would cost about the same as a single ticket to the game. And I think if Jared (who conveniently puts himself in most of his spots) would probably have just the same Q rating as the best-looking transgender Asian your talent agency could find.

We have two important forces at work: advertisers need MORE video content to participate in the 30-40% growth of spending on this channel. And we have lower-cost options like Jared that do damned good work. So what’s the solution? Wel you have three choices:

  1. First, large production shops — with pricey directors and overbaked sets — can dial down their costs for the medium. I’ve talked to at least 5 production companies that are adjusting their model to bring budgets down (on a shoot for a magazine ad photo, I was happy to see wardrobe with 90 clothing options from Gap that they’d return the next day for a credit).
  2. The other option is for advertisers to put work “out to bid” to a new swarm of directors with minimal costs but talent (that won’t impact the veteran directors, is awesome for the noobs, and probably scares the hell out of the rest). Use a clearinghouse like Poptent.org, or go direct to people like Jared.
  3. Finally, advertisers can run a contest. However I don’t like to see online ads for contests like the Dove blitz. I feel like the advertiser should be selling the product not wasting it on reaching those of us that enter video contests (although they get points for trying to engage the audience). Ultimately most contests get minimal participation, and why not just reach out to ringers — especially if they have an audience online.

Mind you, Jared or PopTent offer advertisers low-cost but remarkable production quality via amateurs. What you won’t get, of course, is an audience. That’s why Hitviews, who contracts with “weblebrities” who already have an audience, makes more sense for some… you get a decent video, and fairly guaranteed views. Or, as I wrote about yesterday, you could bid for product placement on Placevine or Zadby.

By the way, I like an online-video contest that rewards the cat who drives the most views or votes, and Jared likes the ones where quality actually matters to the judges. He’s got talent and I have an audience. In the end, Jared always wins and I get a free f’ing Slurpy coupon.

In 2010 smart advertisers will commission work for less than the cost of an agency dinner. And here’s the part you say “hooray!” First, we can skip 45-stages of market research, and just flight the damned partially executed concepts and learn from them. How’s that for a dislodging that kidney stone? Maybe “ready, go, set” is better than “ready, ready, ready, ready, set, set, set…” Second, we can finally determine if the ad worked because of the messaging or the creative… because we can test multi-varied approaches.

What the hell do I know about research? I’m not even sure I used multi-varied approaches correctly. But I can tell you that I spent an assload of my employers’ money to test three sets of creative, and still wonder if we’d have been better off with a different execution of one of the alternative campaigns that died in market research maybe because the headline or image didn’t resonate with those pretend consumers that spend 50% of their life behind a two-way mirror for cash.

Can I hear an AMEN!?

Now you’ll flight 20 ads online, and take the crappy half out to pasture. See? Maybe we can finally kill that stupid quote: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I don’t know what half.” It’s about as cute as “Hang on Baby, Friday’s Coming.”

P.S. Some of you will love this ad, and some of you will hate it. But good news. Some day Google will save you the trouble of ignoring an ad or moaning over it… you’ll only see the ones you love.

YouTube’s Videotargeting Gives Advertisers Precision

Now you too can target an ad on a YouTube video with more precision than ever before.

Via YouTube/Google “Videotargeting” you can suggest videos based on keywords (like humor or entertainment), viewer demographics (age and gender), interest-based categories or some combination of the three. Read more on the YouTube Blog or Mashable.

Says Google/YouTube: Our goal is to create an easy-to-use, self-service targeting tool for any advertiser who wants to run ads on YouTube. As this first version is in beta (and is being updated every day), it’s missing a few features, as well as content from some of our partners — like those who sell their own ads, for example.

How to Buy Advertisement on YouTube

It took me quite a bit of research via Adwords (advertisers buying ads) and Adsense (publisher tool to make money) to discover how to buy ads on YouTube. If you want to place an “Invideo” ad (one that sneaks up along the bottom) or other ads, you’ll need a lot of money.

According to Google’s Adwords help, Direct YouTube advertising contracts for US advertisers targeting the US require the following cost commitments. You’ll need to contact an advertising representative, and can learn more on this site on YouTube.

    • YouTube General: $50K or greater spend on YouTube within 90 days.
    • YouTube Brand Channels: $200K or greater spend on YouTube only.
    • YouTube Contests: $500K or greater spend on YouTube only.
    • YouTube Homepage Roadblock: $175K/day flat fee plus a $50K incremental spend on Google and YouTube over 90 days ($225K or greater total spend). Premium flight dates may require a higher initial flat fee.

But what if you ant to advertise on YouTube for less?
Fear not! (And select “more” below for details)

    1. Follow the sign-up wizard instructions to create your campaign until you reach the ‘Target ad’ section.
    2. Select List URLs from within the Target Ad Site Tool.
    3. Enter ‘youtube.com’ in the text box.
    4. Click Get Available Sites
  • If you’d like to advertise on YouTube for a lower cost commitment, you can sign up for Google AdWords for as little as $1 CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) for targeting the entire YouTube site, or $2 for targeting specific YouTube content categories. To get started with AdWords, visit https://adwords.google.com and begin by creating a site-targeted campaign. You can then follow these steps to target your ads to YouTube pages.

    These “run of site” or “run of category” ads deliver impressions but are easy to ignore (hence the price).

    I think I might try some ads just for fun. I figure if I have to look at a Fred ad on my videos, I might as well try to see if I can get one of mine on his channel.

    Continue reading “How to Buy Advertisement on YouTube”

Long-Tail Celebrities Won’t Get Famous and May Not Care

Here’s an excerpt of a wonderful post on Cracked.com titled “YouTubers That Will Never Be Famous.” It’s an opportunity for me to “clear the air” about being a self-proclaimed “weblebrity” (which is, you see, rather distinct from being a celebrity). LONG post, here, folks but this one is jam-packed with delicious goodness.

The internet is a big place, but there can only be so many Tay Zondays and LonelyGirl15s. Not everyone can become a crossover internet celebrity, and behind every one of these superstars there are a thousand others just like them, posting video after video and hoping one of them sticks. The following users represent only a fraction of a percentage of the YouTube users currently clogging up the internet tubes with absolute garbage – if you can think of others that deserve to be shamed, feel free to add them in the comments below. Or don’t, actually – additional exposure will only encourage them.

Let’s start by explaining that securing weblebrity status facilitates all the dysfunction of being a real celebrity, but none of the perks. You see, you receive hundreds of messages a day from viewers critiquing your work (probably more than many movie stars). The positive comments give you false self esteem, and the negative ones crush you like a lemon wedge. Eventually you develop thick skin, stop posting, or decide to find your self worth in a more healthy place (like at the bottom of a nice glass of vodka stired by a Xanax).

But, friends, there are at least 5 perks:

  1. We get constructive feedback about what people like and don’t like about our mindless short-form entertainment (so in theory we learn). People look forward to our stuff, and that’s encouraging. Remember that three years ago we bored dinner guests with our videos.
  2. We have a lot of fun. Shooting videos, editing them, collaborating, meeting fellow creators.
  3. Some of us actually get paid by YouTube based on a percent of the revenue it makes from selling ads around our garbage.
  4. We don’t really clog up the Internet. You see, there’s plenty of bandwidth around. It’s kinda like saying someone is wasting your sunshine (there’s an unlimited supply last I checked). Your tan doesn’t come at my expense… unless I have to look at your digusting, peeling skin.
  5. We don’t answer to anyone except our audiences. No producers to tell us to “dial it down,” or sponsors forcing awkward insertions. No “review team” or fear of cancellation.

Now let’s look at VisibleMode. Do I watch him daily? Nope. Does he watch me? Probably not, except when I happened to pick him for the YouTube Secret Santa (I sent him a mug so he could sell out like me).

VisibleMode is one of the top YouTubers in Canada, and Cracked.com’s pick for someone who won’t get famous. Obviously it would be even more interesting to see a Cracked.com list of the few YouTubers that actually might get famous (a harder list to write, and a shorter one).

So now I’ll get to my point, which Cracked might have overlooked. VisibleMode may not soon be in a b-grade film or even an extra in a television commercial. Heck even Michael Buckley (one of the fastest growing, and television-ready weblebrities) may fade like many stars. But VM tells me today he’s had 6,760,748 cummaltive views of his videos. If Google sold those InVideo ads surrounding his videos at $20 per thousand ($20 CPM is the list price), VisibleMode would have hypothetically taken a portion of more than $135,000 that advertisers would pay YouTube/Google. Let me say it again. Even if most of the ads weren’t sold, the CPM wasn’t $20, and VisibleMode only got a small portion, he’d be making decent take-home per month. Will it last? I’m the wrong guy to ask, because I would have bought Revver stock. But I’ll bet he’s enjoying the ride and not too worried about missing a red-carpet event in LA.

The sustainability of YouTube and weblebrities, of course, hinges on advertisers garnering an ROI on the ads that surround this content. They’re fairly targeted and hard to ignore. And they’re in the context of content you’ve chosen to view. So the branding benefit should be worthwhile (a cent or two an impression) even if the direct-response may underwhelm more transactional brands. 

So assuming marketers sell products (or believe they are) via YouTube promotion, the advertising revenue will flow. A shake-down of creators will naturally occur, but the audience of YouTube is growing in depth and frequency, and media consumption continues to fragment. There’s a volume of valuable ad inventory lurking in the long tail, folks…. so...

  • Weblebrities might enjoy a decent side income without ever becoming “famous.”
  • Viewers will have a greater selection of garbage to fit their unique tastes- some cheesy stuff blended with unique, unscripted and short entertainment.
  • YouTube/Google will make some money as well-backed middleman. Heck maybe they’ll buy Cracked.com.
  • Advertisers should enjoy a decent ROI in an emerging medium that’s bound to resemble future television buys more than current television ads will.

Nalts may or may not appear on SNL, but he’s having fun while this lasts. I just wish Cracked would have picked me for someone who’d never get famous. Hey- I know. I’ll do a sunburn video. Worked for ShayCarl.