How Native Advertising is Tricking You

Native Advertising is evil, and John Oliver grills it in this comedy routine

Native advertising is crap
Native advertising is crap

I started my career as a journalist. Warren Rogers, my editor and a well-known Washington D.C reporter, created a literal wall between the Georgetown Courier’s editorial department and the advertising team… it was wooden and about 4 feet tall. He taught me the importance of not having editorial pander to the needs of advertising. No lofty reviews of restaurants that took full-page ads out in our newspaper.

Sure the newspaper folded in about 6 months. And sure I now work in advertising. I still have a pet peeve about “native advertising,” which is basically advertisements that masquerade as content. You’ve seen them:

  • An apparent news story on a website that’s actually an ad for some diet product
  • A section of a magazine that, on closer inspection, is actually “advertorial” content (sponsored)
  • A tweet or Facebook post that’s paid content even though it’s designed to look like a post from a friend

We need to know when a commercial interest is impacting our news or entertainment. And it’s not often obvious. I don’t like search-engine results that are ads pretending to be organic. I don’t like product placement without credit/transparency. And I don’t like hitting a news website expecting to read an article, but it’s a poorly veiled attempt to pitch some crap.

Ads can do their job even when we know they’re ads. But news and entertainment cannot do their jobs when we have to worry about whether they’re ads or not.

So I took some pleasure in John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) absolutely ripping “native advertising” a second asshole. Enjoy…

My Appearance on Funny Stuff and Cheese

And here’s today’s episode of “Funny Stuff and Cheese,” the daily 12-12:30 talk show that’s on YouTube and one of the fastest growing iTunes talk/comedy shows.

It’s hosted by “Mompreneur” Renae Christine and Tom Cote, who hosts my favorite Instragram channel featuring Buddy his pug with stuff balanced on his head. You should follow him before you forget.

Renae runs RichMomBusiness.com and is the author of the highly rated “Home Business Startup Bible.” Her message to moms is simple: stop being frugal and start making some dough because stay-at-home moms are made of “awesome sauce.” Her Instagram features pictures of her wee ones and food.

Beauty and the Bald. Here’s the show. We eat “Easy Cheese” and banter.

 

10 Great Comedy & Humor Websites and Blogs

HAHAHAHAHH

An apple a day make keep the doctor away, but good comedy websites are the best health remedy. Here are a few of my recently favorite websites, blogs and video collections. What are yours?

  1. The West Virginia Surfing Report: Jeff Kay has twice weekly posts that will have you giggling.
  2. Crap At My Parents House: terrific photos of odd nicknacks you might discover in your parents’ house.
  3. Reddit Video: a crowd-curated collection of funny new videos, as well as classics.
  4. The Onion: mandatory reading/watching. This parody of news has long been a favorite.
  5. BestWeekEver.tv is worth a scan – especially this collection of funny videos that “never get old”
  6. Failblog and icanhascheezburger popularizes some of the 4chan classics and guilty pleasures like Lolcats.
  7. QuickMeme has a collection of popular memes, and if you don’t understand them see KnowYourMeme.
  8. JustforlaughsTV YouTube channel has some nice, professionally produced pranks ala Candid Camera.
  9. MyLifeIsAverage invites readers to submit their humorous woes. Into Schadenfreude? It’s your site. You may also enjoy Awkward Family Photos.
  10. YouTube duo Smosh has a “Smosh Pit” with some frequently updated collections.

And here are a few sources for additional sites, if you wish to scavenge.

Let me know if you have some additional favorites to add to my morning coffee.

 

Can a Search Engine Detect and Rank Comedy? Google Tries.

The newest funny cat on YouTube says No No No No

Look out “I Are Cute Kitten.” There’s a new cat in town, and she says No No No No. And according to research it’s the funniest video out there.
Google is trying to create an algorithm that ranks a video in terms of humor/comedy. Here’s an article about the subject, and here’s a BBC World Service Radio interview I just did live on the topic. Humor is a difficult thing for a computer to detect, but I do think we can collect viewer reactions to draw conclusions.

I spoke last year at the International Society for Humor Studies (see presentation) and the academics and psychologists were having trouble agreeing on the constructs and classifications of humor. It’s a bit like sculpting fog to predict what makes us laugh.
Can Google do it? It is a company made up mostly of engineers. It won’t be an easy or precise task, but I won’t rule it out.
Naturally I DO think that humor can be researched based on human reactions. That’s why (as seen below) I always test my videos behind one-way glass with indepth interviews and focus groups.

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!

 

Meeting the New Yorker Cartoon Editor

Today I speak about YouTube at the International Society for Humor Studies.

If I don’t finish this post quickly I’m going to miss my flight from Newark to Boston. But I can’t tell you how incredibly excited I am to meet academics who study humor, and I’m perplexed this conference isn’t all over the news. Shame, reporters. Shame, media.

I’m most excited to meet some of the “great minds” of Humor Research (see website), and tickled to find out the friggin’ editor of The New Yorker’s cartoons, Robert Mankoff, will be attending. Check him out in this cool video… he explains humor as a way to understand what we know and don’t.

I hope to make a video while I’m there, and I am curious about whether the crowd will love the idea or despise it. Ideally I’d like to create a video that satires the academic exploration of humor, and shows (willing participants) finding no humor in my sophomoric fart hijinks. That’s called juxtaposition.

Deplorable Comedy Insults Handicapped, Ice Cream People & Grease

Get ready for the Lawsuits. In a horrible satire at the expense of handicapped people and ice-cream men, the comedy channel “JustForLaughsTV” created this atrocity below. In addition to stigmatizing one-handed people with “claw hands,” it defaces all ice cream people everywhere. And rips off the soundtrack from “Summer Loving” (Grease).

Parenthetically, the lawsuit by the ice cream man that appeared in my “Creepy Ice Cream Man” video was dismissed earlier this month from federal district court (see court opinion pdf). While the case was dropped because the court has no rulings on most of the plaintiff’s claims, that doesn’t rule out his successive lawsuits in other state courts, federal court, neighborhood court, the Ice Cream court, and the Supreme Court.

Fortunately my defense (based on parody/satire/free speech and the fact that “hurting someone’s feelings” is not grounds for a lawsuit) will require a simple copy/paste and is solid.

Unfortunately no lawsuit will likely help the poor ice cream man (who happened to be selling ice cream when I was inspired to satire my own fear of ice cream people) will reclaim whatever he claims the video did to him. I make that assumption that because my attempts to remedy it more gentleman-like (non-legal) methods have had no apparent effect — apologizing via phone, removing it, filing DCMA claim on unauthorized posts, apologizing in writing, apologizing in person to him and his family, offering a retraction, offering a donation to charity, offering a nuisance settlement, and apologizing again.

The ice cream man even contacted local Pa. media disparaging me, in what could be considered a calculated act of defamation. But I’m not terribly excited about filing a counter suit because, well, ice cream is too delicious to sue.

Non-Boring SXSW Video!

Okay we’ve had our fair share of SXSW footage, but this one is darned entertaining. And I’m not just saying that because my adult hero is David Meerman Scott. Tim Washer provides a brilliant foil to the self-deprecating and faux-pomposity of Scott.

Oh sorry… not familiar with SXSW (South By Southwest)? 1999 called and it wants to revoke your license to use the Internet. And if you have heard of South by Southwest but haven’t attended, click here to see AlexBlagg’s “SkankJenk” tips for noobs to become “sout by southbests“.

This clip (and the Blagg tips on secret barbecues of Austin, self promotion bumping, and the importance of not sleeping and eating) bring the annual love-fest of “cool nerds” to life. Scott chronicles the “off the beaten path” aspects in short, comedic montages. I challenge you… no I DARE you to find more interesting coverage. Bring it.

Now let me just make one thing perfectly clear about the “alleged” batts of Austin’s bridge. I went to Austin. I watched for them for hours one night. Then the next night. On the third night I discovered the bat rumor is a cruel Internet hoax. There are no bats.

Credits for above video: Directed and edited by John Knowles
Shot by John Birdsong. Brought to you by the Roger Smith Hotel

Follow these peeps or live in shame:
twitter.com/rshotel
twitter.com/dmscott
twitter.com/timwasher
twitter.com/pancity
www.rogersmithlife.com

“Just Give Me a Damned Cigarette” : JibJab Goes Puppets for Year-End-Review

"Just Give Me A Damned Cigarette," sings Obama Puppet in the 2010 JibJab Review

One of the things that gets me through the holidays is the anticipation and enjoyment of JibJab’s annual year-end song parody. When Twitter rumors about CNN’s announcing Morgan Freeman’s death this week, I called JibJab’s Voice Jim Meskimen (website/on YouTube) to see if he’d do his classic Freeman impersonation. He did in this “Morgan Freeman is Alive” video, and it fooled many.

I’m a raving fan of Jim, who does virtually every voice you’ve heard on JibJab. (Go subscribe to him and you’ll see his Knestor learn ya about gift giving), and he tipped me off to the fact that the 2010 JibJab review is now out! You can also add your face to the first-ever JibJab stop action in “Santa Claus is Coming To Town.”

Check it out below, and notice it’s all puppets instead of the typical flash animation. JibJab took us behind the curtain with a step-by-step “behind scenes” blog. I can’t find what I’d hoped to see: Jim singing in the studio (there is a scratch music page that’s currently sparse).