YouTube Makes Rare Design Update

Just a Google is about to roll out a new design for G-mail, YouTube’s “Panda” is giving viewers a more modern, intuitive but “MySpace-like” design according to CNet’s Eric Smalley.

What do you think? Most of YouTube’s iterations have been subtle adjustments to functionality, social features and emphasis (what appears on homepage, category pages and “related videos,” all changes that are easier to overlook but have tremendous impact on the videos we view and the average “videos viewed per user session.” YouTube’s revenue can grow significantly if it keeps “grazers” around just a wee bit longer, especially if they commence a view of a well monetized video.

This change, however, appears far more visible and will certainly attract the typical reaction to change, not unlike the backlash when YouTube changed it’s channel designs in 2008.

Since YouTube sees itself as a platform not a website or content owner, I’d predict it to soon enable “crowd-sourced custom designs” like iGoogle. Creators, brands and partners would likely be thrilled to pack the non-functioning areas with aesthetics.

I quite like the idea of my little cartoon avatar head peeking from behind players, but I imagine the “iJustine YouTube Skin” would be a wee bit more popular. Don’t worry kids. When it comes out I’ll link to it here.

iJustine Gets Philanthropic and Fluid

Click to access Facebook page of contest

iJustine, the YouTube star and graphic designer, is holding a contest to benefit Charity:Water. Check out the 2011 version of a press release (here), by MASScanvas — a new type of online graphic design contest. “Creating synergy among celebrities, designers and charities, MASScanvas aims to inspire a community of creativity and philanthropy – Design with a Purpose.”

We like that. Because purposeless design is so 2010.

Here’s her announcement video, and then check out the “Why Water” video by… it’s very powerful. Plus I friggin’ love the tagline: “Just $20 can give one person access to clean water.” It’s such a small and specific “ask.”

The contest is only through May 21, so enter if you’re graphically inclined. And tell her Nalts sent you. Yeah the one who urged her to dive into YouTube in 2008. Yeah I’m gonna keep reminding us of that. Oh and check out iJustine shouting out the Honeybadger don’t give a sh@t, and see a bunny making a bed.

Dr. Who BBC America Campaign: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

As Hannibal used to say on A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

I love it when a (integrated media) plan comes together.

One of the most rewarding things about participating in online-video campaigns for big brands or network shows is seeing these launch simultaneously with television and print advertisements. We call it “integrated marketing,” and it’s easy in concept and difficult but wonderful in fruition. Okay, I like the payments better, but integrated marketing is still rare enough to be a pleasant surprise… especially when it involves “new media” and social. Of course, it’s difficult for a marketer or agency to time precisely a campaign’s “peak” in various mediums, given paid “insertion orders” (formal booking of space in media) often requires months of lead time. Likewise the “books” (magazines) can require months of advance notice.

I noticed that our YouTube GE Healthymagination campaign was timed well with a series of television spots, and most recently I’ve seen it on BBC America’s launch of Dr. Who (my video below was titled “Time Travel Fail, “What Year Do You Miss,” and “What Would You Do if You Had a Time Machine?” (thanks munchvids for the video response… it’s sad that those don’t get more real estate when the video plays).

The YouTube videos included time-travel themed videos, and included branded ads for Dr. Who

I wasn’t the only part of this campaign, and I’m writing this without any inside knowledge of the agency, budget, timing or execution. Hats of to MysteryGuitarman for this epic video that was also part of the campaign. I’m especially impressed that he found a “rotary pay phone” and managed to add a LED screen. And Joe, it’s making me crazy that you’ve managed to multiply yourself with better special effects than I see in most movies (Freaky Friday, Multiplicity). Vsauce’s video actually made me think, and TheStation participated with “Waiter Takes Out Restaurant.” Check out the whole series (a link to YouTube videos tagged ifIHadaTimemachine, then ranked by views).

The very week these YouTube videos launched, I noticed a prime print advertisement in Entertainment Weekly, a NYC “out of home” component,” and some “earned” media uptake (PR). Furthermore, the YouTube “branded entertainment” video series were wrapped with display and InVideo ads.

I like these “organic” YouTube campaigns that don’t force the brand in the webstar’s videos, but let the creator carry the campaign theme in their own way. The comments I’ve read are largely positive (a contrast from campaigns that require sponsored YouTube videos to have a branded slate at the intro, which is so forceful as to scare people away).

What can producers, networks, agencies and YouTube do to make these campaigns work even harder? A few ideas, but they all have executional nuances so it’s a bit unfair for me to “Monday morning quarterback.” Again- I know nothing more than what I’ve seen as a Dr. Who fan (and the very simple directions got via YouTube to make my video).

  1. Cross-link the videos so Dr. Who fans (I know you’re out there because many of you noticed the picture on my son Charlie’s shirt) would be able to move through them without having to leave YouTube (only a few percent of people leave a YouTube session for an ad, and that’s when there’s a strong reason).
  2. I would suggest the digital agency also run paid-search ads for related keywords (even though I doubt there are loads of people searching “time machine” and “ifihadatimemachine” the cost of that inventory would be minimal). I’d certainly be buying ads for those people searching for “Dr Who, BBC America” and related terms, which would help get more eyes on the campaign website: “TimeMachineTales.” Buzz drives search, and it’s a shame to see Amazon books rank higher than the 2011 version of the timeless show.
  3. Take advantage of YouTube’s “live” programming to augment the April 23 premier with something real time (perhaps one of the webstars watches the debut and invites interaction with fellow fans). If MysteryGuitarMan said he was going live on YouTube on the evening of April 23, I imagine hundreds of thousand would follow.
  4. Recognize that the YouTube aspect of the campaign is valuable far beyond the campaign. For instance, my Fringe promotions have accumulated significant views long after the debut. There’s a perpetual nature to these programs. As Hitviews CEO Walter Sabo says, “Campaign Duration: Forever.” The 105 videos his company has delivered for brands have accumulated in excess of 30 million views.
  5. Finally the real way to “break the fourth wall” is to allow a television show’s cast to interact and collaborate with prominent YouTube creators. This can be difficult, but possible. In the case of my “Meet the Fringe Cast” video, I simply learned the cast was at ComicCon, and I convinced the sponsor (Fox) to allow me the same access the network/producers gave to professional media. In another example, we saw V’s “Anna” (Morena Baccarin) appear on YouTube’s homepage with a custom message for YouTubers, and that was a “bar raising” move. Now imagine iJustine mingling with Mark Sheppard, which would carry as much weight as a local media tour to promote the show. iCarly’s Freddy Benson (Nathan Cress) met with YouTube’s prolific “ShayCarl/Shaytards” in a casual meeting that I would have paid to facilitate if I was Cress’ manager or iCarly’s promoter.
  6. Lastly, and this is really difficult, it would be great to find ways to permit clips from the show intermixed with the YouTube videos. For very good reasons this is rare. Often the network promoting the show doesn’t have the rights to use the content in promotion. The benefit, however, is you can give people a contextual teaser of the show’s actual content… as I did with “Fringe is Scary.” These clips were approved by the producer (JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot) for use with media, and I even snuck in some very tiny snippets beyond those in the media library.
IF I HAD A TIME MACHINE hosts tweets and videos related to the campaign

I’m sure it was not part of the campaign that Elisabeth Sladen died this week (she’s the British actress who played intrepid investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith throughout the classic BBC series’ 30-year run). But only one Guy calls those shots, and he’s not much of a marketer (thank God).

Meet YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar Live

Via Body Language, Founder and Former YouTube CEO Chad Hurley Demonstrates Strong Partnership with Salar "Little Superstar" Kamangar

Who’s the YouTube CEO? Not Chad Hurley anymore. It’s Salar Kamangar.

Let’s introduce the YouTube community to Salar Kamanagar, and get him to Vidcon2011 (the YouTube version of South By Southwest spawned by Hank/John Green and the Nerdfighters).

This article gives you some interesting cultural nuances about Google and YouTube which are rare in print. And another piece profiles Salar Kamangar.

Dear Salar “Little Superstar” Kamangar: as the new Lord of YouTube, your presence would be welcome and appreciated by the YouTube community. You could send your “specialist,” but how about making a personal visit to let the creators, viewers and fans know they still matter even if you go Madison & Vine. VidCon is July 28-30, 2011 in Los Angeles. Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

Here’s the agenda, and you’ll be the keynote. I know last year didn’t work out. And don’t worry- we’re a very positive group and it won’t be like typical public speaking settings. Hey if you just walk on stage, wave, and say hi… you’ll have us eating from your hands.

Sure I’ll probably make a fart sound from the back of the audience when you get onto the stage, but that’s only to make you feel “at home.” You know what we’d LOVE? If you told us a story. Something that humanizes you… maybe a funny experience of the early days of Google that’s not widely known. Stay away from biology and corporate stuff. Tell us a funny anecdote from your rare and wild ride.

You don’t have to talk about YouTube’s future, and nobody’s gonna grill you about how much attention you give to amateurs versus professionals. The crowd would toss out an antagonist and they’d be ejected like a viral infection. This is the friggin’ NERDFIGHTER group. It stands for reducing world suck. Increasing awesome.

Someone told me you’re a big iJustine fan, and she’s going to be there!

Send him some love in comments, mkay?

iJustine Gets Killed in Criminal Minds: Episode “Middle Man” (season 6)

I’m a huge fan of iJustine (Justine Ezarik), and we did a video a few years ago when (believe it or not) I had twice the subscribers as her. Now she’s appearing in Fast Company and on a recent episode of Criminal Minds (the episode is called “Middle Man”) so I’m exploiting it of course.

The video below is a mosh-up of an older video we did, joined by some very brief footage from the Criminal Minds episode I opeI hope CBS will consider fair use (iJustine didn’t authorize this). Now some links…
Justine is also profiled in my book, so go buy it, damnit. It’s not as entertaining as watching her get killed in a corn field, but whatever.

“Online Influencers” Definition: TechCrunch vs. Fast Company; 4Chan’s Moot Photo Faked.

Fast Company’s November issue takes on the subject of online influencers, with prominent features of YouTubers, iJustine and MysteryGuitarMan. The piece provided some nice insights into the “going rate” of a weblebrity/webstar… mid-high six figure incomes with $20-$50K per sponsored videos. Sustainable?

Techcrunch took objection to the piece and brought it out back for a good-times ass whooping. And to that I shout, “fight, fight, fight” (and hope nobody kicks my ass while I get some good footage). Here’s a picture of Justine Ezarik. I’m not swiping the one of Joe Penna (MGM) because I’m too lazy.

Most online publications took on the debate of "online influencers" as an excuse to use photos of iJustine to boost page views.

The real surprise of the article, beyond such trivial disputes as to “what defines online influence,” is this… who would have thought that 4Chan’s “Moot” would be fairly zit free, thin, and (dare I concede without sounding perverted) handsome? Is this an elaborate plot by “Anonymous” to give Moot a fake image, torn from some J. Crew catalog or an Asian teen porn magazine?

4Chan's "Moot" isn't as ugly as we might have expected

Yeah I’d say we’ve been punked. That aint Moot. Here’s the real Moot. But you gotta love 4Chan. I’ll bet they cleverly manipulated all of the influence data, showing that Fast Company and TechCrunch are both wrong. Fight, fight, fight!

The real Moot (4chan)

Just remember kids… I may not be in the cool crowd, but I knew them when.

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan’s Magical Money Pyramid

WatchMojo CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan has written a series of smart articles about online video in TechCrunch, and here’sKarbasfrooshan’s recent “How to Make Money from Online Video.”

TechCrunch is totally working my content corner, and if I had a pimp he’d comb his afro and kick Michael Arrington right in his man crunch. In fairness, Arrington wrote about me like once… two years ago. But since then? Not even a TechCrunch footnote to the new version of my free eBook “How To Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Dandruff.” See if I share any profits with Arrington when he’s dirt poor because Google ripped all his content.

Anyhoo, Karbasfrooshan’s recent article is particularly smartish because Karbasfrooshan includes a pyramid including my name. In general I’m a big fan of pyramids. They’re the new quadrants. And when Karbasfrooshan includes my name (Nalts),Karbasfrooshan’s pyramid take on a sophisticated, glistening appeal. I’m listed with iJustine and Fred, right on the bottom of the “prosumer” level — just above that mud slop you call user-generated  content (UGC). It’s not profitable, but I keep my costs down and I make it up in volume.

Here’s Karbasfrooshan’s pyramid below. Karbasfrooshan’s article is goodly written too, but if he’d have quoted my blog it would have been more gooder. I hope Karbasfrooshan isn’t right about the damned prerolls. The dropoff rate is a deal killer.

And I hope they make a new ice-cream called Karbasfooshan. I’d have 4 bowls for supper.

P.S. Karbasfrooshan

Real Comedians React to Unknown YouTube Stars

Per my UncleNalts vlog…. check out a great satire on YouTube “stardom” by Jessica Kirsin, a “Last Comic Standing” comedian who has appeared on Leno, created the hysterical “Snack Time,” and has a reality show in the works (see trailer).

In something I cherished and never seen before, this video shows Jessica interviewing well-known comedians at the Comedy Celler in NYC (Tom Papa, Colin Quinn, William Stephenson, Amy Schumer, Anthony Jeselnik, Ted Alexandro).

But she’s asking about YouTube “stars” like Rhett & Link (the ugly one), Shaycarl, Kassemg, Fred, Winekone, LisaNova. The answers are a great reminder that despite the wild views people get on YouTube, they are not widely known beyond (When I ask conferences if they’ve heard of Fred I get a few hands at best).

Her questions reveal a deep knowledge of the most-viewed YouTubers… and it’s wonderful to see how that’s lost on the famous comedians who have heard of nobody except LisaNova and “Charlie Bit My Finger.”

Stay with this video, and you’ll get some hysterical questions and uninformed but funny and awkward answers: