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…

US Army Captain (Alleged Murderer) Leonard John Egland’s Suicide Spot: Royalty-Free Photos

Because I'm tired of seeing this photo

Hey media. Here are some free royalty-free photos of the “last stand” of Leonard John Egland in Warwick, PA (here’s the location on Google Maps). I’m kinda tired of seeing this dang mug shot, so help yourself, media. They’re all on Flickr noted as “creative commons” with attribution, so use away. Just please stop showing us that face shot. It’s freaking me out. Some choices:

  • Photos of the media circus around him (as if I’m any better)
  • The crime scene of his alleged suicide (very uncomfortable)
  • The intersection (with machine-gun armed police) before he was proclaimed dead
  • The Lukoil where he was last seen- that may be his car. Not sure.

Hey I was sleep deprived after 2 basement-runs due to Tornado warnings. And it’s hard not to get a bit obsessed when a SWAT manhunt is taking place just miles from your house. So I’ll admit… I drove around a while until I found the crime scene… it was a bit of a circus, with some parents even bringing their kids on their shoulders. I thought I was smelling either floods or death, but it turns out my car was just stanky.

Apparently Egland was last seen at the gas station, then fled on foot. He didn’t get far, or else he did some kidna loop after playing Rambo for a while… because the spot they were investigating was just a few hundred feet from the Lukoil on Almshouse/Sugarbottom/York Road in Warwick (very close to the Warwick tavern). That location had been reported a good 6 plus hours before he was proclaimed dead.

For a while we were warned to “lock our doors,” because an armed murderer was loose (although most of my information was from the web, as local media felt that lame flood-aftermath footage was more important). I’m not sure Egland was planning to gun folks down, and was pretty specific in his murders (unless you count the two police offers at whom he shot but didn’t severely harm). He went for his ex, her husband and his mother-in-law… then himself.

The crowd gathered like it was a circus performance. Then again, can I judge?

The guy had just returned from Iraq and I suppose he didn’t want certain people raising his daughter (who he dropped off at a hospital before fleeing, scaring folks, and eventually killing himself). The girl told hospital workers that her grandma was in heaven. She lived just a couple miles north of me.

Okay- for therapeutic relief I did amuse myself editing his face into random shots this afternoon. But none of these Flickr photos are digitally altered accept obviously the one of him peering out the window at the Doylestown Starbucks. Yeah, that’s fake. The rest are real.

Great way to end a week, right? An earthquake. A hurricane. Two tornados. Then you wake up to a military-trained murderer cruising your neighborhood armed and dangerous. My wife said she heard three gunshots some time in the afternoon, and I went driving around kinda hoping I’d spot him and run him over before he hurt anyone else. I recognize that’s not a very normal way to spend your Sunday.

Very relaxing.

Leonard Egland crime scene August 28, 2011. U.S. Army Captain who allegedly killed 4 people then himself

Double Dream Hands Guy on Sprint Ads

Double Dream Hands Guys on Sprint Ad

Who’s that guy in the green shirt dancing in Sprint ads? Well you heard about “double dream hands” guy here first, right? (Heck I even own one of his yellow shirts).

Now he’s back with “double dream feet,” which appearance in a Sprint television ad (and, above, as repurposed on YouTube). He’s John Jacobson, and his new YouTube channel is here.

Double Dream Hands Guy is Back With Double Dream Feet (and Sprint Ad)

 

 

Tosh 2.0, Meet Double Dream Hands!

Well apparently I fell asleep on the viral road tour last month, because I completely missed the “Double Dream Hands” mini-meme, which seemed to have peaked in December 2010.

This morning I was encouraged by YouTube’s recommendations to subscribe to Fisheloph. The odd name, with the creepy thumbnail was more than I could resist, and I was tickled to discover this “Double Dream Hands” video featuring this most peculiar choreography instructional video for something called “Planet Rock.” Then I noticed a sea of parodies and variations suggestive of a meme… some with few views but worthy of more.

Choreographer John Jacobson brings the "Double Dream Hands" to the masses

For some background on this mini-meme, check out Eliot Glazer’s URLesque article about John Jacobson (his official site), that charismatic dancer who “is apparently on break from his shift at Petco.” In fact, after you learn his dance, you can buy his yellow polo if you want to get hip to the 2011 fashion trend.

So if you’ve seen this one, please shed some light. If you haven’t, please meet the 2010/2011 Double Rainbow… it’s Double Dream Hands, and we’d expect to see him on Tosh 2.0 soon. And be sure to see Hanford High School’s gym performance of Jacobson’s dance, accompanied by his vocal instructions. I’d like to see Tosh erecting the dance, and culminating with something as bodacious as Perez Hilton shooting Double Rainbows out his butt.

We hope to see the "Double Dream Hands" guy on Tosh 2.0 in a celebration of absurdity and ambiguous gayness. Add a swastika and some black jokes to jazz it up even more.

Biggest and Most Organized Online-Video & YouTube Community Event

There are loads of social media events, and many YouTube “community gatherings,” meetups and online video events. But the “South By Southwest” of online-video and YouTube is indisputably VidCon. Organized by Hank and John Green (vlogbrothers), the event in 2010 drew hundreds of community members, top “YouTube Stars,” and Nerdfighters (the active people who rally to reduce the world of “suck”). It also included lots of on-stage entertainment that was shared widely online. VidCon 2011 is planned for July 28-30 in San Francisco, California. Early bird discount if you book before Jan. 10, and the hotel is Hyatt Regency Central Plaza.

Here are some highlights of 2010’s VidCon to give you a flavor. It’s focused on viewers and creators, but does attract industry folks and marketers (and has a special industry track). Unlike some popular YouTube love-festivals where “big YouTubers” are VIP, this one is quite egalitarian.

Grassroots Charity Effort Goes LIVE on YouTube

YouTube broadcast live yesterday with the “Project for Awesome,” a grassroots charity event spawned by John and Hank Green (see website).

Several hundred videos and millions of comments supported a collection of charities, and reminded viewers that the YouTube community remains alive. Check out the YouTube channel and Nice Peter’s Spanglish love song (the top-rated of dozens of videos). As of yesterday the raffles alone raised more than $90,000! Kittens are awesome.

Here’s my video, which explains the initiative a bit… and auctions off my “Beyond Viral In My Pants” book.

John and Hank Green with YouTube stars and "Nerdfighters"

Today is “Project for Awesome,” so Watch for Nerfighters Reducing “World Suck”

Today, December 17, is the third-annual “Project for Awesome,” where thousands of Nerdfighters will be using online-video to “reduce world suck.”

Even if you understood nothing in the headline or lead, I encourage you to keep reading because you’ll learn a lot about online-video through this story.

Project for awesome 2009 logo

John and Hank Green were brothers who lost contact over the years, and decided to change that through daily vlogs to each other (which they posted for the rest of the world as Vlogbrothers). I find myself increasingly frustrated with people in online video that don’t know their name… and give them the look of disgust you get from a sports enthusiast when you say “I hope Tiger Ruth helps the New Orleans Rangers make it to the Superbowl.”

Unlike other popular online video creators, the vlogbrothers put their loyal viewers, ideals, intellect and charity above themselves. This has created a genuine fan base of people (we call ourselves Nerdfighters), who would pretty much do whatever the Green brothers asked unless it involved hurting small animals. We’re bonded on the pursuit of increasing awesome and decreasing suck. After all a good planet is equal to awesome less suck (put mathematically, that’s GP=A-S). In my opinion, increasing awesome is easier that decreasing suck. It’s easier to bond around a cause than a complaint.

Today, like the two prior years, hundreds of video creators will make “Project for Awesome” videos to promote good causes (here’s mine, which is to promote awareness of autism). “We want to make the world a better place, and so we’re thanking people who have dedicated their lives to do that, and promoting their cause with our time and our money,” the brothers write on their website.

So here’s what to watch for today:

  • Hundreds of videos will be posted to YouTube with a specific thumbnail (icon).
  • Via Twitter (using hashtag #p4a), hundreds or thousands of people will be giving these videos “5 star” ratings, and commenting aggressively on them (to push them to most-discussed and most-viewed pages, which are as important as the homepage itself.
  • The team will be using a ProjectforAwesome Livestream to communicate as well.
  • As a result of this, many newer YouTube users will be perplexed, but then find themselves amused and perhaps compelled to participate.

Now let’s say your heart is made of ice, and you really don’t care about community or charity. What can you learn from this as a marketer? Well to keep it real, you’d unlikely be able to replicate this, because people tend not to rally around a brand or commercial effort like this.

But it does show the influence that a few people can have on a larger group (the YouTube “community” that is still vibrant), and in turn to a much wider audience of YouTube grazers (the rest of the world). Give people something to care about that’s bigger than your brand or you, and do something selfless (to help reduce world suck). That’s a noble cause, right? And maybe we’ll see major charities or brands tossing their hats in the ring this year or next.

VidCon: Community & Online-Video Industry Morphs in July 2010 Event

This video shows Hank Green (with his lesser known 3rd Green brother) announcing VidCon, taking place July 9-11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Here’s the official VidCon website.

youtube gathering july 2010 la vidcon

For those of you familiar with the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green), I don’t need to tell you what an enormous connection they have with the vibrant and growing community of online-video. They’re funny, smart, and selfless; this week they’ll be orchestrating another “Project for Awesome,” where they encourage fellow video creators to make a video about a charity… to “reduce world suck.”

So it wasn’t surprising that they’ve attracted the “Who’s Who” of online video… literally the most-viewed and most-subscribed video creators of YouTube and beyond. Also- if you know Hank and John, you’ll know that the admission price is to cover costs, and proceeds are for charity. These guys aren’t interested in making money, but these events cost a lot to do well. So I’ve got little sympathy for those few dozen people who feel a price tag is “anti-community, man”- sing that tune to your waitress at IHOP, kids.

For you online-video industry people who are less familiar with the community side, I have one piece of advice. Attend. If I could only attend one conference this year, it would be this one.

There will be a series of professional tracks covering advertising, marketing and production. But of course you can see the “brains” of online video at any conference. This one you’ll see the brain and the heart. And you really don’t know online-video until you’ve seen the heart… watched the most-viewed amateurs interacting with the fans… seen the groundswell of enthusiasm about a medium that’s changing people’s lives… see the friendships among the talented people (and me).

The informal YouTube gatherings — like 7/7/7 — have brought hundreds and even thousands together in various cities, but this one’s actually organized and planned. So it’s likely to be a huge event. Book your hotel early, friends.

If you’re interested in speaking slots, panels or sponsorships (imagine how many videos your logo can show up on, and how many millions of times it will be seen), let Hank know or shoot me a note (I’m volunteering to help on the professional side). Much of that will be formalized by the end of January. In the mean time, follow VidCon on Twitter.

Farting Santa and eGuiders Gentleman’s Competition

Check out Edbassmaster’s Farting Santa below… we even get to watch Bob Saget’s reaction.

What’s your favorite video of the week?

I just started to volunteer identify videos for eGuiders (see my profile). My 3 picks:

  • I found Mediocrefilm’s Greg Benson‘s picks and I’ll watch anything he favorites EVER based on these. Cried laughing at one of my favorite videos ever (a French journalist who can’t hold back his laughter in a wonderfully awkward moment with some sex-change peeps).
  • Obama Girl’s Ben Relles picks? Not as good. Sorry Ben.
  • Rhett and Link found a nice duo.
  • Director John Landis had a Michael Jackson pick and a nice remix-movie-trailer site.
  • Shira Lazar chose a Twitter parody, but I didn’t click it. There’s nothing I haven’t heard.
  • Chris Pirillo picked his own video, which is TOTALY cheating.
  • I appear occasionally on “This Week in Media” with Tim Street, so I wasn’t surprised to see he had two good picks.
  • And where the heck is Daisy Whitney?

So I’m thinking eGuiders will work better if people update their picks, and if there’s an incentive to find really good stuff. So I’d like to publicly encourage eGuiders to determine a way for us to compete. Let the viewers decide if our picks suck or if we become a Ninja eGuider. Just figure out a way (beyond me) to not have it become a popularity contest, because then Relles will kick my ass no matter how dull his picks are.

P.S. How come a “Nalts” search on Google doesn’t produce real-time Twitter results like some other people?

Nancy Grace Rips John Gosselin New Hole

You go, Nancy Grace. Don’t hold back. Your rage makes killer TV. Here’s a clip from “The Insider,” wear Nancy Grace tears John Gosselin (John and Kate Plus Eight) a new hole.

For years you had your children on reality TV. Suddenly you want it all to come to an end. Oh you have your lawyer here? What’s important is the children, not these self absorbed husband and wife who argue in front of the children? You talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. You can’t go out with one 22 year old and the next while she’s at home with the children. That’s not working it out, John Gosselin. Why is this about you? Can he even speak without you piping in?