YouTubers Get Love from Yahoo, Google and Disney

Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.
Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.

It’s a good time to be a YouTuber… or at least own a popular YouTube channel. We’re seeing the online-video landscape mature, and start to resemble how networks and studios connect. The networks (Disney, Yahoo, YouTube) are working with studios (online-video studios and some individual partners/channels) in some interesting ways….

What’s interesting about these big moves is how markedly different this is from the past behavior of these companies.

  • We saw Disney making some early bets with its own home-grown online-video content. Remember Stage 9?
  • Yahoo contacted me and other YouTubers around 2008 to discuss potential revenue-sharing deals. They were considering exclusivity at the time, and that’s a deal breaker for YouTubers that won’t give up their primary audience.
  • And Google? It hasn’t even marketed itself well, much less its partners. And who would ever imagined the tech-engineering company would advertise YouTube partners on TV, print or outdoor? They’re doing it, but you know it pains them.

So what’s all this mean?

  • These events don’t impact your typical YouTuber, but the winners of the Yahoo/Google efforts will be the YouTube creators with large audience and studio representation by one of the online-video networks. That’s because Yahoo and Google will have to deal with the complexities of Discovery to get to Revision3 content, and Disney to get to Maker channels/creators.
  • But watch for partnerships between Yahoo and smaller studios like Fullscreen, BigFrame and Collective. 
  • And what about Google’s efforts to promote YouTubers beyond the YouTube regulars? I would expect to see “the rich get richer,” because it’s most likely to promote the proven content with top views. So like a marathon’s second half, we’ll see an increasing distance between the leaders and the rest.
  • There will surely be some more attempts to lock creators and studios to “exclusive” arrangements, although Yahoo won’t get anywhere requiring that of popular YouTubers. But it makes sense. TV shows don’t get to broadcast on every channel. The networks pick the shows, and promote them to “their” audience. We’ll see that happening with top YouTube channels in coming months and years, which is why YouTube will have to work harder to cultivate relationships and keep stars/channels.

What’s your take? And where is the Global Online Video Association in all of this? How about a POV, Kontonis?


Weird News Unrelated to Online-Video Marketing

I always liked Weird News, and used to syndicate it for a local newspaper in Georgetown. That means I pulled it down from the wire, laid it out, and added a photo of a squirrel when necessary. Hey it sounds easy, but those weren’t the desktop publishing days, damnit. I used hot wax.

This guy needs the sugar and caffeine

So here, unrelated to the primary purpose of this blog (whatever that is) are some weird news items I’ve culled from 409 different sources.

  • A body of a woman was found in a Disney World parking lot. That body, of course, was dead.
  • A dead body was found on top a moving truck. It was not Andy Rooney.
  • A new toy, Fijit Fiends, is a best-selling Halloween decoration.
  • 60 Elvises fled from a fire. If I was a pun fan, I’d link to this video. I’m not.
  • A French teacher forces a student to inform her of a bathroom fire in French (The Onion). Allison should defense de fumer, non?
  • Smoking one marijuana joint can give you schizophrenia.
  • A book of bone houses. How comforting to sleep beneath deceased human remains.

Want more of this type of content? 




Online-Video Contests: Still Going Strong

I used to write quite often about online-video contests because for many brands, that was their online-video strategy. It’s similar today when brand’s create a Facebook page to check off that nagging “social media” objective.

A lot’s changed in the past years, and Jared “The Video Contest King” has reengaged, even musters up some praise for Poptent (the video contest site he’s criticized before). I found this quote especially interesting…

Yes, $7,500.00 for a contest victory for three weeks work is decent pay, but if you really worked for three months, because it is the true frequency rate of your ‘wins’, than you now are netting about $26,000 per year. I pay more than that in rent alone.

This is a good reminder that, with some certain exceptions among recurring Poptent winners, few are making a “living” with online-video contest winnings.

Key Point: I would urge those pursuing contests to do so as a) a creative outlet, b) a way to build a good reel, and c) an additional income source. This is true for YouTube as well… a handful of stanky rich creators making way more than your salary and mine combined. Lots of people making what we’d consider a fantastic second income. But if money is the primary motivator, it’s not a safe bet.

The Sour Patch Cannibals are nice proof that there's gold in 'dem quasi-pro amateur hills

In other contest news…

  • Amazing Justin and his new bride are still keeping the aggregator fresh, and even allows creators to profile and received customize information about contests.
  • Beardy’s “Video Contest News” has some nice coverage, and even offers occasional production tips (I liked this one since I’m always having audio problems with my DSLR camera as a primary video recorder). We like Beardy’s homeless theme, which reminds us of our WillVideoForFood name.
  • Poptent Neil Perry told me the company has received increased investment, hired a team of sales people, and are beginning to attract larger brands that align with the company’s original vision (where the content is used on television not just online-video).
  • Weeks ago (during PattyTube) we crashed the Poptent office and binged on loads of new contest entries. Years ago many looked like bad CableTV ads, but the ones we watched were damned-well close to agency work. Common- who else loved the “Sour Patch Cannibals“?
  • Collaborations by independent creators with specific talents — like writing, acting, production, editing, music — are on the rise according to Tim Breslin, the mad genius behind Poptent’s technology.
  • King Jared teamed with Joel Berry (aka Tavin Dillard on YouTube) to create a Poptent entry for Trident Gum (titled “Grease Monkey Business,” which is a far cry better than the “consumer-generated” entries of past.


YouTube News You Missed

Okay I forgot I had a blog again. The past two weeks have included trips to (in sequence) Virginia, Minneapolis, NYC, Washington, D.C. and NYC again.

Shitty clipart makes a blog visual

Enough about me. Let’s focus on YouTube today, since it’s turned 6 (that’s a near-death 94 years in TechCrunch years). If you missed the comment stream on my last post, you’ll want to catch up. It’s steamy, and Sukatra’s on a Charlie Sheen tear.

And after this humble attempt at “aggregation,” stay tuned for my patented “synthesis” below… what all this means to a changing ecosphere-marketplace-ecosystem-valuechain-universe.

    What Does All This Mean?

    • YouTube is going mainstream with musician chart-toppers exceeding the once amateur-only club. Alas, the site is a free jute box rivaled only by Limewire in the day.
    • YouTube is embracing its new role, hoping attracting familiar faces will attract a larger base of “regulars,” who until now have chosen their own weblebrities.
    • Still, amateur hour isn’t over… especially if you’re a quasi professional. While no YouTube star has yet jumped mainstream with any endurance or consequence, we may see that change in 2012.
    • Most importantly, albiet somewhat tangental, what the hell happens to the sales of my “Beyond Viral” if Borders goes bankrupt? Perhaps you can find a local Borders that’s folding, and snatch a discounted copy of the book. Be sure to take a photo and let me know.

    This post has been brought to you by the letter S. Big S.

    Make Your Own CNN News: Nancy Grace Competition?

    Looking for a DIY (do it yourself) news site to show TSA (transportation security administration) “pat downs” that are TMI (two much information)? Well put down your acronyms, and get out your cameras…

    I’m not sure how long this has been around, but I find this consumer-generate “breaking news” site interesting. CNN has a consumer-generated news section.

    fake cnn news girls box nancy grace
    Move over, Nancy Grace. CNN has "make your own news" website. Live executions coming soon?

    People are uploading photos of car wrecks, notes for missing children, and (most importantly) videos about the latest TSA agent who looked at them funny (Parenthetically I saw a guy snapping a photo of his mom getting a perfectly appropriate TSA pat-down, and he was politely told to put the camera away… there’s some saucy Nancy-Grace like news).

    • The bad news: the “most viewed” videos or photos have been seen only a dozen times or so. It’s not popular, and akin to setting up your own VHS camera and showing your homemade “news report” to your friends.
    • The good news: it has a high perceptual value of importance and credibility despite the “not vetted by CNN news” disclaimer. It’s on and listed as “breaking news.” So if it was produced well… it would be hard for someone to internalize the disclaimer.

    How long before people start packaging up fake “product reviews” and using CNN to distribute them? I gather someone at CNN has the sad task of seeking and killing spam, but it seems like a spammer or infomercial’s playground… or at least a few Nancy Grace impersonators. I wonder if CNN would pull the content if someone took the “Nancy Grace model” just one step further and actually performed a live execution of the victim of the news report. Or at least a lynch mob.

    The Modern Family of Online Video

    Modern Family. Best show on television. It’s saving ABC. I still adore The Office too. They’re both the #1 show on television.

    And if Modern Family and the Office had sex, and gave birth to an online-video baby, this would be it.

    Ladies and gents, please enjoy Jake & Amir (CollegeHumor) joining the Jonas, um, Gregory Brothers in this brilliant piece of comedy. The writing is so tight and funny, and the delivery is so wonderfully awkward and fantastic. I’m not quite happy with the crap they wrote for my vlog, but whatever.

    In related “collab” news, it was nice to see DaveDays and “Key of Awesome’s” Mark Douglas playing guitar in the park. Shitty camera work by Ben Relles. Speaking of BarelyPolitical/NextNewNetworks, here’s its latest Batman video (Poison Ivy). Be the first to see it. At least Relles didn’t shoot it.

    Online-Video: One-Man-Band to Brat Pack

    This week I officially joined Next New Networks as a content creator (not employee), and the above video is by the amazing Justin Johnson. Read the NNN blog for more, and check out Liz Shannon Miller’s NewTeeVee article on this news…This WVFF bloggedy post puts that decision into context, since the move was a non trivial one for me.

    Upon the introduction of any new medium, the early notable talent are often independent, persistent and multi-taskers. The “one-man bands” who cracked radio, film and television first were charismatic (Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin, Jack Benny, Merv Griffen, Jack Paar), but also savvy at promoting themselves. Parenthetically, I’m not comparing myself to these folks, and I’m distinct from a lot of NNN shows in that I really don’t have a show. My 900 plus “Nalts” videos are far more random, and NNN hasn’t asked me to change that model (though I might).

    Just like other mediums, online-video’s early players have been individuals who lacked agents, deep pockets and connections. But the early YouTuber solo acts (who still dominate the most-viewed and most-subscribed channels) cracked the code… which was less true for the better financed and higher-quality web shows, backed by networks, production companies or even advertising agencies.

    In the past 9-18 months, we’ve seen that shift dramatically. Here are the trends that attracted me to a “rat pack” or “brat pack” model. By that, I mean a collection of individuals who collaborate to build something bigger then they could be individually.

    7 Reasons I’m Joining a “Creators Club”

    1. Cross Pollination: YouTube’s most-subscribed channels remain individual acts. Most of the top creators have increased their audiences by appearing in each other’s videos, or forming collaboration channels. BarelyPolitical, one of the most successful Next New Networks shows, is among them. What started as Ben Relles’ Obama Girl has since brought attention to numerous shows, individuals and performers
    2. YouTube &  Beyond: Increasingly the convergence of television and web content will offer new distribution opportunities. I believe there’s strength in numbers. While YouTube was once able to maintain relationships with individual creators, that isn’t scalable. So an intermediary is important for both the “platform” (a term YouTube uses to describe itself) and individual creators. On television we call those “networks.”
    3. Following the Leaders: I’ve watched with curiosity what other individual creators are doing. Some fly solo. Others get “agents.” And still others decide to build informal collaboration channels… some that last and others that fade (7AwesomeWhatever series). I took special interest in HotForWords and BlameSocietyFilms signing with Next New Networks, as I have a lot of respect for those shows… both their style and tenacity. I’m a huge fan of the “auto-tune the news” Gregory Brothers (who go by the absurdly forgettable “Schmoyoho” on YouTube). Relles and NNN helped put them on the map, and they appeared just this week on NBC’s Today Show.
    4. Old and New Media: The companies that will manage the pending evolution of media will be those who have people who’ve managed previous transitions… but also the flexibility to depart from the past when it’s not applicable. NNN’s founder, Fred Seibert, was MTV’s first creative director and the producer of many of my children’s favorite television shows — from Fairy Odd Parents to Adventure Time With Finn and Jake. Meanwhile Ben Relles is the only other prolific video creator I know who also has a marketing background.
    5. East Coast: Many creators feel compelled to move west, where indeed most films and movies are grounded (not to mention software firms). I’m inclined to believe that in the next few years, there’s an advantage of staying closer to the likely source of income: Madison Avenue. Next New Networks is distinct, but even when compared to other players of “The New Establishment” (described in my book, Beyond Viral), it’s one of only a few based in NYC. Furthermore I’m close enough to the company and many of its creators to collaborate. Proximity is turning out to be more important than in 2004-2009.
    6. People: Ultimately people “sign” with networks, agents or employers more for the people than anything else. NNN has a good team with a bold mission, and it’s already turning out to be exciting to be part of something bigger than me. I’ve known Relles for years, and he wrote a chapter in my book. Seibert is a trip. Mark makes me shoot milk out my nose. Even Justin (who did my spotlight profile) taught me more in 2 days than I’ve learned in months.
    7. The Logo: Sorry. I’m superficial like that. NNN has the most bad-ass logo and outro. Sorry, Jim Louderback (revision3).
    The little cartoon robot was one of my reasons. It's cute.

    “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.

    Auto-Tune The News (Favorite Video of the Year)

    This absolutely is my favorite video of 2009. I’ve watched it at least 25 times, and my family is going crazy. Meet “Auto-Tune the News,” and this recent clip: “Murdered with a Spoon.” (Lot of details about the creators below).

    Isn’t it just so perfectly imperfect!? Do you walk away singing the intro melody over and over? Do you just savor the 7 seconds of ambiance before the beat? The singing is practically perfect (that’s the Gregory Brothers, who can be found on YouTube’s Schmoyoho‘s channel or via Barely Political). The Bronx-based gang uses autotune to create singing news anchors, and then lays down beautiful beats and vocals to accompany them. Visit their websites and you’ll find a cool and fresh sound that’s not what you’d expect from the voices behind the clips.

    The clips are quirky and repetitive, and the musicians are plopped into the news clip with a wonderfully amateur use of green screen. I hope they NEVER lose that touch: the glowing green hues, the chopped graphics, the deliciously low-budget glory. But don’t assume production was rushed. Little treats are hidden for faithful viewers… the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, the recurring “shawty” references, the weathered monkey suit (passed from the Gregory brothers grandfather), funny titles, and Katie Couric’s regular cameos. Best of all, the hands that appear awkwardly in front of the victims… featuring cowbells. Honestly- I want to bear hug the brain that conceived this.

    Hats off to the Gregory Brothers and the soulful Sarah Fullen Gregory. The crew has amazing and diverse musical talents, and the commentary on current events is playful and quirky. We see the odd media circus parodied without an apparent left or right-wing agenda or even mild sarcasm. Absurdity is celebrated not criticized.

    Thanks to Barely Political, NextNewNetwork and Ben Relles for helping me find these cats. Please don’t teach these guys how to use Green Screen any better, because the rough edges make it quirkier and accessible. Five big-ass stars, and I’m crossing my fingers for a Balloon-Boy melody. And I’m counting down the seconds for when this channel jolts past me and others on YouTube!

    Jessica McClure Made CNN. Falcon Heene Made Twitter.

    Before I start my rant, let me point to a copy of the YouTube video featuring Falcon “Balloon Boy” Heene and family (as seen on Wifeswap). I suspect you may be seeking that.

    In my opinion, today Twitter became CNN (in the same way CNN’s coverage of Jessica McClure put it on the map). In fairness, I became a bit obsessed with the “kid in weather balloon” story when I saw it live via CNN on a lobby television at the hotel where I was speaking… ironically speaking on the topic of real-time search, wisdom of crowds, and changes with search. Alas, the definitive case study for these three topics would surface just an hour after I spoke. I started tweeting with hash-tag #saveballoonboy, and it became one of the “hottest” Twitter trends.

    Falcon Heene was thought to be flying inside his dad’s UFO-like weather balloon. CNN showed live helicopter footage of the balloon swirling 25-50 mph, which made this a remarkable news story — especially to those who learned about it before Falcon was recovered.

    But CNN was slow with the seemingly obvious fact… As I should have known (from my helium experiments setting a FlipCam to the sky) the weather balloon could not have easily carried a 6-year-old child away… although the parents and authorities must have thought it a possibility. And when the child was MIA, rumors started that he’d fallen off to his death… that witnesses had seen something drop. His brother saw him sail away (in fact he had simply heard Falcon planning to climb into the basket/compartment.

    CNN got Jessica McLure right, but left most of us frustrated and demanding more today. Others made it a top-trending keyword today, as we shared what news we had… like a post apocalypse scenario with CD-Radios.

    This evening at 5:00 EST, I called my sister (who is a prodcuer at a major network) and asked her what she had… little more than already had been reported (although she had a lot of background already on the family). I begged her to call a neighbor of Heene, and see if she could circumvent the poor communication between rescuers (who clearly knew the balloon was empty) and the news media.

    Want to know who broke the story for me? A stranger named Kelley Vinson (KelleySaidThis) using an iPhone police radio app (assuming she wasn’t kidding she wins $50 for the scoop… I promised). Moments later, I called my sister (who works at a major network) and she finally told me her network had announces the child was safe. A YouTube friend sent me a message via Twitter that confirmed CNN was confirming he was safe.

    Frankly, the few hours felt exponentially longer than the 58 hours Jessica was in a well. And the coverage was slow, speculative and not fast enough for a just-in-time search-fueled audience.

    Today’s lesson? Google, radio, television and other media are not serving us in a crisis or breaking news story. It’s just not fast enough. Clearly we want a credible medium, and I was hungry for sources (since there was plenty of hoax and rumors, or endless reverberations of the previous news).

    Folks the field is wide open here. Citizen journalists now have Twitter, and we need ways to credential sources (maybe an earned badge based on previous reliability like eBay). We need real-time news. We need to find a way to help advance the story, like a way that local witnesses can provide input.

    Like during the Michael Jackson trial, TMZ scooped the story, but Twitter propogated it.

    As I type (and after I shot this video), CNN has excellent coverage… with an interview with the family that’s playing in the background. Wolf Blitzer gets “thumbs down” for asking children yes/no questions, but surprisingly was the first to tell Falcoln’s father that the balloon was recovered with the door shut… nobody had given him that amazingly encouraging piece of information. Still- when we were begging for new facts, the anchors were left with little more than the obvious… and Twitter had more.

    Here’s an 8-minute reflective with my kids (5 and 7). About 7 minutes too long. Fly, Falcon, Fly.