What GOVA’s Gavone Means to Online Video and the New Networks

There’s a new Global Online Video Association led by Paul Kontonis. What does it means to YouTube and the networks like Collective, Maker, Machinima, Fullscreen and others?

He’s the new GOVA Gavone. The leader of the online video association. The guy who’s scream silences a room.

AdWeek reports that Paul Kontonis, former online video producer and agency guy, is heading the new Global Online Video Association (GOVA). Kontonis has been a leader in the online video space from its inception, including such roles as founder of “For Your Imagination,” VP at Digitas’ Third Act, and chairman of International Academy of Web Television.

online, video, gavone, GOVA, association
Paul Kontonis is the gavone who heads GOVA, the new online-video trade association.

By day, Kontonis heads sales and strategy for one of the top “multichannel networks” (MCNs) called Collective Digital Studio. GOVA is made up of nine of the top MCNs (also called online-video studios and “new networks”). These include Collective, Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Big Frame, BroadbandTV, DECA, Discovery’s Revision3, Magnet Media and MiTu Networks. Machinima is conspicuously absent, but unlikely for long (it’s quite common for the biggest in an industry to initially think they don’t need an association).

GOVA represents 9 of the top 10 online-video studios, or MCNs
GOVA represents 9 of the top 10 online-video studios, or MCNs

Caveat: I know Kontonis and like him (which is why I am allowed to call him a gavone as a term of respect). He was even in one of my videos where I thought I turned invisible. But I haven’t spoken to him in a while and know nothing directly about his GOVA appointment. So this is all my speculation based on watching this space mature. And I wrote a book, so shut up.

What’s ahead, and what does GOVA mean to the networks and the maturing landscape of online video?

  • Susan Wojcicki, the leader of YouTube.
    Susan Wojcicki, leader of YouTube, is focused on mainstream players. GOVA may help keep her attention on smaller studios.

    Bargaining Power with YouTube. The online-video networks, or “multichannel networks,” will now have a collective voice they’ll need more in coming years. That’s in part because YouTube, the virtual monopoly on distribution, is increasingly turning its attention to more mainstream studios and traditional networks. As YouTube grows, it will be increasingly difficult for individual studios to command the attention they’ve received in the past. How do we know that? History is the best predictor: Initially top YouTube stars could garner attention from Google and resolve issues. But eventually YouTube creators needed the power of a network. The networks don’t know it yet, but in years ahead they’ll need strength in greater numbers than they have today.

  • Bumpy Road, Herding Cats. Associations can be tricky, as participants theoretically want a collective voice, but they’re also competing against each other for precious advertising dollars. Kontonis has shown he’s got the diplomacy and persuasion to herd these network cats.
  • GOVA may help keep emerging studios independent, which is good for "amateurs."
    GOVA may help keep emerging studios independent, which is good for “amateurs.”

    Could Slow Down Acquisitions. In the coming years, we’d expect to see more of these online-video networks get acquired by larger players. Discovery ate Revision3. Google ate Next New Networks.  GOVA may give some of these players more time to play independently, if they wish, before the eventual consolidation of traditional and “multichannel” networks in the 2015-2020 period.  That doesn’t mean the MCNs will be less attractive to acquiring parties, it just means they won’t be as desperate to be sold. That’s a very good thing for individual creators of these networks. (When they do get acquired, they’ll try to convince you it’s a good thing…  but as a loyal WVFF reader you’ll know better).

  • GOVA can help negotiate with emerging video-playing technologies
    GOVA can help negotiate with emerging video-playing technologies

    Developing Emerging Channels to Reduce Dependency on YouTube. As we look beyond YouTube, the major stakeholders are technology companies, advertisers, and content creators. Years ago, an individual studio could negotiate their video content onto new platforms — like we saw Revision3 do with Roku and College Humor do with TiVo. But that will be more difficult as stakes increase and traditional networks start seeing more meaningful “TV dollars” moving to emerging channels. This coordinated approach through GOVA will increase the studio’s voice with new platforms. Watch for GOVA serving a role to keep them “out in front” of new platforms — from Roku to Netflix and Hulu to Amazon. And more importantly, the emerging video distribution platforms we don’t yet see coming. Maybe one day even AppleTV!

  • Other Boring But Important Crap. GOVA can also help with legislation/regulation, advertising formats, metric standardization, growth of the online-video, and thought leadership. Depending on the issue, they will likely partner and challenge other players like IAB, ComScore, traditional media associations, and marketing agencies.
  • Four More Years. That’s how long I see this lasting. By 2018, we’d expect GOVA to roll into the Internet Advertising BureauIRTS or some other association. But no other association has the knowledge of or focus on this medium.
  • Bottom Line. Creators and studios need GOVA whether they know it or not. Otherwise the technology platforms and advertisers will set the agenda.
maker, deco, big frame, deca, magnet, fullscreen, collective, web, studios, networks, online, youtube
9 out of the top 10 “multichannel networks” are included in the new association.

Hiding Gibberish Comments on YouTube

You can hide YouTube comments now with Google Chrome (see article on CNet). 

Writes Matt Elliott: 

Comments on YouTube are largely gibberish, mean-spirited, or profane. A Chrome extension lets you set a variety of options for YouTube videos, including hiding comments.

Really? Gibberish? That’s weird. All the comments I get on this blog (and my videos) are usually intelligent, positive and constructive.

VlogBrother, Nerdfighter John Green Publishes “The Fault in Our Stars”

John Green's latest novel covers the topic of cancer with humor and emotion
I picked up the Feb. 6 Time Magazine (another recent issue of Time provided a nice summary of YouTube recently), and what did I find? A review by Lev Grossman of John Green’s new book titled “The Fault in Our Stars.”
It’s nice to see a YouTube weblebrity get some coverage in a national magazine, and the review was quite favorable. “In fact it is damn near genius,” Grossman writes. “It has been years since this jaded critic has shed tears over a novel, but I will cop to crying over this one.” The young-adult story is about two teenagers who have cancer, and their battle.

The title is based on the twist of Shakespeare reference, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars.” That’s now effectively doubled my Brutus quotes. Et tu?

YouTube Launches Pay-Per-View Ads

Advertisers on YouTube now have an option where they only pay when a viewer engages with the pre-roll ad. It’s a bold way to get digital marketers to move confidently into the medium since, like Google Paid Search, it’s more accountable. Here’s the YouTube blog post about this new format called “True View.”

Nalts the creator: Don't skip it please. Nalts the viewer: Yey I can skip it. Nalts the advertiser: sweet I only have to pay if they DON'T skip!?

Since most content is too short for the new option (similar to Hulu’s format, viewers get to pick a long preroll or several short ad interruptions), the more interesting of these two new offerings is the “instream” 5 & 15/30 format. You watch 5 seconds, and then you decide if you’ll continue watching the rest of the ad (15/30 seconds). That means creators/publishers will make no revenue on those who abandon. But the format will no doubt demand a higher premium (per click) for those who choose to engage.

This also means advertisers should do a better job of giving the consumer a REASON to continue. The first 5 seconds should certainly mention the brand (free exposure like the “reminder” effect of unclicked paid-search ads). But most advertisers who want deeper engagement or direct response will want to use those first 5 seconds to PITCH THE AD.

For instance, “find out why this kitten is crying” would compel me to finish the ad. Or “be one of the first to own what’s in this box” is a nice teaser. Eventually when the format is less novel, the “calls to continue” will need to be better.

So, yeah... if you choose to continue to watch the advertisement on NALTS videos, on your death bed you will receive total consciousness. So you have that going for you.

I believe Business Insider is right in predicting that Google will give advertisers “love” or charge them less if they’re getting a better pull-through on these ads… similar to how strong creative text ads on Google are rewarded with better positions. Jason Kinkaid raises a good point on TechCrunch:

…given how different this is from what most consumers are used to, it may be a bit too early to gauge how well these ads are actually working — users may be skeptical of hitting the skip button at all because they’ve never seen it before.

It should be obvious that this is an additive option not a replacement of your traditional 15-30 second preroll. If it was my choice, I’d move to it quickly a) to learn, and b) to see if there’s a better ROI on them, c) to take advantage of the novelty factor. Then again, I’m biased. I’m making money from these. So frankly, I hope you buy whatever’s most expensive. But I hope you also get an ROI on it.

How to Hold Your New iPhone4G to Avoid Antenna & Reception Problem

Steve Jobs called it a “non-issue,” but MacWorld did some digging on the widely reported issue: if you hold an iPhone4G in the wrong place you may cover the antenna and have poor reception.

We at WillVideoForFood also did some digging, and found a creative way to hold your iPhone to ensure clear reception. You’ll need a bluetooth headset, though, unless your voice carries.

How to hold the iPhone4G to ensure maximum reception

Video Contests: Creative Awards & Popularity Contests (Butterfingers)

Jared Cicon aka “Video Contest King” has some sage advice for would-be video contest entrants, and characterizes three types of contests (and which to avoid). Of course, he neglects to tell you not to enter a contest he’s entered. Your chances are slim against his polished creative. Don’t bother.

Jared doesn’t temper his resent against contests that allow video creators to leverage their existing fan base to jack up views and, in his view, manipulate contests. He prefers contests rely less on the creator’s social-media fan base and more on the video creative itself.

The problem, of course, is that the contest sponsor is often running a contest less to identify brilliant creative… and more to engage audiences. So a popular contest entrant with a luke-warm video entry is, to some degree, more valuable to the marketer or agency than a brilliant consumer-generated ad created by an unknown videographer. The advertiser benefits from free visits if the “popular” video creator sends his or her viewers to the contest site. Then the contest micro-site has actual visitors… something they don’t usually otherwise fetch without a significant online-advertising budget promoting it. Ideally when they get to the contest microsite, they’ll find more videos like Jared’s (versus some really poor samples I hazed on a previous post).

Nobody's Gonna Lay a Finger on my Butterfinger video contest

Fortunately for Jared — who creates television-quality commercials but has no major social-media fan base — most contests fail to capitalize on the audiences of popular video creators. For instance, I entered a Butterfinger Contest months ago (see contest site). Although the video was promoted heavily via Yahoo Video banners, my entry didn’t go to my Yahoo-Video profile but presumably to a dark FTP site. It’s not even showing up on the contest site, and I’m not even 100% sure it is being considered. Jared posted his entry on YouTube (an act of generosity or to show off his work) but says it’s disqualified because he used minors. Perhaps mine suffered a similar fate.

This is a contest built for Jared not me. I would not have likely entered knowing Jared was going after the same contest and the same category (gadgets). In fact I entered mostly because my wife kept asking me to do so (she was more optimistic than I that we could win the $25K grand prize). I typically avoid “top heavy” contests (where the winner takes all and the runners up get token prizes). Based on Jared’s previous post, I imagine he might have declined a runner’s up award… also more interested in $25K than a year’s supply of candy).

Had I teased my YouTube audience with out-takes of my contest entry, and sent them to the Butterfingers contest website to see it, the contest website would have likely had 5,000-20,000 visitors (generating that kind of traffic can cost $$$$ when you’re buying display ads). When you’re running a contest, you ideally want Jared-like creative samples (especially if you plan to use them offline) but also some actual traffic on the contest site so the contest is not an embarrassment.

So how could Butterfinger have engaged more target customers, and still ensure the winning video was actually good (and not just done by a popular creator who was able to mobilize fans to jack up votes)?

Two options: a secret panel of judges weighs NOT just the creative but the total views. Then I’ve got an incentive to send my audience to the contest (which I didn’t, if for no other reason because my video never showed). So Butterfinger gets the benefit of my audience, but I can’t completely manipulate the contest because Jared gets points for actually making a better video entry. Alternatively (and a more fair model): agencies judge a video strictly on its creative merit… then contract with popular social media and video “stars” to promote the contest by paying them to make an entry and invite their large audiences to check out the contest microsite. Babe Ruth has done this previously with Rhett & Link, although the video seems to have vanished. Maybe the pay-for-entry is disqualified from winning, or maybe the judges aren’t informed about these deals to avoid bias.

Why are contests still making obvious mistakes after three years of me ranting and ranting and ranting and ranting and ranting and ranting?

Perhaps the agency is cutting a turnkey deal with the video-sharing site, and is guaranteed a certain amount of visits/impressions (giving the contest owner little incentive to find more efficient sources of traffic).

Bottom line: Video contests are often under optimized, and its why PopTent (xlntads) and other companies exist. Jared and I offer two distinct benefits to a contest, and this is not well understood by most brands developing contests. Jared is a professional creator who will ensure the winning video can survive on television and impress visitors to the contest microsite. I have an active online-audience, and can help promote the contest to other video creators and ensure that the contest microsite actually has people to impress (without sucking away precious media dollars that might be better spent to promote the, er, brand not the contest).

You’re Funnier Than Me

fartDear loyal commenters: You’re funnier than me, but you knew that. I almost always laugh outlout when I read your comments, especially when it’s a response to another comment. Blogging is indeed good for you. While I’m linking to Bitpakkit, you’d better check this post out. And this one. Oh, hell. Just RSS it.

I wish I could figure out how to thread comments so you could reply to an earlier one (and learn to deal with whatever stupid blocking thing is happening according to Marquis and Jan). I can’t wait until blogging is as easy as Twittering (only to find out your twitters took you 50 bucks over your Verizon limit).

Anyway, this post is for my homeslices with hysterical responses to my recent post about long-tail weblebrities. Turns out Ross says I almost made the Cracked.com list of “YouTubers who will never be famous,” but I lost out to Artie. Damnit. Artie is a creator I hate to love and love to hate. I’m perplexed by his popularity, but can’t resist watching.

  1. Brad Wogsland says, “So if you make a million crappy videos, then you can still make money even if only 5 people watch them.” Marquisdejolie replies, “that’s my plan, Brad.” I second that emotion.
  2. Sdavis54 asks, “I’m not on this list, does that mean I will be famous?”
  3. Mark (xlntads) accuses Cracked of “link bating.” Maybe you’ve heard of that, but I had the same reaction the guy had in the preview for Broken Arrow…. “I don’t know what’s more disturbing. That you lost a nuclear weapon or that you have a term for it.”
  4. xJasonGarciax says, “Owww!!! My retinas! Too much verbage. My optic nerves are deteriorating and my brain hurts….” That fart picture is for you, friend.
  5. Here’s Jan’s response. Worthy of a post itself because — as my friend Juan Cordova used to say — “it put me to think.”

What made shaycarl, besides his lovely wife, was sxephil, what made sxephil was zefrank what made zefrank was a timely fluke and finding a nitch that was wide open and having the right instincts to capitalize on it. Are these people talented? That question will always be subjective, the WWF is popular so my answer is, yes, they all have a talent. Are they rich because of it? Doubt it, but for the money it’s a lot more fun than what most people do for a living. When the fun becomes work and the pay doesn’t cover the basics that will change. The important thing in life, like anything, is when you look back and reflect, if you can say, “I learned some stuff; it didn’t pay much, but it was a blast!” Then I’d call that a success. Legacywise, if that’s important to you, purpose is key. Purpose brings quality, but anyone who makes at least an honest effort is guaranteed a footnote in someone’s history book. How many footnotes depends on how much effort and how long the commitment. rant too long? sorry, been caught up in the philosophy debates on youtube. I know, doesn’t that sound like fun!

Damn I gotta pee so bad I’m seeing yellow. Does anyone ever see my secret hyperlink mouseover tags, or is that just going to be an inside joke with myself?

Cambridge Who’s Who: Is it a Scam? My Story on Video.

The other day I had the funniest adventure dealing with Cambridge’s Who’s Who. I chronicled it in this absurdly long (10 minute) video. I really thought this video would die a quick death even though I had terrific fun making it (and I watched it four times, giggling like a grade child in Church).

Much to my surprise, it’s now the second highest rated comedy video of the day on YouTube. I imagine that rating is from sympathy votes because people like a “scam” exposed. Certainly it’s not the production quality, as I shot it in one take using a cheap camera with horrible pixelation.

Here’s a nice blog post that explores the validity of the Cambridge “Who’s Who” offering, which boasts a free listing. After a lengthy interview, the “mark” is told they “rank,” and asked if they want the $600 or $800 package. It’s a rather bazaar experience. Here’s the official site of Cambridge, which according to the telemarketer has 25 million visits and 250,000 “members.” Hmm.

The kicker is that my credit card had maxed out (as I chronicle in this follow-up video) so I was spared the charge. But I can’t help but wonder if other people have had positive experiences with Cambridge, or if people feel as suckered as I would have felt had my Mastercard not exceeded its balance.

One of my favorite things about online video is the accountability it can provide consumers. Can scams continue if people are brave enough to admit to being duped, and broadcast it to others?