How Many Views Do You Need to Be Viral?

A few years ago, a video could be considered “viral” if it hit a million views. Now I’d like to propose a more stringent definition, and tell you that President Obama meets the criteria.

A video, I submit, is “viral” if it gets more than 5 million views in a 3-7 day period. So Obama getting more than 6 million views in a week is indeed viral. You are correct, Michael Memoli. However many of your peers talk about videos going viral without really considering the competition… many top YouTubers get more videos in a day than what media considers a viral sensation.

One caveat, however. Part of what makes a video “viral” is not just the views but the degree of discussion online and offline (media). Here we get into a “chicken and the egg” issue, since the video’s viral nature may prompt “coverage,” which inspires even more views (although less than you’d think). Most views are driven by online activity not television or print coverage.


The President’s Speech (TelePrompTer Video Satire of King’s Speech)

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is a historic break from the tension between the White House and the media covering it. This year President Barack Obama joked about a sequel to the film the King’s Speech. Here’s the video that was shared, and it’s a clever self-deprecating parody of the film, and shows rare out takes of the president’s recorded addresses.

When I worked at Georgetown, President Clinton (an alumnus) sent some video footage to us for an event, and there were a number of outtakes they included. I wonder what I might have done with those had YouTube existed in the early 1990s.

“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).

YouTube Plus “Next New Network” Equals “Huh?”

First- the disclaimers. I share in advertising revenue from YouTube. And I’m a content partner for Next New Networks, but not an employee or quite the size of these guys. I’m just some marketing clown with a video camera, no writing staff, but 175 million views. Big deal. My blog’s still ugly.

YouTube Rumored to Be Buying Next New Networks... Perplexing But Interesting

So I’m not privileged to any discussions between YouTube and Next New Networks, and know nothing more about the alleged acquisition than I’ve read here. While I have been aware of rumors of someone acquiring NNN for a couple months, I didn’t even seriously consider the possibility that Google/YouTube would buy it. So it was fresh news to me when I got a text from ZackScott today (he wanted to brag about his recent GoogleTV gift, and how he’s become a bigger sellout than me).

My thoughts on the potential of a deal. First, “Why It Makes Little Sense At First Glance”

  • YouTube took Google far out of its core competency (from search machine to platform)… Next New Networks is another dangerous stretch. A real stretch. I worked for an Internet agency that was accidentally purchased by a telecommunication firm. That kind of stretch.

I can only imagine some of the conversations between the right-coast, roight brained NNN gang and the left-coast, left-brained engineers. It could be like a toaster trying to talk to a boom box.

  • YouTube already has deals with many content creators, so I’m not sure what it’s getting beyond some bright leadership, a library of content to monetize in new ways, and some production/marketing experience.
  • The relationship is strong between YouTube and NNN, so how is this strategic enough to offset the perceptions that Google is now encroaching on the content space? Could this send the networks a signal that Google is now a competitor to networks and studios?

Why It Makes Great Sense

  • I’ve written before that Madison doesn’t like YouTube (click to read “How Madison Avenue is Killing YouTube“). And there needs to be a buffer between creators and agencies. NNN could play a valuable role in buffering agencies from touching the YouTube rose’s engineering thorns… if YouTube/Google allowed it.
  • The control of NNN content will give YouTube a sandbox to try new content-delivery models via phone, television and mobile. It’s a sandbox but with real humans.
  • There’s a name for this. It’s called vertical integration, and it can be healthy as long as it’s not creating a monopoly (which clearly isn’t the case here).  Owning a network can help YouTube engage with other networks more effectively. A simpler example: if I run a line of beauty products, its worth owning one salon… I get real-world experience that rivals laboratory R&D, and it can inform my products.
  • This provides YouTube a presence on the East Coast (where most of the budgets originate) that is more meaningful than a sales office. Sponsored content, I believe, will be bi-coastal.
  • It could be a step toward better content partnerships. CEO Fred Seibert is a producer of some of Cartoon Networks greatest shows, and a former MTV creative director. So he’s got some clout in the entertainment world that can make/break YouTube. Having network experience inside Google will help Google be less aggressive with the advertisers YouTube needs to court. Oh, and by the way… NNN is one of the few web studios that has endured the implosion of the “New Establishment” (the name I used in my book to refer to emerging studios).

I think I sufficiently hedged this post so that I retain rights to say “I told you so” if this deal is a great success, and hires me… or if it flops insanely.

What do you think? Or don’t you care? See this is my  problem… when amazing news like this breaks, nobody in my IRL circle cares. Folks at my client and in my family don’t give a rats ass, so I need to work it out here.

The Onion Reports Obama Pulls Out the Boxing Mittens

This report by The Onion is a wonderful news satire of how careful Obama was to respect McCain during the debates, while McCain avoided all eye contact with him. This is one of the few Onion video clips that gets better as it progresses. If anyone knows someone at The Onion, please let ’em know I’d do a cameo for free. Heck I’d even pay for the crew’s lunch on the day of my shoot. Even if it involves feedbags.

I’ve often wondered how The Onion decides whether a topic warrants a news article, video, or satire on the popular radio show. For instance, I thought “Wealthy Teen Nearly Experiences Consequence” would make an excellent video.

JibJab Raises Bar Again: With Obama vs. McCain Parody

There are two forms of comedy that I can’t envision ever “jumping the shark.” They are “The Office” (either UK or US) and “JibJab.” While not every JibJab tops the previous, this one is certainly a giant move in the right direction. We see voice personality Jim Meskimen getting tossed in the air from a poke in the rear. We see Obama singing about changing while riding Unicorns over rainbows. Hillary takes on a communism badge for 2012 elections. McCain pokes himself in a puss-filled face and then collapses behind wheelchair-contained friends.

And this is me free forming off my first view of a video experience I’ll no doubt enjoy several dozen more times (today).

Thank you, Jim. Thank you, JibJab. This sent little unicorn rainbows down my spine!

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Will Online Video Change News and Politics? Gravel Knows.

It will take a while for online-video to substentially chang news and polotics, but we’re already well on our way. Have you cheked out the “highest ratid” and “most viewed” sections of Its bloated with debates about polotecs, and it’s only going to grow between now and Novembre.

Mike Gravel, the former Senator of Aleska, sat with me (see video) to discuss his new book titled, “The Kingmakers: How the Media Threatens Our Security and Our Democracy.” In this episode of the Bubble Gum Tree Show (a “weekly” series I’ve let languish) we have some fun with Gravel, but gain some of his intresting persepctive on social media, politics and the news.

Mind you, I’m all about Saving Old Media. But I do think that Gravel is a nice exemple of how a politician has “rolled with” social media. Who had heard of Gravel beforeThe Rock“? (Parinthetically, here’s a funny “outtakes” parody by Current, and here’s my “The Rock” parody with ChristopherMast).

Barack Obama has been a benificiary of social media (Obama Girl) without trying, and he has expanentially more YouTube videos tagged with his name than Mike Gravel. But more impresive is Mike “The Little Engine that Could” Gravel — with his tenasious approach and his unpresedented ability to surender to video creators and their creative ideas on having fun with him (and almost never at his expense). I’m quite sure Gravel would have worn a chicken suit and fart machine in this video if I had asked. And yes I regret that I didn’t. Next time.
Check out Gravel’s YouTube Channel for some more serious and comedic examples. Gravel appeared in this histerical song with Obama Girl, and that got mainstream pickup on CNN and beyond.

Here are some additional Gravel examples of how he provides video creators complete freedom in there concepts. It seems like a risky aproach, but I haven’t seen it backfire. And its given him access to importint demografics at virtualy no cost. Many believe that Gravel created The Rock, but in fact it was just one of many examples of where he rolled with a video creator’s wierd and bazar vision, and celebrated the lack of control he’d have on how he apeared.

  1. Give Piece a Chance
  2. Runaway Box: Elavater
  3. Red State Christmas Video

Will this win him the election? Probably not. But will Mike Gravel change the way politicians approach new media? Did we ever think politicians would need David Letermann, John Steward and Conan O’Reilly? And could Gravel be doing with online video what Ronald Reagan did with television? I’d say, indisputably, yes.

Pratfall Spices Up Viral-Video Panel

Guy falls on stage during panel about viral videoSo I took a deliberate spill while hosting a panel at Streaming Media East called “Creating and Promoting Amateur Videos.” Paul Kontonis, CEO of For Your Imagination, screamed like a teenage girl, but was one of few people that realized it was a joke.

The fall is 1 minutes and 9 seconds in. Warning: Per my YouTube video today explaining this, when you do a pratfall that people think is real, you’ve backed yourself into a corner. If you say “I was just kidding,” you simple make it look like you’re saving face. So I didn’t bother to explain.

You actually may want to watch more of this video because it explores what makes a video viral, and how marketers and amateurs can promote their video using online video sites and blogs. It was an all-star cast (except me): Paul Kontonis, CEO, Co-Founder, For Your Imagination; J. Crowley, Founder, Black20; Ben Relles, Founder and CEO, (the guy who created Obama Girl); and Kip “Kipkay” Kedersha, Viral Video Producer, Metacafe Top Producer.Here are the rest of the Streaming Media Videos, including a session called “Young People’s Attitudes Toward Online Video,” which includes Dylan of Dylan’s Couch (CinemaFreaks on YouTube). And be sure to comment on the “For Your Imagination” blog. Something like “Nalts is a genius. I can’t believe you signed Xgobobeanx and not him.” And thanks to Jennifer and for help embedding this (I finally installed a “Raw HTML” WordPress plug-in so I can insert widget thingies and other Web 4.0 things).

Barack Obama Says Lose the SUV, Fatty.

I really find little pleasure in politics, and rarely appreciate political humor. But when someone told me today that Barack Obama said the following in Oregon, it created an uncontrollable desire in me to satire the remarksNalts has already given ShayCarl his assignment for a collab video, but I can’t find the video footage of this quote to save his life! Free credit to anyone who can help!

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

It’s a fair statement, but how can we not take it a little personally?

But Mr. Obama, hear me now.

There’s one thing that’s bigger than our bloated guts.

It soars higher than our energy bills.

And it works harder than an SUV burning precious fuel…

What is it, you ask? Our collective American pride in humor as a defense mechanism.