Ad Blindness and Online Video

Google Eye TrackerThe more we surf online video the more savvy we become about content versus advertising.

A marketer recently told me he was pleased by the impressions he got from a YouTube homepage advertising buy, but…” I finished his sentence for him.. “your featured video didn’t get a lot of views.”

I told him we’ve been trained that the YouTube featured video is an advertisement, and he said he was working on ways to produce a more provocative headline or thumbnail. This “learned ad blindness” (I just coined that) was true with Revver ads, where virgin viewers would click the end-frame ad out of curiosity while the regulars learned to move to the next video. Revver is now adopting overlays jam packed with what appears to be Google Adsense Ads. Meanwhile, Adsense itself is under performing. Jason Lee Miller of WebProNews wrote recently about performance declines of Google Adsense, and one of his theories is:

“People are ignoring ads at a higher rate, and this has been evidenced by eye-tracking studies, especially when the ads appear in the places they expect them to appear.” (Note: to reinforce Miller’s point, I’ve displayed an image tracker of where eyes go when viewing a Google search-results page… hot in the top of organic area and rather cold on the ads).

So what’s the solution? Is it constant rotation of ads so they masquerade as content or perpetually innovative ways to interrupt, arouse or tantelize?  YouTube’s “videos being watched right now” is a combination of sponsored videos and popular ones. They’ve changed the name of this section several times, but I believe it remains an advertorial blend.

YouTube ads versus contentThat’s not the answer long term. Your most trusted sources of media (television, print, radio, web) usually make it abundantly clear what’s an advertisement and what’s content. Google pioneered this delineation by giving a color to ads while some engines continue to advantage advertisers in the “organic” listings with something called “paid inclusion” that creeps me out. The “advertorial” game, where advertisers sponsor what appears to be objective articles, is for the bottom feeders.

My first job after college was for a small Georgetown newspaper where the editor literally put a small white fence between the editorial and advertising department. I proudly stood on the content side, and the newspaper went bankrupt in 9 months. It was what prompted me to attend business school and move to the marketing side. I’d need to shower more frequently, but I’d at least have some control of my destiny.

The solution to “learned ad blindness” (copyright Kevin Nalts) is making ads that appeal to viewers and targeting people based on relevancy. If I’m in the market for a car, I want your car ad. If I’m not, it better have dancing clowns, hot models and site gags. If watching videos about the new overpriced talking parrot toy in late November, I’m probably ready for a 20% Toys-R-Us ad. See my next post (Cherry Chocolate Rain) for an even better example of when advertising does indeed become content.

Initially advertisers were terrified by technology that would block ads — from FireFox plugins to TiVo remotes. I’d content the greater barrier is the technology of the human mind, which learns quickly to discriminate between valued content and noise.

Like my old boss used to say, “even an amoeba learns by repetition.”

Online Video Contest for

HomecameraThe nice thing about moderately promoted online-video contest is that your odds are really good. (a free home surveillance system) asked if I’d do a sponsored video. I offered instead to promote a contest if they’d give out some of the D-Link wireless cameras (see image below) that are being sold with HomeCamera preconfigured. They sent me a demo unit and I was impressed, since it’s not easy to do this with your webcam on your own. Dlink prize for homecameraThe service is free now, and allows you to monitor your home from almost any device worldwide. I’m going to be interested to see how people tackle this video contest (see here for details). What would you do with HomeCamera? Spy on your kids? Track your home or pet? Check in on an aging parent?

So here’s my YouTube video promoting the HomeCamera contest, which runs through March 1. I’m not a judge, so – hey- I wonder if I can enter? Again- decent odds of winning a D-Link, and the grand prize is a flight to Singapore. Oh- and accommodations included for up to 4 nights. They’ll even toss in a return flight.

Free Online Monitoring Via YouTube

Monitor your brand if videos are uploaded using your brand in the keywords.

Marketers debate whether they should engage in online video, but there’s simply no excuse for not paying attention to what’s being said about your brand. There are good services that can do comprehensive audits (such as Buzzmetrics). But here’s the poor-man’s solution…

Subscribe to your brand’s name on YouTube. If you’re Coke and you’re not at least scanning videos that are tagged with the word Coke, then you may miss something important. It’s as simple as registering on YouTube and going to your subscriptions. Then enter your brand name in the “tag” section, and you’ll have videos waiting for you if they use your name in the tags.

There are other services doing more comprehensive, advanced and ongoing monitoring by turning speech into text, and then analyzing the content in sophisticated ways. But this is a nice place to start. It’s as easy as setting a “Google Alert” for your brand name to ensure that news and major blog posts aren’t missed.

OMG a Good Article About Viral Video Marketing?

viral video advertisingOh it’s so rare when someone writes an intelligent article about online video (aka viral) marketing. And it’s pretty funny when you’ve never heard of the author but she happens to work for the digital agency you employ in your day job.

Anyway, here’s “Strategies for Making Video Ads Go Viral,” by Christine Beardsell (Digitas) via ClickZ. Christine explains paid and organic “seeding” of videos, which is not very well understood. She references two companies I hadn’t heard about: Kontraband’s The 7th Chamber and Viral Manage, which apparently seed videos, and offer tiered plans that include viral tracking and blog/forum seeding.

She also observes that a little money can go a long way with smaller video sites, and I’ve also found that to be true. I once got a promotional video past one million views by throwing a modest media buy to a second-tier site for some premium placement.

I’m not sure I agree that online video banners aren’t effective. In general, it’s true that banners are ignored. And auto-play banners are repulsively annoying. But I do believe there’s a role for embedded video in interactive, rich media ads. I found her thoughts about RSS and videos interesting, but caution people from thinking too many people will RSS for commercial videos. Get a well known YouTuber to mention your brand and you’ll get exponentially more visibility for far less money than your agency will charge for a FedEx.

Another Online Video Show About… Online Video

goggleburnNext New Networks is debuting an online-video show about online video. Googleburn, which appears each Wednesday is:

“the sting in your eyes when you’ve been ogling online videos all night and it’s 6 AM on Monday and oh dear lord you can’t see anything because the Internet blasted you with whiteout,” says host Nick Douglas in the show’s first blog.

Using vocabulary matched only by Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, NewTeeVee’s Jackson West says the show is “slightly warped yet smartly erudite sensibility and a disaffected delivery.”

melbourne sunglasses interview australian party guyThis week’s spoof is well timed, as it features an interview with the sunglasses of Australian party thrower Corey Delaney (Worthington), who was widely seen on YouTube, in this embarassing interview. Embarassing, I think, for the host who asked loaded questions, lacked objectivity, nagged, and became part of the story (must have missed that “Intro to Television News” course in college, honey). I thought this was a prank at first, but it might well be real.

My BubbleGumTree Show, of course, is going for a more retrotarded angle on online video, featuring the interesting people of the space. Watch for a debut with Mark Day Comedy next week.

This “online video shows about online video” arena is starting to remind me of the short-lived websites that featured the best websites back in the late 90s. But it will be fun while it lasts. Via Mike Abundo’s Inside Online Video).

New Weekly Show Featuring 50 Interesting Online-Video Personalities in 2008: The Bubblegum Tree Show. Yey!

Bubblegum Tree Show logoHad enough of horrible big-media interviews of your favorite online-video “weblebrities”? The same questions over and over? The 7 hours you spend, as a video creator, meeting with a television network, only to find your interview has been reduced to a 12-second soundbite?

Well it’s time for The Bubblegum Tree Show! Yey! (See trailer).

It’s my new weekly show that will feature 50 of the most interesting (not necessarily the most popular) online video personalities in 2008. There is, of course, no shortage of shows that feature online-video creators. In fact I also do one for Metacafe called Metacafe Unfiltered. And then there’s Veoh’s Viral.

But this one’s different. You see, there’s bubblegum. The interviewed guest will be chewing gum, and send it to me at the end. Next, the gum will be affixed to the official “Bubblegum Tree,” which eventually will be populated by dozens of pieces of chewed gum (each beside the name of its weblebrity chewer). The show is designed to be fast, quirky, informal and interesting. The balance I’m trying to establish is making it cheeky, but giving people a real glimpse of the creator’s personality.

Subscribe now (only 25 elite subscribers as of this post), and be the first to catch the premier. Who will be first? CharlesTrippy? MarkDay? LisaNova? We’re after all of them. And if you’re an interesting online-video personality with a fat talent agent, send them our way via “bubblegumtreeshow dot com at g mail.” Because before long getting booked on The Bubblegum Tree Show will be like trying to get your book on Oprah (a woman who has a television show).

Research About Online-Video Viewing

More research about online-video and television viewing. This Harris study tells us so much and yet so little. What I was hoping (based on the lead) is that it would talk about how online-video is cannibalizing, if at all, television viewing. Certainly for me I spend far more time watching video on my monitor than my overpriced HDTV.

  • More television viewers are turning to the Internet to watch videos, films and TV episodes, according to a new survey.
  • Approximately 65 percent of the 2,455 U.S. adults surveyed by Harris Interactive said they have watched a video on YouTube, compared to 42 percent during the same time last year. More than 42 percent of YouTube viewers said they visit the site frequently, up from 33 percent last year.
  • Apart from YouTube, which most people favored because they felt it had almost every video they could find, 43 percent said they have watched a video on a TV network Web site, followed by 35 percent on news sites and less than 30 percent on search engines such as Yahoo and Google.
  • Online viewers said they would watch more TV episodes and full-length movies if more were available. There was less interest in viewing more amateur or user-generated videos, news and sports, according to the survey.

Via Reuters. By Claire Sibonney; Editing by Patricia Reaney.

Top 12 Most Influential Online Videos of All Time

To create buzz as it nears submission deadlines, The Webby Awards announced recently the “Top 12 Most Influential Online Videos of All Times.” Our guess is that they were shooting for 12, but got into a heated debate and decided to toss two more in there.

Here are the other 6, er, 8…

Top Ten Stupidest Moments of Online Video in 2007

It’s time for the first annual’s Top 10 Stupidest Moments of Online Video in 2007. This list is my first draft, so I invite and encourage moments I’ve no doubt missed.

I haven’t kept a notepad besides my bed all year, and I try to suppress these moments. That said, I did review hundreds of blog entries and perform countless Google searches to compile this starter list. Feel free to use all or parts of this post on your blog or website- link appreciated.

  1. Chris Crocker becomes a viral sensation after this weeping video defending Britney Spears. It gets 13 million views, but Crocker fails to post another video in the three months since. Lesson: It’s not the one-hit wonder, it’s about consistency. To his credit, he’s another video amateur that is “working on a TV show,” he’s been spotted at Social, and he did make Time Magazine’s top 10 list of viral videos.
  2. gives up, and embarrasses itself while trying to hype its own auction (with a paltry 2,000 visitors per day) on eBay. To add insult to injury, it sends an “exclusive” report to New Tee Vee, but accidentally sends it to The Silicon Valley Insider (who promptly publishes the entire desperate e-mail from You Are Media CEO David K. Dundas). Lesson: Don’t start another video site, and check e-mail when you leak exclusives.
  3. top 10 stupid moments of online videoSneeeer: Techcrunch publishes “The Secret Strategies Behind Many Viral Videos,” which leads to a dramatic backlash among online-video enthusiasts, bloggers and the video community. I parked “” for TechCrunch contributing author Michael Ackerman Greenberg. TechCrunch does a “follow up.” Lesson: There are appropriate ways to market your videos, and cheats don’t need a soap box.
  4. Oprah makes her debut on YouTube by taking over the homepage with online-video clichés (dog on skateboard, cats doing tricks), then creating a YouTube channel that looks more like a network PR site. Lesson: Too many for this post. See previous post about what Oprah might have learned.
  5. JewTube launches in the summer, and Google later challenges the name (based on copyright infringement of YouTube). Lesson: Niche sites are smart. But build your own brand.
  6. The Daily Reel dies after morphing from “Entertainment Weekly for online video” to a video podcast series to a video-hosting site to a video-enthusiast community site to a site thats’ now frozen in time like some parts of New Orleans years after Katrina. Lesson: Pick a core competency and stick with it.
  7. ZeFrank killed his popular online-video show in March, just as his fame was developing. He quietly returned to recently, but not on his ZeFrank “The Show” page. NewTeeVee writer Chris Albrecht called his return video “anemic” with a “spark missing.” There were rumors of a television deal, and issued this press release when he closed The Show. We won’t comment, as we have a documented history of being jealous of ZeFrank (as “caught on tape” with this Dove Evolution parody). Lesson: Stick with what you do well. And I’m not saying there’s a “Famous Amos” thing happening here, but why else wouldn’t ZeFrank populate his show page in addition to
  8. The New York Times calls YouTube “celebrities” hot property. Umm… I’m kinda a big deal on YouTube, but someone show me how the YouTube thing has changed more than a couple lives. Lesson: The “overnight” success of online-video amateurs is a bit exaggerated.
  9. Experts project that television advertising budgets will pour online. Experts project 3/4 of a billion dollars in online video for 2007. Even so, that’s a small portion of the 3-8 billion expected to go into online advertising in total this year. No word yet as to how the year’s shaping up (but eMarketers upped its estimate in August). I didn’t get my share of 3/4 billion, though. Did you? Lesson: Take advertising projections and divide by 10.
  10. Viacom demands YouTube remove all of its content and tries to build an “old media consortium” to compete with YouTube (Viacom, News Corp and NBC ). Writers who are on strike find this move, in hindsight, quite ironic (see recent video by Daily Show writers). Naturally, media executives come to Viacom’s defense. Lesson: as I mentioned in March, that old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” consortium thing never quite works out (see ComScore reports of online-video share). Still, you can’t blame someone from crying fowl about having their stuff stolen and monetized by someone else online. Unless they’re a writer, of course.

The Daily Reel (TDR) Goes RIP?

I’m always the last guy to realize someone got laid off. Or someone took a new job. Or the company I worked for shut down 6 months ago, which explains the lack of paycheck and the movers trying to box my computer.

The Daily Reel Goes DarkSo it shouldn’t surprise me that months after The Daily Reel (TDR) apparently died, I’m starting to realize it. No message on the company blog. No new headlines on the homepage. Ads promote an event that happened in October. Heck I free, freelanced for them and I don’t remember getting a memo.

Everything just frozen in time like some of the homes in New Orleans even two years after Katrina. Can’t they hire a temp to turn the lights out?

Halfway through this post, I decided to do a Google News search. New TeeVee writer Liz Gannes was a full 5 days ahead of me in noticing TDR’s dormancy.

I have been tracking some of the alumnae, who are diplomatic about their former employer but extatic about their new gigs:

This reminds me a little of a video spoof I did about online video called Chapter11TV (someone has since squatted the domain name, which used to host a fake site).

The major lesson? Know what you want to be when you grow up. TDR, to me, started as an Entertainment Weekly of online video. Then it started hosting video podcasts, which I thought was complementary. What confused me is when the site invited creators to post their own videos (as opposed to using Revver or another provider). Eventually it was trying to become a community for online video enthusiasts, which gave it an identity crisis and made it, to a degree, competition with some of the sites it was covering. Its final act was facilitating a conference in October.

There were some smart folks involved, so I’m guessing the demise was a result of investor impatience and desperation. Sorry for the folks that set up Reeled In accounts at my urging. Want to do a pool for how long before the site has a 404?