Top-10 User Testimonials for Apple’s iCloud

icloud suck ass from hell

Frustrated with Apple’s beast from hell called iCloud? You’re among friends here. Today we’re curating the most inflammatory customer statements about iCloud I could find.

You see, I just had another “Apple anxiety attack” due to iCloud. But this should be my last (I documented the December nightmare in this “iCloud sucks” post). And I was sure to tag this particular post “iCloud sucks ass from hell” in case anyone’s searching that phrase.

This morning’s irritation: my son and his friend are frantically trying to Facetime each other on their iPads, but the calls are coming to the iPhones of me and the other kid’s mom. As a result, the other mom and I are phoning each other thinking there’s some emergency. And no… the kids’ iPads are not logged into either of our iClouds, so there’s no good reason this is happening.

icloud is 1984 big brother
“Can this be turning into any more insidious, 1984ish situation?” says one iCloud customer.

iCloud, a web-based backup that connects Apple devices, has killed Apple for me and many others. In March I’m giving  my iPhone to one of my kids, and buying an Android. My nerdy friends rave about them. There are two reasons for my departure: a) The iPhone has not been improved consequentially in the last several years, and b) the iCloud implementation was the worst experience I’ve had with technology — and that surpasses computer viruses, crashed hard drives and being disregarded by cable and phone providers.

So I thought I’d calm myself down by assembling my favorite quotes about iCloud courtesy of this  Apple Support thread.

  1. I HATE icloud. How dare they? And market it as innocuous? The arrogance. Seriously.
  2. Apple invaded in my devices and does whatever wants – more than a VIRUS! I can’t get rid off it. .. APPLE what the **** are you doing, making your new software behavour as a parasite!
  3. Total failure, especially if you have spouse, kids, etc on the same Apple account since you keep getting each others stuff on your phone.
  4. Thanks for ruining Christmas, Apple. This Christmas my kids learned about Santa Claus by intercepting my private texts.
  5. I spend more than 5 hours on the phone with several apple support guys to get rid of those many multiple calendar entries on my iPad, but it didn’t help.
  6. My text messages are appearing on all my external devices.  I sold my iPod on ebay and the guy can read all of my messages and respond to them.
  7. A data destroying, heart burning, stomach churning and hours wasting beast called iCloud.
  8. Like an evil spawn of SkyNet and a PC Boot Sector Virus, once iCloud has grabbed your data IT becomes the master of your data.
  9. Can this be turning into any more insidious, 1984ish situation?
  10. I am personally Disgusted by Apple and everything to do with their products and services. Cannot wait to buy a Samsung note (source: Dudechester, iMore forum)

 

Understanding Online-Video Using SEM Analogies

A media buyer recently approached me to see if YouTube “stars” could beat .05 on a cost-per-view basis. It was such an odd question, and one that made me realize we’re still comparing apples to oranges. As I answered the question (yes, but…) I found myself drawing analogies to a more familiar digital medium: search engine marketing (SEM).

Let’s draw from our collective understanding of both Google advertising and “search engine optimization” (SEM), where content providers try to have their websites rank on the first pages of search engines. Then let’s explore how that can help us understand online-video marketing. Finally, let’s pay special attention to “the second click,” which I use to refer to the prospect who chooses not to visit your own content but remains important.

This post is not really about search-engine optimizing video content (see ReelSEO for a wealth on that). It’s about thinking about online-video in the same way we think about an SEM approach. Apologies to traditional advertisers since this post does depend on some basic understandings of digital marketing and search-engine marketing, although I’ve tried to reduce the jargon and assume SEO/SEM is not your sweet spot.

I. Getting “Natural” Views: To get a brand.com or campaign website high search-engine ranking (thus “free” visitors) we have a variety of tools and tricks, but four basic guidelines:

  1. First, we optimize the content to use words that are commonly searched (use customer lingo not our brand speak). We frame our content to answer common natural-language queries like “what’s the cheapest life insurance insurance in Arizona” rather than “Bob’s Inexpensive Term Insurance!!… oh and I serve the globe, but happen to be in Arizona.”
  2. Second, we design the website to ensure that search-engine spiders can find it (treat the spiders as important as customers, which means more text not flasherbation). Video can help us here, but not in lieu of carefully prioritized words. Little things matter: the picture should be tagged “mom with headache” not “lady with green sweater,” something few potential targets are searching unless you’re selling sweaters).
  3. Most importantly, we try to “link bait” in appropriate ways (no “link farms” please), by earning the right to have credible well-trafficked websites link to our website. It gives us credibility, thus higher rank on engines. It can make the difference from being on the cemetery of page 3 to the wild night club of page 1.
  4. Finally, we want that visit to be positive for the “user” since a quick bounce and return to search can suggest failure to search engines. If you trick me, I’ll leave and re-search… and your ranking will slip.
What this means for video:
  • We need to think about video in this same measured approach. Sure we need to focus on SEO-optimization of our valuable video content on brand sites. Of course we want to avoid churning through various short-term video campaign micro-sites that don’t help in the long run. Absolutely we need to ensure our content is also placed on YouTube and well tagged. But there’s more to it than that.
  • Ultimately our video has to make a promise it can keep. If the headline and thumbnail is a dupe, it won’t last or travel. If the goal is to entertain and draw curiosity, then the brand must take a back seat. If the goal is to explain the product, then that’s fine… but that content isn’t likely to go viral unless you’re launching the next Apple toy.
  • A promotional video serves a purpose, but it’s unlikely to be the next Old Spice or Evian babies video. However a video can travel to prospects if it’s valuable to them (funny, informative), and most brands don’t need 4 million teenagers… they’d rather 100 solid prospects. If we want “organic” or free views (not using paid media) then we’ve got to focus on serving a need and not selling our product.
  • YouTube has loads of ways to promote video content on YouTube, and it’s always cheap… but it’s easier to get people to watch a video on YouTube than dragging them to another website. Off YouTube, we can partner with smaller properties to get “paid views” (the .05 per view reference above), but recognize that “a view isn’t a view.” Once it’s paid, it’s often forced or auto-play, and that can be a data junkee’s “fool’s gold.”
II. Paid Ad Campaigns: On search engines, a good digital marketer will vary creative and try an abundance of headlines, copy and even URLs. More importantly, they’ll create “custom landing pages,” so a search pays off. You’d be a fool to create a search advertisement promising content that doesn’t exist on the landing page. Most SEM veterans will vary campaigns (A-B testing) and do experiments to determine the optimal keywords to purchase, the right creative, and the appropriate content to serve.
What this means to video:
  • Video serves different purposes in various locations. In video display or pre-roll advertising, its goal might be to drive awareness/recall/attitude/intent for the brand or product. Alternatively it may be designed to produce an action/engagement. In general it’s hard for advertising to do both well in the same campaign.  Since most display ads accept the sad reality that click-thru rates are going to stink (low single digits), it may be better to jam the brand name and a simple message into the display ad or preroll… hey at least they’ll get “exposed” to the message. Otherwise the video preroll or display is aimed at a direct response goal (“see our cool education/entertainment,” “we have a sale,” or “check out our new product line.”).
  • While video can augment either awareness or direct response, I see “yellow flags” when I hear media buyers or PR executives using paid media to get videos or microsites traffic. The root cause? Marketers or agencies have sadly invested precious dollars to produce “viral video,” then become frustrated that the videos didn’t… go… viral. So they’re desperately looking for inexpensive ways to get the videos seen by using paid video ads.
  • Now we have a “dangling media tactic,” which is often inconsistent from a brand strategy. There’s a covert mission to get the content views to “save face” for the lonely isolated micro-site or unviral videos.
  • Back to the SEO/video analogy: It’s okay to create written content for search engines in hopes that it will gain high ranking and “free” (organic) views. But we are usually realistic about the timeframe and sheer numbers. However when marketers create video content, they bank on a groundswell of free traffic spawned by YouTube viral and mega-sharing on Facebook. That’s happening less and less.
  • Solution? The video or video-laced microsite (campaign site) should be serving a specific goal on the awareness-to-loyalty continuum and not an isolated tactic that depends on “going viral” organically. If you’re creating video for “top of the funnel” awareness creation, then a) don’t spend a lot of money since the odds are against you, b) keep the brand/ad message on the down-lo because it will tank the natural views.

III. That Second Click: It’s a mistake to obsess strictly about the search engine (we’re done! We’re on the first page organically and with an ad). Odds are that 80-90% of people will zoom right past them to the third-party choice (the credible blogger, the crowd-sourced rating website, or a publisher). That means we want to get our message and content on the highly trafficked websites our customers will visit after their search… the second click. That’s usually done via PR (desperate and failed pleas to bloggers for product mentions) or advertising (often ignored display advertising).
What this means to video:
  • Good news. Most video traffic is not to professional content or branded videos. Outside of music videos, the hidden “oil well” of reach includes mostly amateur webstars or “the new establishment” of web-video networks. These guys are surprisingly receptive to subtle brand messages, inexpensive sponsorships and (of course) adjacent ads that are their primary income.
  • While it’s unethical for a travel destination (hotel/resport) to spiff (pay off) a Conde Nast travel freelancer, it’s okay for them to invite Shaycarl (and Nalts) to visit and show the property to millions of their daily viewers. 🙂
  • It’s not okay to send a free tech product (like that new tablet or HD camer) to TechCrunch or Wired, but you’d be a fool not to deluge iJustine with your latest gadgets (and maybe toss her a check to show it love). It can be cost prohibitive for a marketer with a “recession” budget to hire Justin Bee-iber, but Rhett and Link reach millions and they’re taking a road trip this Friday that I’d sponsor it in a minute if I was a CPG brand (ensuring the comedy/singing duo received loads of free candy and beverages, as well as a decent check to ensure the products get some prominent placement). If I was selling guitars, I’d send a free one to Wheezywaiter and MikeLombardo in a second, and a $1-$10K to mention my website occasionally.
I’m finally beginning to accept why this last “no brainer” step (which I detail in my book, Beyond Viral) is not yet embraced by many brands. For a while I found it downright perplexing and unforgivable that Coke was handing out free product on the streets of NYC, but not sending swag to the top 500 most-viewed YouTube creators (which would provide Coke with more free impressions than it could ever imagine).
But there’s not an easy analog for this type of marketing. Sure Coke does product placement on American Idol, but it’s hard for marketers to translate that to some clown on YouTube even if he gets more views than American Idol. The TV folks are forced to understand product placement and integration because Fox is beating it into them. But it’s hard for a TV junkie to translate that to web video, and trust amateurs. Most importantly, the silo approach of most large brands makes it hard to determine who should run with this: is it PR? Advertising? A sponsorship/events group? Digital?
In truth this type of “second click” thinking applied to video requires people with an odd mix of understanding/experience of marketing, social media, consumer marketing and PR. But those folks are hard to find except in startups (who are less attractive to webstars than Big brands). When they do exist in larger companies, they often lack budget influence.
So this marketplace remains somewhat irrational (some “webstars” fetching obscenely high fees for non-targeted and awkward pitches). Conversely, many brands use PR teams to chase bloggers with smaller audiences and a fundamental reluctance to pitch (because “playing favorites” might erode their credibility as a mini-journalist). And those same brands are often missing some highly influential and valuable willing “spokespeople” with large fan bases and credibility… just because they have no idea that a medium-sized video webstar’s reach is often 100x that of the biggest category blogger.
As Arseneo Hall would say… things that make you go hmmmmm.

Models for “Signing” YouTube Creators; Tips for Advertisers, Studios & Stars

Several trends are causing many independent “YouTube Creators” to sign with “new establishment” (web studios) such as Makers Studios (good luck finding its website), Next New Networks, The Station, Howcast and Machinima. Many early web studios were formed to create and promote custom shows for wide distribution. But the high investment ($1-$5K per edited minute) could not be sustained by the modest advertising dollars moving into the medium. In the past year, most have abandoned custom shows and are signing proven YouTube talent, many who have low costs, but large and steady audiences that are valuable to advertisers.

The trends driving these deals are:

  • It’s a buyer’s market. YouTube advertising revenue is relatively depressed because it’s new and driven mostly by Google Adsense, which allows even small advertisers to target viewers. The revenue model is largely based on “cost per thousand impressions” (CPM), and the income to the creator is mostly hovering at a modest $1 plus range… obviously YouTube pockets a portion before the creator is paid. Since an advertiser is often willing to pay far more for a targeted view, there’s plenty room for an intermediary who can command higher CPMs. Despite Google’s large salesforce, the display team at Google is relatively small. As I’ve said before, most media buyers are opting to put dollars into other sites because YouTube is less flexible.
  • Many solo acts have significant monthly views (mine alone are 5 million plus), but can’t justify selling their own inventory.  However if a network can assemble a collection of creators that are attractive to certain industry advertisers, they can rationalize a salesforce and a premium.
  • The marketplace for talent is growing increasingly competitive, making it more attractive to independent creators to share in such fixed costs as management, marketing and production. Many solo acts on YouTube lack even basic talent representation, and don’t know how to find sponsors or price their sponsorships (and some are not willing or capable).
  • Budgets are flowing online dramatically, as video consumption increases. YouTube has missed a significant portion of online-video budgets because Google’s emphasis remains on paid search (while smaller properties are focused on pursuing larger digital budgets and even television budgets). This is changing, and could become more complex as the lines become less clear between YouTube (which has often proclaimed to be a platform not a network) and web studios (like its rumored acquisition, next New Networks).
  • Cross promotion across creators can grow the size of an audience significantly, and collective groups (like The Station) can expose individual shows/stars to audiences that might not otherwise know they exist. Many creators have sought alliances because there’s strength in numbers. The brat-pack model is not to be underestimated, even though shared successful YouTube channels are rare.

While few web studios and creators will reveal detailed terms, here are a few models that I’ve seen first hand. I will avoid revealing specifics or suggesting which studios gravitate to various models. Even within the same web studios, the deals can vary dramatically based on the creator’s negotiating skills, their content quality, and their audience size. Most deals are more nuanced than the following, but here are some simplified examples:

  • We own you. Small “up and coming” creators were often willing to effectively sell their show to a web studio and become compensated at a fixed price per episode. This is increasingly rare, as it is risky to both the studio (who can’t be sure the star/show will succeed) and the creator (who loses the otherwise unlimited upside potential of a solo YouTube artist).
  • We own 50% to launch you. Some “web studios” sign new talent with a revenue split. A talented but unknown creator can gain accelerated growth via appearances in the network’s already popular shows, and in return provides a portion of his/her YouTube Adsense dollars to the studio. Both this model and the previous require the studio to “claim” the channel via YouTube, and then pay the talent in some form: usually a month after the studio is paid. YouTube is attempting to make this easier for the creator, studio and advertiser… but it’s still fairly complicated to execute. Since the creator can become blind to the actual revenue their channel receives, it requires some trust.
  • We “mark you up.” Since the average ad CPMs remain modest, some studios are able to offer a creator/show a premium CPM (income per view) that is higher than that to which they’re accustomed… but sometimes capped. For instance, the studio may promise to pay the creator $2 per thousand views, and pocket any incremental revenue. This makes sense if the studio can sell the inventory at an ongoing premium, and is even more attractive to the creator if the studio can promote and grow the channel as well. However it means the creator may not benefit from what I’d expect to be higher CPMs in the years ahead.
  • We split incremental proceeds. A more mature YouTube star may negotiate a deal where anything in excess of their regular YouTube “Adsense” revenue is split. The studio may, for instance, sell a series of sponsored shows to a brand or advertiser, providing a complement to typical display ads (prerolls, banners, InVideo ads). The studio also may offer additional “value ads” that are not easy to execute via YouTube directly (such as having a collection of creators promote the brand on their Facebook and Twitter profiles). The creator may occasionally get a fixed sponsorship income (a few grand) to provide messaging within the show, and the display ads are marked up during a specific timeline. We’ve seen programs like Howcast’s GE Healthymagination that involve a number of YouTube stars working together or sequentially. In some cases YouTube manages these directly, contacting top talent to participate.
  • Pay per sponsorship. Some studios remain strictly in the pay-per-sponsored video space, providing advertisers with a flat fee for a series of videos that mention a product or service. A creator who fetches 200K to 1 million views per video can command o5-50K for a single sponsored video, and the studio takes a percent. Again, YouTube does many of these programs directly since the marketplace for these programs is still immature. Hitviews was one of the early companies for these, and Mekanism is doing some now. In my experience, it’s far more profitable to a creator to do them directly via YouTube… but there’s little a creator can do to increase the quantity of these. They’re bought not sold.

In this blog and my book, I’ve argued that advertisers and creators need intermediaries to facilitate sponsorship programs when they go beyond traditional ad buys (invideo, prerolls or adjacent display ads). When I consulted with Hitviews, I helped orchestrate some of these complex sponsorship programs, and they require skills that are rare in traditional and digital agencies. They’re difficult to sell, tricky to execute, and require cash reserves — since creators must sometimes be paid before revenue is received from advertisers. I’ve also done these directly with advertisers since I have a marketing background, but that’s not easy for most creators. Still, these sponsorships are lucrative for creators and extremely valuable for brands. They take the advertising message to where it has greater influence (within the show) and cannot as easily be ignored. They’re also perpetual annuities for brands. Some of my sponsored videos have garnered significant views long past the campaign’s period.

Audiences can be tolerant of these sponsored deals as long as the creative is strong, and a webstar or show does not do them too often. To see some of my own sample sponsored videos click here. You’ll see that most are not heavy on the promotion since that can severely impair views, ratings and comments. My income for these has varied radically, and often does not correlate with the total views of the videos. In a few cases, the advertiser has paid YouTube to “spotlight” the videos, but most of the views are organic.

I have seen some of my favorite YouTube creators fatigue audiences by accepting numerous sponsored deals (especially in a short time period). I’ve seen both extremes: the advertiser paying far more than it should (based on quality of the video or total views), or the creator selling out for a modest fee (and sometimes not paid at all).

Here are some tips first for advertisers/studios, then for creators. My emphasis is on sponsorships rather than “signing,” since the former is more common.

  • Advertisers or studios should not, in my opinion, subsidize a show’s creation. That can get cost prohibitive to a brand, and can result in mostly paid views. Those are not nearly as valuable as “organic” views (where a show already has a recurring or loyal audience).
  • I believe advertisers should provide at least 50% up front (like with any media buy) and withhold 50% based on performance metrics (total views). This ensures the studio has sufficient funds to attract and pay creators, and also reduces the risk to the advertiser. However it seems studios and YouTube often commence campaigns before getting paid, which results in ridiculous long gaps (3-6 months) between posting a video and getting paid for it.
  • Studios (and advertisers) should be careful about the stars/shows they pick. Some have a reputation for delivering content that meets the needs of the audience and the brand, and others are known for turning in marginal content, missing deadlines, or even harming the reputation of the brand. It is difficult for someone not extremely familiar with YouTube and creators to vett them well. For instance, I was approached recently by Best Buy despite my disdain for the company.
  • A good “match maker” will instantly know what creators/shows are right for different advertisers/sponsors, and that requires more than an understanding of a channel’s demographics. Since most popular YouTubers ignore e-mail, it’s not easy to catch their attention even when dollars are involved. If I had a dollar for every false-positive “sponsor,” I could buy YouTube from Google.

Creators:

  • Creators should be very careful about signing “exclusive” deals, which limit revenue in other mediums or distribution channels beyond YouTube. I’ve been offered large monthly sums to move my content off YouTube and have never regretted declining. I’m also glad that I’ve never put a ceiling on my income, or provided any videos to a third-party with exclusively.
  • Since the CPMs are likely to get higher in coming years, I’d be reticent to sign a deal that locks me into today’s CPMs. If an advertiser can command higher CPMs for a specific video or time period, that’s nice. However I wouldn’t want to lock myself into $1 per 1K views, and then watch the average CPM rise.
  • It’s a good idea to have a time period attached to a deal, and opportunities for either party to exit. This is especially important since some of the web studios could be acquired by companies that may change the dynamics between the creator and the studio. It’s also important to have an agreement if an advertiser needs to remove a sponsored video (I’ve seen this happen more times than you’d imagine).
  • I urge creators to seek clarity about studio-exclusivity deals. A smaller creator will delight at signing with a studio that provides lots of new sponsorships. However what happens if that studio isn’t selling deals? Or if the studio is asking the creator to promote brands they don’t like? Or if the studio requests more sponsored promotions than the creator feels is appropriate (Smosh)? Is the creator obliged to take whatever deal the studio secures, or can they decline? More importantly, what happens if the creator is approached directly by a brand? Is he/she still permitted to do a sponsored video, and if so, are they obliged to provide a percent to the studio? Part of the reason I haven’t worked with Hitviews in more than a year is because it resented me working with other companies (YouTube directly or Howcast), and yet wasn’t providing a steady flow of well-compensated sponsorships. I’m still a fan of founder Walter Sabo however.
  • As online video begins to behave more like traditional television (where YouTubers are TV shows, and studios are networks like Fox or ABC) the dynamic could change dramatically. But it’s still a maturing industry, and deals very often favor one party far above another. So regardless of what is in writing, a relationship of trust is vital. There’s a certain “give and take” that is important for all parties involved (advertisers, intermediaries and show creators).
  • In general, I would rather be known as a pushover than a jerk… and the race is a marathon not a sprint. I have been “screwed” a few times, and have left money on the table (and I’ve steered clear of those people since). But I try to be flexible and make concessions knowing it’s a small industry, and that a professional, low-maintenance creator is more likely to earn the long-term trust of a variety of players that can provide income and other opportunities.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to say “no.” I’ve seen several of my friends decline a modest or unfair offer, only to receive a much more generous one.

I’d welcome your comments if you have your own learnings… or your questions if I’ve been unclear. I’m sure it’s not an easy read, since it’s a complex space!

Lastly, if you’re a player in this space and regret not being mentioned, please identify yourself in comments or via e-mail. I am sure I have missed some web studios or intermediaries that are active in recruiting talent and wooing brands.

Poor Man’s FlipCam: Sylvania DV-128

A few people have written me notes to the extent of, “I wish I could do videos, but my camera is so bad.” I usually tell them to relax, and just make sure the lighting and compression is good. The reality is that those two factors can make up for a lot if your camera is old… then I tell them to settle for a Flipcam, which is easy to use and fairly low cost.

Unfortunately, Flipcam (now owned by Cisco) has resisted providing a lower price-point, and has for years been stuck at the $150 plus level (HD versions are down to about $176, though… so splurge). Meanwhile, there are countless min-video-cam options for people with lower budgets wanting something fairly similar. But FlipCam hasn’t yet, to my knowledge, pursued the Mac strategy (as Apple did with the iPods)… innovate to maintain the higher end buyers, but produce a lower-end unit for the mass-market of $100 peeps.

Today I received a Buy.com offer for a $40 (including shipping) Sylvania DV-128 digital video camera with built in memory and an SD slot. I searched extensively for product reviews or consumer ratings, and found virtually nothing on ePinions, Google, YouTube and Amazon.com.

So I bought it, and will review it on my UncleNalts channel. If it sucks, you’ll hear about it here first. If it’s okay, then I’ll probably suggest it for the price-sensitive people… or folks that want to keep an extra camera around for backup. I expect it to be harder to use, lower picture quality, and poor sound. But at $40 shipped I’m considering it almost “disposable.” Worse case scenario I take it on a dangerous ride down the river.

Again- I like the Flipcams, but that’s because I’ve never bought one. Gotten more than my share of free ones from Google and YouTube, and it does the trick. Katie (my 9 year old) used the FlipCam for all of her 15 mini-episodes of “The Charlie Show” (see www.charlieshow.com). Certainly much better quality than the video capture that comes with some $100-$200 standard photo cameras, but the magic of FlipCam is the incredible ease of use. She chose to edit these videos in iMovie because she knew I could give her the basics. But I’ve played with the FlipCam editing software, and it’s not bad. Comes free with the device, and old cameras automatically prompt you for new firmware.

Hey, Flip cam peeps (and we know you’re reading). Happy to review the new HD one here and on my YouTube channel if you want to send one along. I got a little HD envy seeing Shaycarl’s.

Here’s the source for that Flip HD… buy it so I can make a penny on my Amazon affiliate program. Hah. Flip MinoHD Camcorder, 60 Minutes (Black)