Teens Like Web Video, Study Shows

Teenager computer

Lately I hear childrens’ voices coming from most of our devices. And when I lose my temper, my road can be heard live in households across the globe:

  • My 11-year-old son speaks regularly with fellow Xbox gamers all over the planet… hopefully some are actually his age.
  • My 9-year-old son talks to his mates via Skype while playing Mindcraft on the PC.
  • My 13-year-old daughter does homework while talking with her classmates on FaceTime.

I did consider that this was just my bad parenting, but apparently my children are not alone.

According to a new Pew study, 37% of internet users ages 12-17 participate in video chats with others using applications such as Skype, Googletalk or iChat. Girls are more likely than boys to have such chats. A PC magazine story reports on the research and points to some of the new tools to facilitate live video.

The research was fielded in the first half of 2011 so it’s probably dramatically understating these activities as reflected today.

So apparently the Nalts kids aren’t too far off the norm… at least on this particular topic. 

Can a Search Engine Detect and Rank Comedy? Google Tries.

The newest funny cat on YouTube says No No No No

Look out “I Are Cute Kitten.” There’s a new cat in town, and she says No No No No. And according to research it’s the funniest video out there.
Google is trying to create an algorithm that ranks a video in terms of humor/comedy. Here’s an article about the subject, and here’s a BBC World Service Radio interview I just did live on the topic. Humor is a difficult thing for a computer to detect, but I do think we can collect viewer reactions to draw conclusions.

I spoke last year at the International Society for Humor Studies (see presentation) and the academics and psychologists were having trouble agreeing on the constructs and classifications of humor. It’s a bit like sculpting fog to predict what makes us laugh.
Can Google do it? It is a company made up mostly of engineers. It won’t be an easy or precise task, but I won’t rule it out.
Naturally I DO think that humor can be researched based on human reactions. That’s why (as seen below) I always test my videos behind one-way glass with indepth interviews and focus groups.

Tablet Viewing is 30% Higher Than Desktop (and more stats on online-video viewing by device)

I just discovered a report published late last year on video trends observed in the 3rd quarter 2011 (ending Sept. 30). It seems we watch 30% more video when on an iPad (versus desktop). Ooyala, a service provider to media companies, tracks a mess of activity and provides some nice signals in this report (see PDF). The company defines “conversion” as the percent of videos viewed against those displayed. I’d estimate these to be rather small (low single digits) on YouTube. But the publisher sites seem to be doing much better, with 40% to 60%. Game players take the lead with 60% which is remarkable, but probably a function of fewer content choices.

I really like this visual of the complete rate by form factor. It confirms what we’ve been saying about our tolerance for longer form when on devices beyond desktop.

Our complete rate varies fairly significant by device

P.S. Here’s some cheese.

Do you Hunker for a Chunk of Cheese?

Are You in the Online Video 15 Percent?

Last year about 4% of us watched online video for more than 6 hours a week. In fact most of us microbinged in minutes at a time.

Now according to TVGuide, 15 percent of respondents saying they watch more than six hours of online video a week. Last year, that number was still at four percent. Sixty-two percent of all respondents said they watch more online video than just a year ago.

Advertising Specialist Burst Media‘s data is more bullish. The Burst Media Online Insights survey (PDF) has the number of people who tune in online for more than six hours a week at close to 30 percent. Almost three percent even profess watching more than 24 hours of online video per week.

So… are you in the 15 percent?

And what are we consuming? Check out this quote from Matt Wasserlauf, Executive VP, Video Platform & Services, at Specific Mediaduring an interview with Beet.TV at the recent OMMA Video conference:

“I see digital video the same way you might look at cable in the early ’80s. Lots of stations, lot of channels with nothing on,” he said.

YouTube to Become “Next-Generation Cable Provider”

YouTube, according to the Wall Street Journal and CNET, is looking to become the “next generation cable provider.” We’re seeing more and more shifts in the online-video medium, and YouTube appears to be making dramatic shifts away from its origin.

Reports CNet:

  • youtube 2012

    Google has inked deals with InterActiveCorp’s Electus, News Corp., and “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker to create content for its site. Celebrity skateboarder Tony Hawk has also reportedly signed a deal with Google.

  • The company was investing $100 million in original content, and would create about 20 “premium channels” featuring 5 to 10 hours of original programming each week.
  • But now that a recent study suggests online-video is giving cable a run for its money, things are changing.

Over the years, YouTube has relied on third-party content and has consistently said that it’s not in the original-content game. But according to the Journal’s sources, Google has designs on becoming a “next-generation cable provider” and has shifted its focus.

Will amateur and short-form video still matter? What do you think?

 

Attic Rats, Preroll Ads & Show Your CPM

I was invited to join a web studio yesterday that provides a fixed CPM or cost per 1,000 views. That means the network promises you’ll earn no more and no less per video view… many of my friends have made that choice. It forced me to examine my current CPM and consider how that might change. Is it in my interest to accept a “floor/ceiling” amount? Or am I optimistic it will grow, and eager to benefit from that?

So today let’s look at attic rats, income for online-video ads, and contrast the sorry current state with what industry analysts predict.

Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, recently posted an intriguing article/rant about CPM prices… it’s titled “How Rats in the Attic Made Me Realize What’s Wrong With Prerolls.” Let’s examine the highlights to get a sense about why brands and online agencies have artificially depressed online-video advertising (despite shifts from print/TV to this medium).

Attic Rat

Problem (according to Louderback):

Unfortunately, even though those two video ad experiences are as different as rats and wine (KN note: Louderback was inspired having received junk mail for rat extermination and wine), they were probably priced at similar CPMs. That’s because the online video ad market – particularly the pre-roll market — hasn’t progressed nearly as far as print. Those were two markedly different experiences, with wildly different levels of engagement. However, for many buyers, agencies and brands an on-line video pre-roll is valued the same wherever it runs, regardless of viewer intent, ad placement and playback environment. It’s as if Trump and “Take Air USA” paid exactly the same for those two print placements – even though their impact is worlds apart.

Solution (according to Louderback):

If you’re a video ad buyer, understand the value differences between in-banner impressions and engaged in-stream video ads. Focus your energy on the latter, and you’ll get far better results than if you lump the two together. Even though engaged, in-stream video ads will be more expensive, they are still a great bargain – especially if when you target demographic or content affinity along with the in-stream purchase.

Now let’s pull a “you show me yours I’ll show you mine” to see what poor targeting has done to the online-video economy. 

Here’s a question for those brave enough to admit in comments below (feel free to use an anonymous name). What’s your YouTube CPM (income per 1000 impressions)? In other words, how much do you make per 1,000 views? It’s easy to compute: simply take your earnings in a given month, divided by the total number of views you get per month (divided by 1,000).

  • Example: you earned $200 last month. Your videos were viewed 100,000 times. So you divide $200 by (100,000/1,000). You get $200 divided by 100 equals $2.00 CPM.
  • Since YouTube keeps about a half, that would mean the company is fetching about $4 CPM… which is horrendously low if prerolls were used.
  • Show us your CPM?
Good news: eMarketer puts online-video advertising growth at more than 43% in the next year and 35% the next year. As marketers become more targeted and sophisticated, we should easily see a CPM lift of 20-30%.

Online-Video is Looking More Like Television

 

Online-video is looking more and more like TV with ads, networks/studios, and a virtual monopoly.

comScore’s September data sheds some light on the non Google video-sharing sites, the top ad networks, and the top-1o channels on YouTube, all of which are professional. The biggest takeaway? The Santa María, La Niña, and La Pinta have long since landed and the corn-sharing Indians are being run off the east coast.

  • Professional content (or web studios representing amateurs) are leading the charts
  • The market remains highly centralized among one or two key players
  • Ads are now pervasive
  • YouTube is increasing its personal white-glove service among the top 100 YouTube partners (including lavish events), and moving many subordinate Partners to e-mail only deidentified support (this isn’t reflected in comScore).

Now let’s look at comScore highlights…

  1. Google/YouTube retains its leadership with 161 million unique viewers (followed by Vevo with about 57K). More importantly, it clocked in a 378 minutes per viewer, which beats Hulu’s 180 minutes. Hulu’s 27K unique viewers watched 642,000 minutes of video (YouTube’s got 18 million). Also worth noting is Microsoft and Viacom’s overtaking of Facebook and Yahoo (two sites that could have been online-video leaders)
  2. Ad networks run those prerolls and keep the online-video body flowing with life saving blood. Here are the leaders: Hulu is #1, Tremor Video ranked second overall with 811 million ad views, followed by Adap.tv (803 million) and BrightRoll Video Network (665 million).
  3. Professional studios rule the most-viewed channels, but note that some amateurs are represented by these players. Gaming channel Machinima ranked third with 17 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios (which has signed a number of YouTube weblebrities) with 9 million, Demand Media with 6.8 million and Revision3 with 5.4 million.

Gap Closes: Video Advertising Is Here (Finally)

This Dan Greenberg story in MediaPost is good news to online-video advertising enthusiasts. Seems the “gap” is closing, and online video is moving into critical mass. Did I just say “critical mass”? Oh well.

Dan provides 5 reasons:

  1. Big brands be making video content investments
  2. Top agencies be making online video a practice/priority
  3. Agencies are creating titles like “director of earned media” (a residual of PR)
  4. We’re developing better metrics than fargin’ clicks. Remember that clicks are like hits (which stood for “how idiots track success”) and impressions aren’t impressions unless they make one. Don’t be a click prick.
  5. Forrester and Nielsen are validating this approach with reports. Whatev.

Anyway this is good news to online-videophiles. Yeyy the market is catching up.

 

 

 

Are Video Preroll Ads on Rise or Decline?

Yes. Video prerolls are both growing and declining. The good news for viewers is that we saw fewer prerolls. But we saw more “polite prerolls” (option to escape) in Q1 2011 as reported by AdoTube/eMarketer. Since this doesn’t include YouTube data and presumably a small sample of total online-video ad streams it does need to be taken with a grain of (Morton’s: when it rains it pours!) salt.

Viewers will appreciate fewer prerolls (as reported by AdoTube), and advertisers will enjoy more "engagement" models
This "Right Guard" ad begs for engagement. Did you notice the "close" button?

Forget prerolls, friends. The increasingly competitive ad networks have a whole sleuth of weapons in their online-video ad formats that range from the innocuous “polite pre-roll,” to a bit more ominous names like in-stream takeover, ad selector, in-stream skin, inside-out roll, interactive overlay, video-in-video, interactive gaming overlay, data entry and capture, branded player, over the top, and beyond stream. I believe that Seroquel example, placing a “reminder” ad without “fair balance” adjacent to depression content is (shhh) a violation of FDA guidelines, but I digress. ANY of these ad-format names beats the “fat boy” branded by Point Roll.

Take a look at some of the bold “engagement” formats presented in AdoTube’s ad-format gallery and you’ll see why viewers are, according to eMarketer, about 30% likely to engage in an ad… even when not forced (hence the term “polite”). You’ll also see that it’s often not clear there’s an opt-out available.

The eMarketer report, titled “Options for Online Video Ad Viewers Leads to Higher Engagement” is encouraging. With online video being one of the leading (if not #1) fastest-growing portion of a marketer’s “media mix,” advertisers will want and expect formats that achieve their goals: from branding to engagement. This chart is important to viewers because it shows that “cost per impression” remains the dominant percent of spending. In “cost per impression” (often called CPM, or cost-per-thousand), the advertiser simply pays a few bucks to reach 1,000 eyeballs without much accountability.

"Cost per impression" still leads, but more interactive "engagement" ad formats are increasing (Brightroll Data)

While few of us welcome more aggressive online-ads, this also substantiates a business model to fuel the medium’s growth. While it’s easy to complain about intrusive ads (especially as the pendulum seemed to swing dangerously to the advertiser’s benefit in the past year), it’s a vital element to online-video’s maturity. If the advertisers don’t get what they need, friends, we won’t be seeing our content for free.

There are three ways to increase “engagements” in this online-video advertising medium, and I’ll list them from best to worst in order of sustainability: novelty, creative and targeting:

  1. Novelty: A new ad format generally enjoys a period of high engagement that’s deceptively high. We’re curious about what the ad does, and may not realize we’re engaging, so it’s not necessarily suggestive of purchase intent. In early February, a debut YouTube customer of YouTube’s “skip this ad in x second” preroll told ClickZ he was seeing a 30% engagement rate. That’s far higher than we’ll see as a norm, and a tribute to the novelty effect.
  2. Creative: Great creative always wins, and this is a fairly enduring trait. While overall engagement might slip when we’re “numb” to an ad format (like monkey-shooting banner ads, or even the “InVid” format that creeps up on YouTube… the best creative wins the best attention, engagement and results.
  3. Targeting: Ultimately the most sustainable and important characteristic of a high-engagement online-video ad is its ability to reach the right target. I can engage in a tampon ad, but it’s not going to sell more maxi’s. But if I get a rich-media ad over (or adjacent) to my valued content, then we’ve got a win-win-win (advertiser, publisher, viewer). That’s where we can expect Google/YouTube to be better in the long haul, but it appears the sophisticated advertiser networks are ahead. These ad networks marry data from a variety of sources to serve ads invisibly on the videos across a variety of websites.

So what are the takeaways to advertisers, video sites and us viewers?

  • First, the options available to advertisers means that online-video ads will begin to get as aggressive as other forms of interactive ads. This has positive and negative effects, but as long as it’s targeted it’s sustainable.
  • YouTube, which reports very little about its ad performance, has not radically departed from its debut formats, with the exception of breaking its early commitment to make pre-rolls optional. Now most pre-rolls are mandatory, but we can opt-out of some after a few seconds (at which point the “opt-out” means the advertiser pays YouTube and the creator less).
  • Ads are a vital cost-offset for those of us that have been enjoying free video content for 5 years and would like that to continue without avoid pesky Hulu-like subscription models (unless a “value ad” bonus to the cable contract, assuming we haven’t “cut chord.”).
  • And finally, Morton’s salt can be trusted. Trusted I say.

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funny Conference

So I’m sitting at Starbucks at 3, and I’ll be on stage in about 33 minutes. My presentation looks perhaps like a hotdog long before it takes that edible, if somewhat phallic, shape. Despite my morning’s panic attack, missing a flight and driving the 7 hours to Boston, I manage to catch YouTube Hall-of-Famer Michael Buckley as I pass his town. Sadly he has “a doctor’s appointment” that precludes a quick spanking or whatever YouTubers do when they meet.

It’s 3:03 as I reorder slides, fundamentally changing my entire presentation (shown below on Slideshare) I can’t help but get distracted by two nervous looking band members who appear to be meeting a new digital marketer consultant. “Our last guy, um, got really busy with school,” says Shaggy (his real name is being withheld because I don’t know it). The consultant begins to LAY IT ON THICK. Total bullshit, coated with a thick creamy topping of arrogance and a faux-pedantic snobbery crowning it all like an overly marinated cherry on top.

The topic of viral video comes up, and my face begins to literally contort as I hear the crap this guy’s advising. I couldn’t control my face. I could see some gal looking at me, and then over at them… making the connection. But I can’t help myself. When Shaggy says “I’m not willing to lose my integrity to get 3 million views on YouTube,” I think seriously about coming to his rescue. But something about this consultant strikes me as odd and dangerous. He’s far too assertive, simplistic, narcissistic, simplistic and repetitive (seems we loathe that in others that we resent in ourselves).

As I’ve finally shifted back to my presentation, literally changing the entire thesis at this point with minutes to spare, the consultant BARGES out the door of Starbucks leaving Shaggy and Scooby stunned. Again I decide to go to their rescue, hold their hand, and tell them that one need not compromise their virtues to go viral… I’ll even volunteer. But just like a dream ending abruptly, they vanish. Come to think of it, maybe it was a dream. No… I’m pretty sure it was real.

Then I gave this presentation below. To show that humor is hard to categorize because of its subjectivity, I did a live vlog (seen at the end of this video) where I followed the 102nd rule of “winning over an audience.” I secretly maligned them using a stage whisper. I was actually kinda bummed out they laughed, which is not what I expected after reading this Joel Warner Wired article that put this on my rader (and created an obsession for me).

Now for the preliminary findings, and a BIG thanks to Alexis, Kiddsock and Will Reese, as well as other contributors!