I didn’t care much when some of the online video sites retired “consumer generated” accounts, and killed my Nalts channels. Metacafe, Revver, Yahoo video, Google video. But I’ve been rooting for the Blip.tv underdog since its infancy. So when I learned today they deleted my account, I felt totally betrayed.
Blip.tv is now owned by Internet studio, Maker. They’ve never much liked me, unfortunately.
Unfortunately many of my Blip.tv videos are gone for good… not uploaded to other video-sharing sites and not backed up. Whey they began killing some accounts I wasn’t surprised. I expected some of my secondary “staging” accounts at Blip.tv to go away, so I backed them up. But didn’t expect they’d kill my Nalts one. 🙁
Part of my Internet youth died today. Not since Revver closed shop has the internet made me so sad.
Put on your thinking caps, kids. Lots of wisdom in here. Most of it is additive to Beyond Viral, but go buy that damned book if you haven’t. And if you have read Beyond Viral, please provide a gratuitous complement below even if it’s fake. Hey I’m not expecting to outsell Hunger Games, but my goal is to at least keep pace with Garfield’s “Get Seen.” Is that too much for a girl to ask?
While it’s true that YouTube does spawn occasional “overnight sensations,” it’s about the same odds as getting struck by lightening while scratching a winning lotto ticket. Furthermore, only a tiny portion of those “viral” hits take their creators beyond the one-hit wonders. About 85% of Booba1234’s views come from one video: “David After the Dentist.” In fact I’m guessing the username “Booba1234” would have a .02% aided awareness even with the ubiquity of that one clip… a meme.
Even the “rockstars” of new media.. almost never break into traditional media (name an exception?). Most of YouTube’s most-subscribed are virtually unknown beyond YouTube (you won’t find them on Yahoo Video, AOL Video, MSN and certainly not Hulu.
And, most interestingly, the only the fiercely committed and adaptive webstars even endure even on YouTube. Their life cycles are getting shorter, and today’s hotties are tomorrow’s castaways (even though YouTube has kindly built floors on their monthly views so they won’t starve).
Put in better terms (and I’ll credit this to a wise YouTube insider): the online-video weblebrity survival is like a marathon race. The gap widens between the front-runners and the bloated masses. (In that analogy, I’m the sweaty red-faced guy panting at mile marker 4).
Example: In 2007 we all shared tips freely, but now in 2010 and 2011 when one of us “cracks the code” (begging viewers to comment can jolt a video’s popularity and “spotlight” treatment) the insight is less likely to be shared among fellow creators. Understandable given the increasing competition and financial stakes. That’s part of the benefit of formal or informal coalitions (Next New Networks, The Station). People in these tend to more willingly share learnings. This week NNN is running a series of prank videos that will all “point” to each other, thus raising the collective views. With luck, these videos might even be “clustered” by YouTube’s algorithm in the same way that many videos are, which is of paramount importance to their enduring views over time. For example, search for any of these categories: cute kids, laughing kids, funny animals, pranks, fails. You’ll find that YouTube accurately predicts what you’re after, and serves you up relevant videos in that genre. And you’ll find the same videos whenever you do this, and whether you’re logged in or not. Being a “YouTube Partner” caught in those “swirls” of popular categories means, quite frankly, an annuity of advertising income.
My thought was that the total number of online viewers would always grow, such that more competition (especially from commercial content) would not erode the amateur fan base. However New York Times’ Alex Mindlin points out something interesting and important from the last comScore report: the sheer numbers of online-video viewers has not grown much at all in the past years. The growth has largely been due to more consumption by a fairly static number of viewers. This will change as web-connected television becomes a reality, but the laggards will not binge on as many YouTube amateur shorts, I think. They’ll gravitate toward well-produced 30 minute shows and 2 hours films.
So the reality is that the “new amateur rich” are getting richer (many far surpassing $100K annual incomes), but the barriers to entry are increasing and I wonder about the endurance of this medium… just like Indie performers at the dawn of the Internet, are they a “fad”? Sure we’ll always still see rising new stars, and that makes it look easy. But beyond the select “most-viewed” webstars, the mid-tier content (even those with 200-700K subscribers) is seeing a significant drop in views on recent videos. Part of this can be explained by YouTube’s algorithm generously rewarding vintage clips… most of my 4-6 million views a month comes from about 5 of my 1000 videos.
And here’s the interesting and somewhat confusing factor. While I am thrilled about the stability that algorithm provides to me as a creator (keeping my recurring daily/monthly views fairly consistent), it is understandable but interesting that “vintage trumps new” videos. Why? The shelf life for social media and amateur content, with a handfull of exceptions, is organically short. As Daisy Whitney reports (crediting Steve Rubel), social media content decays quickly. If a video, tweet or Facebook post is going to get a lot of views and engagement, it’s usually within the first couple days, and we’ve seen that in numerous studies like this dated but important Tubemogul report.
My most-viewed videos (like Scary Maze, i are Cute Kitten, Farting in Public, and America’s Funniest Bloopers represent about 30% of my total 200 million views. My recent videos, by contrast, are more in the 10-30,000 view range despite having 240,000 subscribers. While I can’t control how YouTube serves up videos, these facts remind me that I need to post more regularly since subscriptions drives views less than habit. Let me say that again because it’s very, very important: habit makes someone “current,” and if content isn’t refreshed predictably then the audience wanders away.
Interestingly, my sponsored videos sometimes continue to get views too. My Fox television show promotions for Fringe, Lie to Me and Glee have continued surpass millions and millions combined, alone topping the Hitviews original campaign goals (which also involved dozens of other creators). These videos, presumably, are either showing up in searches — or more likely via YouTube’s “related videos” spotlights. I just realized this by chance, and it speaks to an important value proposition of webstar videos: they go beyond a campaign period, despite the obsession we have with “fresh” content.
Our Fresh-Baked Obsession: It’s true that almost all of the “viral” videos on Unruly’s “Viral Video Chart” are “fresh baked” (posted within the past week) and that makes perfect sense. When’s the last time you started your visit to Netflix, “On Demand,” or (for you old folks) Blockbuster by browsing the classics? I don’t need to convince you that there are classics you’ve never seen that are going to be far, far better than what’s on the “new releases” shelf. You know that. But you’re drawn to “new” as if it subconsciously means “better.” That’s a human reaction that has two sources: first it’s based on the “prehistoric” brain (as opposed to our newer “executive brain” where “fresh” equals safer. Fresh meat, fresh grains, fresh vegetables. Second, I think it’s because absorbing “fresh” content keeps us “current” and “topical,” and provides a social glue. We can all bond in a collective groan about how much “Friday” sucked and how cute that new baby is when she rips up paper.
Screw it. I’m over thinking. I’m gonna go watch a baby giggle while ripping paper.
Have we seen the last of Revver.com, the first online-video site that shared advertising revenue with creators? It’s MIA… check www.Revver.com.
This blog began as “Revverberation,” and was primarily about the website… sadly it got little traction, was acquired, and eventually stopped paying creators. See Revver’s Wikipedia entry for all the good will it left in its dust… especially when LiveUniverse snatched it up (that website seems DOA too).
It’s ironic… my parody (Chapter11TV) seems to have outlived it.
But if there’s one thing sadder than Revver’s death is the possibility that there’d be no official funeral, right?
The Gaplogodisaster brought attention to crowdsourced creative, and the issue is debated in this awkward cable-TV-like debate about the rights and wrongs of crowdsourced creative. Occasionally we get to hear from GeniusRocket’s CEO Peter LaMotte (who happens to be the guest of the segment), but mostly co-hosts Sarah Lacy and Paul “I like to say fuck” Carr try to out-clever each other with quotes like “crowds are stupid,” “there’s so fucking many designers,” “we touched on this before we started filming,” and “poor Paris Hilton.”
Still, it’s worth noting that GeniusRocket is playing in a similar market as Poptent.net, and bridging the gap between tight-budget companies and freelance creators (animation, “viral” videos, and graphics). LaMotte says he’s worked also with small brands and agencies, but estimates that crowdsourcing will overtake no more than 20 percent of advertising revenue. He also observes that brands can customize creative for specific demographics with smaller budgets ($40K vs hundreds of thousands) to maximize media spends.
The video ends with a sample crowd-sourced ad for Athena Hummus. It’s a bit better than my Hummus video.
If you can make it through the entire TechCrunchTV “interview,” you’ll be quite impressed by LaMotte’s intelligence…. If only by contrast by the hosts. Sorry, TechCrunchTV. But stick with the digital word, and leave these shows to the campus television networks. Or heck- crowd source the show.
When uploading a new video to YouTube, or any other video-sharing site, you need to give a few pieces of information to the site because encoding software can’t actually watch your videos. Your title is important for tricking viewers into watching (they’ll think your video will be more interesting than it probably really is). Your description is important for whoring out links and shout-outs to other channels.
But your tags… your tags are where the real magic happens. Your tags are keywords used to place and rank your video within YouTube’s search results.
Even better, just like your video’s title, thumbnail and description, your tags — or keywords associated with your video — can be easily manipulated or gamed! Adding popular search words like “porn,” “sex,” “naked” and “guitar hero” to your video’s tags will give you a bump in views over the long run. In addition to appealing to the fourteen-year-old perverts, you could also include tags from recent popular news stories. Favorites this past week would have been “Bernie”, “Mac” and “RIP.” Users searching for news clips about an actor’s recent death would hopefully find your video waiting for them at the top of the search results.
Most users only tag their own channel name, or repeat the video’s title in their tags section. Get out of this habit now! You could be luring in a much larger audience if you only knew what they were searching for, and including those words in your tags.
For a list of the daily most popular search terms click here: http://google.com/trends
Also, if you’re lucky enough for your video to be monetized, your tags not only help pop your video into popular search results, but may determine which ads are placed beside and within your videos.
If you notice a cell phone company *cough*SamSung Instinct*cough* is spending a lot of money on a site-wide ad campaign, tagging the video with phone, electronics, or the product itself could help pull in some of that sweet Google ad revenue (assuming you’re a YouTube partner).
Okay…I’ve been taking an overly-sarcastic tone throughout this article. All of the above taken into account, it is a good idea for most content creators to make better use of their tags.
But for the love of koolsurfer24, please keep them relevant and appropriate for your video’s content. If your latest video documents your weekend fishing trip, don’t just leave “fishing” as your lone tag, include “boat”, “bait”, “catch”, “release”, “lake”, “fish”, “sport”, “tackle” and everything else related that you can think dream up.
Don’t try to cheat the rankings. Don’t game the system. Gamed views will only leave you feeling empty at the end of the day, can get you kicked off some sites, and at best, will get you a bad rep.
Alan Lastufka is on YouTube, BlogTV and occasionally writes for
his own blog, ViralVideoWannabe. Alan is currently writing a book entitled
“YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts” for O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Oh dear. Did I sleep through a Google Video death? It seems these video sites barely have the courtesy to send a “goodbye” card when they die.
It took a while for me to realize TheDailyReel was RIP, and I just discovered this morning that Flix55 (the video-sharing site by a NYC television station) had vanished.
Now check out Google Video. It’s not quite dead, but I think I could fairly describe it as what I first advocated for Google: A video search engine (albiet not as intelligent as Mother Google or even YouTube results). It does allow you to find videos from other websites, and even play Yahoo videos without making you leave Google (good boy for allowing that Yahoo… goooood boy).
Alas Google’s vision, not unlike Knol, was to be a destination site. Where select creators were sharing advertising revenue, and Mighty Mouse episodes were playing on the destination site. When Google swallowed YouTube it was only time before the two merged or went different directions.
If Stupid Videos, Break or Metacafe die will someone please let me know? Next thing you know it someone will tell me eFoof died.
Here’s hoping YouTube remains solvent. I really don’t want to get that second job delivering pizza in Allentown.
Okay maybe “top secret” is an over statement, but most readers of this post will find a few surprises here. I give you some of the lesser known tricks on YouTube to optimize your experience as a viewer or creator…
Find Best Videos on YouTube Don’t surf the homepage or most-recently uploaded section if you want to find the best videos. There are two places to go… the “top rated” section and the “most viewed.” I prefer the latter, because the community decides what’s lands there. Note that some creators live on this page because their fans rate them 5 stars without fail, so it’s not all good. There are also a few people that are “gaming the system” by artificially rating themselves 5 stars with sock accounts or autobots (boo, hiss). If you like vloggers, check the “most discussed” section of “People and Blogs.” You can also surf the “most subscribed” creators (by category) and when you find someone good (say, for example, Nalts) be sure to subscribe. Then visit your subscription page first, which is like an RSS for new videos by your favorite creators.
Upload to YouTube and a Bunch of Other Sites at Once.
I use TubeMogul whenever I want to upload beyond YouTube on a mess ofwebsites including, currently, Yahoo!, MySpace, Metacafe, Google, Revver, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Veoh, Crackle & StupidVideos.
Reference a Video in Comments Section. You can post a URL in the comment section of videos, but you can provide the 11-digit alphanumeric code, and then people can post this before it:
Download YouTube Videos
This is a post with some tips, but I like VideoBox from tastyapps.com (but it’s Mac only). KeepVid can download videos as FLV files pretty quickly. I’m also using Snapz Pro or Snagit to grab short sections of videos very quickly.
Upload Videos for Best YouTube Quality
For starters, you gotta export your videos in the best resolution possible — that means making them larger files (mine are 100 megs or more) and ensuring all the specifications are YouTube friendly. Trippy’s blog covers these specs well. Some argue that it’s best to convert it to an FLV per YouTube specifications before uploading, but I don’t like the idea of sending YouTube anything compressed so tightly.
Subscribe to Someone When You Can’t. YouTube accounts without videos don’t have a “subscribe” option. To get around this (or to make it easy for people to subscribe to you), use this code, substituting the profile name where I have “Nalts.” http://youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=nalts
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.
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?