How Will The Mainstream Laggard Audience Navigate Online Video?

maria sansone\'s showI originally titled this blog post, “PopTub: Does it Suck or Rock.” But then I realized PopTub is about a bigger issue. But first, let me set the context. Last Friday I wrote a post about PopTub and said I wanted to appear on it. Today that wish came true (see below). Now I just have to figure a way to appear on The Office, visit Hawaii and Australia, and meet Gene Hackman or Charles Grodin (a few more items on my “bucket list“).

Turns out I’m not the only fan of PopTub, but there are also quite a few that have a visceral, negative reaction. Perhaps the show is, for them, a personification of the commercialization of YouTube… a pretty host, good production values, sponsored by Pepsi, and Google supported.

From my perspective, there are 3 ways to react to what is inevitable: YouTube’s transformation from a video-sharing community to a major media player:

  1. Wine profusely. Blame anyone you can. Especially a person since YouTube will ignore you.
  2. Leave the site (returning to television, or diving into vloggerhead).
  3. Embrace the change, and grow with it.

The target for PopTub long term, I’d argue, is NOT hard-core YouTubers (as defined by how much time we spend and how participatory we are). The long-term target should be those who want to engage more deeply in online video, but are overwhelmed by the choices. This hosted format is something mainstream “lagards” (late comers) recognize. Indeed it’s Entertainment Tonight for the noobs joining YouTube.

PopTub is starting by calling attention to amateurs. And if  you’re an amateur, you only have a few ways to get discovered by a typical “grazer” of YouTube (namely, read my free eBook, get featured, or end up on the “top rated” section). Now there’s PopTub.

This mainstream crowd doesn’t have the knowledge or time to spend days and weeks learning the top creators and tricks for finding good stuff. The “grazer, laggard, noobs,” jump to YouTube because they received a link or because they’re searching for something specific. And then they boogie. YouTube is getting better at being a Venus Fly Trap for these folks, but it’s still not there yet.

Friends, the “top rated” section of YouTube proves that the “wisdom of crowds” doesn’t actually work yet on YouTube. The top videos are usually a video game video, an advertisement that spammed its way there via, political propoganda, or one of a few amateurs that have such psychotically loyal fans (Sxephil, Whatthebuck) that they’d rate 5 stars a video of their poop gettig smeared on the wall.

Along comes PopTub with a bubbly host and a bunch of screenagers that are paid to scour the web for good videos. These folks even surf the “most recently added” section to find some of their pix (I’d rather work on Excel sheets). Who’s got time for that? I view it as a free service to help me find content that sucks less than my own.

So I see PopTub as another way for noobs to find good online-video content, and I welcome that service. We may not like all the videos it discovers, but I’ve found more creators via PopTub in the past weeks than I’ve found on featured videos in the past year. Don’t like the picks? Let ’em know.

And of course I’m not paid by PopTub for this (I never blog for compensation, and my sponsored videos are always indicated as such). I’m probably not unbiased because PopTub has features a few of my videos. But I co-hosted voluntarily beacuse I dig the show, and wanted to meet the producers and Maria Sansone. I even kidnapped her, you know.