Is Online-Video Catching Up to TV?

It's getting harder to make a case that TV still reigns.

Brightroll published its annual report about video advertising, and here are some highlights via TechCrunch.

This information jives with Forrester’s prediction that online-ad spending will overtake TV in 2016. And eMarketer’s statement that online-video is the fastest-growing portion in digital advertising.

Highlights:

  • The Brightroll data comes from a survey of advertisers about how they’re approaching online video and what their budget plans are for the coming 12 months.
  • 64 percent said they believe that online video advertising is equally or more effective than the ads that show up on TV. That’s a big deal.
  • Why is online-video rivaling TV?  Because 70 percent of Internet users watch video online, meaning scale/reach is now possible.
  • Most respondents see online video as more effective than both display and social media. That’s notable given the market’s increasing obsession with mobile and social-media ads.
  • 30 percent of respondents said they expect online video to grow faster than any other type of advertising. That’s actually oddly conservative. Remember eMarketer estimates that US online video ad spending will grow by a compound annual rate of 38% in a five-year span ending in 2015, making this by far the fastest-rising category of online spending. Do the other 70% feel otherwise?
  • Performance metrics continues to confound media buyers. About 70 percent said that they needed a more clear ROI and success metrics to justify increasing spend on online video. And about a third want more info about the impact their online video buys have on offline purchasing. TV has had more time to develop metrics and prove results.

As any new media emerges, there’s a dance between the evangelists and skeptics. We saw it when the web arrived. We saw it at the dawn of display. We saw it with paid search (which the survey suggests is still the favorite of advertisers). Now we’re seeing it with the ongoing debates about the merits to TV and online-video.

But now it’s hard to deny online-video and praise TV has the bedrock of branding. With apologies to Mark Cuban (who is still a skeptic of online-video). It’s time to recognize that both TV and online-video have a powerful role in advertising and marketing, and that’s why most media-buyers are savvy enough to plan, buy and measure TV and online video together (eMarketer).

Remember what Nalts has been saying for many years, kids. Eventually we won’t have terms like “TV” and online-video. We’ll just view video as a channel or media manifestation whether it occurs on a computer, mobile device, HDTV, pad or those new fangled cathode ray tubes.

Evolving Video Search: Value of Human Categorization

Your videos are categorized by the creator. Is that fair?

I love it when I see odd patterns through varied stimuli, and here is the latest. I’ve done my best to relate these disperate thoughts, but I’m growing increasingly skeptical of my ability to communicate the connections I see. Still I’ll try, and it has implications on video discovery, how they’re classified, what can motivate viewers and creators, and ultimately what YouTube, the largest video site and 2nd largest search engine is (teaser: I believe it’s more of a network than the video search platform it seeks to be).

I am aware that almost nobody will read 1200-word treatise, so I must have created it for myself. If I had more time, I’d refine it and actually make a salient point… but let’s get started with today’s inquiry and lesson!

  • I awakened at 4 a.m. curious to finish watching this kickass presentation by Deborah Prentice at a live meeting of The Institute for Advanced Studies. Notice her hypnotic repetition of the word “popular,” which creates a cognitive pull. The central theme is that changing human behaviors is easy but often counter-intuitive. Many of her examples were familiar to me via Dan Pink, like the fact that statements about social norms can validate negative behavior or influence positive behavior. Give someone a moderate fine for picking up their kids late at daycare, and you’ll see an increase in that behavior (the “fine” allows parents to purchase a cheap ” free pass” from the guilt of a moral transgression). Likewise providing cash prizes to reward a behavior (donating blood, achieving in school) can often remove someone’s intrinsic reward… having the opposite of the intended effect. Simply put, little things can make a big difference (thanks Malcolm Gladwell for popularizing that encouraging notion with the seminal book, Tipping Point).
  • The red represents the part of your brain (amygdala) that is emotionally repulsed by the boredom of this post.

    Inspired by recently reading “Aspire” by Covey alumnus Kevin Hall, I’ve been curious about word etymology for terms we use daily. As a Johnson & Johnson colleague jokes, “words matter… because they mean things.” I’d go a step further and suggest that almost no word we use has truly universal meaning. What happens in your amygdala when I say ROCK is indisputably different than what happens to your best friend. I started this bullet with the word “inspired,” for instance. What did you hear? The word originates from Latin for “breath life” and even has some spiritual origins (infusing someone with God). For that matter, a “coach” didn’t originate to mean “someone who pushes you to achieve your highest potential,” but “someone who takes you from where you are to where you want to be” (origin: the region in Hungary, Kocs/kocsi, where stage coaches originated). “Life coach,” a more recent term, is probably truer to that definition than the coaches we remember from agonizing athletic moments. Simply put, since words have varied meaning, the “law of averages” suggests that even slightly MORE categorization words can increase precision.  

  • While presenting at the Institute for Humor Studies, someone asked about who “classifies” a video’s topic… I explained that the creator did. Not the viewer. NOT the viewer. It made me pause because it’s actually quite arrogant to think I can classify my video better than a dozen viewers. Lesson: the category has an inherent bias by the creator: its intention might be radically different from the way it’s received, and we viewers should help decide if it’s actually “comedy” or “education.” Furthermore we need to get far more specific than these arbitrary and broad categorizations.
  • Finally, Jan, a long-time member of the WVFF “back row” (the people brave enough to comment below, and tell me to stop being so damned long-winded and random like this post). Jan writes, “It’s a shame you tube doesn’t have something in the profile settings that allows users to list what your channel is about that connects directly to an index with a list of categories.”
So let’s put all this together. If YouTube invited a creator to be more specific about the video category, here are a number of theoretical benefits:
  1. People could find the right content with greater ease. As Jan observes, one could search Genre: LOL, Topic: Slapstick, Subcategories: farts, boob, damaged genitalia, Ages: 14 up. Then you’d “mouse over” the creator or video to read a 144-character description such as “me and ma homies are crakin’ it up /w stuff that makes you silly LOL.” This could be crowdsourced or creator driven.
  2. By asking the creator to specify the video, it would provide them further clarity on their “category,” which is derived from the Latin “categoria” or Greek “katagegorein” (and these ironically meant “to speak against, declaim or accuse.” This could provide a “feedback loop” to the creator that might be more constructive than the comment “I’d like to defecate in your mouth” (one of my favorite viewer-generated responses.
  3. By inviting the user/viewer to co-categorize, we’d increase the accuracy of a video search. Humans know the difference between “Tom Cruise” and “Cruise missiles,” and Google seems to do better at emulating that than YouTube.
  4. Google is trying to organize the world’s information, yet is failing mostly in the field of video. Until technology can transcribe the spoken word and detect visuals contained in a video (right down to facial coding), we’ll need human workarounds.
So why has the #2 search engine (YouTube) not replicated the sophisticated model of search from its parent (Google)? I first explained this to myself and others as “they’ll get there.” But since it’s been lagging for many years, I’ve had to reconsider that explanation (from the Latin explanare, meaning “to smooth out, to make clear”).
This image will satisfy your subconscious desire to know what happens if you search "search" on the #2 search engine. You're welcome.
Eye-tracker studies reveal that our eyes tend to lock on YouTube’s search bars (can’t source but trust me). Yet I can not find sufficient evidence that search drives a significant portion of views. On the contrary, only 5 percent of my views in the past 5 years appear generated by YouTube search (and .26 percent via Google search). In 2011 those numbers have gone DOWN not up by percent (3.8 and .14 respectively). Before you jump to conclusions on this data, realize I’m far from the norm. If Neilsen and Comscore and other third-parties proclaim YouTube as the #2 search engine (after Google, and before Yahoo and MSN) than search volume is extraordinarily high. I’d be thrilled to know the ratio of views on YouTube initiated by search versus other forms of “discovery” (links, subscribers, related videos, spotlights, features).
Percentage of search aside, the quality of video search is simply not as “smart” as Google. So we have a vicious cycle or what Prentice might call a “negative feedback loop.” Video search (for me) is declining as a percentage of how my videos are “discovered” perhaps because search isn’t effective. And unless my videos are an anomale (and the rest of videos are indeed search driven) we might not see the emphasis on improving it. Certainly this will change as advertisers disproportionately reward video views driven by search: for instance, if I’m marketing a medication for “restless leg syndrome” I’m far more interested in targeting those people searching “restless leg syndrome medications” on YouTube than those watching Ray William Johnson. Even if viewing him my cause restless leg syndrome.
Alternatively one could argue that video, by virtue of its heritage, is something we receive not search out. We have a nearly 80-year-old habit of being doled content like fatties at an all-you-can-eat buffet. If that’s true (and I hope it’s not), than YouTube is less of a search engine and more of a network (despite its vigilance to be seen as a platform).
sectorendala, sectorendilla, sectorendalla, sector, endalla
Check it. When you search "search" on Google, Dogpile trumps Google.
And I’ll end on this… I probably spent a couple hours on this post, but I’m too lazy to categorize it. Irony?

YouTube 5.0 Begins

Netflix is watching “GOOG” and its potential use YouTube to stream longer form content. See WSJ blog. And read about YouTube’s move to live streaming ala Ustream and Blogtv.

I’d say the concern is significant, and this marks the fifth phase of YouTube…

Phase 1: Pirate Sharing (2004-2006)
Phase 2: Amateurs & Community (2005-2009)
Phase 3: Video Search Platform (2009-2011)
Phase 4: Mainstream and Semipro Content Aggregator and producer (2010-2012)
Phase 5: Live Programming and Video Anywhere (2010-2013)

These phases aren’t precise in their beginning and end, and each builds on another. So technically there’s still plenty of pirated content, but far less and harder to find. And amateur hour isn’t quite over, but YouTube’s emphasis is on music, web series and professional content.

YouTube has not touched long-form content significantly (check the latest comScore data to see that Hulu and Netflix dominates when you rank websites and platforms based on view duration). Also find some important comparison graphics to see what’s at stake for the ustreams and others.

But since YouTube, like Google, is the “first stop” for most people searching for video content, it has a natural advantage to be the default 3-4 screen streaming media player.

This 5th stage, of course, takes GOOG and YouTube into unchartered territory that requires:
-Device dominance: plus for Android, but Apple still leads and Google TV is far from the new OS for televisions or web devices.
-Equity on search: can you be both a neutral video search engine and a content owner? Given difficulties licensing pro content, YouTube appears to be stepping up original content: example Next New Network purchase, and more recent news about investments in custom content).
-Better deals with production studios and networks (to overcome the barriers that cable and telcom are forging). But in the meanwhile it appears that YouTube’s focus is on broadening distribution as a platform and as a network for smaller producers.

What do you think? Is YouTube the MySpace of our time, or will it be the dominant platform and search engine for any/all video? Off the latter, what’s it need to do to maintain relevance?

Microsoft Catching Up: Bing and Video

Thanks to “Seeing Through the Windows” author Preston Gralla and SFGate’s Matt Rosoff for pointing out what I’d missed.

While YouTube/Google retains its massive lead in online-video viewing, Microsoft is catching up.

I’ve written about comScore’s newest rankings, but failed to recognize that Microsoft quietly crept from #7 (last month) to #2. That fact went largely unnoticed by many of us… is it a variation or a trend? Neither Gralla or Rosoff offer, from my perspective, a solid explanation for Microsoft’s sudden ranking. Perhaps people are using Bing’s video search engine? But why?

This hardly makes sense to me. Today the Bing video site featured Jessica Black (Friday) song. It might have been titled, “search what was popular on YouTube last month.”

Online Video in 2011: Ready for Drama?

Friends, online-video is going to be a fun storm in 2011 as the drama has just begun. It’s the first official business day of 2011, and that prompted me to awaken at 3:00 a.m. with great curiosity. I spent 4-plus hours diving into dozens of articles and blogs, and have wrapped it all up nicely for you. It’s my late Christmas gift.

Here are “things to watch” in early 2011, including some recent articles. See also my 2011 predictions, which is a mandatory scan. This will be on the exam.

Can WebTV tame the "Big Media" Tiger?

1. The WebTV Bloodbath Is Just Beginning: Check out this killer article by Fortune’s Jessi Hempel titled “What the Hell is Going On With TV” to get a flavor for the impending drama in this space. And I quote: “Netflix, Google, and Apple can’t just swoop in and disrupt the $85 billion home entertainment industry. The challenge lies in navigating the entrenched interests that make up the television business.” Jessi’s piece reminds us that only a 1/10th of a percent of people have left cable television for the web, yet Microsoft says 42% of the premium Xbox Gold users who rely on it to view video are watching more than an hour a day, or 30 hours in a month. “If you’re a cable provider, that should be terrifying,” says Forrester analyst James McQuivey. The author points to Clicker.com as one I’d watch closely… a made-for-web TVGuide and search tool that allows you to locate various shows (Modern Family) and select viewing options: free, per episode or subscription. But Jessi likes Comcast as a driver of a mature online-video model because it protects the financial interests of content providers (as well as its own). I sadly believe she’s right given the confusing and frustrating state of online-video on television today (which she likens to Internet circa 1998).  Fortunately we’ve got two forces to keep Comcast motivated: consumer demand and willing startups ready to meet that demand. And he, Comcast has been asked to be cool (see Bloomberg/Businessweek article).

Click image to read more of Fortune's "What the HELL is Going on With TV"

2. Online-Video Platforms Continue to Get Commoditized, Then Interesting. Frankly I’ve never been as interested in the boring infrastructure supporting online video as I am the marketing, community and content that sits on top of it (where the air is easier to breath). But Streaming Media’s Dan Rayburn explains it well. Sure the space is commoditized, but just because YouTube is free doesn’t mean online-video platform vendors can’t charge a premium for more flexible solutions that can scale and provide unique functionality. According to Rayburn’s “Commoditization Is Not a Dirty Word,” vendors are shifting from talking about how they encode or embed (yawn) and how they a) integrate with ad networks and analytics, b) deliver the right video content to the right user on the right device. That makes sense, and I would not underestimate the power of a platform that meets the needs of creators and advertisers (David Russek‘s SevenEcho, for instance, is one of the best-kept secrets for storytellers and brands). There’s a wide opening for a video platform which better meets the needs of creators and advertisers (see MediaPost article by WatchMojo’s Ashkan Karbasfrooshan). The challenge, of course, is that today traffic (not content) is king, and YouTube continues to reign by miles (comScore). Thanks to music videos, Vevo and Blip.tv continue to grow — but still small fish.

3. YouTube Community Still Alive. Is YouTube a thing, destination or community? Yes, depending on whether you live there 2 hours a day or slide over to see the latest viral clip of search for a meme. Community is still alive, and the eager and weird folks from StirFryTV are cooking up a “YouTour,” a YouTube Tour which starts in Orland on a Jan. 18 event. It will include YouTube allstars Michael Buckley, Shane Dawson and CoolGuyWithGlasses. We’re not sure if John Basedow will be sneaking onto the YouTour RV, and going shirtless to each event to pitch his “Take Control Fitness Package” (making the rest of us feel like fat asses). Paul (odcasting101) remains alive with his YouTube Gathering ning. There’s a San Antonio, Texas YouTube gathering planned in June 17-June 19). While YouTube’s Creator blog has gone dry, it points to 488 YouTube gatherings listed on Meetup.com (mostly tiny ones). I just discovered YTGatherings on Twitter too, and it alerts us to such events like Jake & Amir’s Toronto event on Jan. 27, 2011. I’d be surprised if a YouTube event doesn’t spring up as part of the popular Austin, Texas SouthBySouthwest event March 11-20. After all, there are several YouTube and online-video sessions as part of the programing and Felicia Day is keynoting.

4. Video Search Will Suck Less Get Better. Sure we’ve been saying that for years, but ThinkJose’s Jose Castillo explains why video search sucks: “The internet was never designed as a platform for video… the basic structure and platform we are using to consume visual data is an outdated system originally used for sending text messages between universities.” Castillo reminded me that Blinkx.com is still around, and that Microsoft’s Bing search has a mouse-over playback (and don’t tell YouTube, but I think Bing is curating better with a homepage of videos that I regard as more relevant than what I’m finding on YouTube). He also points to CastTV, which provides blended results from YouTube, CNN, Amazon and other sites. See also Clicker.com (point one).

5. Video Greetings Will Get More Awkward in 2011: Cheesy Christmas video greetings were hot, with some being fabulous and others being downright painful. They didn’t stop, as evidenced by Profnet’s stunningly awkward 2011 New Years video. I hate to say this, but I think we’ve only begun to see how low corporate video-greeting cards can go. Sure this isn’t an “industry shaker,” but it sure will be fun to watch.

6. Video Destinations Rival YouTube: When I pop into a few well curated online-video sites, I increasingly believe YouTube, while still growing in views, will lose share in 2011. Check out Bing’s site and you’ll find a piece about Mona Lisa’s eye codes by NBC (saw it on TV last night), the “No” baby (that has viralinated), and how to break your soda habit via Howcast. That’s far more relevant than what I’m finding when I browse YouTube’s inhumanely edited topic areas, or surf my bloated subscription box. Yahoo Video is still luke warm, but I’d expect it to steal share with the shift away from consumer-generated content in March. AOL Video is still Revverish (insert tumbleweed and sound of crickets) but getting better. While YouTube focuses on being a platform, being relevant on television and mobile, and hopefully searching video better.

7. Damn We Need Curators. It’s simply not possible to “browse” for good videos on YouTube anymore, although perhaps Google will consider some of my unsolicited New Years Resolutions for YouTube. Ultimately I’m not likely to find good content surfing the “most viewed” on YouTube (now dominated by a few niche “web stars” that appear to be “crowd sourced” by a tiny segment of apparently stoned teenage video enthusiasts). Instead, we’re more likely to find it via curators like eGuiders. Why aren’t we seeing more curators (see NYTimes blog on subject from last year). For instance, ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott carefully selected some fantastic viral highlights from last year. That was more helpful to me than combing through YouTube. I wrote a lot about curating in Beyond Viral; go buy that dang book so I’m not the laughing stock of Wiley. Hitwise’s Bill Tancer saw the migration of early YouTubers to curated content sites a year ago, but it’s been oddly quiet.

8. Online Video Gets More Social. I didn’t hit that hard enough in my 2011 predictions, so let me point to Hitwise’s report about Facebook driving the social engine of the Internet. Basically Facebook’s growth hasn’t slowed down, and MySpace and Bebo are crumbling. YouTube, surprisingly, is flat relative to Facebook. I’m telling you… watch for Facebook offering revenue sharing and see if the YouTube community shifts over to Facebook. Daneboe’s cracked Facebook via the insanely popular Annoying Orange with nearly 7 million “likes” (compared to only 1.5 million YouTube subscribers despite his 423 million views). Currently Daneboe uses Facebook to alert fans to a video, then streams it on YouTube where he generates a percentage of income. How easy would it be for him to start using Facebook if the company revenue shared? Most of us YouTubers haven’t cracked Facebook yet, and it’s high time for that. NYTimes Tech Blogger, Miguel Helft, also points to Clicker.com (someone’s doing good PR) for socializing video.

9. You’re Going to Pay More for Broadband: Video will soon dominate the percent of Internet traffic (see 2011 “Year Ahead In IT,” point 6). You .o5 percent of cable snippers are draining the economic system like illegitimate welfare recipients or those pesky entitled Boomers looking for social security payouts. Sure maybe there will be a poor-man’s broadband solution, but the rest of us are going to pay. With broadband suckers like Netflix and the new Skype iPhone Video one-to-one apps, do you honestly think telecommunication firms and broadband providers aren’t going to get wise? The U.S. is 18th in the world for speed, and we can bet that’s going to get some attention despite the historical year-over-year flat cost of broadband.

10. Google Going Beyond YouTube. Despite the GoogleTV Sony/Logitech launch running into a mix of praise and hiccupsreworking software and media-company resistance, we can expect Google to go beyond YouTube in 2011. Check out Information Week’s predictions on what Google will do this year. Among them: going Hollywood. That appears a difficult but inevitable play for Google to “organize the world’s information,” when you recognize “big media” as a large, sustainable chunk of it.

Finally take note of NewTeeVee’s Liz Shannon Miller’s poll about what force will really impact the space. Most votes are not for Hulu, Netflix, TV Everywhere, Apple or Google… most of us believe the real “shake up” or transformation will be driven by… something else. If YouTube and Facebook’s relative overnight success taught us anything about this still-maturing market, it’s that where there are problems and unmet consumer needs, there’s always something sudden and new that can keep it interesting.

YouTube Tips From Lawyers

Prompted by Google’s statement that YouTube vows “quicker, tougher copyright enforcement,” ReelSEO’s Grant Crowell tackled this issue on a listenable podcast titled “YouTube Copyright Tips,” with the help of David Michail and Daliah Saper (check 5-minute mark of this video to hear Saper’s illuminating story about what I’ll call a “social-media impaired judge”).

Crowell’s got a voice for radio and a light, funny style.. and he’s passionate about the cross-section of legal issues and the online-video medium. In keeping with the 12 days of Christmas, Grant provides 15 tips that are valuable even if obvious and painful to read/hear.

Increasingly even song parodies are coming under fire, and some companies are looking to make examples of people doing even innocuous things like putting together a “Google Images” collage. Even the Hitler parodies are under fire.

Here’s a link to Google’s Public Policy Blog on the subject, where YouTube is making 4 specific steps:

  1. New and improved 24-hour action on “reliable” takedown requests- per DCMA. I’ve noticed when my kids post their claymation videos using pop songs they’ve purchased on iTunes, their videos vanish quickly in what appears to be an automatic (thumbprint technology) bust.
  2. Preventing terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in autocomplete (SNL clips, justin bieber).
  3. Improve AdSense anti-piracy review: expelling violators (which would include YouTube Partners).
  4. They will give authorized content better accessibility in search results. That’s a big deal, and will negatively impact those video creators who have benefited from search mistakes. For instance, someone searching Keisha is probably looking for a Keisha video not a parody video.

So let’s use an example… Here’s what I got searching “keisha” on Google –an intentional misspelling of Kei$ha). Neither appears legit. One’s a rip, and the other’s a website that’s embedding a video. Will these sustain, or will Google direct people to the “singer’s” videos?

Keisha search result on google
What I found searching “Keisha” on Google.

Some key points from Grant and his lawyers:

  • To protect your own work, you should register/trademark your content (sorry, we’re a bit lazy here but thanks)
  • Even small stuff (using an image or brief clip of song) is a copyright infringement and can be penalized by death.
  • Check out legalvideoguides (Grant’s channel) or get a lawyer friend (most attorneys are eager and willing to be friends since they don’t tend to have any).
  • While you may be protected under “fair use,” you’re risking hundreds of dollars… to hundreds of thousands of dollars in and infringement suit. It can be expensive to defend.
  • Under DCMA, most creators can issue their own “take down” notice to YouTube to get them removed. So while that often means getting attacked by Viacom, it’s also a resource that YouTubers can use if their own stuff gets ripped by trolls… happens to me quite often. A ripped version of my stupid “head board” parody got more views than my own video, and I believe YouTube yanked it by my request. Usually I don’t bother.
  • Read the “terms of use” and understand the process (yawn).

I’ll leave you with what may be an example of Google/YouTube’s policy #4…. Note that a search for SNL results provides #1 ranking to NBC, with a lower ranking (but thumbnailed) video from Buckley… Of course it’s also possible that we humans have taught Google to rank NBC because the slow-load & intensive advertising experience is so much superior to the ripped SNL clips that “made YouTube” (he says sarcastically).

Clueless Author Reveals Online-Video Secrets

So I do this interview at Blogworld not realizing it’s friggin’ Mark Robertson of REELSEO that’s interviewing me. Since the question of video SEO comes up, I mention Mark during the interview, referring to him as the authority on video search-engine optimization… after all he helped with the chapter on video SEO in “Beyond Viral.” Then the interviewer smiles, says “yeah that Mark knows his stuff,” and turns his name badge around. So yeah, I have one of those Alzheimer’s moments where I realize I’m talking about Mark TO Mark. To make matters worse, the camera man was Daisy Whitney’s husband, who I had dinner with before. Missed that too. Jeremy Scott interviewed me via phone… he’s a hoot. So I’m going to remember him as long as… I can.

I’m lucky I remember my kids names. All three of them. Wait- four.

Phone-Driven Television Arrives

Ladies and gentlemen I present the future of The Boob Tube: we shift from our cable boxes and laptops to…

HDTV viewing driven by words you search via your exo-brain (you need to stop calling it a phone, or else it’s going to get a complex). Yes your phone is your remote, and your television is your monitor. It’s going to happen just a bit slower I’d like, but *BAM* before you know it… you’ll forget I predicted it today because it will be as common as your toaster and microwave (note the lack of a hybrid toasterwave). I’ll thank you, dear WVFF back-rower, for reminding me of my psychic abilities next year.

Mac had a shot with the omni-present iPhone and the affordable AppleTV, but kinda blew it. The AppleTV wasn’t poised as a companion device to the phone, and that was its tragic flaw. Likewise it’s all so damned exclusive. Now the Android plus GoogleTV? That’s a game changer, friends. Let those green little robots march into my heart.

Before we examine some bold interim solutions, let me be “authentic” and “transparent” and disclose my biases. We have a home full of Macs. Two desktops, three laptops, two iPhones, three iTouches, one iPad, two old-style AppleTVs and one new one. And that’s not counting the Mac Mini and older desktops that are taking up closet space. As my debt can attest, the Apple bastards have never given me a thing for free (so I try to conceal these toys in my videos where possible). But I theoretically want to see Mac win, and I’m not seeing it. Similarly I’m biased in favor of Google since I do make a non-trivial amount of income from YouTube advertising around the 4-6 million views I get monthly. But I’ll try to be impartial.

On the road to smartphone-driven television viewing:

  • Roku, TiVo, AppleTV… they got us partially there. But none of these devices harness the power of man’s best friend (after dogs): the “phone.”
  • Today one of the first Google Television products will be announced by Logitech. Junien Labrousse, Logitech’s Executive VP of Products, is holding an invite-only media event in NYC at 3:oo p.m., presumably to launch the highly anticipated Revue. Perhaps it will invite people to use their phones as a remote, but I doubt it.
  • Anything’s got to be better than Sony’s remote-controlled television. Ian Douglas, Gadget Guru for the UK’s Telegraph, aptly suggested it was designed blindfold, in the 1980s (screen shot below courtesy of Engadget). The gamer in your family may love this, but it’s no flying automobile.
The 1980s called. It wants its remote back.

You may be surprised that I’ve written precious little about Google TV… simply because until now it’s all been hype and imagination. But three things changed in the past weeks:

  1. Dean Gilbert, who worked on GoogleTV, is now heading YouTube’s content partnerships. He’s joined by Robert Kyncl, former VP of content acquisitions from Netflix. That, to me, suggests that Google is poising to position YouTube on the new platform.
  2. We mean no harm to your planet.

    Newsweek ran a Grisham-like story about how Android is leapfrogging iPhone on the “next big screen” we call smart phones. It’s an interesting article to read, even if you didn’t just watch the fascinatingly depressing “The Social Network” movie. Where there are lawsuits, there’s game-changing innovation… and Newsweek documents the mad rush of lawyers chasing this disruptive market changer.

  3. Finally, we’re getting a taste of the toys. Sony will certainly claim its role, and Logitech may sell a mess of boxes… like Roku or TiVo. Of course the toys aren’t nearly as important as the BIG change.

Friends, GoogleTV plus Android equals comfortable viewing of searchable content, not from overpriced remotes, but… the smart phone you wear like a wrist watch in the 1970s.

Take the brief GoogleTV tour and imagine how your television interface will change, where you’re no longer a prisoner of the horrendously archaic cable-TV boxes brought to you by lazy monopolies like Verizon Fios and Comcast. Man I just want to give a crotch shot to the entire cable industry separating studios/networks and my television set. You’ll see that the Dish Network will have a distinct advantage as this model spreads, and our relationship with the television will fundamentally change.

Have a look at Logitech’s non-viral, viral video, featuring a television set with an eye, two feet, and a desperation to be relevant again. Video consumption will shift back to the biggest monitor in the house (that $2000 HDTV collecting dust), and the device powering it won’t be a laptop… they’re too clunky and hot, even if they’re far harder to lose than the chewed-up remote control.

I knew my “future of online video” chapter of Beyond Viral (Wiley) would have a limited shelf life. Here’s what you can expect in the next 6-18 months.

  1. Short-Term Adoption Minimal: Near-term purchases of GoogleTV devices will be minimal, as the “unwashed masses” would use a TRS-80 with their televisions if their cable provider told them that’s what they get. I’d like to say THIS is the Christmas season where web-TV becomes mainstream like those magical moments of precious technology adoption… CD players, DVD players, GPS devices. But I’m tired of being over zealous on that prediction like I did in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
  2. I proclaim 2011 the “Year of Smart Phones Marrying TV Sets.” Later in 2011 we’ll cross the… oh I hate using the term… “tipping point,” where consumers will want to drive their giant monitors (television sets) using their “exo-brains” (Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams), also called “smart phones.” Since the cable providers will sleep through this era like Blackberry snoozed the “smart phone” alarm clock, this will favor pairs of devices: iPad and AppleTV, Android phone and GoogleTV. I’m betting on the latter, and we’ll see Mac getting Microsofted and Microsoft buying anything that offers it a shortcut back to relevance. This TV/smart phone revolution should be especially interesting when we see “dueling banjos of remote controls” — between teenagers and their parents. Sure some will prefer to enjoy the tablet as a giant remote, but the kids have it occupied playing Angry Birds and Zombies versus Plants. Besides, it’s all covered with jam and peanut butter.
  3. Search will drive views… people won’t passively roam stations, getting stuck on “forebrain freezing” infomercials. Instead they’ll type the names of shows, actors, and even obscure strings of words like “knife, annoying, orange.” Where we once surfed stations, we’ll now search shows, actors and words… and remain mostly indifferent to where, when and how they appear. Sit with that thought for a moment… it’s kinda revolutionary.
  4. Even while search drives views, screen real estate will continue to influence us. Just as those “related videos” cause us to wonder into an online-video binge on YouTube…  what GoogleTV does to serve related content will, in effect, possess us with a stronger hold than any television show or network. We may start our “television binge” with one intent, but the surrounding real estate will suck us into that comma-induced trance we love about today’s television.
  5. So… the more things change, the more they will stay the same. Still I’m going to bet that search-enabled consumers will democratize television. This gives independent content creators (especially those with existing audiences) a distinct advantage… at least until the big guys adapt to the medium.

Note: Added Oct. 7, 2010. Bobjenz predicted tablet/television combo on a guest post last year (see his post). When he pointed that out, I playfully edited his comment, which he didn’t find funny. Sorry, Bob. Note that Bobjenz also points out in that guest post the importance of regular uploads, which is perhaps my biggest and most tragic lapse over the past year.

A Blog Post That Doesn’t Mention iPad (Video SEO)

Via Larry Kless, here’s Mark Robertson, the King of Video SEO, sharing some tips about video codecs, encoding, and other things we don’t quite understand… but know are important.

Until you or your agency are doing all these things as prescribed by Dr. Robertson, we recommend getting all of your content on YouTube. Turns out Google indexes YouTube videos, um, pretty darned well.