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.


  • 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.

The Onion Lampoons Viral. Tide Runs With It.

Last week, The Onion ran a wonderfully fictitious article by “Fred Hammond, Director of Digital Video and Social-Media Ad Integration, Tide Detergent.” Onion, you had me at hello. The desperately hipster editorial promotes his own low-involvement brand, and all of the cool (yet faux) social-media programs that try to engage Tide customers. Clearly Fred has read my “Stupidest Article on Social Media Ever.”

My absolute favorite line: “Go to Tide’s website and hang there for a while. It’s a totally awesome place to go and play online games and meet other cool fans of Tide products.” Because we always want to hang out with fellow customers of our brands.

The article opens by making reference to an “awesome new web video by Tide detergent.” A video that “everyone is discussing it on popular blogs and linking to it from social media platforms.” Sadly, there is no such video.

But in a self-deprecating and timely display, Tide and Digitas filled that void. Embedded below, please find Tide’s very own lampoon, which has already gotten some industry trade magazine attention (MediaPost). Per The Onion, Tide provides a hip rocker, puppets and groovy 80s music. Just 10K views so far, but that beats the ExpoTV product reviews littering Tide’s YouTube channel with views as low as 15. Even more notable is the sheer number of positive “likes” the video has so far (even though we know where some of those are coming from). And the video ends well like those rare SNL skits. Meet the bird in the laundry basket who tweets the finale.


Some brands have cringed from The Onion satire. Others would have ignored it and moved on. Tide and Digitas get credit for embracing it, and riding it fairly quickly — especially by P&G standards. Despite my temporary Twitter hiatus, I couldn’t help but notice an @nalts tweet by Digitas’ John McCarus (who I met while working on a different P&G brand). His self congratulatory tweet just fits the whole thing beautifully.

Now for the learning for brands and social media folks:

  • Laugh at yourself. It makes others laugh with you, instead of at you.
  • Humanize the brand as being self deprecating
  • Move quickly (this wouldn’t have worked as well if it took one more week to post)
And the final lesson is revealed in this priceless quote by the fake author: “Everybody in my office has been going crazy for this video. It’s practically all we’ve been talking about.” Do everything you can to avoid drinking your own Koolaid and thinking/communicating that your brand is way cooler than it is. Let other people tell me how cool your brand is. 
In appreciation of this campaign I promise to: a) buy Tide, b) give Digitas props, c) not sue P&G for infringing on my Nalts logo.


How To Behave at YouTube or Other Social-Media Gathering: Vidcon 2011

I really don’t care much for Dear-Abby-wanna-be advice, and I’m somewhat appalled by such concepts as “finishing school.” People should be themselves, but there are certain behaviors (like not sipping your soup from the bowl) that can be selectively adopted to improve the way one “fits in” certain social situations.

This post is kinda a “must read,” and shares 8 major tips on being more comfortable at a YouTube (or other type of social-media meetup). It has some important “extras” on how to interact with someone you regard as “famous.” These points are based on my own feelings of being at gatherings where I’m regarded as famous, which is both exciting and extremely anxiety-provoking. You can help make the “stars” more comfortable, and endear yourself to them by considering these tips. Finally, there’s a list of characters who lurk at gatherings, and you don’t want to be one of them. 🙂

What’s great about YouTube and social media is that you can hang even if you lack personal social skills or comfort in large group settings. Most attendees (except themightythor1212) haven’t attended a live “meetup” with fellow viewers and “stars,” so their natural social anxiety causes them to act in ways that are perceived as odd. The sad result is that they feel “left out” or isolated in the crowd, and end up blaming themselves or others for the lousy experience.

So here are some tips for attending a live gathering of the YouTube community, based on my own mistakes and success at dozens of them. Trust me on this fact: I may thrive on the thrill of a meetup, and may look quite comfortable. In truth, I find them sometimes painfully uncomfortable and exhausting beyond description. So I’m empathetic for those that either avoid them (you know who you are) or come across as looking odd, desperate, egotistical or annoying. I’ve been there.

Tips for Enjoying a YouTube Meetup (or similar setting) and Not Annoying Yourself or Others.

  1. Be Yourself. That seems easy enough, but it can be tempting to morph to the occasion. These tips are not about changing who you are, but rather what attitude you carry and what choices you make.
  2. Resist Hierarchy. As I mention in my atypically long “Is YouTube a Community” video, consider yourself as a member of an egalitarian community. Although some are more recognized, they’re not better or worse than you. You may like some, and loathe others. But we’re all from and returning to the same place where rank doesn’t exist.
  3. Avoid Promotion. Some show up in costume and hand out fliers with your channel name. It’s understandable but awkward. Bring cards, but don’t see the gathering as a place to build your audience via attendees. It doesn’t work well, and you’ll miss better opportunities as a result (like making friends or collaborating).
  4. Float, Don’t Wait in Lines. When you see someone you admire, it’s tempting to wait in a line or linger for their attention. It’s a horrible use of time, and it comes off as needy. Instead, look for natural places to speak to them. Wander through the crowd and start short conversations with people who are just as likely as you to be eager for contact… especially if someone looks shy and alone.
  5. Be Brief, Be Memorable and Be Gone. When you meet someone you admire, be brief. They’re probably overwhelmed, and others are probably waiting for a turn to chat. If you dominate them, you’ll stress them out, and frustrate others. Instead, give them a big smile and introduce yourself.
  6. Reintroductions Are Welcome. Even if you’ve met someone before, it’s possible they don’t recognize you. We all meet so many people at these events, that it’s hard to remember people. I always appreciate it when someone briefly refreshes me on their name, instead of assuming I remember them. It’s very painful to be in a conversation desperately trying to recall to whom I’m speaking. And don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t remember you. I once told The Gregory Brothers, “I’ve always been wanting to meet you,” and they responded with “we’ve already met.”
  7. Respect “Inside Groups.” If a crowd of YouTube creators are getting together for a meal or drinks, be careful about assuming you’re invited. It can appear elitist, but sometimes they want to hang out with people the know, and feel “stranger drain.” Don’t take it personally. I go out of my way to ensure that I’m not “glomming” into a spontaneous sidebar event (drinks, dinner, lunch) even when I am invited by someone I know well.
  8. On Meeting “Stars…” This is important, since many are probably motivated by the chance to see their favorite YouTube “star” in person. So these points are specific to meeting someone “famous.”
    • Treat them as a neighbor. These people aren’t famous. You just recognize them, and they’ve been seen many times. They’re projecting confidence, but they’re probably feeling far more awkward than you. Help them out.
    • Be original. Most people who meet them shout their name, or mention their most popular video. It’s refreshing when they hear something new. Mention an obscure video that you liked. I’m always more happy to talk about some ancient video versus “Farting in Public.”
    • Be cool. Thank them. Most people they meet are seeking something, and a simple acknowledgement of their effort/talent is refreshing.
    • Be brief: See tip 5 above about brevity. If you value an autograph, get one. But to non-celebrities that feels weird as much as flattering. Photos are fun to take, but asking them to do a custom “shout out” on video won’t really help grow your audience.
    • Watch for cues. If their eyes are shifting or they begin walking away, let them run. There’s usually a few odd balls that we discuss during or after the gathering, and you don’t want to be one of them. There’s nothing more wonderful than the words, “I can see there are a lot of people that want to meet you, so here’s a business card (or channel name) and it was a pleasure meeting you.”

Here are some character types that you don’t want to avoid becoming:

  • The Watcher: She meets a star, and then stares at him/her. It’s as if she’s watching a video instead of meeting a person. She forgets that she’s interacting with a human not a video.
  • The Attention Seeker: He’s got an odd outfit on, and he’s pimping his channel. He’s “memorable,” but it’s not a fond memory.
  • The Personal-Space Violator: He stands uncomfortably close for a period that feels like eternity. He probably has bad breath.
  • The Fame Troll: He resents the stars, and gazes upon them with disdain. He doesn’t realize that the star is far more uncomfortable about the fame than he is resentful.
  • The “You Don’t Recognize Me?” Lady: She’s in disbelief that more people don’t know who she is. She expects everyone she’s met to remember her, and is likely to quiz you about her recent videos to ensure you’ve been watching.
  • The eMail Martyr: He wrote his favorite YouTuber an e-mail and didn’t get a response. He’s taken it personally, instead of realizing that it’s impossible to keep up on e-mail.

Finally, have fun and feel good about yourself. Don’t over think the situation and trust your instincts unless they’re poor. If you want a REALLY good book about being comfortable in social situations check out “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds.” It’s a horrible title (“make” people like you) and I felt very superficial by buying it. But it has some wonderful advice based on neurolinguistic programming. There are ways to put someone at ease (mirroring their own demeanor) that can be a gift to yourself and the person with whom you’re interacting.

10 Commandments For YouTube Cause Marketing

The Social Media for Nonprofits conference series kicks off in SF w/ @kanter, @GuyKawasaki & @jdlasica. #nonprofit #nptech

Perfect timing for what I’d planned this week… The 10 Commandments for YouTube/Viral Marketing for Causes and Non-Profits…

1. Though Shall Not Stop With Text. If you blog, also vlog. Use video to simplify your message, and to SEO optimize it. A good video travels farther than great words.

2. Honor Thy Description. Pack cause-related videos with dense descriptions and tags, and links to websites placed prominently where they can be seen in YouTube’s truncated description.

3. Useth Thy Stigmatized Words Too. In thy language, be true to the “right” way to speak about thy cause. BUT also use words people actually search. If you’re promoting equal rights, add politically incorrect terms too.

4. You Shall Not Carry Thy Message Alone. Find those with large YouTube audiences who share your non-profit’s mission. Ask them to carry your message in their own voice. Expect not your boring video to be found and go viral.

5. Be Not Boring. In Title and Thumbnail Especially. A non-profit need not be dull. If humor, dancing, song and shock aren’t appropriate… than use emotional videos to promote sharing. Use metaphors or images to reach the hearts of viewers. Be bold, controversial, kind and uplifting. Don’t paint a hopeless situation. Fire people up with how close we are to solving your challenge, and find an entertaining way to ask them to help you reach the nearby finish line.

6. Ask Not Just For Money. Social currency is as important as cash. Just like asking for a token amount ($10) ask viewers for small gestures. A “like,” comment or “favorite” on a video is a donation that will help many others find the video, and that may be worth more than the non-social currency you call cash.

7. Focus Not on The Viral Video Idea Alone. Don’t stop with video ideas that you think may fly. Focus instead on getting the video seen via as many social mediums as possible. Ask your Facebook friends to share them, and highlight other videos related to your non-profit (even the “competitor” counter intuitively). Rather than do one “big” video, do many, many that are customized to various audiences and stakeholders.

8. Get Input Before Campaign. Ask people who are immersed in the medium for ideas. Even if they have none, they’ll be more likely to share your final work because they have “buy in.” It’s harder to say “no” when asked to spread a message if you’ve already provided some ideas before the message was cooked up.

9. Use Thy Coalition To Reach Webstars. YouTubers are bombarded with direct pleas, and begin to ignore messages (especially those via YouTube mail). Ask your advocates to reach out to YouTube “stars” via Twitter and Facebook. What top Tuber can ignore dozens of pleas mentioning his/her ne and a cause or non-profit? We all search our names on Twitter at least daily.

10. Time Thy Campaign to Project4Awesome. This Fall program spawned by the Vlogbrothers is the annual cause-awareness initiative on YouTube and even the least-viewed videos are usually seen more than the best-produced cause videos.

Rethinking Social Video

Meet Grant Crowell, a writer for ReelSEO and one of the more social guys of the medium. He’s far better at interacting with his audience than I am, and he’s got some interesting perspectives on redefining “social video.” Check out his article from a few weeks ago (which I meant to share earlier).

Here’s Grant’s definition of “social video” (which isn’t the same as viral): Social video is the blending of video with human relationships for the co-creation of value.

I like it because it’s about “Value” not viral (most viral videos offer some value, but not all value videos go viral… and that’s okay). Here’s my two cents… consider four relationships:

1) The video creator with his/her current audience.
2) The video creator’s relationship with other creators/aggregators.
3) The OTHER creator/aggregator (like a blog owner or popular YouTuber) relationship with his/her audience.
4) The potential NEW relationship between creator (1) and the audience of creator/aggregator #2.
  • The first relationship requires interacting with the audience, and nourishing it. They may well share your video for you.
  • The second relationship is probably a more direct/frequent one. Sometimes they’ll share your stuff because they find it, but nurturing a relationship with them can help. For instance, I shared Grant’s presentation here because Grant keeps in touch… and gives me little crap when I’m not responsive (and still doesn’t give up on me).
  • Finally, the original creator should ensure his/her video invites the NEW audience to join. That’s often missing in viral videos, where incremental views do little to provide the viral creator with a new sustainable audience.
So consider how you, creator, relate not just to your existing audience, but other influencers who have audiences (one-to-one). Do you spam them, or send them select content that may interest their audience. Do you beg for a “shout out” or do you offer them content & ideas that they’ll want to share? Do you stay in touch?
Second, be sure your content invites “noobs” to join you… tell them why rather than plead for a sub.
My two cents.

Pharmaceuticals and Humor? Check out the Trade Mag

So you know I like to market pharmaceuticals? I know what you’re thinking… commercials complex language and frightening “side effects.” But frankly I’d like to see all ads “fair balanced” like Rx ones.

  • “This Toyota is moving forward, but we didn’t really test the breaks.”
  • Best Buy’s convenience is over-shadowed by its higher prices and poor customer service.”
  • Or “this movie’s trailer is awesome but the plot is implausible and dull.”

Say what you’d like about “big pharma,” but if I’m gonna market…  I quite like the idea of marketing things that matter. Medicines matter (at least to me). Could they be cheaper? Sure. So could coffee. At least it’s illegal to be dishonest in this industry, and that’s kinda cool.

So anyway I’m back marketing pharmaceuticals, right, and I find this article in the industry magazine (thanks to a flurry of texts, tweets and e-mails). It’s about the FDA’s department (DDMAC) that holds pharmaceutical companies accountable to appropriate marketing laws and regulations.

There’s a fabulous quote from me in what’s a rare and refreshing example that even the Rx industry is allowed to have a sense of humor. Unless you’re into marketing molecules online (and the nuances presented by social media) you’ll perhaps not find this as darned near as witty as me. But you can always visit my little to watch inside-joke videos about the industry. It’s featuring the only video of me online that features a complete comb over (with actual head shaved).

So the picture below is of Tom Abrams speaking at a recent conference, but the trade magazine (Medical Marketing & Media, MMM) uses a file photo that must be older than some of my kids. Abrams in the director of of the Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC) and I love him as a patient but fear him as  a marketer. If you get even a warning letter from DDMAC your career can come to a swift halt. I introduced myself to him at a recent conference and told him I’d give him free online-video consulting to guide the social-media guidelines the division has been promising for a while.

So with that perhaps boring and unnecessary context, I quote from the April Fool’s edition of the magazine:

As predicted by MM&M back in February, Abrams named former Propecia marketer and viral videotrepreneur Kevin Nalty to lead a new division dedicated to policing online marketing. “The Internet is great for porn, toilet humor and cute pictures of small, furry animals,” said Nalty, “but disseminating information about prescription drugs? People, trust me — stick to fart jokes and we’ll all get along just fine.”

I can already read your comments. This post is not funny to you. So I’ll make it up by telling you my totally unrelated but funny story of my friend David.

Why Old Spice Is Killing Social Media in 2011

Okay first check out this top-10 list of social-media marketing fails and wins. I just happened to find the Canadian article titled “Top 10 social media hits and misse in 2010,” and my own video hiding in it. Can you find it? Yeah that’s me as the press secretary for Tony Hayward. The accent is fake. I’m not British.

I love the Old Spice campaign, but it’s going to cause some serious road kills in 2011. Why?

Wieden + Kennedy , the advertising agency behind Old Spice’s grand 2010 marketing campaign, turned actor Isaiah Mustafa into a household name. And they made it look easy, so now everyone’s going to want to “pull an Old Spice..” In fact I’ll have to write a new book called “Beyond Old Spice.” Caution ambitious agencies and brands… this was a major coordinated effort that involved significant media spending and crafty use of social media. It’s going to be imitated a lot in 2011 and poorly so.

Anyway I’m giggling that the Globe & Mail (Amber Macarthur) article happened to select my YouTube parody about BP to demonstrate that fail online.

You can’t imagine how weird it is to be reading about social-media marketing, and notice your video is the example.

I’m really big in Canada. I keep telling you that, and it’s like you don’t believe it. Nalts is to Canada as Jerry Lewis is to France. I’m the friggin Shanecarl Wheezyhiga of Canada.

Someone needs to put the computer down and leave Starbucks immediately, as he rapidly tumbles down the hill of unproductivity entering hour number 10. I feel the Via coursing through my veins. The irony is that I’m in the Starbucks at which I shot the exterior shot of the via sponsored video, but they wouldn’t let me tape in the store. I wonder if BP would let me tape in its lobby. Maybe the BP Canadian office.

Every Social Media Event in 2011: YIPES

Check out this mother-load of social-media events and conferences compiled by JD Lasica (yes he’s alive and kicking, thank you). If it isn’t a complete list, then there are far too many damned social-media events. If it is complete, there are still too many damed social-media events.

What’s clear to me is that it’s time to narrow not broaden the scope of “social media” conferences, and start niching into either industries, medium (blogs/video), function (PR, advertising, marketing, journalism) or specific regions. I can’t envision 500 national cross-industry internet marketing conferences in 2011, can you?

I’m staring at this list and about each event I’m thinking:

This could be the best place to network, stay current, share my goods.”

And simultaneously thinking, “this is going to be one of those awkward events with a vendor/buyer ratio of 39:1, 11 non-English speakers in each breakout room, and I’ll literally get dumber by the minute listening to some newly self-appointed social media expert.”

Perhaps I’ll just stay in a local hotel and read the Stupidest Article About Social Media ever. Hey maybe it’s time for a rewrite of this year-old piece of poetry. (Checks article). Nope, it’s all still perfectly accurate and useless.

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 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 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 (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 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 (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 (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.

Why Companies Don’t Need Social-Media Experts

Let’s face it. Social media, like digital marketing initially, has been overhyped. We don’t even need any more “social media” gurus in 2011. We just need executives and marketers who understand the channel well enough to be realistic, patient and smart. We’ve been asking “what?” and “why?” for several years now, and the big questions for 2011 are “who?” and “how?”

It’s time to get back to the basics this year, and recognize that when a CEO or marketer says “I want a popular Facebook or YouTube account,” what she probably means is this:

She wants to increase sales by: a) making her company appear contemporary, b) capitalizing on a new and efficient way to market, and c) engaging more meaningfully with her customers than is possible through advertising. But the operative word in that last sentence is “grow,” because the rest is a means to an end. Even if she’s using a very soft, educational and entertaining approach to social media, her goal is to sell. Her goal is to sell. And that’s okay.

Consider for a moment the evolution of advertising and marketing agencies (dates/credit to Big Fuel, the creators of the embedded video:

  1. Advertising Agency: The first traditional advertising agencies were established in the 1850s to help brands drive awareness through newspapers, then later radio and television. They distinguished many otherwise undifferentiated products, and taught the business community that the medium works.
  2. Direct Marketing Firm: In the 1960s through 1980s we saw direct marketing proliferate. DM or DR (direct response) agencies focused less on driving awareness, and more on generating measurable sales through accountable channels like telemarketing, direct-response mail and catalogs.
  3. Digital Agencies: From 1993 to 1999, we saw the emergence of digital agencies helping optimize the emergence of the Internet. It was the ultimate direct-response playground, a place to conduct more targeted advertising, and most importantly… an efficient way to target buyers while they were looking (searching), then engage them in custom ways that were cost-prohibitive before.
  4. Stagnation: After the bubble burst, and before web 2.0 became vogue, consumers began to protect themselves from ads through spam filters, ad blockers and simply ignoring what they could. Forced homepage takeovers and prerolls, while breaking through ad fatigue, has brought back the corporate desperation of dinner-time telemarketers and junk mail.
  5. Social Media Experts: Now we’ve got thousands of people claiming to be “social media marketing” experts, and that annoys me as a former Product Director. I want someone who understands my product, category and customers above all… and I hope they’ll come with some common sense and experience about the workings of social media. But a channel-specific “guru” can be very difficult to weave into a brand team.

Meanwhile, where does online-video marketing fit in? It has been sometimes dangerously isolated from social media, which is odd to me. Even more tragically, online-video has been buried in the “black hole” of digital media advertising. I hope a marketer can appreciate that oline-video marketing is a broader discipline than simply buying display ads (pre-rolls) or “going viral.” So where does online-video and social-media belong? And why are so few brands achieving their social media and/or online-video marketing goals?

First, some goals are unrealistic (going “viral”). More commonly, however, brands are “pushing too hard,” by trying to marry prospects before a proper courtship. Although less common, some brands have fallen to the opposite extreme. Soft, charitable education and entertainment comes at the expense of any meaningful business return.

The balance (being a “social” company or brand but also selling products or services) is difficult, hence the explosion of social-media experts that understand the medium and how marketing can play nicely. This balancing act impacts online-video as much as any other component of online-marketing or social media. Is a video designed to capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of the largest possible audience? Or is it built to capture the attention of prospects, and propel them from awareness to sale (and even loyalty and advocacy)?

The answer, of course, is yes. Video can and should do all of those things. Although that requires a strategy, and different video content for various stages of the “funnel.”

This video below (an oldie but goodie) speaks to the need of a “customer engagement” (CE) agency or specialist, and I would contend that the CE term is more fitting than social media. Customer engagement what companies want and need, and online video (as well as social media) is a way to do it. Companies don’t need a “social media” guru, they simply need marketers and agencies who know what’s appropriate for these mediums and how to tap them efficiently and effectively.

Again, social media is just another place to market with some new and unique nuances. It’s certainly different from traditional “reach and frequency” media or the “hyper targeting” Internet as we’ve known it. While social-media marketing can complement those other forms of advertising, it’s risky to bring best-in-class advertising approaches to social media without refining them.

The bottom line is that we can be “social” and savvy about online video… without adding a lick of value to customers or the business. We can also add tremendous customer and business value without being so damned social or “viral.” So what’s the answer?

  • First, let’s remember what we’re really trying to do. We want to use social media to achieve justifiable goals: target, find, help, educate, court, convince and engage new customers.
  • This means we’re creating a social-media presence not just to “hang out and be cool” or go “wicked viral,” but to add value to both customers/prospects and our company/brand.
  • A lot of social media and online-video fits nicely into a public relations agency, even if most of them are more familiar with media influence than customers. And it’s everyone’s job not a guru, specialty agency or department (for instance, even the traditional media buyer needs to know social so they don’t turd drop in a medium where people are far less interested in “boast and push” advertising).
  • If we’re offering a really good product or service, customers will voluntarily use social media to help others find us. We can encourage that, but ultimately it’s something they’ll do to reward us, not just because we ask them to “like” on Facebook or “subscribe” to our YouTube channel.
  • Finally, there are a lot of things best-in-class “social” brands are NOT doing. They aren’t simply trying to become “popular” via social media or “viral” on YouTube. And they’re certainly avoiding the temptation to become a content creator or publisher unless it’s a necessary “means to an end.” Entertainment is not job of a brand, can’t be done well by most sales/marketing teams, and can severely detract a team from great marketing strategy and execution.
  • Great brands aren’t pimping themselves on social media. They’re trying to earn the right to introduce products or services appropriately.

I’ll get off my soap box now, and let you enjoy this animation. If you’re not careful, it might just give you ideas on how to attack the two big 2011 questions: “who” and “how.”