VidCon: Community & Online-Video Industry Morphs in July 2010 Event

This video shows Hank Green (with his lesser known 3rd Green brother) announcing VidCon, taking place July 9-11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Here’s the official VidCon website.

youtube gathering july 2010 la vidcon

For those of you familiar with the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green), I don’t need to tell you what an enormous connection they have with the vibrant and growing community of online-video. They’re funny, smart, and selfless; this week they’ll be orchestrating another “Project for Awesome,” where they encourage fellow video creators to make a video about a charity… to “reduce world suck.”

So it wasn’t surprising that they’ve attracted the “Who’s Who” of online video… literally the most-viewed and most-subscribed video creators of YouTube and beyond. Also- if you know Hank and John, you’ll know that the admission price is to cover costs, and proceeds are for charity. These guys aren’t interested in making money, but these events cost a lot to do well. So I’ve got little sympathy for those few dozen people who feel a price tag is “anti-community, man”- sing that tune to your waitress at IHOP, kids.

For you online-video industry people who are less familiar with the community side, I have one piece of advice. Attend. If I could only attend one conference this year, it would be this one.

There will be a series of professional tracks covering advertising, marketing and production. But of course you can see the “brains” of online video at any conference. This one you’ll see the brain and the heart. And you really don’t know online-video until you’ve seen the heart… watched the most-viewed amateurs interacting with the fans… seen the groundswell of enthusiasm about a medium that’s changing people’s lives… see the friendships among the talented people (and me).

The informal YouTube gatherings — like 7/7/7 — have brought hundreds and even thousands together in various cities, but this one’s actually organized and planned. So it’s likely to be a huge event. Book your hotel early, friends.

If you’re interested in speaking slots, panels or sponsorships (imagine how many videos your logo can show up on, and how many millions of times it will be seen), let Hank know or shoot me a note (I’m volunteering to help on the professional side). Much of that will be formalized by the end of January. In the mean time, follow VidCon on Twitter.

5 Ways to Make Star-Sponsored Videos Flourish on YouTube

5 tips to making sure star-sponsored videos on YouTube benefit advertisers, talent “partners” and YouTube

Daisy Whitney’s “New Media Minute” covers the ongoing story of YouTube, its partners and advertisers. Prompted by MediaWeek’s “Placement Police” article, it seems the Wild West is getting settled.

Whitney shows some of my Fox “Fringe” parodies, and discusses Hitviews, for whom I’m chief strategical officer.

med men on youtube

Here’s what I believe is “the least advertisers and YouTube partners need to know” about sponsored videos via YouTube “stars”:

  1. YouTube hasn’t yet, to my knowledge, deleted a video or terminated a partner over this. They have the right, but don’t want to alienate the portion of banwidth (partners) that is revenue producing and keeps audiences returning.
  2. It’s really unethical for an advertiser to get an idea about a YouTube “star” from Google/YouTube sales person, and then circumvent YouTube to avoid media spending. I’ve said no to the terms of one attractive ad deal when I learned that my Google advocate (who brought me to a leading brand) was being “shut out” of a deal he created. We’re still working it out.
  3. A sponsored video should never be “monetized” with additional overlay (InVideo) or Google text ads. This could create conflicting advertisers, which is good for neither YouTube or the sponsor (if you’re Coke commissioning a sponsored video, do you really want to see a Pepsi pop-up ad)?
  4. When a partner cuts a deal directly with an advertiser, the distributor (YouTube) is “shut out.” Therefore YouTube has no incentive to promote the video through a variety of means now available to other “monetized” content. This isn’t sustainable or scalable.
  5. Eventually we’ll have ways to scale programs… and ensure the partner, YouTube and advertiser benefit. One way might include a sponsor also buying InVideo ads… or other pay-per-view, pay-per-click, pay-per-impressions to help get the video scale beyond the partner’s audience. This will help a sponsor’s video with a specific partner get far more reach, and ensure that YouTube as the distributor is fairly compensated for promoting and paying that bandwidth bill.

Thanks for the congratulations, Ms. Daisy Whitney. Glad you’ve got a mess full o’ sponsors yourself, and I applaud their targeted marketing (versus the old “rent an ignored booth at the giant trade show” method).

Here’s a sneak preview of the new NaltsConsulting site. It needs some work, and the name is rather dull. But I’ve had a number of people advise on sticking with the Nalts brand.

Video Sponsorship Trends: “Cashing In” or “Selling Out”

I like this “Viral Video: Cashing In or Selling Out” by Jennifer Hollett (Canadian Globe & Mail), and not just because I’m featured in it. It’s actually a well-balanced view of the issues surrounding paid sponsorship and product placement.

dixie chicks sellout like charles trippyAs you may know, there are two different ways to make money via online video. You can share in the percent of ad proceeds based on the publisher (Revver, Metacafe, and now YouTube’s Partner Program). This is easier, but low margin. And you’re at the mercy of the publisher. Currently it would appear YouTube is selling fewer InVideo ads associated with amateur content, and I’m seeing more Google Adsense copy ads or display only. InVideo ads are far, far more profitable to YouTube and creators — selling at about $20 per thousand impressions. Advertisers get much more exposure, since the ads peek up at the bottom and are interactive (a far cry better than banners that we tend to tune out). The second way a creator can profit is by working directly with brands to feature products and services for a fair fee.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll recognize my POV on this article (worth a scan). I satirize “selling out,” but I actually think you can find a balance between helping an advertiser and entertaining. I even contend that promotion need not come at the expense of the entertainment and vice versa. That said, I do respect the opinion of Kalle Lasn, editor in chief of Adbusters magazine and author of Culture Jam. Kalle, according to the piece, feels product placement on YouTube is a sad development. Lasn says there are already between 3,000 – 5,000 marketing messages coming into the average North American brain everyday. “I don’t think we really need 5001,” he says.

The article highlights (oh I hate that word) Brandfame, which helps facilitate the interaction between creators and sponsors. I’ve also met with Placevine, which represents a number of different brands interested in tapping creators. This article references a video I made called “Viral Video Broker,” where I spoofed this industry almost two years ago exactly. (Another one of those videos I wish I had shot with a better camera, but at least I was somewhat ahead of my time… the voices were, of course, people in my offices at J&J not real weblebrities).

fortune teller

Watch for five trends in this area in 2008:

  1. Creators are going to cross the line by pushing the advertising too hard, and alienating their viewers. It will feel right for them and their sponsors, but ultimately make for a jaded bunch of viewers.
  2. Brandfame and Placevine are the signs of an emerging cottage industry that will become more vital than the labor intensive machines helping broker product placement in television and films. Online video will give brands more inventory (it’s not called the “short tail” folks), access to niche audiences, and — here’s why the legacy firms will struggle — easier scalability. You’d better make it easy for brands and creators, and take a fair portion but not excessive. Product sponsorship is the only way many brands will penetrate the vital medium of online video, because it’s a fairly ad resistant one. In the “lean forward” generation of online-video, we’ll only watch your advertising if it’s interesting or if you force us. I’d content the sustainability of the latter is weak, and you’d have trouble arguing otherwise. Enter TiVo bloink sound, or the sick delight we take shutting a browser window that “serves” a pre-roll advertising with all the tact of a bad-breathed vacuum cleaner salesman. As David Spade said as a flight attendant on SNL, “Buh bye. “
  3. The online-video sites will struggle in this area. Currently mama Google doesn’t profit if I cut my own deals with Mentos (except when Mentos flighted my video as a 30-second ad). But it’s not an area of high concern since YouTube needs to focus on scalable revenue. What happens, however, if creators join forces and agree to sell prerolls embedded in the video file… a Toyota ad pops up gently in the intros or before the “Next New Network” bumper at the end of a clip? Does YouTube take issue with this advertising that they facilitate but don’t profit on? Or is it analogous to a producer selling his show, but retaining rights to a fixed amount of the ad space (I’ve heard Ryan Seacrest does this with his show).
  4. There will be no trend four. Trend four is often wrong, which itself is a growing trend.
  5. The backlash associated with hidden sponsorship is far from over. I wish there was a law that required film makers to disclose any paid advertisers, even though I know much of the “product placement” is offered free by directors. Federal Express, for instance, does not often pay to have its boxes appear in a film. The directors want the film to feel authentic, and seek permission not pay from FedEx to avoid needing to distract viewers with a Garbagepatch Kids-like bastardization of FedEx (FoodEx). In the end, however, I feel like the video creator owes me, as the viewer, disclosure. If you’re getting paid to hold a Mountain Dew, more power to you. Just let me know, so I don’t feel like you’re being sneaky every time your camera pans a mall and I see logos.