Lately I hear childrens’ voices coming from most of our devices. And when I lose my temper, my road can be heard live in households across the globe:
My 11-year-old son speaks regularly with fellow Xbox gamers all over the planet… hopefully some are actually his age.
My 9-year-old son talks to his mates via Skype while playing Mindcraft on the PC.
My 13-year-old daughter does homework while talking with her classmates on FaceTime.
I did consider that this was just my bad parenting, but apparently my children are not alone.
According to a new Pew study, 37% of internet users ages 12-17 participate in video chats with others using applications such as Skype, Googletalk or iChat. Girls are more likely than boys to have such chats. A PC magazine story reports on the research and points to some of the new tools to facilitate live video.
The research was fielded in the first half of 2011 so it’s probably dramatically understating these activities as reflected today.
So apparently the Nalts kids aren’t too far off the norm… at least on this particular topic.
This Dan Greenberg story in MediaPost is good news to online-video advertising enthusiasts. Seems the “gap” is closing, and online video is moving into critical mass. Did I just say “critical mass”? Oh well.
Dan provides 5 reasons:
Big brands be making video content investments
Top agencies be making online video a practice/priority
Agencies are creating titles like “director of earned media” (a residual of PR)
We’re developing better metrics than fargin’ clicks. Remember that clicks are like hits (which stood for “how idiots track success”) and impressions aren’t impressions unless they make one. Don’t be a click prick.
Forrester and Nielsen are validating this approach with reports. Whatev.
Anyway this is good news to online-videophiles. Yeyy the market is catching up.
comScore’s February data once again shows Google’s dominance in the online-video market, but Facebook is catching up. It’s now the fourth-largest online-video sharing property (see Facebook’s unofficial resource for more information). Facebook, as a sharp contrast from other sites, has short bursts of viewing (far shorter durations than other properties like YouTube, Hulu or Viacom (see BroadbandTV report).
comScore has a nice presentation that shows the “radical” growth of the medium (see download), and the total people relative to streams. It seems that the longer format of professional content (basically TV shows streamed online) is attracting a greater portion of advertising today.
To me, the most interesting part of this report is the acknowledgement that advertising dollars aren’t keeping up with the increase in online-video viewing. While this is probably true for the dawn of every preceding medium (radio, television, internet), it does suggest media buyers are in need of additional adjustments of the “media mix.” This requires better planning, and more creative built for the channel.
Because media-buying agencies (representing top brands) are more comfortable with television, it’s no surprise that Hulu is serving more ads per minute streamed. It’s familiar content and an easier format. Of course advertisers should be looking not just for “comfort” and targeting, but also “reduced clutter.”
Note that YouTube is not leader in advertising delivery (when you look at “ad views”). After Hulu, Tremor Media Video Network ranked second overall (and highest among video ad networks) with 503.7 million ad views, followed by ADAP.TV (432 million) and Microsoft sites (415 million).
Fresh new data about online-video views, sharing and viewers! The source is YouTube, Next New Networks and Frank N. Magid & Associates (see press release and blog), and the data was collected between May 18 and June 4, 2010. While it’s not super fresh, it’s filling a void in the past year.
Two important take-aways: First, the audience is digging its online video. More than half of those surveyed (people who have watched Web original videos) deem them to be just as, if not more, entertaining than what they view on traditional television. Did you hear that? As good as TV. And 25% find it more entertaining than traditional television. That explains why these folks are 2.5 times more likely to be “engaged.” They’re clearly watching more sophisticated content than mine.
Now before we get too excited, clearly YouTube and Next New Networks aren’t exactly objective here. Both have something to gain from convincing advertisers that this web-video fad, like the Fushigi and pet rock, is here to stay. However there are two things that make me inclined to trust the data: First, hopefully someone with a website as boring as Frank Magid’s is keeping an eye on the methodology and sample. Secondly, YouTube/Google almost NEVER shares data. So that’s a big deal.
I’m never sure what to do with excerpts like “four out of ten share videos,” because I’m more interested in how often they share. For instance, I’d be among the percentage of people who has seen my dentist in the past year (hey look I made him a website: drjeffreymercando.com). But that overlooks the reality that I’d not seen him for several years prior to my visit last month. If you surveyed me if I floss, I’d say yes. But how often?
The second interesting fact about this collective study is that online-video viewers are indeed young: mostly 18-34. There was no shame in the way YouTube/NNN and Magid depicted the demographic of online-video viewers. Rather than trying to dance around one of the leading concerns advertisers have about any new medium (that their target isn’t there)… YouTube & Next New Networks tell it like it is:
“According to recent Nielsen reports, the average age of television viewers is over the age of 50. However, this research revealed that 18-34 year old Web original viewers constituted 65% of the National sample, 73% of the YouTube sample, and 90% of Next New Networks’ sample. Not only does the coveted 18-34 demographic spend many hours viewing video online on a regular basis, but the research shows that this time spent with online video and Web original content leads to less time with TV. Web original video viewers spend 13% less time with TV than non-viewers.”
So these fellas are kinda saying, “yeah we’re not television… but our audience is more engaged, and it’s that coveted 18-34 year olds who spend a lot of money.” And then it tosses in the fact that for these peeps, television isn’t growing. This demo, according to the research, is 13% less likely to watch the boob tube.
I present this cautiously. I recall the advertiser trepidation with the Internet itself, based on the assumption that online surfers were all college kids, and we (almost overnight) saw that change. Now, of course, online-use kinda mirrors the general population (at least in the U.S.)… that’s where this is heading. Eventually, like it’s true for the web, any target can be found via online video, with varying degrees of precision and scale. So I don’t want to let brands targeting different audiences, “off the hook.” Media buyers hold demographic data like Irish people hold grudges, and we don’t want to see advertisers write online-video off as the medium for just for Vodka, Kaplan, and Sandals Resorts. I think we need to keep a close eye on how online-video viewership of moms and boomers grow in the next months and years.
That being said, it skews young right now. Let’s face it and embrace it. Anyone up for cramming for the GMATS over a martini in Jamaica?
“The findings are an incredible point of validation for Web original programming as a key source of entertainment and viewers find it to be on par with television programming,” said Rick Silvestrini, Product Marketing Manager at YouTube, while holding in a 27-year-old fart.
Speaking of Silvestrini, below is my video remix of him, inspired by a comment I noticed about his original video where someone swears they heard a fart. Is this tasteless? Yes. Biting the hand that feeds you? Perhpaps. But could you expect me to restrain myself? No way.
Perhaps someone with the time and patience to run some social-media monitoring analysis can use a quantitative tool to validate Best Buy/Geek Squad’s sentiment decline (a free one, Radian6 or some others listed here). But here are three recent and vivid examples of a company whose arrogance — demonstrated by aggressive attorneys, PR apathy, and poor employee relations — has made it the undisputed 2010 winner (or loser). I’m sure someone else can better document numerous other episodes that precede and follow these, but here is what WVFF judges used to base their decision:
1) Geek Squad Driver Calls Cops on YouTuber: A Geek Squad (Best Buy’s beloved repair team) van driver spotted this blogger and video creator shooting some b-roll of a van. My intent? To make a parody of a technical repair superhero responding to absurd computer requests (can you fix my cup holder? Oh that’s a CD-ROM drive?). The video, which might have been a humorous and free consumer-generated advertisement for Geek Squad, instead resulted in this… seen by a quarter of a million viewers. The driver called the police and “Nalts” got a fine for reckless driving.
Hey I’m biased here, but you know that. I’m part of the story, and wasn’t thrilled to get pulled over and fined because a Geek Squad driver got paranoid (perhaps he feared I was doing a video expose on his wicked speeding). Sensing his unease, at a red light I handed him my business card, smiled, and explained my video concept. The NJ police officer said the driver interpreted that as threatening gesture and dangerous. Really? But we can forgive a company for a freaky driver, but it was poor form for Best Buy to ignore me. I wrote the company’s PR group, and a simple apology would have probably brought me right back. Did I mention I captured that driver again two weeks ago? I think he was selling ice-cream and crack cocaine this time, but don’t quote me on that.
Please comment below… and I invite anyone to defend each of Best Buy’s actions. It’s hard to give up on a company you love, and I’ve seen some interesting debates on various articles and blogs. I’d also like to invite anyone to join me on a 2010 boycott of Best Buy. There’s even a Facebook page to boycott Best Buy (apparently they fund anti-gay politics). I haven’t walked into the store since the po-po pulled me over, and the Maupin story gave me more resolve. But now they’re messing with a Priest? I read the Best Buy circular weekly, and never went more than 10 days without shopping there. But I’m done with the store for 2010. We’ll see if Barry or a well-meaning public-relations firm can turn this around, and revisit them in 2011.
Yesterday I was driving home and spotted a Geek Squad van (Geek Squad is a computer repair division of retailer Best Buy). I thought it would be fun to create a video where I play a fictional Geek Squad hero responding to farcical “help calls,” so I shot some footage of the Geek Squad van. Later, I decided, I would videotape myself in our van, and edit it so it appeared I was the driver.
As I began to videotape the van, the Geek Squad driver became suspicious and concerned. He was speeding, so maybe he thought I was going to report him… and that intimidation would redirect the situation. He began to take photos of my car, write down the license plate number and give me odd looks. So at a stop light, I handed him my business card and explained my intent in hopes that it would diffuse the situation. I told him I was making a video parody for YouTube — not at his expense — but in a parody of people who call tech support for erroneous reasons. He replied, “good now I can sue you.” I thought that was an antagonistic response to my gesture, but I just smiled and drove away when the light turned green.
Minutes later I saw police lights in my rear-view mirror, and posted a video real-time on my Unclenalts account. I also Tweeted pictures of the event, and alerts. Seems the Geek Squad driver called 911 and reported me, saying I got out of the car at a red light.
The video documenting my experience is now among the most highly-rated videos of the week on YouTube, and the comment cloud below summarizes the reactions. Twitter exploded with @bestbuy and @geeksquad alerts, propelled by fellow YouTuber CharlesTrippy. Nearly 700 people “thumbed up” the video versus 16 “thumbs down.”
I’m still not quite sure why the driver became so defensive, or the rationale for the “reckless driver” citation I received for $85. I do plan to contest it, if only to keep my nearly perfect driving record stable.
No official response from BestBuy or GeekSquad, although I did get a positive tweet response from http://twitter.com/AgentEAN. I did alert BestBuy’s corporate PR to the situation via e-mail on Friday. No response yet.
I’m really no fan of drama like this, much less when it reflects negatively on a corporation I like (BestBuy) and involves the police. But I do feel obliged to surface this via social media… the driver’s defensive and confrontational reaction reflects poorly on Geek Squad. And it not only got me a police citation but ruined a rare date night with my wife last night. Hard not to look at the Geek Squad logo without getting a viscerally negative feeling… like when you smell burnt hair or hear a chalkboard scratch.
BestBuy, known for its heroic approach to social media, didn’t acknowledge the Twitter tornado on Friday (almost all searches for BestBuy and GeekSquad were about this situation).
Here’s the video on my Nalts channel that shows the blow-by-blow. I thought the police officer handled it well, even though I would have appreciated him not giving me a citation given that it was based on a report from the Geek Squad driver (rather than anything he witnessed). I can’t envision that holding up in court, since the “eye witness account” was clearly not objective. I would have also appreciated him allowing me to talk with the driver, which he refused.
Parenthetically, it’s not illegal to videotape a van or a policeman in public, despite many myths. I’ve only heard of people getting in trouble when videotaping in a private place and refusing to stop or leave…. or for obstructing justice or demonstrating disorderly conduct in public while videotaping.
As I commented on that blog post, my first thought about this TCBY contest is that it might attract people who wouldn’t otherwise be strong franchise candidates. A franchisee demonstrates their commitment to the franchiser by investing start-up capital. By waiving that, TCBY has removed a healthy “barrier to entry” that keeps away those lacking the fortitude.
As a military analogy, the franchisee capital investment (which can range from $50-$300K) is the equivalent of boot camp. While boot camp trains new military recruits, it’s also a Darwinian-like process that ensures those going to battle are ready to endure.
I’ve written about plenty of video contests (and read Jared’s “Video Contest King“). But this is not like most video contests. It feels like it was driven by an effort to increase franchisee interest (B to B: business to business), but it’s perhaps inadvertently turned into a B-to-C (business to consumer) campaign. In other words, what might have been designed to spur franchise expansion has turned into something that can’t help but create consumer demand for yogurt. Check out Google News to see all of the local press this has generated. Our local story (see part of it here, or the scanned version at tcbywinners.com) prompted a classmate of our daughter to send us something she’d written in 2004:
“One day I will own an ice cream store shop and make lots of ice cream.”
Given the costs of a video contest (advertising, public relations, interactive development, contest legalities, etc), I wouldn’t expect a company like TCBY to make that investment to reach a fairly narrow audience: franchisee candidates. There certainly are more efficient ways to reach that target audience (trade shows, franchise magazines, franchise bloggers). But given the massive amount of public-relations spawned by this, the payoff to TCBY will indisputably be broader… enhanced branding, increased consumer awareness, demand growth.
3 examples that are difficult to put into a video contest ROI model (and I’m sure each contestant has examples like these):
Our local public school sent e-mails to parents, sent kids home with fliers about our efforts, and I’ve seen word-of-mouth in our area alone that rivals anything advertising can do. My wife travels with cards announcing the website, and her campaign makes Obama look like a recluse.
I’m not assuming TCBY, like my other sponsors, sees value in webstar video as a promotional channel to increase consumer demand. But whether we win or lose we’ll probably have volunteered what I would otherwise have charged at least $30K to do.
Some parting thoughts for those of you that dared read this long:
But have we discovered a new angle to the tired “video contest” contest? I think so.
Do I know how a TCBY can perform in rural PA versus some of the climate regions? Nope.
Is this really a creative video contest? Not in the traditional sense.
We’re up against some serious competition with solid experience, capability, and desire to run a TCBY frozen-yogurt franchise. Then again, we’ve got two things going for us: wifeofnalts‘ passion and tenacity, and her husband’s online visibility as a StreamingMedia All-Star and viral video genius. 😉
You may remember the video (below) called “Amazing Kitten.” Congratulations to the 5 randomly-selected commenters, and the 5 winners of the video replies (who I just finally contacted).
Client: Logitech (Freemont, CA) Agency: Ruder Finn (San Francisco, CA) Campaign: Logitech DVS YouTube campaign Duration: September – October 2009 Budget: $25,000 – $30,000 –no, I didn’t get all of this… prizes, Ruder Finn, Hitviews
After Logitech acquired WiLife in 2007, home digital video security cameras (DVS) became a part of its portfolio. Logitech PR manager Ha Thai explains that general awareness is low in this category, and the team hoped to change that fact.
Ruder Finn (RF) was hired to work on a broad DVS promotional effort. HitViews helped the team identify a popular YouTube content producer who could integrate DVS into one of its videos.
“We wanted to spread the word in an efficient and budget conscious way,” says Andy Pray, VP with RF. “YouTube provides a good audience with existing affinity— they create content and are used to webcams.”
The idea was to create a video that highlighted the DVS system’s ease and positioned it as valuable for families. YouTube “star” Kevin “Nalts” Nalty, whose videos often involve pranks on his kids and wife, was chosen. Pray says Nalty’s large audience reach and family focus made him a great fit. An online challenge was designed to maximize engagement. The team also employed social media and blogger outreach.
In his “Amazing Kitten!” video (launched October 13), Nalty used the DVS system to catch a kitten in outrageous acts. Pray says it was important that the video feel authentic to Nalty’s audience so it kept with typical tone.
For the contest, audiences could submit a response video to Nalty’s YouTube page or leave a text comment. Contest information and a coupon code were shown at the bottom of Nalty’s video. All entrants were eligible to win a DVS system.
Nalty also created a making of the video clip (“How Kitten Defied Gravity”), which Thai says was a surprise and bonus. Nalty used his Twitter and Facebook pages to spread the word to YouTube influentials and others. The team promoted the video and contest on Logitech’s existing Twitter page, its blog, and their personal social media pages.
Other outreach focused on cat and content enthusiast bloggers. Pray adds that messaging was based on the video (rather than DVS) to maintain authenticity.
As of January 18, “Amazing Kitten!” has garnered more than 160,000 views (more than 2,000 five-star ratings) on YouTube and 38,369 views on Yahoo Video. Pray says it was a top 50 video on YouTube the week of October 13. The making of video drew another 14,200 views. The contest yielded 42 video and 2,270 text entries.
The team reports thousands of tweets from online influencers. Though Logitech won’t disclose sales, Thai says there was a “strong surge” on Logitech’s Web site around the campaign and coupon codes drove sales increases.
Thai says plans include expanding on getting top-tier media coverage of customers’ DVS stories. RF will continue to work with Logitech on DVS promotion.
I have to thank Hitviews, Andy from Ruder Finn, and Logitech. But I’m also grateful for DavideoDesign, who helped with the concept and special effects. Thanks so much to all of the video replies. It was very hard to select the winners! See them all here. Parenthetically, while using the Logitech System I happened to bust my children with a fight, and was able to find the guilty party!
Rhett and Link’s Alka Seltzer road show (see previous post) hit Philadelphia recently, and it didn’t take them asking more than once to convince me and a bunch of YouTube Cewebrities to hit Pat and Gino’s to appear in this video. I picked up CharlesTrippy, ShayCarl, TheMightyThor1212 and those gals to stop by before the YoTube events. We did it for fun not profit, but Rhett and Link were classy enough to feed us, and even send us off with beer money for that night (thanks, guys).
Favorite moment? The nervous look on the face of the agency account manager as she reluctantly handed me a Speedy statue. Don’t worry, agency lady. I’ll behave with him.
Admitting my bias, I’m still putting this promotion down as one of the top three smartest viral video campaigns of 2008. It joins the ranks of BMW’s Rampenfest and Diet Dr. Pepper’s Cherry Coke promotion of TayZonday.
It’s funny, entertaining, balanced well (promotion is subtle), it’s leveraging the charasmatic appeal of two video stars who have been provided creative control of the series. Rhett and Link give us a perfect example of advertising content that is first entertaining. And the branding finds a happy medium between, on one extreme, dominating the video, and on the other relegating itself to ignored pop-ups or lost entirely. The topics are related to food, the tone revitalizes an otherwise stale brand, and Alka Seltzer’s differentiator (the plop, fizz) is not lost. Bringing back Speedy was brilliant too.
The only thing I’d say about all three of these campaigns is that they probably could have been done more cost effectively. Diet Dr. Pepper got TayZonday for a song, but had some production overhead (it was also hampered by the reality that the drink tastes like the smell of a chocolate scratch and sniff, and that’s coming from a hardcore Diet Dr. Pepper guy).
The Alka Seltzer road show was fairly shoestring for television and advertising rackets, but still could be leaner (do you need 5 or more people beyond Rhett and Link at the shoot?). I don’t know about Rampenfest, but it looks very, very expensive (guessing $500-$1,000 MM).
(This is a guest column by Erik Bratt, director of marketing communications for ProQuo. ProQuo helps consumers eliminate junk mail, and recently hired xlntads.com.
(a new-media promotion firm with whom I work occasionally) to solicit quality video entries that help ProQuo describe its value proposition in unique and entertaining ways.
Can you really buy a viral video?
by Erik Bratt, ProQuot
Conventional wisdom says no. By its very definition, a viral video is something that can’t be bought or made, forced or manipulated. A viral video – a viral anything – just ‘happens,’ striking some type of cultural nerve that prompts people to send it around.
Levi’s ad, levi ads doing model flips featuring male models doing back-flips (literally) into their jeans. The video, which racked nearly 4 million views on YouTube alone last time I checked, never mentions Levi by name, but it wasn’t hard to guess the driving force (Male models? Jeans?). I offer a more modest case in point: Our own video contest. Eager to spread the word about our service for stopping junk mail and managing catalogs (plug: www.proquo.com), we decided to launch a viral video contest earlier this spring in hopes of creating momentum for our free offering.
To get this done, we partnered with XLNTAds.com, a Philadelphia-based company that facilitates a community of 5,000 eager and talented semi-professional videographers. This was our first good decision. XLNTAds.com knows how to run a contest, and their members are fired up about creating great content. We were also fortune to have great subject matter – who can’t work with junk mail as topic? The contest rules were simple: keep it clean, make it funny, and focus on junk mail, not ProQuo. Because we are not as big of a brand as Levi, we also asked that they at least include our URL somewhere in their video.
The carrot? $1,500 for each of the top 10 videos. The contest “assignment” was posted on April 1. One month later we had more than 160 entries. Deciding on the top 10 videos was not easy, requiring several viewing sessions and at least one company viewing party (with blind voting). We finally picked our 10 winners and created a special page for visitors to interact with them: www.proquo.com/videocontest.
So, we had our funny videos, but what about the viral part? Instead of scrambling to post these videos ourselves, or buying space on different networks, we worked with XLNTAds.com to provide incentives to the winning creators to ‘viral-ize’ the videos on their own. We offered a tiered award structure for the creators who had the most number of views across multiple video platforms.
For the money, this was our second good decision.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of places our videos have popped up – on dozens of different video platforms, in blogs, and on web sites. At last count, we had more than 160K views on just those 10 videos (many of the runner-ups also got posted). We never could have achieved that many views on our own without paying for placements
So did we succeed in creating or buying a viral video? Not really.
We didn’t get on the front of YouTube (which requires at least 50K views) or any other video platform. We didn’t pop up in tens of thousands of emails within the span of few days saying, ‘dude, check this video out!”
What we did accomplish was to generate a large number of video views, as well as traffic and registrations to our site (made trackable from URLs placed high up in some of the video descriptions). We also provided entertaining content for our site visitors and registered users, whom we encouraged to help rate the videos
Another bonus was our engagement with the videographers themselves. We were touched by the effort that so many people and their friends put into the videos. In the end, that type of engagement and goodwill may be worth more than any viral video.
Editorial note (back to Nalts): This is a good case study, and shows a few key points:
ProQuo could have tried doing this itself, but it would have been far more expensive and out of its core competency.
The value to ProQuo is being assessed comprehensively- as opposed to the views and clicks.
By leveraging xlntads creators with built audiences, Proquo had a way to reach far more potential consumers than they could have ever reached on its own.
Finally- with time, someone searching Proquo will find these creative executions instead of a video blog by someone who wasn’t keen on the offering. So for search engines alone, it might be justified.