Face Fail on Live German TV: “Jumping Stilts” Accident

As seen on TV: the jumping stilts (warning: do not attempt to jump over car heading toward you)

Remember the jumping stilts (kangaroo stilts) you may have discovered on YouTube around 2007 (see SMPFilms video)? It’s probably not a good idea to use them to jump over the moving car your dad is driving.

Sir? You have a collect call from the Darwin Awards.

Here’s one for the Darwin Awards, Failblog, and “what did you think would happen?” file. Below is a video from the live broadcast of the German “Wetten Dass?” television show December 4, 2010… it’s not a pretty site, and the accident occurs at seven minutes. The “kangaroo stilt jumper” (Samuel Koch) takes a serious face plant while attempting to jump over a moving vehicle driven by his father. It’s really quite grueling to watch. I suppose when you perform with tigers, they will occasionally eat you.

Naturally, as long as we are entertained by wild stunts, we’ll encourage people to take risks. Those risks will come with consequences that are quite horrific. If the kid lives, it would appear paralysis would be possible– if not likely. And that kinda puts my balcony fail in perspective. The next time I trip and fall, I think I’ll utter the extremely unsympathetic statement “now I know how Samuel Koch felt.”

According to the BBC: Koch, a 23-year-old German contestant on a German game show, was hospitalized over the weekend, had numerous surgeries to fix his back and neck fractures, and remains in a “critical stage.” He made several successful jumps, but the live broadcast ended abruptly after the fail.  The show, which has been airing for about 30 years, is called”Wetten Dass?” It translates to “Want to Bet?” To read fairly comprehensive coverage with photos, see this DailyMall (UK) article. And if you get really obsessed, here’s more.

Again- not something to watch if you have a weak stomach. I caught the story on NBC, so of course I instantly searched recent videos with the words related to the story. I can only imagine what Sxephil and Failblog will do with this. It’s kinda sick to derive humor for it, but then again… I’d love to hear the “what were you thinking” answer from the network or television show’s safety crew.

In related news, Justin Bieber cancelled his appearance on the show. So if you want to see a young singer swallow razor blades while swimming through a piranha tank… you’re going to have to surf YouTube.

America’s Funniest Videos Take YouTube By Storm

In a very interesting model, the producer of America’s Funniest Videos is bringing an archive of 1970s-present user-generated content to YouTube. And, no, Bob Saget and Tom Bergeron are not hosting, VHS players are optional, and the AFV brand isn’t involved. Thank God.


Instead Vin Di Bona (who, trivia here, used some of my 1980s clips in the trailers promoting AFV) is teaming with Phil DeFranco (Sxephil) and Toby Turner (Tobuscus) in what’s called CuteWinFail. Read about it on NewTeeVee if you actually want facts. The premise is that the audience decides if it’s cute, a “win” (victory) or “fail” (embarrassment).

Toby is one of few people who can pull off hosting this format with his manic delivery, clever writing and genuine nature. He celebrates the archaic clips without pandering to them… and avoids falling into the dangerous trap of Webjunk and Tosh 2.0, where the host snubs the content. Toby walks the fine line in a way that Phil probably couldn’t have done — simply because he couldn’t likely hide his contempt for the clips (but who among us can throw a stone?). Toby, on the contrary, mocks and celebrates the cheesy moments in what can only be called Tobuscumockercelebration.

I believe it’s one of the smartest collaborations between traditional media and YouTube, and far more likely to emulate the popularity of FailBlog than most production/network “fails” on YouTube. It’s also likely to get Phil and Toby on the big-boy radar since it has the credibility of AFV’s producer.

The biggest difference between “Cute Win Fail” and Failblog, of course, is that the clips are owned by the channel, so advertising is fair game. Poor FailBlog could be making several hundred thousand dollars (actually well more) if it was monetized, but it’s mostly “ripped” content. Di Bona’s production company (see NewTeeVee) owns loads of cheesy b-roll, and it would have been a horrible embarrassment to start uploading and monetizing it without Sxephil and Tobuscus vouching for it and putting it into YouTube context… and allowing it to be self aware of the “cheese” factor in a way that even the smooth Bergeron couldn’t have done.

Larry King vs Some Dude on the Internet

Larry King gets about 1.2 million viewers a night. This guy, Sxephil, has been seen 14 million times in the past month. The YouTube “star” will average 1 million views per day soon.

  • Larry King is well known, can be found easily on the large monitor you call a television. He’s been in lots of movies. Maybe you’ve seen one of them.
  • This guy, Phil, makes his own web show and you’ve never heard of him. But a few million have, and follow him like hobos follow liquor. In fact many days, he’ll have more eyes on him than Larry King, especially when you count Phil’s other videos, web, live broadcasts.
  • Larry fetches a pretty penny for an ad. Phil? A bit less. No- a lot less per view.
  • Phil writes, shoots, directs, edits and produces his stuff. Larry? He has some help. Expensive help.

And you want to know the interesting thing? People far less popular than this Phil guy are getting seen more daily than most of the television shows you talk about. Hmmm…

This is what I’m talking about, media buyers (see last post). The world’s a-changin’.

P.S. Phil- I’d say life is the paper not the pencil or pen. But you and ZeFrank have never commented on this blog before, so you may never know that Great answer.

Exclusive: How Much Money YouTube Partners Make

{Update from 2013 reveals YouTube stars making $4 million plus per year}

How much do YouTube stars make each year? Oh for goodness sakes. Just like my same 5 YouTube videos (see right column of channel page here) represent the majority of my online views… It seems that most of WillVideoForFood’s blog traffic comes from people searching for how much YouTubers make. If you’re curious, read on. If you want to make big bucks, buy my book first. You’ll still be facing tough odds, but at least you’ll wander into the jungle equipped with some survival tools.


We YouTube “Partners” (or “stars” as I hate saying) are all contractually forbidden to share our revenue. But I’ve given hints and clues over time. For those of you who Googled your way here, I’m both a marketer/advertiser and a creator/YouTuber, so that gives me two lenses into this Da Vinci-Code like mystery. Davinci made me think of “Da Bears.”

I’d estimate there are have at least a few dozen YouTube Partners earning $100K per year. That’s great money if you’re in your 20s or 30s and have minimal costs in production or overhead (like 4 kids and a horrific mortgage). But it’s a rounding error for a professional content creator or network.

To calculate a particular Parner’s income, here are some tips:

  • You basically take the Partner’s total views for the month, multiply it by a fraction of a penny, and you have a rough idea. TubeMogul‘s Marketplace shows some of the most-viewed people (and their monthly views). But remember: the most-subscribed are not necessarily most-viewed and vice versa. YouTube doesn’t give a hoot how many subscribers you have (although that certainly helps drive views, but increasingly it seems less powerful than being a “related video”). In general, the commercial content is getting more daily views but the amateurs have a lock on subscribers.
  • Most ads are placed by advertisers based on total 1K views, but some is on a per-click basis (CPC text ads placed by Google Adwords/Adsense). Google/YouTube is usually paid by an agency or media buyer a CPM (cost per thousand, say between $5 and $25 dollars per thousand views), then shares some of that with the creator. This can be highly misleading, because:
    • Some views earn nothing (if they’re embedded and no ad follows it).
    • And increasingly advertisers are paying a high premium for specific content they commission, target, or hand select. Sometimes this might average a few bucks and others it might be much higher… $25 CMP was the published rate of InVideo ads and I know of specific integrated campaigns that command a higher premium from YouTube. Yey!
  • Another confounding variable: potty-mouthed creator turns away advertisers. So watch the ads on your Partner for a while. Are they premium InVideo ads with accompanying display (square) ads? Or are they garbage Adwords/Adsense ads?
  • The text ads may SOMETIMES be paid on a per-click basis, which can make them fruitless or profitable depending on people clicking and buying the advertiser’s product (the latter must occur, or a savvy advertiser will quickly stop the campaign that’s raping them of click dollars and not generating business). I was telling my YouTube buds to turn these off because they’re ugly and don’t make much money, but a few of them gave me a stern stare like they knew otherwise. So whatever… maybe they make money and maybe they don’t. I don’t get a breakdown on them, and they’re still ugly.
  • Then you have to factor in “sponsored videos,” where a YouTuber promotes a product or service for a flat fee (or variable based on views) via Hitviews or related companies. That can easily be more than YouTube shells out per month for ad sharing. The going rate here is incredibly wide: from $1K to $20K and higher per video.

So in conclusion:

  1. Do your own math using monthly views on TubeMogul and assuming some CPM (cost per thousand), but recognize YouTube takes a cut and some of the advertising inventory isn’t sold or is driven by keyword Google adsense text thingies. Maybe the creator/partner gets a few bucks per thousand views and maybe more or less.
  2. Use some of the assumptions above to calibrate your estimate if you’re trying to peak into the W-9s of your favorite “Stars” like Fred. There are now dozens of popular YouTube people that make a full-time living on YouTube revenue, and I’d guess a lot of $50K-$100K per year people. I am not among the full-timers. With a family of 6, I gotta have a day job too. But Shaycarl, Sxephil, Charles Trippy, Michael Buckley and many more… they’re full-time at this. If I was making the bucks I’m making via YouTube after college, I’d probably go full-time too. Fred? Let’s just say he’s got college covered, or a nice nest-egg.
  3. Before you get excited (or jealous), it’s a long haul to cashville. And if you start with the hope of making money, you’re doomed. You need to LOVE it, and be extremely patient as the road to loads of views is tougher to climb, and requires an ass-load of persistence. Start as a hobby and “just keep swimming.”
  4. Finally, there are two forces at odds that impact the sustainability of this revenue for YouTube amateurs. First, we’ll probably see continued competition from more professionally-produced content that fetches higher ad dollars because it feels safer to squeamish media buyers (see, I’m not calling them all dense anymore… only the ones that don’t read this vlog). But the good news is that dollars are projected to grow dramatically. Currently, as a marketer, I’d argue that YouTube is selling itself short.

How’s that? About as specific I can be without breaking my contract or confidence from my friends.

I know some of you peeps know more than I do, so feel free to comment below anonymously or not. Da bears.

ShayCarl Missing From YouTube’s Most-Popular Page. Fans Terrified.

In news that shocked regular YouTube viewers, creator “Shaycarl” is not on today’s “most-popular” page.

Shaycarl, a radio disk jockey turned full-time YouTube star, has been on a rapid rise in subscribers and views (evidenced by Google trends data below), propelled exponentially an assload in recent months due to his affiliation with “TheStation,” a popular collaboration channel of YouTube’s largest stars.

shaycarlshaytard

But Shay has not posted in 19 hours. His “Baby Can Slam Dunk” video was posted more than 19 hours ago, and his “Giant Dog” was dated 9/31 and posted more than a day ago.

Shay was not available via phone or e-mail, and has largely secluded himself into a DannyJames Arthur DayDiamond sweat lodge tent in recent months.

thestation sweat lodge

Shaycarl’s last Twitter post was 11 hours ago, and his fans have become alarmed that his biggest hater gentle hater has abducted him. The hater (known as MisterDoodyHead) is presumably based in Venice Beach, California… based on his referring to “out here” as Shay’s current location. Reports of Shay being beaten by a car-seat have not been verified by local authority.

Fortunately ShayCarl’s YouTube account shows activity as of four hours ago, and he will presumably return to most-popular by midnight… unless Sxephil and CharlesTrippy upload more than 100 videos today.

Top YouTube Stars Convene “The Station”: A Modern Brat Pack & YouTube YouTopia?

YouTube Stars form a Brat Pack Collective

The Station

It’s the hottest thing on YouTube since Susan Boyle did the “Evolution of Dance.” But you won’t find it covered on television, there’s no press release, and virtually no online or print articles written about it.

A collection of YouTube “stars” have joined forces on a single channel (thestation), and it was almost instantly propelled it to one of YouTube’s most-subscribed channels… even before it had a single video posted. TheStation, now one of the 25 most-subscribed channels, was  parked in June, 2006. But the activity began in mid July 2009 (see TheStation’s Twitter account), when the individual stars began to promote the TheStation on their own channels.

TheStation’s debut video was posted July 21, 2009 (a zombie teaser). Here’s the Zombie debut (see on YouTube), and above (see video box) is a cleaner version with synched audio). Zombie’s sell, of course….

That tells us TheStation isn’t just a creative consortium but a potential online-video marketing machine. In fact, TheStation is shaping up to be an online-video version of the “brat pack.”

“Stars” include Shane Dawson (ShaneDawsonTV), PhillyD (sxephil), and DaveDays — three of the most-subscribed YouTubers. ShayCarl, one of the fastest-rising YouTube creators, moved his family to Venice Beach, California earlier in 2009… living just blocks from Donovan.

LisaNova (Lisa Donovan) and “Danny Diamond” (thediamondfactory, aka “Dan Zappin”) are the hubs at the center of the spokes (see “Zappin Productions“). The long-time duo are romantic partners or business colleagues depending on your source (although LisaNova is to DaveDays as Demi Moore to Ashton Kutcher).

Girls2Watch reports that the business behind TheStation is “Maker Studios,” with a goal to make “create quality consistent programming with their core talent which will attract both a huge online audience as well as advertisers who want to get into the Youtube space.” (via BuckNews). No sign of a Maker Studios, LLC., but Donovan’s listed as the agent for Zappin (California Secretary of State).

TheStation YouTube StarsDonovan and Diamond have loaned their apartments to various online-video weblerities, assembling what I like to call a “YouTube YouTopia” in Venice Beach. Davedays moved from Pennsylvania to California (despite my parental-like caution), and has been offering his musical talent to the motley crew. DaveDays is best known for his Barbie video, and collection of Miley Cyrus homages). Sxephil, also known as Philip DeFranco, moved from Atlanta this summer to join the gang in Venice Beach (with help from friend ShayCarl).

The channel has been getting positive reactions to its first 9 videos, and maintains a better view-per-subscriber ratio than the stars themselves. This ratio (recent view-counts divided by total subscribers to the channel) is a YouTube sign of health. Of course there’s a recency bias, where new channels have healthier rankings because its subscribers are active or new… as opposed to those subscribers from abandoned accounts. TubeMogul reports that the group surpassed Michael Jackson’s collection. Initial videos were designed to appeal to existing fans of the individuals (see NewTeeVee article), packed with inside jokes. iJustine’s death is a rofler… click this link to watch her get eaten by Zombies.

Where’s this going? Now we’re in speculation mode. For starters, it’s clearly a smart creative and professional move for the individuals… especially the lesser known stars who now win by association. The “combo-pack” performance model has proven to work in comedy, music and film (Oceans 11)… so why not web?

I asked Diamond/Zappin his vision for TheStation while visiting Venice Beach this summer, and he was somewhat vague or abstract. Initially, it’s about pooling creative talent and gaing efficiencies from production… a web studio approach (ala Next New Network or Revision3) but with already popular stars and shows. We’ll see TheStation lure brands (hungry for its eyeballs) to finance the operations (Diamond has helped LisaNova and others secure marketing sponsorships), which means it’s more than a creative collaboration.

The station, however, will face four non-trivial challenges:

  1. Collective YouTube channels are difficult to maintain. Shane Dawson is reportedly already backing off. When the initial honeymoon period passes,  collective efforts (from 5awesomegirls, guys and gays to 7awesomekids) struggle to keep the channels vibrant. The geographic proximity of TheStation will help, but many of its stars owe their success to being a “one-man band,” and may have difficulty adapting to an ensemble. Bambamkaboosh, a collaboration between Sxephil and Shaycarl, rocketed to most-subscribed, but has languished. Donovan lasted just four weeks on MadTV. (thought I thought she was pretty darn funny in this Ellen Degeneres MadTv skit).
  2. Some YouTube “stars” lack acting chops. Some are successful at “vlogging” to their audiences, some can sing, but not all YouTube stars can act in a sketch comedy. Sxephil had mixed reviews on his performance on HBOLab’s “Hooking Up,” but certainly carried his weight in “Porn Star.”  We’ll let you be the judge of who can act in this TheStation debut video. I’ll just say it ranges from awesome funny to awkward. Likewise, LisaNova is probably one of the best sketch comedians on YouTube (this is one of my all-time favorite video here with her as “Ashley Moorehouse” in Orange County — co-stared by Jenna Elfman, of “Accidentally on Purpose”)… but Donovan didn’t last long as a vlogger. They’re different art forms, if you don’t mind me calling them that. Check out this chair-fall by YouTube’s Daxflame (once a most-subscribed channel, but somewhat dormant of late).
  3. Money introduces conflict. As the YouTube advertising revenue and other marketing sponsorships draw potential profit to TheStation, the individuals will struggle to ensure revenue is shared appropriately (which is arbitrary at best). The bigger stars may have difficulty balancing the full-time job of maintaining their own channels (with some enjoying 6-figure incomes) and the time they contribute to TheStation, which will provide them with less direct financial return for their time. What the group lacks in business-management experience, however, it makes up for in creative talent, new-marketing prowess and energy.
  4. Holier than tho? The stars run the risk of being perceived by the community as “elitist” (see this whining vlog as example). Although to be fair, members of this team have a history of brilliantly satirizing elitist behavior on YouTube (see this satire of AsOne, where Diamond spoof Sxephil’s appearance in an SMPFilms promotion of Philadelphia “AsOne” event that never occurred). And hey- it’s all “water under the bridge,” because TheStation folks all hit SMPFilm’s wedding last week. Congratulations, Cory. This post counts as my wedding gift.

Cautions aside, the people involved with TheStation have rare knowledge on how to grow and keep an online audience. They’ll benefit by sharing each other’s audiences, and from the creative chemistry that may develop in their YouTube YouTopia. And it’s a guilty pleasure, but I’ll admit I really like some of the writing and acting in this debut video. And check out this funny DaveDays music-video with a cameo by CharlesTrippy. Good stuff. Even better: the out takes and behind the scenes… available on TheStation2.

Even with some inevitable creative and financial feuding ahead, The Station ensemble is proving that the whole is indeed bigger than the sum of (most of) its parts.

No seriously. Click here to watch iJustine get killed again. How can you not crack up at that. Hey- no bashing from iJustine fans. I’m among you.

YouTube’s Homepage Not as Important as Google’s “Secret Sauce”

The power of YouTube’s ability to commercialize is not based on the homepage, but “The Secret Sauce.” Here’s a glimpse into it, and what you can do to advantage yourself.

There’s been a fascinating and widespread reaction to YouTube’s redesign, which was based somewhat on superficial changes to YouTube’s homepage (phase one referenced in YouTube’s blog, and a broader change is planned per NewTeeVee and ClickZ).

But the fate of YouTube’s partners, professionals and user-generated content is driven less by the homepage than the “secret sauce.” What, you ask, is “the secret sauce”? Hang with me for a moment first. I promise we’ll get there, and I’ll even give you tips for giving yourself a competitive advantage.

In this horrifically long post, I’m going to analyze the homepage, show why most reactions are missing the point, explore how a video gets “love” on YouTube, and give you some tips for getting views.

Since the redesign, we’re seeing the homepage’s vitality wane. Those homepage videos fetch fewer views than they once did. Where a featured (now “spotlighted” video) once got 100,000 to 500,000 views, the YouTube homepage is less of a driver than before. In case you missed the memo, here’s the latest vernacular.

  1. Spotlight Videos: Highlighted videos YouTube thinks you’ll want to watch, and a “thematic” approach to showcasing the best of the community and partners.
  2. Promoted Videos: Those driven by advertising.
  3. Featured: Includes YouTube’s partner content, other popular content, or those previously spotlighted.

Compare these two screen shots as exhibit A & B: The first is a shot of today’s “Spotlight” videos (aka featured), and the view counts are perhaps 200K on average.

picture-2

Now see YouTube (via archive.org) about 2 years ago when “Farting in Public” was on it. This is not a scientific study, but you’ll see higher average numbers despite the fact that YouTube’s traffic today is exponentially higher than it was one or two years ago. We’d expect to see today’s YouTube homepage videos commanding views that are exponentially higher. So what gives?

picture-3

The coveted YouTube homepage is still prime Internet real estate, of course, and the slippage of average homepage views isn’t entirely driven to the recent redesign — because this phenomenon is not new. A year ago I spoke with an interactive director of a popular company that had its video ad featured on the 2006 homepage, then again in 2007. Before asking him about his results, I told him I imagined far fewer people watched his most recent homepage-featured ad. He asked how I knew, and I explained that we regular YouTubers had grown immune to the large ad on the homepage.

Alas, the power of the YouTube homepage has become, and will continue to become, less important in influence, at least relative to other secret tools at the disposal of The Commercializers of YouTube. Why?

  1. First, only a small portion of daily YouTube visitors even actually see the homepage. They dive deep into YouTube for a specific video, and then out.
  2. Regular visitors (those who spend 20-60 minutes per day on the site) have largely customized their experience to give primacy to their favorite creators via “subscriptions.”
  3. That leaves only the people inclined to visit a homepage of any site, or those that are new and eager to explore. This is a minority, and the longer we spend on YouTube the less we care about the homepage.

YouTube, now behaving more as a division of Google than a standalone UGC/video sharing site, will continue to reward content based on two factors: relevance to viewers, and the premium of the ads they generate. Google prides itself on a legacy of innovation that is often instinctive and not customer driven — we didn’t know we needed Google search in a crowded market. And we didn’t know we needed Gmail, which has more traffic now than YouTube itself.

But most of us miss this fact. Let’s look at some comments about the redesign (from blogs/discussion groups, especially NewTeeVee and ClickZ). They’re focused mostly on the homepage and organizational principle, but are overlooking the more powerful dynamics driven by YouTube’s “secret sauce.”

  • They’ve been disenfranchising us more and more. Eventually we’ll migrate elsewhere and youtube won’t have an audience to advertise too.
  • I think the trend is going towards compartmentalizing video content 1. Quality + Professional free with the hassle of advertising 2. Mixed Quality + free between terrible and good UCG that can be found on sites like youtube and howcast with the hassle of advertising 3. Paid entertainment, video content that can be purchased through itunes 4. Paid, quality instructional content that can be purchased
  • I reckon that for four tabs.: Music-25% , Films-10% , TV-15% , UGC-50%
  • In effect, they are garden walling all the UGC on YT into a section so that if you want to ignore it you can.
  • I go to youtube because I *like* seeing good UGC (gasp)! I totally get that advertisers worry about what stupid crap their ads show up next to, but if youtube can’t patrol their homepage – why can’t they let their trusted users do it
  • I feel this change will marginalize UCG content, but it’s still a million times more democratic than the TV model.
  • The creation of a premium “sand box” for professional content will allow independent producers and large media companies to showcase and monetize their content more efficiently. Also, all content producers on the site will benefit from the inevitable increase in ad spends that are pushed to Youtube.
  • Hilarious! “Premium content” is just what the many millions of YouTube watchers don’t want!
  • I think this will give websites like Viddler and Vimeo a chance to grow their communities to the height of YouTube’s current level of success.
  • The UGC community on YouTube can succeed if they are able to monetize more easily and if established and rising “stars” are identified and receive promotion that positions them as “must-watch,” “YouTube only” content. They can be seen as complementary, and the more YouTube facilitates a parity the better.

Well you’ve made it this far, so it’s time to reveal “The Secret Sauce” of Google/YouTube. As I said, video content will rise/fall based on consumer relevance (duration of view, relevance by keyword, ratings, view counts, favorites, etc.), but the most vital aspect is “black box,” or confidential. We can deduce some things using “Google search” as a proxy. Google’s search results rewards advertisers who bid high prices for “paid placement,” and organic (natural) results based on whether the content is “relevant” (as defined by inbound links and whether we engage, or return Google to refine the search).

Not surprisingly, YouTube is replicating that Google model — giving “love” to content that either satisfied viewers and/or can be monetized via the Partners program. Unfortunately, YouTube is less transparent about whether a video receives primacy because of relevance or ad dollars. There isn’t a clear visual divide between paid and organic videos, even though the new labels (spotlight, promoted, featured) are a step in that direction, and this will continue to become more clear to even the naive surfer that still can’t distinguish between an ad or organic result on Google.

To consider how a video fails or thrives, consider the experience of a typical viewer navigating YouTube. They may choose to engage in the following ways:

  • Visit a specific video based on a link/forward from a friend. They may hang around, or dash.
  • “Hang out” with the community — and that segment continues to grow, but represents a smaller share of overall traffic. It’s also less important from a commercial standpount.
  • “Browse” related videos, and passively accept the “related content” YouTube serves after a video.
  • Dive into a favorite creator (and subscribe)- that could be a pro or an amateur.
  • More and more, visitors search for what they want — whether it’s the latest video gossip about a news figure, or “how to play a jawharp.”
  • Few, I believe, use the homepage design to delve into specific segments or such areas as “most watched” of the day, week or month. It’s possible that YouTube’s user interface (tabs, categories) can be important, but less so than most think.

THE SECRET SAUCE

The “secret sauce” is Google’s proprietary scheme for keeping the viewer engaged, and ensuring that the content continues to not just satisfy their curiousity, but more importantly “hook” them for more viewing (and it works based on average views consumed by a YouTuber relative to a Yahoo Video viewer). The “secret sauce” is, and will always remain, highly confidential and in flux. Otherwise we’ll “game the system” through various tricks. The algorythm that makes up that sauce will get smarter, and more difficult to fool.

We can complain about the “secret sauce,” or accept it and evolve. That means our video content needs to be relevant and captivating. Partners have a distinct advantage, because YouTube would be foolish to favor videos it can’t monetize. So we’ll see powerful and deep-pocketed commercial networks/producers (and advertisers) get an increasing “leg up” on amatuers by giving YouTube a financial incentive to show their videos “love” through paid buys, and favored placement. These entities can pay for “love,” or YouTube may give them free “love” to hook new audiences and mutually monetize their content long term. Recall how much premium placement PopTub had for a while. And sometimes an amateur gets lucky because their content gets “stuck” on the homepage (we saw that last month with CommunityChannel and a few others).

In the meantime, here are some basic tips, and some haven’t changed since last year when I wrote my free eBook (“How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent“).

  1. Create videos about content that is topical and searched. That’s how Buckley and Sxephil attracted a following that is now somewhat self sustaining.
  2. Build a distinct niche, and market your videos via like-creators and via properties (blogs) beyond YouTube.
  3. Continue to reply to videos that are already popular. The viewer will see the thumbnail, and your video will pick up “spillover.”
  4. Ensure the videos are tagged appropriately, but are also compelling, and engage the viewer. Otherwise algorythms will mistake those for spam. It doesn’t work anymore to tag your video with “sex” and expect that video to sail.
  5. Those thumbnails are as vital as ever. If a video is promoted, featured or spotlighted, the viewer will decide to engage based on the title, thumbnail and duration (we still want short videos).
  6. Here’s a doozy: Leave blank space after your video, so your viewers are less likely to “escape” via “related videos” served involuntarily by YouTube after the video plays (you want your viewer instead choosing a thumbnail for your own video, and those appear beneath the video).
  7. Finally, you’d better monetize your videos and become a YouTube Partner. Sponsored videos that aren’t monetized are not likely to thrive as well as entertaining videos that earn Google and its partners ad dollars.

It’s indeed harder to become an “overnight” success, especially when we have a “vicious cycle of fame”: it takes lots of views to qualify as a partner, and partner status to get more views. So the rich may get richer, and the bar is rising. But don’t despair! JeepersMedia is surpassing 100,000 subscribers, and had only had 4,300 subscribers 10 months ago. So there’s still room for new video creators who tap distinct audience niches, and manage (like Jeepers) to rank continually among the most highly-rated videos of the day.

And as long as the “subscription” model remains important to new YouTube addicts, your success breeds success. A good video can prompt a YouTube noob to subscribe (especially if you ask them to), and then your chances of that individual watching your future videos are much higher.

Topicality: The Killer Driver of Video Views

Want lots of views on your video? Timing and topicality is important. The reason sxephil and whatthebuck are two of the most-subscribed YouTube amateurs is partially because they vlog about what’s hot. That means the next day, their videos are found when people search YouTube (and even Google, which is rather kind to videos).

The implication to marketers? Be ready to approve a campaign quickly. And for video creators? Stay current, create quickly, and tag your videos with the keywords that are hot. My Superbowl “top 10 commercials of 2009” video is among my most-viewed videos now (2.7 million) in part because I posted it just as the game was starting. That placed it above other videos when people searched, and the result was primarily because of topicality and search. The booby thumbnail didn’t hurt. 

By linking that video to this blog for information about seeing full commercials on various sites, I also helped this blog get a jolt of visitors (even temporarily). That will help WVFF on search engines and Alexa placement. 

So now… how do you keep current? Well you can watch the news, but you’re probably too late by then. So here are two other options. An oldie and a new one:

    • Go to Yahoo Buzz. Yahoo, unlike Google, shows what’s hot. Here are a few hot items, and you can see there’s a delay in this reporting:
      • Chris Brown 
      • California Octuplets 
      • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
      • Westminster Dog Show 2009 
      • Jennifer Aniston 
      • Jeremy Lusk 
      • Katherine Heigl 
      • American Idol 
      • Economic Stimulus Package 
      • Biggest Loser
    • Check out Twitscoop for the top searches “real time” on Twitter (a microblogging site for short messages). For instance, as I type, the hot searches are Gmail (apparently it’s buggin’ out, and people hope it’s a sign that a better version will come out). Also at the top: earthquake magnitude indonesia and brett favre retires. 

    Now if you have a big subscriber base on YouTube, your video about any of these will get an immediate lift, and then place highly on the search results. But if you do a smart parody about these topics, it will be found on search results, and also shared among blogs and even media (who are always looking for b-roll to use for these stories).

    You Tube – Clean Up or Censorship?

    hot off the press…

    A YouTube for All of Us
    As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with:

    * Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

    * Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

    * Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

    * More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

    The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us.

    The YouTube Team

    Brief Editorial:
    by Zack Scott

    1. Why should videos be demoted on profanity alone? Why not just hide them for people not logged in and are 18 or older?

    2. Some of YouTube‘s most popular stars…Bo Burnham, Charles Trippy, sXePhil, Chris Crocker, Mark Day, etc…(name as many as you want) all have used profanity.

    3. The new thumbnail idea sucks. Now what if none of the thumbnails are good?

    4. YouTube sometimes features videos with profanity.

    —————–

    OK, now I finally understand YouTube’s “Stricter standard for mature content”

    “Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages.”

    They must not like sXePhil.

    HBOLab’s “Hooking Up” Web Series Debuts Today. Satire Ensues.

    HBOLab’s “Hooking Up” series debuts today (see premier episode), and here’s a sneak preview of photos of the cast. There’s also a new YouTube channel with a trailer for the series at YouTube.com/hookingup. I don’t know much about the story because I only read my own short scenes with Michael Buckley. The plot revolves around relationships in a world where most of our communication is electronic. Of course I play a professor, and Buckley’s a junior professor. SxePhil and Jessica (LonelyGirl15) play a couple, and I have seen some sneak peeks of their e-mail and Facebook flirting.

    It will be interesting to see how YouTubers receive this series, which involves higher production and scripted dialogue — which they don’t often associate with some of these popular YouTubers like KevJumba, Charles Trippy, and  MrSafety. Being a popular YouTuber involves a lot more than acting (writing, directing, promoting, connecting with crowd, remaining topical, etc.).

    In this web series, however, the YouTube weblebrities have little more than their acting to rely on. I, for one, felt completely out of my element. I’ve done stage acting before, and most of my video stuff is improv with script points. So I didn’t find it easy to stick with a script of a character I didn’t invent — and I’m kinda bracing to groan when I see the clips.

    At least we had a blast in LA. I didn’t see most of the people at the HBOLabs set (the mock Bask University) since my scene involved Buckley alone. But we did catch up later doing the Retarded Policeman, and then a brief dinner before a red eye back to the East Coast to… be a marketer.

    One thing’s for sure. You’re gonna find out what a bunch of fat asses we are when we aren’t vlogging directly to the camera, and don’t have the privilege of editing out unflattering body shots. Especially that Jessica. She must weigh about 95 pounds.

    P.S. If you’ve seen the Hooking Up Trailer, then you’ve got to watch FallofAutumnDistro‘s biting satire of it titled “Selling Out.”