Sorry Weblebrities. Traditional Media Has Ad Value Density.

YouTube is betting that stars like J-Z can attract audiences and "ad value density" (advertisers will pay more per view than amateur webstars)

Weblebrities, also known as amateur “web stars,” are like the Gaddafi loyalists. They’re not done fighting, but odds favor Libya’s National Transitional Council headed by Abdurrahim el-Keib. (Sure he’s a former electrical engineering professor from the University of Alabama, but he’s the country’s interim prime minister).

The new regime of YouTube is The National Transitional Council of Professional Content, and it’s fortified by something more precious than allies, arms and cash. It has the online-video equivalent of nuclear weapons: “Ad Value Density.”

“Ad Value Density” is a phrase used by Michael Humphrey of Forbes when challenging some conclusions in Revision3’s Jim Louderback AdAge article (the piece gave some “watch outs” to old media entering new media land). Ad Value Density means the content can command a premium spend by advertisers, who are skittish about having their ads surround “consumer generated content,” and feel warm ‘n safe placing ads adjacent to content by real celebrities and network content.

Ad Value Density means, from a financial standpoint, a view’s not a view’s not a view. YouTube’s financial interest is to propagate content that meets the following criteria:

  1. It generates the most revenue: the high ad-value density for professional content means advertisers will pay a premium to surround that content… making each view on YouTube more profitable.
  2. The content will draw larger audiences who return frequently. If they follow the Golden Rule of web content: create constant content.
  3. It generates the most revenue.

Repetition by intent. Professional content will increasingly dominate YouTube, and that will draw larger and more profitable advertising spends. It makes good business sense for GoogleTube. As online-video begins to merge with television, Google wants to be The Distribution Platform. That means it needs content sought after by the unwashed masses who don’t yet use YouTube daily.

What’s not clear is how cable TV will respond. It turns out they’re the current platform, and have a strong-hold on most households with proprietary boxes and bundled channels that would be cost-prohibitive if sold “ala cart.”

In the meantime, it’s a continuous gentle fade for the weblebrities, except the fierce ones who morph with the medium… aligning with studios, securing cash from Google’s $100 million paid to professional content providers.

YouTube's Content Priorities

We’re seeing four tiers of content providers emerge, and YouTube placing a sharp emphasis on the top of the pyramid…

  • Pro: Celebrities and professionally produced content (premium advertising due to “ad value density”)
  • Top 100 Weblebrities: The leading YouTube stars (decent ads, and placement for a while)
  • Partners: Declining emphasis as documented in my previous post (lower ad value)
  • Consumer content with monetization: This is the “long tail,” and YouTube in past months has been working aggressively to monetize even tiny accounts (see proof). Here we’ll see mostly tiny CPMs and CPCs from some of the lesser known advertisers looking for cheap leads.

Nobody’s going to die quickly, but all signals suggest YouTube/Google is shifting its emphasis — from web originals and amateur “weblebrities” to celebrities and large content providers. Why? The latter has the potential of attracting people who aren’t using YouTube, and Google apparently believes it will have them coming back again (if they heed Louderback’s suggestion about creating content frequently). Simply put, higher on the pyramid the higher the “ad value density,” right?

Finally don’t underestimate the Gaddafi Weblebrity regime. Sxephil and others have already secured placement in the pro camp. The fierce creators may be able to segway their web fame into long-form content.

Do YOU Have What It Takes to Become (and Stay) a YouTube Star?

I’ve written plenty about how to become a YouTube star (see free eBook v2 and “Beyond Viral“), but today’s post is the first of a series about the persistence of some top YouTube talent. It’s one thing to break through the clutter and develop a following, but quite another thing to maintain it… the latter takes consistency, adaptability, time, ability to spot trends, endurance, patience, loads of work, and thick skin.

You don't become a top YouTube star for talent and charisma alone. And you don't stay there long without some mysterious skills and character. So what's the common thread?

Yesterday I sent a note to about 20 top YouTube stars… focusing mostly on the independent acts who didn’t have a large fan base until YouTube (that excluded offline “real” stars, musicians, and production companies). If you’re interested in my e-mail to them, select “more” below.

The key question I asked them is simply, “what keeps you going.”

Now I’d like to share 3 of the early responses (part 1 of a series), and ask you WillVideoForFood readers the same question in a different way. What do YOU think separates the leading YouTube creators from the rest of us? Is it talent, consistency, interaction with fan base, variety, adaptability, omni-presence? Or is the underlying currency, as Producer Fred Seibert observed to me, “narcissism”? I don’t think Fred meant that word to carry the negative baggage, rather he presented it as a base characteristic of enduring entertainers… it’s what allows them to overcome the many barriers and exert uncompromising effort.

Thanks to Brittani, Rhett and Charles for giving us some insights into how passion, teamwork and community serve them. Stay tuned for more from WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster, and others. Their responses may surprise you!

1) BrittaniLouiseTaylor: Passion

“What keeps me going?  Simple, passion!! I am an actress, and I get to cast myself and play whatever role I want.  My creativity is not dependent on knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time, I am in control of my destiny. You have to stay positive and keep the passion that you had when you first started making videos.  Being on Youtube is like being in a relationship, you have to put work into maintaining it and keeping your interest. You hit patches where you are like “Uhhhh what video should I do next.”  Most of the time I have some crazy idea, but if I have to do something last minute because I have had a busy week, I do it last minute.  I am determined to have a new video every Saturday and Sunday, if it means me staying up all night that is what I’ll do! Numbers shouldn’t matter, Youtube is always changing and things will go up and down.  You have to do it foryou.  At the end of the day, did you like the video?  Are you happy with it?  That is all that matters!


2) RhettandLink: Power of Two

RhettAndLink's Rhett were determined to support themselves from their passion, and attribute their persistence, in part, to the partnership
Thanks for asking! I think the reason is three-fold, and in no particular order.  The first reason is that once web video became our primary source of income (and I’m talking almost ALL of our income from 2007-2010), we developed a business model based on fairly consistent content.  So our time and energy were all focused on making videos.

The second reason is that we keep having new ideas.  We keep coming up with stuff that we want to create.  A related reason is that our success isn’t based on one genre.  We’ve tried a lot, and a fair amount has worked. The last reason is the fact that there are two of us. We are much less likely to quit because we can motivate one another. Thanks! -Rhett

3) CharlesTrippy: Community

Hey man!! Hows it going on your end?! Ive been watching your unclenalts videos and I am like “dude, when did the kids get so old!!” insane! (your fam is the original tards! haha). What keeps me going? Yah, you kind of nailed it with your points but I think there are a few reasons that keep me motivated.

I’d say the community plays a HUGE part – just when I get discouraged or frustrated I go back and read the comments and it seems to pop me back in place, you know? I also think about the future and I love the fact that i’ll have these videos/days documented. We’ve been lucky enough to pretty much film Alli and I’s entire relationship (we started like 5 monthsor less after dating) so to have that means a lot to us. Also, I don’t want to say it’s really motivation but the fact that Youtube/Google pays it’s creators keeps me motivated because I can invest all of my time in it and still make a life for myself and my family 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy I know you posted daily (sometimes twice) for a very long time so I know you can relate. I think above all the community is the #1 source of encouragement and motivation for me…. -Charles Trippy

CharlesTrippy had a large following, and grew it to a new level when he joined his fiance Alli in the daily "Internet Killed TV" series

Coming soon: Responses I’ve already received from YouTube’s most-subscribed: WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster.

To see my note to these peeps, click more. And don’t forget to comment yourself: what do YOU think it takes?

BlogTV Allows YouTube “Stars” to “Go Live.” Will YouTube Buy It, Build It, or Leave It Alone?

blogtv announced a new “best of” section (see blogtv’s blog) and has created a forum for popular “weblebrities” to broadcast live to their “fans.” Seems the most popular channels are, not coincidentally, popular YouTubers.

PhillyD? Sxephil? HappySlip? WhatTheBuck? DaveDays?

While YouTube is the defacto site for sharing videos, there’s no way to “go live” via video, and YouTube was careful with the media to represent YouTube Live as a one-time promotion (perhaps in fears of appearing as a network competitor).

Meanwhile, gives these people a tool to connect with audiences real-time, and make money (stars are reportedly paid as much as a dime per viewer). So it appears to be a profitable tool for video creators, and as a result they’re promoting their live sessions via YouTube.

How long before YouTube decides to provide this tool to its “partners” and audiences? If the average viewer stays for 5-10 minutes (that’s a guess), that’s plenty of time to serve ads.

And mama YouTube don’t like to be left out of ad revenue, dat’s fo sho.

What do you think? Should YouTube leave this area alone, or buy blogtv and capitalize on it? Blogtv, while getting some press at launch, is mostly “off the grid” from a media perspective, unlike Twitter (all the rage lately). So maybe Google instead decides to build its own live-chat “one to many” forum (Google chat is a step in that direction, although mostly for one-to-one video communication). Or will a live broadcast format appear like an arrow over the bow of the networks? And is it even consistent with the Google mission to organize the world’s information?

Postscript: I had every intention of doing my own Nalts blogtv channel, but there are three problems. First, I’m not very good about punctuality.  Second, the kids would be screaming in the background. Third, I’m not sure I’ve got the “thang” for live broadcasts. I find them rather dull (unless carefully formatted), and if I can’t keep myself interested how can I keep an audience?

popular blogtv peeps

YouTube Documentary: “I Want My Three Minutes Back”

youtube film by chuck potterNewTeeVee teased us last month about first-time director Chuck Potter (thirdcareerfilms) and his new YouTube documentary, “I Want My Three Minutes Back.” Now the film has a website with a blog, the trailer and some more information about Potter’s efforts to get the new film into film festivals.

While it’s true there’s only a niche of people that even know what a YouTube weblebrity is (I’ve only been recognized once at LAX), the story is deeper. It’s about the struggles of amateurs who have “overnight success,” and their years of effort to turn online-videos into a passion-filled career.

I missed the debut this month in California, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Chuck tells this story.

YouTube Cewebrity Dance Off

Leave it to the hyper talented Davideo Designs (see his website at to create this magically delicious “YouTube Celebrity Dance-Off” competition. The poor guy solicited clips from YouTubers, and patienty waited. Finally he decided to go with special effects listed below.

After SMPFilms decided to bust me in his recent video (which will probably be deleted before you see this), I can only celebrate that his face was placed over an older woman. How perfect.

It also features sxephil, charlestrippy, lonelygirl14, geriatric1927, brookers and me.

  • Music is “Flight of the CEEDEE”, from Davideo’s “Ghouls go Wild” performed on his cherished Korg Triton.
  • Visual applications used were Photoshop to prepare assets. After Effect for the compositing. Monet for the motion tracking of heads. Boujou for the 3d tracking of the aeroplane. 3d Max for the Plane render with Afterburn for the Red Arrows style colored smoke trails.
  • Then edited together with a Sony Digital Pictures NLE ala Vegas.
  • Total time to complete according to Davideo= 20 Coffees, 30 cigs, 2 bowls of rice crispies, 2 cakes, 3 pints of water, and no sleep.