YouTubers Get Love from Yahoo, Google and Disney

What does it mean to top YouTubers now that Yahoo, Disney and Google are showing them love? Will we see the online-video landscape resemble network/studio relationships?

Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.
Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.

It’s a good time to be a YouTuber… or at least own a popular YouTube channel. We’re seeing the online-video landscape mature, and start to resemble how networks and studios connect. The networks (Disney, Yahoo, YouTube) are working with studios (online-video studios and some individual partners/channels) in some interesting ways….

What’s interesting about these big moves is how markedly different this is from the past behavior of these companies.

  • We saw Disney making some early bets with its own home-grown online-video content. Remember Stage 9?
  • Yahoo contacted me and other YouTubers around 2008 to discuss potential revenue-sharing deals. They were considering exclusivity at the time, and that’s a deal breaker for YouTubers that won’t give up their primary audience.
  • And Google? It hasn’t even marketed itself well, much less its partners. And who would ever imagined the tech-engineering company would advertise YouTube partners on TV, print or outdoor? They’re doing it, but you know it pains them.

So what’s all this mean?

  • These events don’t impact your typical YouTuber, but the winners of the Yahoo/Google efforts will be the YouTube creators with large audience and studio representation by one of the online-video networks. That’s because Yahoo and Google will have to deal with the complexities of Discovery to get to Revision3 content, and Disney to get to Maker channels/creators.
  • But watch for partnerships between Yahoo and smaller studios like Fullscreen, BigFrame and Collective. 
  • And what about Google’s efforts to promote YouTubers beyond the YouTube regulars? I would expect to see “the rich get richer,” because it’s most likely to promote the proven content with top views. So like a marathon’s second half, we’ll see an increasing distance between the leaders and the rest.
  • There will surely be some more attempts to lock creators and studios to “exclusive” arrangements, although Yahoo won’t get anywhere requiring that of popular YouTubers. But it makes sense. TV shows don’t get to broadcast on every channel. The networks pick the shows, and promote them to “their” audience. We’ll see that happening with top YouTube channels in coming months and years, which is why YouTube will have to work harder to cultivate relationships and keep stars/channels.

What’s your take? And where is the Global Online Video Association in all of this? How about a POV, Kontonis?

 

What’s Driving Yahoo Growth in Online Video?

Yahoo showed a fairly large increase in last month’s online-video viewing. How? I’ll give you a hint: it’s news.

Since most of the monthly comScore data is predictable, the blogs have jumped on this… Search Engine Watch called it “colassel as a giant squid,” and TubeFilter called it “massive.”

While 20% growth on a low base isn’t perhaps “colossal” or “massive,” it is impressive for Yahoo. Yahoo always fancied itself as a portal, hence its loss of audience to search-engine giant Google. In early 2000s I would have expected Yahoo to be the rightful owner of the online-video battle. But it hasn’t captured online video despite many attempts.

Now Yahoo has bumped Vevo out for the #3 position last month. Sure, the audience bar chart shows a steep cliff after Google sites (YouTube). YouTube streamed about 50% of the 40 billion video views in February (and has about 3x the viewers of its nearest competitors). But Yahoo’s growth still warrants some exploration.

Abc yahoo2 200x160

So what’s going on with Yahoo? Pick below:

a. Yahoo could be doing a better job of convincing its 177 million unique monthly viewers to consume video.

b. Yahoo announced a slate of new comedy programs, and launched the Screen, although these unlikely impacted last month.

c. Yahoo and ABC News partnered in October 2011. That deal accounts for almost half of the news videos watched by U.S. Internet viewers in February… that puts the ABC/Yahoo duo above MSNBC and CNN.

(Hint: pick c, or abc).

News is the new viral, kids.

 

Yahoo Video Out-YouTubes YouTube

Yahoo Video: Better aggregation of my kinda video

The latest version of Yahoo Video arguably out-YouTubes YouTube itself. There are just two problems with Yahoo Video, using this Butterfinger Comedy section as an example. First, I’m not a fan of auto-roll videos (especially the jabba the hut neck dude, which hits too close to home). Second, YouTube is still better at customizing videos based on my preference.

Otherwise I’d give Yahoo Video a like and thumb’s up for finding good content. Clearly a number of people are curating content, and Yahoo Screen is very 3.0ish… looks like it’s making that critical leap from web to TV.

Now let’s identify what we need from online video:

  1. Ability to toggle between short and long form content (for different types of sessions).
  2. Toss to TV… allow longer videos to be saved, and automatically cued on TV.
  3. Better predictive recommendations.
  4. We like current, so current videos should get primacy (and they don’t sufficiently on YouTube or Yahoo).
  5. More intuitive user experience tools
  6. Less clutter
  7. Separation between vloggers/amateurs and pro content
  8. Integration with social network (YouTube should have done more of this with Google Plus launch)
Yahoo Screen
I’ve always wondered why Yahoo, who is more about content, slept through the online-video revolution… snubbing amateur content. Now it seems to be taking a more YouTube approach. The trick, however, is that out-YouTubing YouTube doesn’t mean customers will flock. Yahoo needs to create a Yahoo edge that takes online-video to 2012-2015. What’s it gonna be, Yahoooooooo?
Hey I just realized Yahoo Video called me a year or so ago to discuss a program like YouTube Partners, and then dropped the ball. Bastahds.
YouTube: Better at recommendations still (but it has more data on us)

 

Hulu’s New Owner: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo?


Lots of speculation in the news about Hulu’s new owner. The Hulu peeps (Disney, NBC) opted against an IPO (initial public offering), and have an investment banker looking for a buyer.

Are we surprised that Hulu is for sale? Nope. In 2006 (give years ago) we posted that “Networks Pretend They Can Rival YouTube.” These types of things, I said, typically fail without “a STRONG intermediary is taking the lead and the individual players give authority and accountability to that player. Otherwise the interests of specific participants will almost always trump to collective goal.”

The news was dense with suggestions that Google might acquire Hulu. But despite suggestions Google and Hulu are in preliminary discussions, I’m finding that unlikely. Hulu is rumored to be trying to fetch $2 billion, which seems awfully high to me. I would suspect MSN or Yahoo would find far more interest than Google. The search giant paid less than $2 billion for YouTube ($1.65 billion), and I’m sure there is at least one tech company that would pay $2 billion simply to keep it out of Google’s hands.

What do you think?

Yahoo Begs Marketers to Put TV Commercials Online. I Puke But Understand.

(Half the fun of this post is the hyperlinked videos to punctuate the copy).

Below is an ad from a trade magazine, where Yahoo let’s advertisers know their television ads can move online. My immediate reaction (after I puked and rinsed my vomit) was that Yahoo is basically teaching advertisers and brands to annoy its users. Not a good long-term strategy.

Hey, marketer. Hey, marketer. Hey, marketer. Send us your TV spots and money. Hey, marketer.

Then again, Yahoo has long shown it knows its REAL audience is not the silly fools who visit the site, but those that give it money. Yahoo has partnered with larger content providers, fetched large integrated advertising dollars like Fagin’s army of orphans, and countered You “animal farts” Tube with promises of advertising-safe content not user-generated content.

So Yahoo goes after the path of least resistance. It’s not an entirely reckless move. If you’re an online property and see the vast majority of marketing dollars going into television… why not be “an online television set”? It’s easier for marketers to understand, and for lazy media buyers to spend without a lot of work.

No seriously. Prerolls make me obsessed with brands.

Consider the mind of the marketer:

  • My VP keeps asking me to shift dollars to online. I don’t want to hassle with a dumb ass branded Facebook page.
  • Wait- I don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars customizing my content for the medium?
  • I can just have my “Agency of Record” account lead tell his production people to send the Yahoo people a compressed version of our :30 and :60 spots?
  • Then I shift some of my budget allocation? Sign me up. Yey prerolls!

Meanwhile, the consumer is silently skipping or indulging the ads with despise (even the dumbest online site won’t measure or share data on how prerolls have negative impact on brand sentiment). The hapless user/viewer is forced to watch television ads before and during the content they want. Suddenly they start drifting away from Yahoo, and looking for less obnoxious ways to get content and entertainment.

It’s a smart, strategic way to spur a shift of media dollars, even if it comes at the expense of Yahoo’s other target audience (the users and viewers).

Will it work? It might bring some fast revenue, but its sustainability requires a) the non-ad content being so incredible that Yahoo viewers tolerating this, and b) if Yahoo can use this approach as a buyer “hook,” then quickly adapts the ad content to make it engaging (something the ad promises, but is not as easy as repurposing television spots).

A more sustainable approach would be to partner with firms that can create “branded entertainment” (whatever that means to you), or set up rich media entertainment with non-intrusive but inviting ads (the Seven Echo model). But really… does Yahoo have the time or patience for that?

10 Predictions for Online-Video in 2010

I’m a bit late on my online-video predictions for 2010 (unless you count this December post). The landscape continues to change, and it seems the world has been slow to catch up with my 2008 and 2009 predictions. Heck I even made a video in 2006 predicting 2007.

Here’s what I’m seeing in Online Video for Twenty Ten. Don’t forget to read the predictions from December from many WVFF guests who be smarter then my.

  1. Continued web-to-television bridges. While we’re still far from a merge of cable, television and online-video, we’ve seen some interesting changes already. Roku, Netflix, AppleTV, and a few brave television manufacturers pre-embedding software and wireless access or Ethernet plugs. I’m going o once again bet on the lazy man’s alternative to setting up their own PC media player. I see a $199 device that allows us to access the Internet right from our televisions. It’s a small PC, a remote-controlled keyboard and mouse, and it plugs into any television via HDMI or even less progressive connections.
  2. More stars dive into online video. Ashton Kutcher, Felicia Day, Tom Green. These guys have embraced new media, and there’s a wild rush to Twitter. 2010 is the year that more stars put themselves on YouTube. Don’t believe me? Wired reports Kutcher IS the future of video. They won’t always “go viral” but their strong fan bases offline will propel them to the most-subscribed pages of YouTube, eclipsing many of the web purists.
  3. AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo Catch Up. Ironically, the laggards are web portals and search engines that had a media bent a decade ago. Google leapfrogged them with YouTube. They can’t stand on the sidelines forever. Watch for these players cutting deals with larger players (cable, telecommunications, etc.) to establish their dominance. Since it’s almost impossible to battle YouTube directly, they’ll focus on partnerships with tech companies and premium content providers. The result may not be as popular, but it will command the attention of advertisers that like pro content and “safe” plays.
  4. Programming Not Sporadic. When I was posting daily, I didn’t realize how important that was. It kept my audience active, and ensured my recent videos got 50-100,000 views. In past months, I’ve posted unpredictably and as little as 10 times a month. The result? I’ve plateaued. Meanwhile the regular posters (Sxephil, WhatTheBuckShow, CharlesTrippy and ShayCarl) are souring. The creator community is learning about the vital need to post predictably. ZeFrank used to post at 1:00 daily. TheOnion was always updated online on Wednesday. If you’re not predictable, you’re forgotten. Many amateurs are hosting live shows once a week, and the crowds flock to see their favorite “stars” unplugged. Audiences like routines.
  5. Division of Audience Focus in Conferences and Publishing. In the early days of the Internet, attendees included marketers, tech folks, and about every other business function that thought the web was going to be more than a fad. Online-video conferences and publications have taken the same approach. Watch in 2010 as conferences and publishing focus on more concrete audiences. AdTech for advertisers. StreamingMedia for technology people. And other conferences for marketers or web-studio playas. These conferences are too frequent and too broad to serve any audience well.
  6. Niftier Audience Participation. We’re still doing little more than putting VHS tapes online. The power of Web 2.0 (or 4.0 or whatever the hell you want to call it) is the interactivity and the engagement it facilitates in storytelling. Sure we saw 2009 videos that took advantage of “annotations” to create “choose your own adventure” series. But watch as advertisers and content creators merge to create more robust engagement experiences built on video, but with lots of tools that create a deeper, immersive experience. SevenEcho is one company to watch.
  7. White Dwarfs and Luminous SuperGiants. The lifecycle of the average weblebrity is compressing, despite a handful of amateurs that have maintained a vibrant presence. In 2010 we’ll see some new talent and more popular talent fading. There are not many people that have the persistence and creativity to sustain a continued audience. There are “Gary Larsons” that burn bright but short. There are Charles Shulz’s that don’t stop until they die (or their lines become jagged like someone drawing on a motor boat).
  8. Advertisers Forced In. Every year we predict advertisers will finally embrace online video (but the spend levels are not proportionate to the audience reach). That pretty much HAS to change dramatically in 2010. Not enough impact on television’s fragmenting and depleting audiences. So even the most traditional and laziest media buyer will be forced by marketers to spend more and spend more wisely. Watch for more obnoxious takeovers on YouTube and other sites, but also some clever alternatives that get brands “inside” the content.
  9. There is No 9th Preduction. That’s because I have to go wake up the kids, and don’t have time.
  10. News, News, News. We have watched as “consumer generated media” has made its way to many televised news stories. Now that cell phones with video cameras are fairly common, we’ll see more of this. And that prediction I made years ago… a live broadcast from some crisis directly from a person’s cell phone? That’s happening in 2010 or I’ll stop predicting it. I promise.

Yahoo Video Confusing I’m Volunteering $2500 of Free Consulting To Help

The last time I checked, it was easier to find Yahoo Video by searching for it, rather than trusting the user-experience folks at Yahoo.com. But let’s give it a shot anyway. You start your Rubiks cube and we’ll see who gets there first.

  1. I’m at the Yahoo! Homepage. I see Movies/TV in the primary navigation. I’m running low on water.
  2. There’s another “video” above the search bar, which probably just refines search results to be video only. My bag of rice is beginning to deplete.
  3. Wait- just noticed tabs above the lead news story and one says video. Wonder what that might be. Oh that was a mistake. It’s all news, and pre-rolls before I see a clip ripped from ABC’s programming. They don’t dare confess the time, but I’m guessing 6 minutes. I’m surviving on red berries and roots.
  4. Confused, I try “My Yahoo.” Sadly, it has my movie theaters but most everything else is the same. Except for the Movies/TV is now just TV. That makes sense. I haven’t shaved and I’m beginning to get weak and delirious.
  5. Success! A Yahoo! search for “Yahoo Video” resulted in the top-secret video site as the first search listing. I’ll bet the video folks are high-fiving each other for that primo organic placement. Maybe they could talk Yahoo into, I dunno, a hyperlink? Maybe some contextual links to the dessert island site called Yahoo Video. Bookmark this folks in case Google Video overtakes it in the Yahoo keyword rankings. http://video.yahoo.com/

Now here’s the thing… the site is so simplified as to be confusing. I can’t quite “dig in” by niche categories or list top creators. I can’t see ratings because Yahoo people don’t rate or interact. Yahoo Video is far from the community and organic form of the industry’s leader. People don’t subscribe, or even visit related videos from a creator they like. So it’s nearly impossible to get views on Yahoo Video unless an editor likes  you enough to sort through your recent clips and give it a decent placement.

I’ll give Yahoo credit, and assume they want to be very selective about the videos appear (good for viewers and for advertisers). The result is quality control and ad-friendly videos (none of that rogue CGA stuff). But the site just doesn’t make me want to stick around like YouTube. In fact it’s pushing me off the Internet. I’m going to see if my DVR recorded The Office last week, and whether I’ve missed it.

Anyone else want me jumping on their video site and chronicalling my confusion as if I’m the User Experience Genius? It’s worth noting that the kind editors featured my pets in Halloween video giving it more than 600,000 views (very exciting). I love you editors. Just not your employers commitment to online video. And sadly those views don’t provide income or bring an audience closer to me: the adjacent videos had 36 and 69 views. And I’ve got just 31 fans (compare that to 63,000 on YouTube).

The market needs a better competitor to YouTube… it will spawn innovation, drag advertisers into the space, and benefit creators. And I’ve always thought Yahoo, as a media company more than a search player, would emerge with a better video play than Google.

Let’s step up the game, Yahoo Video! I volunteer one day of my consultative skills (normally $2500 in fees) if you let me brainstorm improvements with your talented user-experience folks, and some assurance that if we pitch something better you’ll seriously consider rolling it out. Of course free consulting is worth what you pay. Tee hee.

-Kevin

Even New Online-Video Stars Do Product Placement

Even online-video noobs (like Britney Spears, who only started posting to her YouTube channel in early 2007) are selling out in product placements!

But at least she can have some fun with it. The Nokia 5800 spotted in Britney’s “Womanizer” music video has an appointment scheduled for “product placement meeting.”

Courtesy of Yahoo Video blog, where you can see the video in schweet resolution.

Canadian Internet Starlet Meets Viral Video Genius

Sophia (aka Mugglesam) goes to a Canadian Internet conference and meets the viral video genius. So fascinating to relive this day through the eyes of a shorter child than me.

And if you’re marketing to kids or parents, help me understand why you wouldn’t make Sophia your spokeperson. Because otherwise she might be a tractor when she grows up.

The Secret Sauce of Viral Video? Falling Off a Stage. And Dressing Like a Dork in Public.

It’s now officially my Halmark. I like falling off the stage when I speak. This morning I did it at a Yahoo! conference in Toronto, and practically caused the organizer to go into labor early (sorry, Adina).

Here’s the highlights, and includes some footage for a future video called “Dork Runner.” Thanks to mugglesam for finding the costume store and working camera on this footage. Dork Runner will be in Philly’s YoTube event Friday, NYC on Monday, and LA on Wednesday. Stay tuned for a montage.

On Slideshare, you can download the presentation I showed here, which is called “The Secrets of Viral Video Marketing.” The embed is below, and you can click thru to get to the download page. Please attribute it to willvideoforfood.com per creative commons or whatever.