Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

Yesterday, YouTube announced a significant change in policy that will reward anyone who posts popular user-generated content with cash.  Essentially, they will identify any video as it gains popularity, then contact the owner who posted it and ask if they will allow their content to carry advertising.  The two parties will then split the proceeds based on views with the content-provider earning the majority.  In the words of a spokesman, “Very popular videos can make thousands of dollars a month.”

youtube-money-200x83All of which is a pretty amazing reset of the status quo.  Until now, YouTube has functioned as a predominantly-amateur crowdsourcing community with the only real reward for amateur posters being pride and public recognition…and possibly a Tonight Show appearance if they earn spectacular hits.  Now however, they are introducing cash into the equation and on at least some level, that positions YouTube as a viable commercial platform for producers of micro-video content.  Find a prairie dog making a funny expression, cut it to a ten second clip and you could conceivably make thousands for your hobby: that’s YouTube’s new premise.

Of course, larger providers already do this.  Record companies post videos with integrated pitches to sell albums or downloads, TV shows post their content to advertise their programs (Susan Boyle anyone?).  In these instances, adding further advertising would create a meta situation: attaching advertising to sell a product to advertising already selling something else.  But that really isn’t their play.  Instead, they are squarely targeting the amateurs posting clips of a muddled young Davids dealing with dental anesthesia, jolly, giggling babies and skateboarders taking spectacular faceplants.

Will bringing money to the equation upend the crowdsourcing community currently posting nearly a year’s worth of original content to YouTube every day?  Will it be seen as polluting the site’s democracy with professional commerce?  And will this platform ultimately pay off for advertisers?

Only time will tell, but once again, our media landscape continues to evolve with breathtaking speed, introducing ever more legitimate niche platforms.  It will be interesting to see if this leads to a new video gold rush, as stage-parents and pet lovers and kid-auteurs add to the already-dunning crush of original content YouTube posts every day.

In fact, I should call a few makers of  skateboarding safety equipment: I have an idea for a smart new place to invest their tiny marketing budgets…

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Does "Judson Laipply" Ring A Bell?

Does 'Judson Laipply' Ring a Bell?

Are you sure?  Because chances are, you’ve spent six minutes or so staring at him sometime during the past three years…  Admittedly, you were kind of furtheraway from him and the lighting was bad but he was right there in the spotlight…

His name is Judson Laipply.  You can follow him @judsonlaipply  Does that help?

Okay, he’s a motivational speaker.  Which is probably more confusing than helpful; how can you willingly spent six minutes with a motivational speaker and not remember it?

He’s got a book, advertised here.  This site describes Judson (or ‘Jud’) as a “charismatic, insightful, and humorous personality…an Inspirational Comedian™”

This is how you know Judson Laipply, Inspirational Comedian™: he created and regularly performs “The Evolution of Dance” at the close of his live appearances.  In April of 2006, he posted a video of one of his performances on a video sharing site that was then barely one year old.  Today, that YouTube clip–in all it’s stationary camera, lo-fi non-glorious production value–stands as the most popular internet video of all time.  It’s been viewed 123,587,836 times on YouTube alone (as of 6:35 this morning) and factoring in postings on other web sharing sites, the total views are estimated to be greater than 150 million.  Further, given the nature of the clip, a high percentage of those views involved groups of people–parents showing their kids or coworkers showing groups of coworkers.

Jud’s been featured on all sorts of television shows and speaks regularly around the country, traveling from his home in Cleveland.  In fact, right now he’s on a cruise ship, plying Alaska’s inland waterway.  This clip’s runaway success has certainly boosted attendance at his speaking engagements and he’s certainly smiling in every last image you find of him.  As he should be–he’s motivational after all.

But what does it say when the highest achievement on YouTube video brings with it largely anonymous fame?

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Stand up comedians have long provided some of the best lessons on how to improve the descriptive and engaging power of your copywriting.  And I’m not referring to the crowd-rousing F-bomb stadium acts of the Dane Cook school: as someone who’s long fought a losing battle with salty language, I nonetheless subscribe to the adage “swearing’s just lazy speech.”  Instead, I’m talking about the raw power of true comedy as practiced by Newhart, Cosby, Seinfeld–the kind that wrings laugh from audiences of every age and background.  Because that’s most relevant to advertising.

You Can Do Lots of Things With Bacon

You Can Do Lots of Things With Bacon (photo via awkwardfamilyphotos.com)

Jim Gaffigan is one of those comedians that a bunch of people seem to have some connection with: Derek Sherman, award-winning CD/CW at Energy BBDO went to Georgetown with him, my brother-in-law Marty’s college roommate Joe ran around with him at tiny La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana, and he’s long been a David Letterman favorite.

This past Holiday weekend, my nephews punched up his bits on YouTube, including this gem where Jim riffs on bacon.  It’s all good, but his bacon material runs from 2:19 til 6:59; that’s four minutes and forty brilliant seconds dedicated to this humble breakfast meat.  His references are both universal and personal, his insights immediately induce head-nods.  It’s a dizzying performance built on the most mundane of topics.

And that’s where the lesson lies.  As a copywriter, it’s all too easy to rely on the prefabricated descriptors suggested on the brief, to simply regurgitate the list of client-approved adjectives.  But where’s the fun in that?  It’s not creative, and it’s not particularly engaging.

So if today you wonder what you’re gonna do with another $7.99 weekly dinner special or how you’re going to pitch another new MRI machine or where you can find the magic in auto insurance, watch some of Jim’s clips (Hot Pockets has particular relevance for our industry).  Take a lesson from a master on how to mine a subject for the universal human relevance.

And never, ever–even under the most dire of circumstances–lower your standards and acquiesce to using anything like that unholy, grammatical aberration “goodness.”  You will never forgive yourself for it.  Nor should you.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Picture 1Last week, a post on iMedia Connection with the incindiary headline “Why Twitter Will Soon Become Obsolete” , caused a bit of a stir. Jason Clark, a creative director at VIA Studio, made a rather compelling argument that despite the hype surrounding this platform, people shouldn’t consider it a final destination as a social network.  Referencing the constant stream of new platforms that have sprung up on the net these past twenty five years, Clark argues that all have been social networks of one form or another, from the late 70’s bulletin boards and usenet groups, to the rise of email in the 80’s and then the increasingly rapid iterations and adoption of blogging and AIM to the more contemporary platforms like Friendster which begat MySpace and eventually Facebook, along with all the recent graphic networks like Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo.  The only constant throughout has been change; as soon as one platform captures the attention of a large group, a technology and needs-driven iteration develops and if it proves useful, the herd quickly adopts it as well.  Or more depressingly, once the signal-to-noise ratio becomes unbearable with marketers spamming the platform and chooching up the interface, people look for something new.  He points to Google’s Wave as a potential next destination.

Despite the pugnacious headline, Clark’s argument makes fundamental sense, even as iMedia simultaneously posted a story on how Nielsen measured Twitter’s user base growth at an astounding 1444% this past year: as of May, 18.2 million accounts had registered on the service.  Marketers now must evolve their tactics to keep up with internet time, creating an uncomfortable cycle of constant reinvention to keep pace with engaged audiences.

Our business challenge now is to sustain a constant sprint, to keep tabs on critical consumer markets that migrate with quicksilver speed in a constant movable feast.  This is the phenomenon guest blogger Tim Mauery wrote about this past Tuesday: today, Fastest/Smartest wins.

The trick however, is keeping an eye on the one marketing goal that never changes: building client brands.  You can lose hours of the workday, surfing the web and social ‘NOTworking’ under the pretense of understanding the market.  But the business of brand building has also become more time consuming, particularly today when the participatory Web 2.0 has essentially provided consumer opinion with a mass distribution channel.

Brands are opinions, and we need to continually shape, steer and improve those opinions with clever, strategic engagement across more consumer touchpoints than ever.  Against our shrinking timeframes, picking which touchpoints to engage given finite marketing dollars will decide who soars and who stumbles.

If anyone has any tips on doing that successfully, the comment board is open.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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It may seem like so much facile wordplay, but the fundamental need for advertisers to move from the dated notion of ‘integrated marketing’ to the more contemporary concept of ‘integrating marketing’ makes sense for a number of reasons.  First, it’s active.  ‘Advertising’ must be thought of a verb: an active pursuit that demands ongoing care and engagement.  Given the constant stream of opinion that fills and influences the content streaming over social media, brands and their agency protectors can ill afford to fall into the old habit of ‘set it and forget it.’  Today, brand advocacy demands a deeper commitment to insure their ongoing health; we always have to be doing something.  Because brands are opinions.

Picture 1Another upside of re-imagining our job as ‘Integrating Marketing’ is that it encourages a broader view that incorporates both paid, earned and even ‘drive-by’ media like Twitter and brand review sites.  The messages we produce and introduce to the marketplace create movement and impact, but they are hardly the last word.  With purchase intent so driven by recommendation and word of mouth, agencies need to monitor and ideally, impact, every available platform for widespread opinion sharing.

Ultimately, the real reason to reorient ourselves toward ‘integrating’ marketing is that our market is continually disintegrating.  Through technology like DVR’s, Hulu and YouTube, the market continually expands away from one common location.  To reach these far flung micro audiences requires a constant process of ‘integrating’ them back into a larger group around a common bond.

So, are you integrated?  Or are you integrating?

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Picture 5I let our dog out into the backyard last night and twenty minutes later, the unmistakable smell of skunk barged in through the windows and doors and seemingly the walls themselves.  If you’ve never smelled a skunk, it can only be described as a three dimensional odor of hammering disgust: intense, intolerable and inescapable.  The large-hearted among us may be inclined to excuse the skunk since its low status on the food chain bestows such a nauseating means of self-defense, but no one with even modest olfactory capabilities can–the stink is just too strong.  And so I spent three hours staining Jack’s bounteous ruff with tomato juice, trying to cut the stench from horrific to merely awful.  In the end, Jack still had to spend the night outside, his hangdog expression clearly communicating that this excretion offended even his adventurous nose.

When you get hit by a skunk, you have to act immediately to clean up and then…wait. There’s not a lot you can do other than try to address the issue as best you can and then…endure.  More than anything else, time diminishes the odor.

Dominos got hit by a skunk a few weeks back in the form of two bonehead employees with a video camera.  Their CEO went on YouTube reasonably quickly, showed his disgust and disdain, and then…waited.  And despite how those disgusting images sear into the synapses, time helps the image fade, particularly once you realize this was a rogue act of a skunk.  Our home state got hit by a skunk in the form of Rod “Pay to Play” Blagojevich.  Actually, Illinois has a history of living in a cloud of stench from skunks that go by the title of ‘governor’ or ‘senator.’  Someone like Michael Vick didn’t get hit by a skunk, he was the skunk for the Atlanta Falcons, and they too had to scramble to determine a response that would be strong enough, before stepping back and waiting it out.

When brands are opinions and opinions enjoy the mass distribution channels of social networks, the once separate worlds of advertising and public relations. must converge.  And nothing makes that more obvious than those unfortunate moments when you’re sprayed by a skunk.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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“Meme” is one of those words I’ve long viewed skeptically.  It sounds egg-heady and vaguely French.  And I always have a nagging sense I’m pronouncing it wrong (it rhymes with ‘dream’).  Still, like Web 2.0, once I actually learned what it meant, it wasn’t particularly intimidating.  There’s a lot of egg-heady, vaguely Greek background information, but a meme basically amounts to to a self-replicating idea; think of it as copy-catting gone viral.  Or think of it as a very high percentage of what you like on YouTube.

Play Them Off, Keyboard Cat

Play Them Off, Keyboard Cat

Actually, don’t think about it too much; just enjoy this recent one; the play them off keyboard cat.  This is not a topic solely of interest to cat people.  Hardly.  This kimono-sporting feline does nothing more than move his paws over a synthesizer keyboard in an entirely unconvincing manner to a simple, ear-catching tune.  This is clearly not about the production value, which–aside from the well-tailored silk garb–is non-existent.  It’s about the idea; whenever someone or something produces a video FAIL (yet another meme), some amateur video editor takes that footage and intercuts this increasingly degrading clip into the situation at the end–literally playing him off ala Doc Severinsen on the old Tonight Show or Paul Shaffer on Letterman.  These video clips often takes on meta status as they add this keyboard cat meme onto already popular video clips like this, this, and my far and away favorite–this

When everyone can participate in the media, when technology makes it easy to make simple edits on a laptop, and when any video that captures the public attention can be forwarded with a few keystrokes, memes like the play-them-off-keyboard-cat will continually pop up like so many smile-inducing mayflies.  Perhaps dancing babies and grape stomp lady and where the hell is Matt? don’t add to the intellectual advancement of the culture, but they add undeniable fun to a Friday morning.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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'His Holiness' Would Make an Epic Twitter Handle

'His Holiness' Would Make an Epic Twitter Handle


As reported in various news channels before the recent Holiday weekend, the Vatican launched www.pope2you.net last Thursday to celebrate World Communications Day, or Inter Mirifica: an outcome of the Second Vatican Council.  This year, the Pope’s message directly addresses ‘the digital generation’ through a website, e-mail outreach, and yes, a Facebook app.  No, you won’t be able to poke the pontiff or learn what his Smurf name might be, but this action represents a conscious, if occasionally unwieldy, move by this ancient organization into social media. 

The Pope’s message invites young people to become instruments for peace and promote a culture of respect built on ‘great synergies of friendship.’  Beyond the dismaying fact that the Pope himself resorted to saying ‘synergies,’ this move by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications drills home just how quickly our media environment has evolved over the past five years.  Obviously, technology has changed, but that’s not nearly as remarkable as how human behavior has changed.  The Vatican’s decision to turn to the internet as a means of spreading church gospel shows a practical awareness of where their congregation lives, plays and exchanges ideas.  With this new site, Catholics can now interact in this rich dialogue environment with a limitless supply of e-cards and banners from the Pope.  They can also follow and forward news and updates on YouTube or through a new iPhone app.  

What marketers refer to as viral messaging is merely a 21st century update of missionary work: a central organization creates a strong message, then sends out true believers with an imprimatur to take that message and spread it to people in far off lands.  The big difference is that today, you can do that simply by pressing ‘send.’ 

As Clay Shirky explains in his engaging, imminently readable book “Here Comes Everybody” (You still haven’t read it?  C’mon…), we live in a time where communications technology makes it incredibly easy to organize without organizations.  Because of this, organizations need to think beyond their own walls and self interests to consider outside communities that might share their thinking, values or interests.  These communities are not officially sanctioned extensions of the organization, because they exist solely on the strength of their members’ passion; call them ‘intramural organizations.’

Every large organization with a message to market must become aware of their own ‘intramural organizations’ and find ways to foster and encourage them.  When done deftly, large organizations can extend their marketing almost exponentially because these intramural groups excel at driving recommendation and word of mouth. 

The best way to spread any message—religious or secular—is to define your brand’s mission, and spread that.  The Pope’s doing it, why aren’t you?

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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A Reuters news story that’s simultaneously fascinating and pathetic discusses the phenomenon of hate groups turning to social networks to spread their extremist messages.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center reports that the same sites where we send birthday wishes and take daily quizzes to determine “Which lump of coal do you most resemble?” (I got Bituminous!) are increasingly being exploited to spread propaganda and recruit members.  The Center cites a 25% increase in ‘problematic’ internet social networking groups.

Don't Expect Many Ballads From These Excitable Boys

Don't Expect Many Ballads From These Excitable Knuckleheads

This makes perfectly logical sense.  The only cost of setting up such a group is time: one racist who posts on YouTube even brags about how he’s on his sixty-fourth site; everytime administrators take him down, he creates a new persona and sets up shop a few bits of code down the block. This is a fascinating phenomenon Clay Shirky analyses at length in his book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.  With such low cost of entry and such a wide net of users to recruit from, social networks provide the ideal vehicle to assemble coalitions out of far flung fringe types.

Comedian Jake Johannsen used to do a bit on gun control where he’d cop the rhetoric of advocates, saying “Guns don’t kill people…”   After a long, wide-eyed pause, he’d add “It’s those little tiny bullets…  The guns just make them go really, really, fast.”

Racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance remain deeply-seated issues within humanity.  So while it’s true that social networks provide them with a new forum to organize and spread, the appropriate response is not to curtail freedom online so much as to redouble our efforts to expose intolerant idiocy offline.

And maybe invite extremists to lighten up by taking a “Which character on Gilligan’s Island are you?” quiz on Facebook.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Relax: A Haircut Does Not Constitute A Makeover 


Relax: A Haircut Does Not Constitute A Makeover

Now that her clips from “Britain’s Got Talent” have earned well over 1oo,ooo,ooo hits in a little over a week, it’s time to get some sense of the Susan Boyle phenomenon.  Anytime something hits popular culture with this type of intensity, some will find a way to profit while others will suffer.  A highly-unscientific sampling of blogs and news stories reveal at least some early winners and losers.

On the upside, her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” seems to be revitalizing interest in the twenty-two year old Broadway hit Les Miserables. Over the past week, the soundtrack spiked back into the iTunes Top 10 and Amazon’s Top 25.  Local show productions have seen increases in ticket sales, including one Vancouver company that reported sales tripling between Tuesday and Friday of last week.  Other productions saw their Google page impressions skyrocket, with one California production’s page impressions rising from 7,000 to 50,000 in about a week. 

Clearly, Simon Cowell has won as well, by developing and producing the program and potentially providing a label for Susan’s future work.  And yet, since his production company Freemantle Media hasn’t made a penny off her groundbreaking number of video hits, one could argue that he’s also lost.   After all, the standard record label revenue-sharing model for music videos on YouTube would have paid $500,000.  Even worse, YouTube admitted they haven’t run a single ad alongside any or her posted clips as well, so they too missed a potential bonanza.

Amidst all the posted discussions, one of the more compelling and controversial essays on this topic appeared on the Silicon Alley Insider site.  Benjamin Wayne, CEO of Fliqz, posted an essay titled “YouTube is Doomed” which paints an incredibly harsh portrait of what he terms “the viral-video bubble economy.”  He draws most of his metrics from a recent Credit Suisse report pegging YouTube’s 2009 losses at nearly half a billion dollars, primarily due to their voracious, ever-expanding need for bandwidth and glaring lack of advertising dollars.

Essentially, Wayne argues that YouTube’s parent company Google won’t be able—or willing–to afford sensations like Susan Boyle.  Of course, Wayne’s POV is not universal; a number of very vocal and informed critics immediately posted responses taking both the author and the site’s editor to task for not clearly announcing that, though a tiny fraction of their size, Wayne’s company Fliqz is a YouTube competitor, which certainly colors his perspective.

At this point, after hundreds of millions of viewings and billions of written words, what can we learn from the Susan Boyle sensation?  Probably three things.  First; the online video industry will certainly change to try to monetize these unusual cultural events.  Second; the online video industry’s ability to monetize these cultural events will remain decidedly uncertain.

And finally, everyone everywhere delights in the unexpected joy of a true surprise. Good on you Susan.

 By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

PS:  On a related if not entirely congruent side note, my friend Mark Wegener wonders why everyone is amazed that “ugly people can sing: what, haven’t people heard of Willie Nelson?  Neil Young?  Meatloaf? “

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