Category Archives: internet video

31,594,000 ways to avoid your content portal

Facebook became the third most popular venue for watching online video in October, signaling the end of content portals. In our age of a million channels where making choices is difficult, the recommendations of our peers are becoming the new TV Guide.

What do we mean? There are three ways that content is distributed: First, producers can push — say, NBC’s old Seinfeld appointment television viewing on Thursday nights in the 1990s. Second, users can search — Google’s rise in the early part of this decade, and more recently the popular YouTube engine that allows you to find funny cat videos. But the third wave is when people you trust do the finding for you.

Here’s a test: Think of all the content your business puts out that you want people to see — your web site, your press releases, videos, ads and marketing communications. Now, add up all the ways you enable others to share your content with their networks of people. Is the sum more than zero?

Homophily at prime time

Human networks amplify the dynamic of “homophily,” the tendency of people you like to enjoy the same things you do. This is why people in cliques tend to wear the same clothes, watch the same movies, discuss the same politics, and now … share the same content. We trust our friends and loved ones. When they share something, we want to watch.

The strategic lesson for marketers is if you want your message to go viral, you have to find ways to entice networks of users to share it with others. For example, Facebook is no Hulu or YouTube yet, but the numbers for video access there are rising. In October 31.5 million unique users watched videos posted inside the social network, vs. 13.4 million on Hulu (the leading site for professional video content) and 105 million in YouTube (top site for user-generated video).

The “sticky” portal strategy of the 1990s is dying a deserved egocentric death. The center will not hold because you are no longer the center. You have to find ways to pass it along.

Apple: No more movie sharing for you

Are you a digital pirate?

Probably, at least according to Apple’s new definition. Apple just slipped a new digital rights management system into its MacBooks — meaning that if you purchase a movie from iTunes you can only watch it on the device’s 13-inch screen and not connect it with any other monitors in your house.

This tiny issue has ticked off Apple fans and points out the thorny definition of ownership in the digital age. If your home has eight viewing screens — TVs, laptops, PCs, cell phones — shouldn’t you be able to watch content you buy on any of them? But at the same time, if manufacturers and filmmakers make it easy for you to share content among your home’s devices, how do they stop you from outputting it to others illegally? Wired goes into detail about Apple’s new High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection scheme, which seems to leave no one happy.

ITunes now offers 1,500 films, NetFlix 15,000 online. Consumers want to buy them, but the concept of “ownership” is still caught between the need for access and the greed to share. It’s all enough to make you give up and pay $20 for popcorn at a movie theater.

UGC on skateboards at Mach 2

Here’s a video of two guys skateboarding down a mountain at, oh, about 45 miles per hour. Proof that dread can grab your attention. Proof that user-generated content may someday kill traditional media. Proof that if you’re gonna almost kill yourself, it’s better to dress in style.

If you’re busy, jump ahead and start at minute two. Yikes. Film by Ari Marcopoulos. Via Andy at Million Monkeys.

With all this ‘lip dubbing,’ are you paying attention?

Get ready, advertisers, because an impression is no longer an impression.

Our story begins with two tactical news items. has announced it will allow visitors at its movie site to watch movies, trailers and TV shows for free with limited commercial interruptions, often before the TV shows air on broadcast television. And the ad blog Herd notes that Vimeo, the video-sharing site with crisper resolution than YouTube, continues to grow with user-generated content such as its popular “lip dubbing” contest.

All of this creates an issue much deeper than the cannibalization of viewers from traditional broadcast — we call it the fallacy of impressions. Today’s media consumers are multitasking: Twittering while they watch CNN, downloading music while they send emails, watching James Bond in Casino Royale in a small browser window while they work. (Whoops. That last one is us.)

In simple terms, this means 1,000 “impressions” — the currency of impact bought by advertisers — may be only 200 or 300. As users consume media in multiple formats at the same time, advertising impressions become something less than a true imprint. The calculation of GRPs and CPMs is hazier if the viewer who ends up exposed to your ad is partially checked out, playing chess or sending instant messages at the same time the ad rolls across the screen.

A while back MRI conducted a study that ranked different media by how attentive consumers where at different times of the day to each media option. The results weren’t pretty. In the morning, for example, only 31.4% of television viewers said they were “very focused” on the TV, which means about two-thirds of all ads broadcast in that period may not be noticed.

Expect the tune-out to continue. The solution? Media plans will soon need to estimate the attentiveness of your audience in addition to how many impressions are made.

Lip dub by Leonardo Dalessandri.

Scoble and Twitter hug: A cell phone moment

The most interesting thing about blogger Robert Scoble’s video interview with Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone is that he covered one of the “scoops” of modern technology in an ad-hoc report with a cell phone video camera.

Twitter, as you’ve surely read, is the uber-popular messaging service that has grown a little too quickly, and its small team of engineers is now frantically trying to rebuild the architecture before users get really PO’d and move on. Evan Williams notes in this interview that his team didn’t really know what they were building two years ago, structured Twitter as a content management vs. messaging service, and have been shocked to find users such as Scoble broadcasting messages to 20,000+ users every five seconds. Now, they are trying to rebuild Twitter while millions of users Tweet away, a task akin to changing tires on a car while it moves at 90 mph.

The interview is a nice piece of 2008 history. The real story is how the proliferation of cell phones with video and web access will change media reporting. Scoble had been having arguments with Stone, asked if he could come over, and suddenly a 20-20 style video interview was being captured. Just wait until Apple loads a Carl Zeiss lens and decent video capture into the next iPhone, and soon the news will be everywhere bloggers who knock on doorways can find it.

CT Lotto: What happens when video is everywhere

Stop in a gas station or deli in Connecticut and you’ll notice a new thing on the checkout counter — a flat-panel video screen braying ads for Powerball, Classic Lotto, scratch games, or occasionally a PSA from the State of Connecticut. The Connecticut Lottery is upgrading its ticket machines to include video screens facing customers.

As consumers gain more control over traditional media vehicles, such as skipping TV commercials with DVRs, some marketers are shouting louder — looking for new corners of your life to interrupt you with an unwanted message. Our least favorite intrusions are those that are wildly off-base, such as Mobil outdoor loudspeakers than call you to come in for a six-pack of Coke while you fill up the gas tank. It doesn’t rankle us that such audio is intrusive — most advertising is — but simply that the adverse impact of annoying your customers is much greater than the minimal response these off-target ads create. And that’s just stupid.

The CT Lotto screens aren’t so annoying, and sure, video is eye-catching the first time you see it by the register. But soon it will become a commodity and then be ignored like the vast majority of other point-of-sale displays (quick, name three brands you saw in the gas station window).

Call it the advertising tragedy of the commons; a green, peaceful pasture is good for the masses, but each individual marketer has an incentive to encroach and shout a bit, and soon all is cacophony. When every corner of the world is wired for video, how will your message compete? When every angle of sight pitches consumers an offer, how will they respond?

Zap! Now ads are vaporized on Safari, too.

So 2.5+ million people around the world have downloaded Adblock Plus, a web browser add-on that blocks banner ads, and adoption is climbing at about 300,000 to 400,000 users per month. Last year it was only available on Firefox, but it got enough buzz for PC World to call it one of the top 100 products of the year.

Now, an adblock is available for Safari web browsers, too. Screen shots below show a French web page, before and after banner ads are vaporized. As consumers begin screening ads, as web modality shifts from search to social, and as the screen inventory for ads gets smaller (see: your cell phone), internet marketers may face rough seas ahead. Expect online ad channels to fight back — like the move by Google to begin testing video ads in its search results pages. If the ads are sexy enough, who wants to block them?

Want movie deal? Wreck your house like Corey Worthington

This week’s case study in viral messaging: 16-year-old Corey Worthington’s house party got a little out of hand in Melbourne, Australia. With parents gone, 500 teenagers showed up and began wrecking neighbors’ cars in the street. For penance, his family will be fined $20,000 and this newscaster practically spanked him.

With such a story hook, the internet scaled Corey to instant fame:

– Corey’s videos have been viewed 170,770 times on YouTube in five days
– Fans on Facebook have set up a fund-raising site to cover his $20k bill
– A group of Australians are advocating Corey be named official representative to the Australian colonies
– An ad agency quickly snagged Corey as the anti-spokesman for their real estate promotions
– Ozzy Osbourne is calling
– Music and movie deals to follow.

(Tx Fake Steve.)