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Friday, December 28, 2007

Who Pays for Video Views?

Well the help of a Berkeley PHD I've started working on a new list of sites that pay money for video views. Revver has always been my favorite but since they are late on my payment this month I thought I should start looking to see what else is out there.

Let me know if you receive monthly payments for your video views.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What Makes a Video Have Over 2 Million Views?

Examine any popular video and you will find components that move human emotions. Examine any viral video and you will find that two or more emotions are moved.

Take for example the above video titled: "Baby Got Back In Department store." This video has had over two million views on YouTube and depending on who you are just the title itself could have an emotional effect on you but the video itself can take you through a list of questions that evoke emotions.

As you watch the video your mind goes through a series of thoughts about what these kids are doing, what things you did as a kid, what kind of trouble they are going to get into, what people in the store must have thought when they did this, what the Walmart people thought, how many other kids have done this and other questions that support the main question: What is the story behind this video?

Are there viral videos that you've seen that make you experience more than one emotion?

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Few of Time's Top 10 Viral Video Picks Are Out of Touch

Hey it's always nice when old media pays news media some attention and Time has done that coming out with it's Top 10 Viral Videos list but Time didn't do their homework and their list shows how out of touch they are with new media.

I took a look at their list and decided I would examine what I think made these videos viral or not.

#10. Daft Hands

At number 10 with almost 11 million views on YouTube is Daft Hands. This video is a hand jive performed to the tune Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by French duo Daft Punk. Even though there is lots of "suspense" at the beginning of the video I'm surprised it caught on because it takes about a minute for the action to get started. But once the finger dancing gets going to a snappy beat that builds on lyrics from the opening of the old Six Million Dollar Man TV Show the question. "How did they do that?" pops in your head much like the Diet Coke and Mentos video from years gone by. At that point I think we are dealing with the combination of real suspense, surprise and the simple spectacle of what words with reveal themselves to the songs lyrics and if they will show up on time as the the pair of hands dance. This video does belong on the list.

#9. Clark and Michael

While I think it's great that Time has taped an Online Series for some attention I'm not seeing the views on YouTube that add up to make this series classify as "Viral" maybe they are getting views on another video hosting site but there are many more online video series with more views than Clark and Michael. This video doesn't belong on the list.

#8. Dan Rather Collar Up

When did 300,000 views put a video in the "Viral" category? This is a mildly amusing video that's painfully long to watch. What was Time thinking? I don't think it belongs on the list.

#7. Can't Tase This

While I think "Can't Tase This" is a fun Mashup of the "Don't Tase Me" Phenomenon I don't think it has the views that other "tase" videos do like the University of Florida student Tasered at Kerry forum" It doesn't belong in the Top 10.

#6. I Ran So Far

This SNL Digital Short from Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg that makes fun of Iran's president might have been one of the all time viral videos on YouTube but we will never know because it got pulled from the online video giant for copyright issues.

I do consider this video to be viral but it's a tough one for me to admit because it comes from traditional media and gets a boost from appearing on Saturday Night Live first. Who knows how many more or less views it would have had if it was posted online first.

Forgetting all that emotional baggage I have about where the video came from and just looking at it on it's own merits I Ran So Far is a true gem. Building on the visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York's Columbia University where he announced that there no homosexuals in Iran.

Using the music of Adam Levine from Maroon 5 the video "exposes" that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is gay. Playing on the hostile feelings many Americans had about the Iranian's visit to NYC and his comments about homosexuals this video plays on several emotions and was very topical. So for the year it belongs on the list but in the long run I think this video will need too much explaining to have any staying power.

#5. Prison Inmates' "Thriller" Video

When you first watch the prison inmates' "Thriller" with over 9 Million views on YouTube you ask yourself, "Is this for real?" "Why?" "Is this a real prison?" "Why did they let them do this?" "Is that a guy or a girl?" and many other questions that you just can't come up with an answer to right away and those are the things that are really good for creating an online viral video hit. This video belongs in the Top 10.

#4. Hillary 1984

Mashing up Apple's 1984 launch commercial and Hillary's speaches this video moves emotions for Democrats and Republicans as well as Macs and PCs. With over 4 Million views on YouTube this video is a maybe for the list. Although we are approaching an election year... (Feels like we've been in one.)

#3. Miss South Carolina Teen USA

A Sexy dumb blond with over 20 Million views is always going to make a top 10 list and I think this one does indeed belong in the top 10.

#2. The Landlord

One adorable little toddler, one Hollywood Superstar and over 50 million views make this viral video work on many levels. It creates many questions in the viewers head, emotionally engages on several levals and although it's not one of my personal favorites I think it absolutely belongs in the top 10.

#1: Leave Britney Alone!

Over 14 million views on YouTube and depending on who you are an avalanche of human emotions that have spawned many spoof and response videos (some by celebrities) with millions of views of their own and lots of press coverage. Time did get this one right.

Did you have any favorites that didn't make the list?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

MacWorld is Coming - Will you be my friend?

So MacWorld is coming in January and the MacMost podcast has reported that as usual Steve Jobs is keynote speaker for Macworld. Big surprise there.
In a more surprising move Lee Gibbons of Podango has asked me to speak at MacWorld about marketing your podcast but beyond that I'm going to be using my time there to make more friends. One of the best things I've learned in my time in new media is the power of friends.

I've signed up for the MacWorld Expo Social Network that uses Ning and I hope to make some new friends before MacWorld.

I used to go to conferences looking for business deals and sometimes I would find them but more often than not what I found was that I made a new friend that I did business with or that lead to new business in one way or another. The other business people that I met never really developed into anything because I didn't make friends with them and I didn't have a relationship with them.

As you move forward in your online video travels don't look for new business deals, look for new friends that you can do business with.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ask a Ninja Co-Creator Launches Blog

So Kent Nichols of Ask A Ninja fame started blogging today and he blogged about how you should not put your online video fate in the hands of YouTube. He's reffering to Perez Hilton being suspended on YouTube.

Kent also gives some great advice on the way you should do things because it worked for him.

"In this new media world, build your own domain. Create traffic that you can sell your own ads against. Build up your video views through your own site and then monetize them using Revver et. al., and then sell CPM ads as soon as you can."

He also says that because of his post about YouTube he's worried that his videos might be taken down.

I've posted one of his YouTube videos up above just to keep track. It's the What is podcasting? episode.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Online Video Guides

There are many online video guides out there. Have you seen OVGUIDE ?

Do you have a favorite online video guide?

Monday, December 17, 2007

WGA Members Welcome!

According to the LA Times, "Dozens of striking film and TV writers are negotiating with venture capitalists to set up companies that would bypass the Hollywood studio system and reach consumers with video entertainment on the Web."

I say, Welcome to the Web!" If the WGA members are able to get funding and set up their own digital studios we all will benefit because the advertising market place will develop faster.

I think the writers have had a taste of the creative freedom the Internet has to offer and they don't want to go back.

Sure they are going to make things a little more competitive for all of us but I welcome the challenge to raise the bar.

Now you VC need to whip out your checkbooks and get things rolling before the Spring Advertising Upfront!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Hardest Working Couple in Online Video

Most people throw a Holiday party to kick back relax and enjoy some downtime with friends and family, not Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf of Epic FU.

Last night several of the "Online Video Movable Feast" gang were invited over to Steve and Zadi's house for drinks and pizza but instead of serving small talk and pigs in a blanket the Epic FUers had us reading things for them on camera. We even had to sign talent releases - not that anyone had a problem with it.

From Notourage's Sarah Atwood to Ask A Ninja's
Kent Nichols and Tiki Bar TV's Jeff Macpherson to Doug Bresler, from Doogtoons and Bonny Pierzina, Vu Bui and Lan Bui from Noodle Scar the group was taking turns reading lines while Steve worked the lights and camera and Zadi held the cue cards. Steve and Zadi didn't even stop to have a drink. They just kept working the whole time I was there.

These are the early days of online video and if you are looking to get some ideas on how to make money with online video pay attention to what Steve and Zadi are doing.

1. They keep costs low by not having office space and they shoot in their home.

2. They are a two person team who write, produce, direct, host, edit and do their own website work.

3. They involve their friends and their online fans to generate content and build a community.

Steve and Zadi are absent from many online video social events because they are always working and that work ethic is starting to pay off for them.

They signed with UTA as their agent and struck a deal to produce Epic Fu for Next New Networks and besides all that they are really nice people.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Computer is Sick

To make your videos viral you need to move emotions. The Internet is full of vloggers who document their lives or topics they care about but I have yet to come across a Vlog that is emotionally compelling to me.

My computer is down this week so I took some time and watched Michael Moore's documentary SiCKO. I'm curious if any of you have seen this film and if it moved any emotions or made you think about the country you live in?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Revver Holiday Screening Series

'Tis the season for another screening http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifparty and the second Revver Screening Series is tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 11 from 7:00-9:30 pm. It features holiday-themed videos and is at the Goethe-Institut in Los Angeles.

In addition to a hand-picked batch of great videos there will be food and plenty of libations to help keep everyone warm. If you are in LA and would like to meet some of the online video community this is a great place to do just that.

The event is co-hosted with HollyShorts, LA's premier outlet for quality short films, and the evening's program includes HollyShorts Best Animation Winner “Once Upon a Christmas Village,” featuring the voice talents of Jim Belushi and Tim Curry.

The event is free and there are still a few tickets available, find out more and RSVP here.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Big Brother Coming to a Free Wi-Fi Near You?

According to Podcasting News "The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the SAFE Act, a bill saying that anyone offering a Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000."

So let's say you are sharing your Wi-Fi at a conference? Are you going to have to keep track of what everyone at the convention is sending through your laptop? Is the Apple Store going to have to record and screen everything that gets uploaded at all their retail stores? Could this be another way to make money in online video without having to be creative?

"The SAFE Act gives companies a $300,000 incentive to watch and record what you do online, and it raises a lot of questions for anyone that publishes content to the Internet."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Where Do You Get Your Online Video News?

Slowly but surly old media companies are starting to cover the online video scene on a more consistent basis. TV Week has quietly launched Web Video Report a site about the business of online video. For those of you that have just stumbled across my blog you may not know about some of the websites that cover our space. Here’s a little list in case you are interested:


Podcasting News

Web Video Report

Daily Reel – (Hasn't updated in a while -not sure why.)

If you know of some other ones please let me know.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


MySpace, IGN, Rotten Tomatoes and Walkhard-movie.com will be previewing exclusive footage from comedy Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story Starring John C. Reilly.

In a press release from Columbia Pictures says, “The first 10-minutes of producer Judd Apatow's comedy Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, will be available for viewing online beginning this weekend on such highly trafficked websites as MySpace.com (http://www.myspace.com/), IGN.com (http://www.ign.com/), Rottentomatoes.com (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/) and http://www.walkhard-movie.com.”

Plans are to post the footage at approximately 3 PM (PT) Friday and it should be available at least thru this weekend.
Now this sneak peek just so happens to coincide with the riotous "Cox Across America Tour." For those of you not in the know that’s a seven-city concert event featuring the film's star John C. Reilly appearing live on stage as Dewey Cox with his band The Hard Walkers. This concert tour was "sold out" within hours of the announcement of the promotion, and all of the concert dates thus far have been S.R.O. -- standing room only. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story will be released nationwide by Columbia Pictures on December 21, 2007. It also happens to be the only major studio comedy to debut in theaters during the upcoming Holiday season.
Streaming of the footage will enable movie fans a chance to "Walk Hard for 10 minutes" and experience the early days of Dewey Cox, a music legend and infamous rock and roll icon who lived his creed -- "Walk Hard."

So now I’m wondering how long till them there fancy movie picture studios start making the whole movie available online at the same time as it appears in that there theater?

Keep in mind because the film is rated "R" by the Motion Picture Association of America for "Sexual Content, Graphic Nudity, Drug Use and Language," access to the first 10 minutes of the movie will feature an "age gate" with the intent of allowing moviegoers who are aged 18 or over to screen the material but I have posted the "Redband" Restricted Trailer just in case you are a video podcaster under 17 and you aren't going to get to see Dewey Cox.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

International Day of the Ninja

The very first episode of Ask A Ninja was posted in late 2005 on a blogspot blog for Beatbox Giant. The first question was Matt's questions about when and where ninjas get their uniforms. (I wonder who Matt is? Maybe the bass player for the band that does the theme some but I never asked the Ninja)

In the Question #1: The Ninja-Mart Store episode the Ninja didn't even have a real Ninja uniform because the shows creators Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine couldn't afford one. They shot the show with a broken camera, a good mic and launched with a catchy theme song "I Am Ninja", by the German band The Neu Tickles. Two years later it is the International Day of the Ninja and Kent and Douglas are grossing $100,000 per month in advertising revenues.

That's right $100k per month for a guy dressed in a Ninja suit standing in front of a wall yelling answers to a question that one of their viewers asked via email. But keep in mind their videos do get millions of views.

At the risk of being killed by the Ninja I'm going to give you a little bit of the story on how it all came together.

Kent and Douglas met in an Improvisational acting class in the Los Angeles area. From there they started creating an animated show about Ninjas living in Orange County, California. As they got further and further into developing the show for another production company they realized that animation was really, really hard to pull off so they were ready to throw in the towel and call it quits but Douglas wouldn't let it die. Douglas started asking Kent questions about video production and internet videos and how they could do something - anything - on the cheap. After spending some time watching other popular videos on YouTube they came up with Ask A Ninja.

I first met Kent in the Spring of 2006 at Vloggercon. We were on a panel together about creating characters and I got slammed by the crowd. They hated me but loved the Ninja. At that time Kent and I were both amazed by what Andrew Baron and what he was doing with Rocketboom but then came the big break up. Andrew and Amanda from Rocketbook had a big public falling out.

Later in the Summer I met Douglas for the first time when Kent and I were on another panel together at Comic-con and Kent and Douglas were making changes fast.

At that point because of the big Rocketboom breakup Kent and Douglas realized that no one in this online video space knew what they were doing when it came to monetizing online video. So Kent and Douglas decided they would figure it out for themselves and to do that they knew they would need money, which they borrowed from their family.

They were using Revver to host their videos and Podtrac to get advertisers and both services worked but just not on a big enough scale to make enough money to live on and pay back the money they had borrowed.

The Ninja boys also had a few great little things happen. They were asked by NPR to do a movie review for Pirates of the Caribbean and the Ninja was asked to be the judge of the Yahoo Talent Show. Both events gave Ask A Ninja more visibility and more video views.

Along the way Kent and Douglas picked up UTA as an agent and signed with a high profile Manager and high powered entertainment attorney.

Once they had those pieces in place they started talking with an online video podcasting company, Podtech about taking over advertising for the Ask A Ninja videos but at about the same time they also met with a very smart man by the name of John Battelle from an online advertising agency called Federated Media to talk about handling the advertising inventory for both their website and their videos.

Now keep in mind that Federated Media had never monetized online video before but John Battelle put together a very detailed and well thought out plan of how Federated Media would bring money to the Ask A Ninja Brand and Kent and Douglas liked the man and they liked his plan.

UTA brokered the deal with Federated, it took a few months to get things up and running but now my best guess is that the Ninja boys are taking home around 30-40K each per month and in the scheme of things they are just getting started.

Best of all Kent and Douglas are still nice guys, they are now dept free AND they still own Ask A Ninja. Now that’s something worth creating a special day to celebrate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Spectacle, Story and Numbers

Blake Calhoun and his band of Dallas, Texas Indy Filmmakers have created a Internet show called Pink that has YouTube numbers that are as impressive as the highly PRed web series Quarterlife.

His first episode has had almost 2.5 million views on YouTube alone!

Considering the Context

This morning I went to visit TV Week and had a look at their Viral Video page. Today's 3 top viral videos (as calculated on a weekly basis by Nielsen//NetRatings)were:

1. Body Rock - Blogger Perez Hilton boogies to some Ashlee Simpson.

2. Cat Snatch Fever - This cat wants that cake, end of story.

3. Fired Man imitates the Human Torch Johnny Storm.

Then I thought to myself, If I was a media buyer and I came to this high end site called TV Week - a site that I would think would really know what's going on in online video - and I saw the top three videos were all a bunch of foolishness I would move on thinking online video is not ready for the brands I represent because the top content is pretty poor.

Unfortunately we are not yet out of the time of "spectacle." We as online viral video producers need to raise the bar on the viral video content we are creating. The problem that we run into is that normally to raise the bar producers throw more money at the problem and we can't do that yet because we won't see a return on our investment. Instead of doing that we need to throw more creativity at the problem.

How do we create more emotionally compelling content that can compete with Cats, Farts and Crazy Gossip/Celebrity Vloggers like Perez Hilton and still be inviting to advertisers? We need to focus on simple stories that have spectacle and move more that one human emotion. And if we want to make money in online video advertising we need to consider the context in which advertisers and media buyers are going to be sampling our videos and how those videos are going to be viewed within the context of the media outlets that are going to write about them.

Media buyers don't have time to search the net and watch videos the way we all enjoy watching and sharing videos. Media buyers want to get their work done by doing a great job for their clients and then they want to get home and enjoy some down time. They don't want to help video producers. They want to help their careers by doing well for their customers.

If you see advertising on or around an online video think about why the media buyer spent their clients money on that video, who they are reaching with that video and what is the context. Then think how you can do something better for less money.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Friends vs Fans

How can you have over 1000 Friends? If you did, how often would you talk to each and every one of your friends? How often would you see them? Send them a gift? Have dinner with them? What makes someone your friend vs a fan?

I think a little common sense goes a long way here but beyond that think about your brand vs you. Are you your brand or is your brand your brand and you are you?

If you are building a brand online your online "Friends" need to be treated as fans and feel free to get as many of them as possible. If you are building relationships to help grow your brand be careful about mixing your fans and your friends. It can come back to hurt you.

I hate it when someone I know in real life sends me a SPAM email about their project. "It feels very disingenuous and makes me want to "unfriend" them. I'm sure there are things that I've done and continue to do that rub people the wrong way as well but that's not going to stop me from talking about this.

Last night Chris Brogan (who I really enjoy hanging out with and drinking beers with at new media events - especially cause he's the one usually buying) twittered (or tweeted as some of you like to say) that he had posted over 10,000 times on Twitter. That got me thinking about how many of his postings were of any interest to me. The answer was very few and I removed Chris from my list of people that I follow on Twitter. Eric Rice then Twittered that he had Chris beat by a few hundred posts. I then thought about removing Eric but I realized that some of Eric's posts are informative to me because Eric likes to mix things up and create controversy. Eric also interacts with others way more than Chris. From what I see, Chris is usually Twitter Out" not "Twitter back and forth".

This morning I saw Susan Bratton twittered that she "just crested 1,000 FaceBook friends" and that prompted me to write this post.

Ask A Ninja is a Brand, and serves as a good case study for this. Associated with Ask A Ninja is Digital Filmaker, Beatbox Giant and the shows creators Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine.

On Ning, they have their official Fan Page, with 4802 members (at the time of this posting)on Facebook they have a Ask A Ninja Page and Kent has a page and I don't know if Douglas has a page.

They have kept their fans separate from their friends.

Now comes the gray area. Sometimes as a content creator you will have fans within the Internet video community that want to be friends with you. This makes things very confusing. I think the best way to approach this is to set some standards for yourself and think about what works best for you. Don't just click the "accept" button thinking the more friends you have the more money you will make because in the real world, the more "friends" you have the more you will dilute your relationships. However online the more "fans" you have the more money you have the potential to make.

All that said I'm sure Chris Brogan will still buy me beers because he's that nice of guy but my point here isn't really to ridicule anyone it's to have us all focus on the real power of the social networks and how we can best use them to grow our brands and monetize Internet Video not just have the most posts.

Remember, "Fame without fortune turns you into Joey Buttafocco." and you can't pay your rent with Twitter posts.

I think Chris Pirillo explains the "friends thing" pretty well in the above video and he also talks about how sites not sharing revenue "cheeses" him off.

Lower your head, watch your step and enjoy the rest of your day on the Internet.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Time To Build a Market Place

Right now if you are an advertiser or a media buying looking to spend a million dollars in online video and see a return on your investment you might have a hard time spending your money but tomorrow that will change - or at least it will begin to change. Tomorrow the Association of Downloadable Media will be announcing their newly elected leadership.

The next steps for the ADM will be to work with advertisers, and advertising agencies to establish standards to downloadable audio and video.

Once these standards are established advertisers and advertising agency media buyers will know what they can buy and content creators will know what to start calling their advertising inventory. Unfortunately it's going to take some time for all this to happen but I'm sure that one way or another it will all come together just the way that banners, buttons, skyscrapers and cpc text links did for web page advertising over that last ten years.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Everyone is a Winner

Last night Irina Slutsky, Lan Bui, Vu Bui and Bonny Pierzina threw an "Awardy" (An Award Show that is really just a party)called The Winnies. All the usual suspects in online video were there. The boys from Big Fantastic, Ask A Ninja, Ask A Chola, Tiki Bar TV, Eddie, Cory, Betty, The Husbands, Nontourage, Goodnight Burbank / Abagail's X-Rated Teen Diaries, Viropop, iJustine, Mark Day and a bunch of others.

The Official Winnies site say, "If you have posted a video online within the last year -Congratulations! You are a Winnies Winner!!"

Well that message goes far beyond it's face value. If you have posted a video online in the last year you are a winner because you are several steps ahead of a lot of people who will trying to figure out how to make money on the Internet and if you went to the Winnies you are several steps ahead of everyone else. Not because the Winnies were a fantasticly fun time but because the relationships the attendees are making are going to help them in their pursuit of monetization for their videos.

Awards parties like the Winnies aren't where big deals get signed but they are where big deal get started.

Looking around the room I saw future millionaires who are all just waiting for the market to develop.

If you have any chances to get out an party with people in the online video community do it. I worked in TV for years and I never had the amount of fun that I'm having now in Internet video. It's because of the people. We are all working hard to make this an industry that supports us and we are all having a fun time doing it together because we are all winners.

Hats off to Irina, Lan, Vu and Bonny for putting together such a great event and to the sponsors for picking up the tab.