Commercials as Entertainment AdAge's AdReview talks about the Sonic commercials and the well executed jokes and humor in them. The Sonic commercials are an example of commercials that you might not want to fast forward just because they are actually entertaining. (If you TiVo everything, then you might not know that..) But as I've been saying for a while now, the 30 second commercial is dead. So what do you do?
ABC.com allows one advertiser to purchase the entire ad portion during its commercial breaks. It really pains me when I see the advertiser using that time poorly, meaning it simply shows the same non engaging commercial every single commercial break. However, Fidelity had an interesting ad where they asked you very simple questions and showed a simple animation based on your answer. And thus you could do the same with your commercials. Depending on the ad time (still 30 seconds), why not shoot a variety of different commercials that all wove together into one story line? Interruption advertising is no longer working. It could actually detract from the brand. However, we've all grown up watching commercials so we actually tolerate them. But our recollection is virtually zero. Don't think that commercials have to inform. Look at the buzz created by JJ Abrams new film tenatively titled Cloverfield. It didn't tell us anything about that film yet people are Googling and speculating about what it could be. Let the audience decide whether they are interested enough to find out more from the quick teaser that you give them. If we can make our commercial actually become water cooler talk we've done our jobs.
Great concept as comedy seems to be the one aspect that can be controlled in online video. The other is shock which usually comes from UGC. Prom Queen probably falls under suspense/thriller and I'm curious to see if there's any drop off from last month's reported numbers. However, as Mashable pointed out, Rooftop Comedy provides an outlet for comedians to get their funniness out there and they have links to the comedians own website. I mean, that's all well and good, but what's the business strategy? I'm smelling Web 1.0 e-commerce bubble where everyone would put a storefront on no matter how much money they lost (Pets.com anyone?). Now there's a Web 2.0 online video bubble where we can simply place a niche targeted website up that plays back some content. Are we really going to serve up that many banner ads? Are people really going to click on your AdSense that's next to the video?
I think that the real winners are going to be the TV Guides in this new world. Is it Blinkx (which IPO'd overseas by the way)? Is there a way for us to find the content we want online? In the world of the long tail, this will be the company (Google?) that emerges from the dust as the broker of viewers and content.
Survivor made television history as being one of the first reality shows on primetime network television. (I think The Real World on MTV was the first real reality show, but who's keeping score?) Since Survivor and Richard Hatch's win, television has gone on to produce hundreds of reality shows and rekindle the game show as a source of prime time entertainment. While many cited reality television as simply a fad, others have noted the strength of reality not simply in the economics (sometimes 20% of the production budget on a scripted show) but also in the fact that the audience has an opportunity to determine the outcome sometimes (ala American Idol). It appears that audiences want more and more power and when you hear someone in the theater screaming "Don't open that door!" they really mean it.
Well that's great that reality is here to stay, and there's been a bunch of horrible shows out there in the genre and there's been a few that have become part of our culture (The Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars, and of course American Idol), but what does this have to do with marketing? You may remember LonelyGirl15 the YouTube vlogger that was outed as being scripted, and racked up hundreds of thousands of hits all the while. There's been the Subservient Chicken, where you can control the chicken via a text box. Recently I noted a "Text Your Own Adventure" Spiderman video on YouTube. And even more recently, the Diesel Underwear marketing campaign, where two "Heidies" capture a Diesel salesperson and lock themselves into a hotel room for five days. Visitors to the site were able to communicate directly with the girls by asking them to write their names on the guy's flesh, singing a song, and just about anything, similar to Subservient Chicken. There was no explicit branding but a lot of Diesel underwear as product placement. Reports were cited that traffic to the site spiked to five times its normal traffic. So that's it. A reality interactive commercial, creating an interactive event (you can communicate LIVE) without any scripts (clearly since you can ask them to do anything) with a great branding campaign (all of the beautiful people in the video in their Diesel underwear). The two hottest trends out there reality and interactive combined into one. Will we see more of these campaigns? Absolutely. But I think we'll also see more combinations of interactive commercials scripted or reality using the Internet as enabler. We'll see....
Video Ad Overview So the big question of Web 2.0 is how to monetize the online video. Revver has tried to embed an add at the end of the video, Metacafe serves pre-roll, and VideoEgg has an ad overlay that plays during the life of the video. Recently served up are Adap.tv which provides some type of contextual ad placement in the bottom of its player as the video is streaming (via Mashable), ScanScout (via TechCrunch) offers contextual text overlays on the video, and more recently YouTube announced their inline and post roll advertising method. (via Mashable). Are video overlays the way to go? Possibly they could be. However, YouTube's demo doesn't make too much sense. As Michael Arrington notes, the ads served up via YouTube are not relevant to the video at hand and its way too easy to ignore them, while Mashable has the opposite view point. I'm not agreeing with either since I still feel that video ad models are interesting but as a user they are still ads. I'm a true believer that content is king and integration of the advert with content is the best way to go. Remember when Alias was sponsored by Nokia? Or the obvious product placement at BMW Films? I think that advertiser sponsored shows really build goodwill with audiences AND if an element of product placement is involved, great recall of products. However, while I am writing this I know that many are citing the huge bust of Bud.tv. Some products are definitely trickier than others.
However the question if video overlays work remains. And only time will tell. I think though that video overlays are a step in the right direction toward interactivity. As I previously mentioned, video games are the most interactive of movies where you make a decision nearly every second (or several times per second). As TV watchers, an extremely passive activity, we are not used to interacting with anything, whether it's ads or any other type of clickable. Video overlays are bringing us one step closer to that next generation.
Music Industry Growing eMarketer's report today talks about growth in the music industry (yes, believe it or not, GROWTH). Revenues last year (2006) were $60.7 billion and by 2011 will be $67.6 billion (about a 2% annual growth rate). The report states the obvious that CD sales will continue to plummet and digital continue to grow, however, digital sales will never make up for the loss from CD's. Thus, the growth will come from other innovative ways to exploit the music such as online and mobile, concerts, licensing deals with TV, films, video games, and tie in with various products (the report states U2 and iPod and Bob Dylan and Victoria's Secret). I think that the record labels have definitely enjoyed a monopoly on this business for a while, however, in order for good music to continue to be put out, there needs to be a way to monetize this business. Apple recently put announced that 100 million iPods were sold and about 2.5 billion songs sold via iTunes, which puts each iPod on average with 25 legally downloaded songs, a far cry from the thousands of songs that you can put on it. So where is the other music coming from? I wonder....Regardless, some very interesting models have come out, one of them I talked about before called AmieStreet which is a true supply and demand model. However, with sites like MySpace offering streaming music how would a band make money from them? The answer: Poptopus. Poptopus (reviewed by Mashable), is a widget (we talked about these yesterday) that you can embed on your site and revenue is shared by the artist and the publisher. Advertisements play in the video portion of the player and are paid on a per listen basis. It's actually a radio type model but uses the visual portion of the Internet to play the commercial while you are enjoying the music. I think its a great way to utilize the single servingness of the Web with a business model that could be sustainable. And since everyone makes money, or gets eyeballs, everyone should be happy....the one downside I see is that if a popular band doesn't want to be associated with a certain advertiser (but I think those are few and far between).
Regardless, its a good time for the music business as they've finally embraced the Internet as opposed to fighting it and it turns out that artists as a whole will be making more money than ever and some artists will actually be able to call themselves full time musicians because of this long tail phenomenon. We'll keep track of the music space as it continues to innovate....perhaps Sirius XM can take a lesson here? (i.e. Give away your units and advertise on your proprietary hardware?)
Juiced! Joost (pronounced Juiced) has been signing deals left and right with everyone from Viacom to CBS to independent filmmakers to now Heavy.com (via Mashable). It's being billed as "a new way to watch TV" bringing the best parts of the Internet (social networking, time shifting, etc), together with the best parts of TV (high production quality and quality content). Joost created by the founders of Kazaa and Skype (in other words pretty smart guys), could be the next YouTube killer? While Joost doesn't support user generated content (yet?) most of YouTube's traffic or at least a consistent portion of it comes from YouTube partners like CBS, NBA, and other established brands and Joost could be taking a large portion of those eyeballs away especially since YouTube's quality has been criticized as of late. I think that as an audience we seek a more interactive user experience. On one hand we have traditional television where we simply watch. The most interactivity we have is by flipping channels. On the other hand we have video games where we are essentially watching a movie but one in which we are making a decision every fraction of a second. The trend appears to be toward the latter, as we see an explosive upward trend in video games and a gradual downward slope in TV. However, to graduate everything to a video game would be much to extreme and I think that Joost will do a great job in letting people understand that if they are interested in the t-shirt that Matt Fox from Lost is wearing, they can pause the show and purchase it in real time and then go back to watching. Further the social aspect of TV watching will have content creators spinning even more elaborate webs than the ones in 24 or Lost, which will engage audiences. Ad model here? I'm not sure, I think that Joost will probably provide some type of interactive commercial as opposed to the traditional 30 second ad spot. Perhaps Joost can even provide some more power to the almost dead Bud.tv?
Keep an eye on this space as I can't wait to download my Joost trial now!
GooTube Merger Complete? YouTube is supposed to be testing out its pre and post roll ads this week according to Businessweek (via Mashable). However, Mashable brought up an interesting business model which seems to be a perfect compliment to YouTube's parent, Google. I've been arguing for eternity that I don't believe in pre, post, or mid roll ads. We all know from our own television viewing experience that they're annoying, intrusive, and very ignorable. So, that being said, the idea was to integrate AdSense with YouTube results and "Related Videos" section. Since more and more advertisers are hopping on the YouTube bandwagon presumably they'd want their content to be seen by more and more viewers. This in turn means that they'd be willing to pay for top placement on certain tags....or will they?
I think that this is a great idea that will, in the short run, help Google recoup some of its investment in YouTube. As long as advertisers can continue to make compelling content, viewers will be enticed to click. However, this does bypass the viral aspect of YouTube. After all, when you hear/see of a viral video how do you learn about it? Maybe if someone tells you for example about the Dove Ogilvy video you'll do a search for it...maybe. Most of the time, you'll be emailed the video or linked to it or it will be embedded like this. Lost revenue for Google. But other than that, I think advertisers will really want to own certain tags, since after all they are only paying for that interaction if it happens. I also love the concept of how the sponsored videos are embedded into the YouTube widgets. Popular videos come to the top. That way, everyone is making money similar to the entire AdSense model. Another thing to be weary of though is the gaming of YouTube, that is, writing a bot that can automatically ratchet your views into the hundreds of thousands. The Butterfly Effect magnifies this by placing your video in the "most viewed" category where more and more people will be curious as to why your video was seen so many times.
Despite these issues, which I'm sure Google will somehow resolve, I love this business model for YouTube, at least for the short term where advertisers/filmmakers can purchase placement for their videos and users know that they are purchasing that space. The question of whether this concept can translate from AdSense remains to be seen....
The First Collaborative Commercial Mashable broke a story about the first collaborative TV commercial. For $39 you can buy your own frame of an 8 and a half minute TV commercial. (In PAL at 25 frames per second ourTVad has 12750 frames. PAL is the European standard for broadcast, since this is a Lisbon based site). So far as of this writing they've sold 4 frames. Again, this worked when the guy sold the million dollar home page but I'm not so sure that this will work in video, unless someone buys at least 100 frames. $3900.
I love the warning on the bottom of flickering. I mean come on 25 frames per second and you can buy one frame, of course there will be flickering. If this commercial is ever seen.