Archive for the ‘Digital Entertainment’ Category

picture1Over the last couple of weeks Sprite (Coca Cola) launched an interesting reality-type program on YouTube called Green Eyed World, which will follow the nascent music career of a new artist, Katie Vogel, as she leaves her family in the UK and heads to the Big Apple, NYC. It’s typical reality format and also branded entertainment at it’s “best”.  I’m not a big reality fan, so I won’t comment on the content, but I do think the singer Katie Vogel has a nice, raspy, jazzy musical style. But I digress..

The interesting digital marketing tidbit here – is that YouTube (well, Google – as in one of the brands with a competing data portability product) has agreed to implement Facebook Connect, which will allow viewers to interact with their friends on Facebook and even with Katie herself while watching episodes. The fact that Google is using Facebook Connect can only mean that the two companies are open to the potential of the openness to a two way data portability relationship. Either that, or it was a big enough deal for YouTube – which  really needs the revenue.  Remember the history making data portability case implementation that rocked our world a few months back? …when CNN implemented it during the presidential inauguration? Well, this isn’t that big a deal, but it’s refreshing to see the mash-up of reality programming, branded entertainment, and social media data portability.  Kudos to the team from at Coca Cola Europe and FullSix for kicking off a global campaign in the UK and achieving global momentum. Well played.

Incidentally, this is a big change from Sprite’s early foray into social media via one of the first Facebook apps  in Nov 2007, which ironically is still there rotting away with 4 installs (i am one of them and know 2 others – ouch). One of the wall comments on the Sprite Sips page is most likely the best internet comment I have ever seen  – “This app is crap to the power of suck” – Lucy Peery . I’m making a t-shirt out of that.

Reminding you to add value within social media communities, earn respect…and have you pet spade or neutered.

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It was no surprise to see AdAge today run a piece about YouTube’s potential as a search powerhouse. In August, YouTube’s search volume surpassed that of Yahoo, the number two search engine – that’s search volume – actual search queries – pretty amazing when you think about it.

Barack Obama's Campaign Buys Video Ads Against Keyword "John McCain"

While search accounts for the lion’s share of online ad spending, video represents a big part of the future growth and a method of engaging with consumers in a deeper manner. Google has been struggling to monetize the potential gold mine of YouTube, experimenting with varying formats and sales strategies. Search ads may provide another win-win-win – providing benefits to marketers and consumers as well as to Google itself. What it does not replicate however, is the  similar intent that consumers have while searching on a search engine, posing the question of whether this format can yield the direct response success that has predominantly led the search category into its dominant role. All things considered, this approach still creates a relevant and engaging experience for consumers – based on that criteria alone, it has legs..

The TV spots weren’t thrilling me, but this longer piece of content is pretty damn funny! I was beginning to doubt Crispin Porter on the whole Gates/Seinfeld thing until I saw this. Coupled with the Mac-counter image campaign, which includes a consumer collaboration running in Times Square, I’m thinking that I owe the campaign a second opinion 🙂

I moderated a panel at the OMMA Global conference today titled “Competing With Search”, which I thought from day 1 was an interesting title, but somewhat of a misnomer for any conversation relating to digital media. I knew then that this would make for an interesting panel and hoped for some different perspectives and opinions (after all, what fun is a panel when everyone just agrees on everything).

The official description was:

Search advertising continues to attract 40% of today’s online ad budgets, and some projections have search growth continuing to outpace display spending over the next decade. Plus, the direct response model seems to have affected the success metrics applied to all campaigns. How do publishers-armed with a portfolio of display, email, video and sponsorships compete with almighty search for budgets that increasingly demand ROI? How are publishers making the case with clients to maintain or grow their non-search budgets. Is video proving to be a hedge against budgets moving to search? Can a content provider create unique packages that complement or replace parts of a search spending strategy? How can sales teams create compelling display and direct response programs that complement and enhance existing search spends? And how can the sites themselves use search engines to increase the value of their own inventory to clients?

I’ll pull out a few interesting sound bites from the panel…

  • The panel agreed that it’s not about “competing with search” for web publishers, but rather maximizing the value of an audience and packaging advertising in a way that maximizes monetization
  • The last-ad attribution model is broken and unfairly credits search for the entire influence chain rather than the activation of it. Multiple attribution protocol needs to emerge as the standard and is emerging far too slowly. Agencies and marketers need more education about these things.
  • The impression doesn’t mean anything – the value of the impression matters. Applied data helps increase the value of the impression.
  • Video can create emotionally compelling consumer experiences, but successfully adding video to a website requires good content, which requires a real investment.
  • MySpace is apparently so big that Jason Oberfest calls a site with 10 – 20 million unique users “mid-sized” (for the record 10 – 20 million uniques is still quite big, it’s just not MySpace big)
  • Scale matters when it comes to addressability, segmentation and the maximization of profitability for publishers

Ok, no revelations made, but the air was cleared for many in the room. I directed the audience to check out Atlas’ Engagement Mapping demo, and also mentioned Doubleclick’s Multiple Attribution Protocol, neither of which are perfect sciences, both of which are far better than the last ad standard and help to more accurate apply credit to advertising influence.

Ok, from the title of this post I assume I need to tell a few of you to get you minds out of the gutter!

Now on to my point – First TheWB.com launched a pretty much fully baked in-content video search function, now YouTube is taking the first step towards interactive video, albeit a baby step. Artist and now popular video blogger Val from Valsartdiary.com launched YouTube’s first “interactive riddle” (apparently on June 15th??? how am I and the entire industry late on this?)

Merely a chose your own ending type of execution, this is nothing new to the world of rich media, but is new and long overdue to the world of mass video distribution (13 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute). The end of the 2 minute video (embedded below for your convenience) has an engaging element that simply poses a riddle and provides three different answers (optional endings), each leading the viewer to subsequent videos. She even offers a prize (a free coloring book, or to us digital marketers, a distributable asset, which can actually be downloaded for free from her website anyway, but that’s besides the point) to those who answered correctly. Besides the interactive video aspect of this, Val does a great job of generating interest in her as a personal brand and her content, all as a conduit to sell her art. Kudos indeed.

So why am I so excited? No it’s not because Val’s cute, although of course she is, (and that always helps the numbers!) it’s because the two vital components to the future of online video advertising has both materialized by major players this month. Interactive video on YouTube (ok, technically the tip of the iceberg that will eventually lead to true interactive video), and in-content contextual search functionality by Warner Brothers. The future is getting brighter quickly.

No acronym brings more digirati and open source advocates to their knees than “DRM” (digital rights management). However, we do live in a world where consumers’ digital content habits are increasing and the ability to buy once and play anywhere on any device, and in any format, (interoperability) still seems to elude us.

A potential standard may in fact finally emerge as a result of a meeting of the minds of major forces in Hollywood, retail, consumer electronics brands, and select IT service companies, called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). They are trying to create a “uniform digital media experience”, but apparently won’t reveal the details until the CES show in Jan. Currently the companies involved are Best Buy, Cisco, Comcast, Fox, HP, Intel, Lions Gate, Microsoft, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Philips, Sony, Toshiba, VeriSign, and Warner Bros.

Noticeably absent is Apple, who obviously has employed their own  DRM standard within iTunes, and surely is contemplating the ramifications of the existence and participation in DECE.

Reuters quotes DECE president Mitch Singer as saying:

“The new digital framework would turn Apple Inc’s “closed” iTunes model on its head.

“This is very different from the Apple ecosystem,” he said. “We encourage Apple to join the consortium. We don’t ever anticipate Apple going away or this consortium replacing it.”

Anyway – I guess we’ll know more in January!

I just received my Hulu.com newsletter and was pretty excited to read that NBC will be experimenting with some of their line-up, which will be premiering online a week before television. That’s right, the next experiment from a major broadcast network and an effort to bolster online video ad revenue is “web first” – a break from what has been “web after TV”. Of course many have been calling for simulcasting of content, but it seems to not be something that the broadcasters are interested in…yet.

Of course this “web premiere” concept is indeed for now an experiment, and as far as I can tell only 2 series – “Knight Rider”, and “30 Rock”, will indeed premiere online a week before they’re broadcast on TV. In theory, the popularity of certain programs should command serious viewership and ad dollars for an online premier.

The future of online video is incredibly bright, and the models are being ironed out right in front of our eyes. Personally, I love Hulu. Why they didn’t launch a similar VOD network through major cable MSO’s is beyond me – it just may have dominated the airwaves.

Meanwhile, On The Other Side of Video Town
I had posted previously about theWB.com rollout, and I finally found a few minutes to really kick the tires on what has the potential to become a suite of very effective consumer engagement tools, namely the “video dialog search”, and the mashup tool.

The WBlender, a mashup tool that allows a consumer to mix and match video clips, stills, captions and effects is perfect for the younger demographic that is most likely to flock to theWB versus Hulu (when I last logged in the site greeted me with “Word Up, Jason! Have you met the sultry vixens of Sorority Forever yet?”).  The mashup tool is easy to use and offers an engaging experience that should prove effective as long as they keep it up to date with fresh content to play with. Of course in true beta fashion, I was getting errors saving my mashups and then to make matters worse, there was no easy way to notify any support at the WB about it – that’s a big mistake 2.0! The site provides tools, but no way of interacting with theWB – get it together folks! You’re still in beta so I won’t hold it against you…yet.

The dialog search utilizes DigitalSmiths technology, which translates the audio into text and allows for searching, and soon advertising, based on the relevance of specific keywords contained in the dialog of the video. The results bring up entry points to the parts of the clip where the dialog mentions the keyword. It’s a very cool glimpse at the future. This will prove to be a slippery slope to walk down due to inaccuracies with this type of technology, but one with a fruitful future. Think contextual advertising within video content. However, we have a long way to go until we get there.

Having just spent an hour on Hulu and theWb.com, I am very proud of where we have come and excited about where we are going!