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Thursday, 5 April 2007

Lonelygirl15 is boring

If, in the midst of all the 2006 buzzwords, we had to go for the ultimate one, it would be "web video" or rather, YouTube. The stats that are published last week in the newteevee.com article Go Stat Wild: February Video Traffic confirm the obsession of marketeers, advertisers, investors and mainstream media over YouTube. The poster child of user generated content. The ultimate fulfillment of Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame prediction. The company that was consuming terabytes per day in bandwidth, and would have succumbed under these costs if it wasn't for Google.

It's ok to obsess over a bright new kid, but the side effects are somewhat annoying me. A few examples:

  1. The majority of web video consumers are not using the hosted services. If they forward web videos, they'll often use peer-to-peer networks, instand messaging or even plain old e-mail (with the video as an attachment!)

  2. Every big internet player feels obliged to launch a me-too-youtube initiative. Me-toos are boring.

  3. Advertisers ask their agencies for campaigns that depend on user generated content. Only an utter minority of, say, the Belgian internet users is able to capture, edit en upload a pretty decent web video. And even if they do so, it wouldn't be to review this or that product. Most succesfull user generated web videos are variants on the lonelygirl15 meme, or the "my cat sneezed" variant. Lonelygirl15 is stuck in YouTube. And for frequent updates on your pet's health the kids now prefer Twitter.

  4. There is no such thing as wisdom of the crowds. Really want to know what pleases the crowd? It's Idols, or any other show involving freaks. Anything involving bikini girls is a good second, and my guess is that cute animals are on the third spot.

  5. It's no use to search for an advertising model. Pre-roll advertising annoys consumers. In-video product placement is tricky but might work in some cases. And launch a tv ad of movie trailer in Tubespace and hope it will go viral? Good luck with that. You'll have to compete with all the freaks, the bikini babes and the cute animals.

Does this mean we have to give up the idea alltogether that advertisers can somehow get in the mix again? Of course not. The only mistake advertisers can't afford to make is to export their "old skool" advertising formats onto the new web videosphere. This means: no intrusive advertising, no display advertising, no dirty tricks, not even subliminal advertising.

The only thing left to do is to re-think advertising. It will take a while before new advertising standards will arise. In the meanwhile, all an advertiser can do is follow this mantra: be passionate, be proud, and be honest.

1 comment:

David said...


YouTube was never meant to be a democracy, or to adhere to any idea of the wisdom of crowds. Further, it represents a small piece of the audience. To quote Larry Gerbrandt of Nielsen, "YouTube represents three-tenths of one percent of all TV viewing. This is equivalent to a mid-tier cable network."

Creativity by committee will never work. Lack of clear choices in deciding what's best is garbage-in, garbage-out. Deciding on the best, once there is a mechanism for making a decision: priceless. That's what media research is all about. But media research has historically been an expensive service-based business, not available to people who use sites like YouTube. So YouTubers just throw their content at the wall to see what sticks. Harnessing collective intelligence on the Internet is the key to unlocking media research on the Internet.

But to truly harness collective intelligence -- that is, to separate wise crowds from irrational ones -- four critical aspects must be present:

Diversity of opinion: Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.

Independence: People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of others.

Decentralization: People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.

Aggregation: Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

is the only site designed to do these four things systematically, every time, on every piece of content, from the ground up. We have a patent pending on the process.

So, when you linked us under "no such thing" in a discussion of the wisdom of crowds, I was taken aback. Especially considering the implications for media research.

So I would argue that the rumor of the death of quality content in advertising is greatly exaggerated. And that we're just getting started with the everyday use of the wisdom of crowds.

David Moss