Video Marketing Blog

Alison Provost

Recent Posts by Alison Provost:

Deconstructing Honda Stage's YouTube Strategy: How They (Or Any Channel) Can Build An Audience of Their Own

The new Honda Stage YouTube channel has been lauded in the trades lately, with AdWeek previewing it in early June and  Fast Company featuring it in their July article on YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

We took a look at the channel, using Touchstorm’s Voot® software, in order to get a first-hand look at how Honda’s channel is performing. The Wall Street Journal mentioned a couple of the insights we surfaced, but we wanted to share all of what we found, and a few thoughts on how Honda might use this channel to build an audience of their own. Many of these insights and strategies are applicable to any channel – not just a large automotive brand – and you can find data on your own channel using our Touchstorm Video Index


Is Honda Stage worth the hype? Why are people talking about it? Let’s take a look at what it is, what’s it’s trying to do, and then put some odds on whether we think it’s going to work.

  • The Honda Stage channel was started recently, June 10. The channel is a near-empty vessel, waiting to receive content that will spew from three Clear Channel music tours that Honda has agreed to sponsor. One of those tours kicks off August 10, so we’ll likely see some action on the channel soon. (Nothing yet, as of this writing.)
  • Since erecting the channel, Honda has uploaded eight videos. The first six went up immediately when they started the channel. A month later, in early July, they uploaded two more. The current content teases the tour(s), and it’s all quite short, all less than two minutes long.
  • The teasers are a mix of band interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and some performance footage. The bands featured are similar: indie rockers with what we’d call an “anthemic” feel. The bands don’t have huge audiences on YouTube themselves; none of them exceed 50 million views. Grouplove, for example, which has about 28 million views on YouTube, had an iTunes hit a few years back and is still slugging it out… as we all do on that road to the top! American Authors has a very similar sound and has nearly 40 million views on YouTube. It would appear that Honda is trying to catch a rising star with this mix of bands.
  • At this barely-there start-up point, Honda has about 48,000 views and no subscribers. (Hey Honda: whomever put up your channel needs to go back and subscribe, as does everyone at the record company, Clear Channel and Honda!) As for the 48,000 views, it’s not a bad number of views for a new channel. However, the lack of subscribers leads us to believe the views were purchased. Nothing wrong with paid advertising; they need a way to kick this channel off. But now the contest begins.
  • We calculated Positive Passion for the Honda Stage channel. Positive Passion represents the percentage of viewers who click the Like Button. Honda Stage is generating Positive Passion of .53%. That’s about the same as a banner ad, and, interestingly, that’s just a little higher than the Converse channel’s Positive Passion rate; another brand using the Honda Stage strategy. According to the Touchstorm Video Index, that’s very low Positive Passion for a music channel, which means both Converse and Honda have a lot of work to do. When Honda uploads actual tour content, this will be an important figure to watch.
  • So far, Honda has little to no brand integration on this channel. The name of the channel is the only place you see Honda. The main Honda channel does have a playlist featuring the Honda Stage content. Those views will accrue to the Honda Stage channel.


So that’s what’s happened so far. Now what? Is this a good strategy for Honda?

  • It is a great strategy, but only if executed right. And that’s exactly where so many sponsorships in general, and YouTube channels specifically, fall flat.
  • Music should be an obvious win. It is such a powerful way to engage and build an audience. That’s why music tours exist – fans love them. A brand sponsoring a music tour is saying to millennials, “we like the things you like, and we help make sure you can enjoy them.” The affection and connection should come part and parcel with the deal. Besides, what else is a car going to talk about on YouTube… its airbags? The right strategy for YouTube is to put up content that isn’t about the brand, but instead aligns with what their consumers care about – no matter what kind of brand you are. So big points on this for Honda.
  • But, to make any of this work, you have to execute… really well. Starting with the concert tour! We shouldn’t judge Honda’s YouTube channel as if it’s something unto its own. It’s part of a much bigger sponsorship where Honda will surely get other benefits. We can all hear in our heads the live radio remotes that will offer free concert tickets for “comin’ on down for a test drive.” We can visualize the Hondas on display as we make our way from the ticket gate to our seat. These tours will surely have all that, plus signage and media, and for the Honda marketers they’ll have their fair share of standing in stifling tents plucking jumbo shrimp from bowls of melted ice while wearing matching t-shirts and name tags.
  • The concert sponsorship formula is written, but not on YouTube. At least, not by the brands. YouTube is the vehicle that will make sure this concert sponsorship gets noticed by the heavier half of people who will never attend the local concert or notice the local media. There’s an adage in the sponsorship world that says, “for every dollar you spend on a sponsorship, you need another dollar to activate your sponsorship.” Rarely do sponsors achieve that 1-to-1 ratio, but now, when you can rely on YouTube to really crank up the marketing heat, brands need the extra dollar more than ever. Executing on YouTube isn’t about posting and praying. That’s how you lose.
  • Let’s look at and learn from others who have gone before. There’s a long list of brands to go before Honda, sponsoring a music tour and building a YouTube channel around it. But let’s take note of Converse’s concert tour-focused channel. Converse competes with DC Shoes. DC Shoes’ YouTube channel is more than 22x the size of Converse. DC Shoes features skateboarding content; Converse features music. Is skateboarding content more popular than music? No, music is far more popular on YouTube. So what’s the difference? Execution. How about Mountain Dew’s “Green Label Sound” YouTube channel? Mountain Dew competes with Monster Energy drink. Monster’s YouTube channel is 5x the size of Mountain Dew. Monster features various adventure sports; Mountain Dew features music. Are adventure sports more popular than music on YouTube? Not even close. So what’s the difference? Execution.
  • The most popular music publication is Billboard. It has more than 404 million views. Converse has 15 million views. Mountain Dew has 14 million views. Honda may not care to think of Billboard as a competitor, but Billboard shows what’s possible for concert and music-related footage because their execution is spot on.


The bottom line: Here’s what must happen for us all to be lauding Honda Stage one year from now as a marketing success vs. the pre-launch hype-ster it is now:

  1. Honda Stage needs to market its channel. “Market” is not synonymous with “buy pre-roll” for it.” What we mean is act like a YouTuber if you want to get the results YouTubers are getting. Act like a publisher. Care about growing a YouTube audience. YouTube Audience Development is an entire discipline that many marketers haven’t yet figured out exists, but that’s where the organic views come from. Will there be a place for paid advertising on YouTube? Absolutely. But if Honda wants its advertising spend to be efficient, pre-roll is the follow-on tactic, not the lead horse.
  1. Honda needs to create truly original content from these tours. YouTube is overrun with music content, particularly when it comes to bands that strum in this part of the musical stratosphere. There are hundreds if not thousands of those middlin’ indie bands, all with their own channels, all with fan sites, some with VEVO channels (signed artists), all being covered by the music press. Because video content is free promotion for the band, when fans steal it for their own channel, record labels have a spotty record of protecting their content rights. Therefore, when it comes to band interviews, band footage, and even pirated non-VEVO music videos, they are everywhere you look on YouTube. This means it’s going to be very important for Honda to create truly original content from these tours. Backstage interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff of almost-famous people only goes so far.
  1. Honda also needs to take the promotional assets that come with the concert tour and use them to drive organic views on YouTube. Do ticket giveaways, for example, and advertise those giveaways through the copy block on TrueView InSearch/InDisplay ads.
  1. Last and hardly least, Honda needs to market the Honda Stage channel through excellent YouTube playbook practices. This includes cross partnerships, proper content cadence, tight ties to Facebook, content distribution, and all that other good stuff. Running this channel is serious business, particularly given all the money that’s being put into these sponsorships and media. Let’s hope it’s being run by a YouTube pro – after all, we’ll know because the data will tell us.
Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics YouTube Content Strategy

Who Are the Real Winners of This Year's Ad Bowl on YouTube?


New Touchstorm Video Scoreboard reveals the real winners in the Super Bowl ad game—and it’s not who you think

As the world’s greatest advertising event peaked Sunday night—hats off to the Seattle Seahawks—we’ve reached a tipping point, where YouTube is the true scorecard for measuring Super Bowl ad success.

While Doritos and Budweiser topped the charts in views and shares, the real measure of success is the brand’s ability to amortize the cost of the ad—particularly one worth more than $4 million—over weeks of hype. Is the ad really working for the brand and helping it move from mere awareness to trust?

We have the formula to show which ads are actually succeeding in building audience, not just awareness. Our new Touchstorm Video Scoreboard is the first (free!) live dashboard showing which brands are on the leaderboard everyday after the Super Bowl.

While certain brands are winning the popularity game, are those ads really working for the brand? And can the ad help build audience for the brand over time? We break it all down.

See who’s on top of the Touchstorm Video Scoreboard.

Our dashboard is built on a four-part formula of views, likability, velocity and subscriber conversion, and gives Super Bowl advertisers a level of analysis they’ve never seen. The result is their only ability to look precisely at their own video performance and how it compares to their peers.

Here’s how it works:

  • Views: Not only how many views the main ad receives, but adjunct creative is combined to arrive at accurate, total view counts.
  • Velocity: How long a brand is able to sustain interest in the ad, including when that interest peaks and starts to decline.
  • Likability: A comparison view of relative passion generated from each ad, showing which ads were genuinely more popular with viewers.
  • Subscriber Conversion: Which brands’ ads are better at generating YouTube subscribers, the critical measurement required for a brand to succeed on YouTube.

 On the live Video Scoreboard, those four metrics are combined and weighted to reveal the Top 10 ads in overall brand effectiveness. Check daily because results will likely change over time.

Have fun with it. Think about what the dashboard means to your own video marketing, and keep an eye out for a dashboard that you can apply to your own channel. (More on that later…)

Check it out!

Topics: YouTube Video Analytics

Know Your Onions: Why Category and Competition Should Change the Way You YouTube

There's a new YouTube analytics engine in the world and it's about to change the way you look at your online video strategy.

For the first time, brands can see where they stand against nearly every competitor on YouTube -- large and small, which is important because some of the smaller YouTube channels are eating many of the big brands' lunch. That's right, we're not talking about Coke vs. Pepsi; we're talking Blendtec, which is beating both of them. 

Competition on YouTube is not about traditional competitors, it's about conversations. It's not about the size of the company, it's about the share of the voice. Our new Touchstorm Video Index: Top Brands Edition outlines exactly who owns that share of voice on the largest online video stage, and guess what? It's mostly not brands. 

For the first time, any YouTube channel owner can see who else is sharing content, having conversations and building audiences around similar topics. Finally, a recipe vlogger can see where she stands against other recipe vloggers in views and subscribers.  A big brand can discover a host of new competitors it never new existed, find out what they're doing well and why their share of voice is rising. 

Here are some of the questions the Touchstorm Video Index: Top Brands Edition will answer:

What are the Top 500 videos in my category, and what do they have in common that I can mimic?

  • What's the average number of subscribers converted per every million views in my category, and why is my channel below the average? 

  • Are my competitors spending money winning views, and if so, how much? 

  • What are the top channels in Japan for my category, and how do I compete there?

  • What is the overall growth rate of YouTube itself, so we can determine if we are keeping up or falling behind?   

  • What is the average “like-ability” for content in my category, and does our content perform better or worse than that? 

In this video, I break down the Index and what it means for brands specifically. Watch and learn, and then check back for more because we're about to release another cog in the wheel here that will just keep strengthening the index and the value it provides.

Adweek logoSee Adweek's article on the Video Index here.

mediapost See MediaPost's article on the Video Index here.

Topics: YouTube Analytics

Online Video Hits the C-Suite


We recently ran across this Forbes/Google report which highlights ways that online video has invaded the C-Suite. The key findings in the report included:

  • Video is becoming a critical information source for senior executives. More than 80% said they are watching more online video today than they were a year ago.
  • Senior executives are also turning to video more frequently. Three-quarters (75%) of executives surveyed said they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly; more than half (52%) watch work-related videos on YouTube at least weekly.
  • Work-related video can drive senior executives to take action. Overall, 65% have visited a vendor’s website after watching a video. Younger executives, however, may be more fully engaged with this type of media, and appear more likely to make a purchase, call a vendor, or respond to an ad.
  • Executives can be receptive to video advertising. Overall, executives notice ads that run alongside videos, and many are comfortable watching in-stream ads. Video-friendly younger executives are more comfortable with these ad formats.
  • The social element of online video is strong in the executive suite. More than half of senior executives share videos with colleagues at least weekly, and receive work-related videos as often. Younger executives appear very willing to share and view videos using social media.

While much of the focus of the online video conversation centers around the consumer-facing end, this trend is one that should be encouraging for the B2B community. Additionally, it means that more and more executives in companies with significant TV budgets are using and understanding the value of online video. Perhaps this will accelerate the growth in budgets that are desperately needed to see the needed growth (and growing up) in the industry. The scale and sophistication differential is still heavily weighted for TV-based video, but trends like these bode well for the futures of all those working to grow the space.

Topics: Video Content Strategy

What’s Missing From Online Video Measurement…

We syndicate videos as editorial content on some of the most popular publisher sites on the web. Many of these videos feature brands as experts in their category. These videos consistently beat industry averages on engagement. Engagement is measured as “the percentage of the entire video that is watched.” Averages in the industry hover around 50%, ours consistently perform right around 80%. That’s true engagement: someone searched for content, found our video and then watched 2:30 of the 3:00 video. It’s happened more than 20 million times for Betty Crocker videos alone. It turns out a lot of people are looking for information about baking cakes online.

So, you’d think we’d be happy with the data about all the videos we distribute. But we aren’t.

When we syndicate videos to the dozens of sites, they leave our tightly measured ecosystem and enter a measurement black hole. Right now, the way that video is measured favors the exhibitor over the distributor. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail.

A publisher decides if and then how it is going to have its video views measured. The standard right now is comScore. Publishers allow comScore tags to run on their players and every time a video fires, a view is counted. Okay, there are some more technical details and rules, but that is the gist of it. This is great for a publisher who wants to charge advertisers for pre/mid/post roll because they can tell how many times a video fired. The challenge comes when your video is content and not advertising.

The individual publisher knows how many videos they serve. You can see it on their rankings. YouTube dominates this space followed by Facebook as a distant second. But what about a video that is distributed across multiple sites NOT on an ad platform, but in the editorial well of the site. See, the video ad networks run their own players and can count views. But the distributed video runs on the publisher’s player, and the view counts for them and not for the video. So, we can know how many times it runs on YouTube and our own sites, but no one can tell you how many times a distributed video runs. Not comScore. Not anyone.

The question is why not? Two guesses here…

First, is that no one distributes this way. There are plenty of views to be had on YouTube–even though it accounts for only 40% of all views on the web–and the other video syndication sites. In fact, AdAge’s recent article about the success of YouTube celebrities lists the amount of views garnered for brand programs these celebs have run. Their success stories range from 1-10MM views on average. Not bad for a single channel, but well shy of the 20MM-plus that can be achieved through a multi-publisher syndication model. Even AOL’s latest acquisition, 5min, barely garners any views for an individual video. Their average view per video is around 50. We are seeing 5,000 view averages from a syndication model, but it is a chore to cobble together the measurements and no reliable third party source for it.

Second reason is that perhaps someone (probably comScore) is already working on a solution and soon will start measuring content that is distributed across multiple publishers and players. This is a technical challenge that we don’t need to belabor here, but enough smart minds see this need that it will come about eventually. Although we have worked with enough of the big video analytics groups to know that this is still a developing space with far too much of it dominated by TV-ish thinking about video advertising running in conjunction with low budget comedy. As the market–as in the consumer audience–continues searching for and viewing video content over video ads, the marketers will follow and true video measurement will exist. None too soon in our book.

Because as much as Web 2.0 dominates the conversation in most marketing circles, it is still the Mad Men era for Online Video measurement. Which means it is a great time to be pioneering.

Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics

5 Tips for Online Video Conversion

This was originally published as part of an iMedia cover story on Online Video.


The branded editorial video model is about creating relevant content for targeted consumers. However, it is not just about the content creation itself. Marketers must also be diligent about optimizing search and identifying targeted distribution channels.

Here are five tips for how you can begin riding the branded editorial video wave in order to start increasing customer conversions now:

1. It’s All About Search

The key is to make video content that is relevant to what consumers are already searching for online and optimize it accordingly. The above Betty Crocker video series is a good example of how to do this successfully. Another example of a brand that is getting it right is Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. To ensure Autodesk stands out in the home design/remodeling industry, the company researched what people look for online before they start a home renovation project and found that people often search for questions such as “What do I need to do before I call a contractor” and “How to refresh my kitchen with paint.” To answer these burning questions, Autodesk developed the searchable “HomeStyler” video series, a library of TV-quality videos that provide ideas and inspiration from TLC’s “While You Were Out!” designer, Nadia Geller, in a journalistic style that is familiar and engaging to audiences.

2. Adopt a Different Attitude About Creative

Consumers want information-rich video. Through video, they want to learn about your brand’s features and benefits; however, advertising-style copy is not going to resonate. Brands are legitimate experts in their field and have a right to act this way. A brand can and should share its expertise in a way that is useful to consumers. For example, who knows more about baking than Betty Crocker? The Betty Crocker test kitchen videos referenced above use the brand’s expertise in way that provides value to the consumer. This series just surpassed 20M consumer views. Another good example of a brand that is using its industry insight to engage consumers in a meaningful way is Sony.

When marketing their digital cameras to consumers, Sony was able to identify that people want to know how to take good photos, not hear about the technical specs on Sony camera lenses. Sony quickly realized that if it could teach people how to take better photos of their family and friends, they would become trusted advisors and, in turn, sell more digital cameras. To accomplish this goal, the brand partnered with respected fashion photographer Nigel Barker to create a searchable, branded video series that provides consumers with tips for how to take the best baby photos, holiday pictures and outdoor images.

3. Go for TV-like Reach!

Once you have developed the right content for consumers, it’s important not to adopt the “build it and they will come” mentality. In other words, don’t confine the content to your own website.  Targeted distribution is critical and it’s important to tap into the editorial and feature wells of content-driven sites. This approach increases consumer engagement and it allows for targeting into topic-focused publishers. For example, videos created on the consumer how-to video website that are related to food topics are also shared via Additionally, Howdini videos on topics such as “How to get a celebrity hairdo,” and other fashion and lifestyle-related trends, are strategically available on many of Glam Media’s network of women’s blogs and online sites.

4. Harness the Power of YouTube

Let’s face it: YouTube is the king of online video. However, makers of some of the best YouTube videos don’t know how to optimize their content in order to drive the content to the top of the search column. It’s important to understand that video can be optimized for search in the same manner in which we ensure websites are searchable. The truth is, you need video SEO, just like you need site SEO, and just tagging is not enough. Brands can channel the power of YouTube by optimizing online videos for search and creating channels on the popular video sharing site.  For example, launched a Howdini Guru channel on YouTube in order to create another means for sharing its how-to video content with consumers. The Howdini Guru channel on YouTube now has more than 32,000 subscribers.

5. Realize the Power of Social Media

For marketers, social media strategies are everywhere we look these days. When used strategically social media is a powerful content distribution vehicle. Distributing content on publishers’ sites is a great way to target the content, but to drive SEO for your content marketers must also distribute content via social media channels. Video sharing sites are a great start, but it’s important to also remember tactics like tagging, bookmarking and news sharing sites.

Follow these five steps for developing editorial video for your brand and you can start meeting your consumer’s unmet and growing need for information-rich online video. Consumers are hungry for this kind of relevant and substantial content and marketers will reap the benefits of deep consumer engagement with their brands.

Why Search-driven Videos Perform Better

If you added up all the various searches that women do on a monthly basis, would you guess that more of them are related to food & recipes, health, or personal care?

The answer is usually health.

Let’s talk about that category.  Within health, would you imagine that they search more on pregnancy-related issues, menopause-related issues, breast cancer, heart disease, cosmetic surgery, or something else?  The answer is that in most of the periods we analyze, women do more pregnancy-related searches than anything else.

And within all those pregnancy searches, what issues bubble to the top that women are most worried about?

1. fetal development and belly size
2. what to expect (i.e. general pregnancy)
3. determining if (i.e. determining if pregnant) 

We use an in-house tool (Scoop) to get these results. We developed this tool to classify searches into broad (and then specific) topics that we can actually do something about.  Keyword research couldn’t deliver actionable search insights, and we found the limitations were hurting our ability to create relevant content.

Why was this so important to us?  Because, if you are going to make video content, and you want people to see it, you might as well make it on topics people are already searching for. Making content that people are most passionate about does something more than increase the reach of a piece of content – it increases people’s engagement with the content. When a brand takes on the role of “expert” to provide that information, the consumer deepens their relationship with the brand.

All consumers are in some sort of need state when searching for information. The more heightened the need state, the stronger the bond with the brand through the experience. In the classic offline or traditional marketing models, getting to this kind of brand connection – where the consumer trusts the brand – can take decades. And it only tends to work when the information is not perceived as advertising.  Once that line has been crossed (i.e. the “ad” line), the notion of trust is compromised and the same connection will not occur. Duped is not a good consumer sentiment for any brand.

Using pregnancy as an example, if a brand like Johnson & Johnson shows up when a pregnant mom feels anxious about baby’s development, the bond that can be formed between brand and consumer is impossible to replicate any other way. It certainly won’t happen with a 30-second spot or a print ad, and not even a brochure at the doctor’s office meets her need in such a direct and timely way.

To properly earn this level trust, the brand must have expertise on the topic.  Women might love Olay, but that doesn’t mean that brand is “qualified” to make Branded Content on the subject of newborn care.  If Olay made editorial videos on newborn care, the presence of the brand on the video would be disruptive.  An example of this is what Unilever did with Caress.

First, let’s give credit where credit is due:  Unilever has led the way with many forms of successful web video. And as an innovator, they’ve also bumped into their share of mistakes from which the rest of us can learn. Such was the case with a “branded information” video featuring Carson Kressly talking about fashion. It started out fine, but then stuck in an oops-he-crossed-the-line sales message about how silky skin is part of good fashion and Caress can help you get there.  An expensive media placement on the front page of YouTube drew ire from the viewing public.  The line between branded information and a commercial might be thin, but put one toe over it and the negative comments and “dislikes” will shock you….not good news for the brand.

The trick to getting it right?

First, good search research that is able to discern topic popularity in the categories where the brand has legitimate expertise. Next, find video producers with expertise in the editorial world instead of the commercial world. These journalists will have a strong sense of right and wrong when it comes to editorial content, and they won’t be tempted to juice up the video creatively. They understand that straight-forward information may not win Grand Prix at Cannes. But for consumers who are in a heightened need state, a three-minute video that tells it like it is and provides a clean, clear pathway to solving a problem is exactly what the doctor ordered.

One final point: interestingly, although pregnancy, new motherhood, and other parenting topics are some of the most popular, very few brands have used video to address it.  In fact, at a recent YouTube partner’s meeting, YouTube asked our team to please produce more content for young mothers because it's one of the most under-served topics content-wise on YouTube.

So, if you’re a brand with expertise that applies to young mothers, give Touchstorm a call.  (Oops, that’s what we call stepping over the line from editorial to commercial). Strike that last line.

Consumers and Brands Demand (higher quality) Media

An IPO is on the horizon.  Demand Media will be going public! The online video world is all “a-twitter” (one of my mother’s iconic phrases rendered senseless by the modern era).  Instead, the online video world is “abuzz.” Should we sell our shares in Apple and try to get in?  Or should we “head for The Hills”?  (sorry mom, there goes another good one).

The argument for running the other way has a lot to do with this question:  does Demand Media make junk content, or do they make real content?   Is it spam, or isn’t it?  Let’s skip the argument about whether Demand Media’s content de-values journalism and degrades writers…that’s a whole other debate that many have covered.

If Demand Media makes real content, then their model is brilliant.  In the big, unfettered picture, here’s how that model works:

  1. Figure out what people are searching for.

  2. Pay nickels to have people write articles answering those questions, and pay a couple more nickels (but not a whole quarter) to have people make videos answering those questions

  3. Optimize like crazy so consumer queries result in Page One exposure for the content in search results

  4. Send those click-throughs to eHow (mostly) to read (or occasionally watch) the content that satisfies their query

  5. Create a ton of traffic on eHow as a result, generating a boatload of media impressions

  6. Collect the ad money that inevitably shows up whenever a media outlet succeeds in collecting a sufficient volume of eyeballs

  7. Charge more for the eyeballs than the nickels it took to make the content that brought them there

  8. Do it all day long until your site and your brand name stands for a reliable, trustworthy place for consumers to get information

  9. Therefore….and here’s the real kicker…with that eHow brand name standing for trust, reliability, and credibility, attract quality, big brand advertisers who, as a rule, insist on placing their advertising solely in high quality, credible environments.

Maybe you noticed that Steps 1 through 7 seemed pretty easy…lots of companies can do that and in fact, many are trying.  But then you get to Steps 8 and 9 and the bar suddenly gets reallyhigh because consumers and the advertisers set that bar, not press releases.

Demand Media sprang forth from eNom, which is still 40% of the company’s revenue.  eNom is a domain registration company that makes money from “errant clicks.”   Mistype a domain name, land on one of those content-empty sites filled with referrals of where you might really want to click, and Demand makes a nickel.  Interesting heritage for a “content” company now filling the web with articles that cost less than $6 to make and videos that cost less than $50.

Does Demand Media make content?  Or is Demand Media propagating a giant spam play?  Don’t ask them, ask the consumer if they trust what they find there, and ask brands if they find it to be a suitable advertising environment. Because at the end of the day, it will be consumer engagement and brand sponsorship that will make or break their model.

As for Mom’s iconic phrases? Well, it turns out that people don’t care for spam of any variety.

Online video isn’t just for advertising – is it?

It's interesting that the only conversation about online video – at least in the marketing community – seems to center around online video advertising. A recent TechCrunch article called it “a frenzy of growth” quoting the CEO of an online video advertising network. They are seeing “TV dollars pour in” as he put it.

A couple of interesting points to all of this:

1. The growth in percent is double digit, but it’s off a very low base. The dollars pouring in, at least according to the eMarketer forecasts in the same article, will not even eclipse banner advertising (the web’s equivalent of print) in the next 4 years. And search? They don’t project it to be less than half the size of search – the web’s defacto ad unit.

2. All of the conversation seems to be about porting TV dollars into the web. This is fine because it is a much more measurable and targeted medium. But why are we porting the same interruption strategy and tactics along with it? Putting your ads into the rim of the page, or worse yet, as pre/mid/post-roll on the page is only going to interrupt a “leaning forward” audience way more than it does the “lean back” TV audience.

3. The Ad dollars ARE going to go to one of the Top 10 Networks. That’s because the dollar scale is so much smaller on the web than it is on TV. It is easy to eat up a $10MM budget on TV advertising, but that is a fortune to spend online. This means that companies insisting on the same old strategy (i.e. TV advertising) they are going to find limited inventories and crowding at the top 2 or 3 ad networks, and a lack of scale on the rest.

There is a better way.

People are actively searching for content online, and much of the content they are consuming is video. Even with growth of broadband slowing recently, it is still in two thirds of US homes, and with 3g and now 4g mobile expansion will see video continue to grow. But we need to create videos that people are searching for, and we need to get them to the sites that deliver quality content.

Content lives in the center of the page, and content is the information that I am searching for. And people are not searching for ads. Okay, they are looking for funny ads or SuperBowl ads, but these little snacks are not considered content. It’s just something to make a friend smile.

Technologies like AdMuncher are springing up to help me avoid advertising. The computer’s ability to rid my content of ads is much greater than my TV’s. Pop-up blockers are standard on all modern web browsers now.

When brands start creating content about the categories where they have expertise, then we’ll see a real frenzy of activity. But those TV dollars won’t go to the ad networks because there are hundreds of thousands of publishers with audiences looking for great video content. They are just waiting for someone to give it to them.