Nothing Funny About A Good Online Video Business Model

August 20, 2008 at 6:51 am | Posted in Advertising, Business, Marketing, Online marketing, Research, User generated content | 1 Comment
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Courtesy of gapingvoid

Courtesy of gapingvoid

In their new September issue, Fast Company magazine features a fascinating story about the comedy web video business and how it’s almost impossible to make these websites profitable.

They lay out many of the current business models, but I think an addendum is useful. In this post, I will outline a mindset that hurts that industry, what the current business model is and why it doesn’t work, a suggestion to ensure profitability, and the business model that can make an online video site profitable.

First, The Mindset

We tend to think about web videos as a “thing.” It is a product. It is content.

Forget this mindset. If you’re a video producer, web video might be a tangible thing that comes from tangible people sitting around your tangible office. But it’s not.

For your audience, web video is an experience. There’s no actual product for the viewer – the video elevates the spirits or gives us hope or connects us to others. It has more in common with a trip to Disneyland than it does with buying razor blades.

So stop thinking of a video as a commodity and start thinking of it as an experience you provide for your viewer.

Second, The Model

As the Fast Company article points out, the prevailing business model is advertiser-based. This has been the case for most things in the U.S. for more than half a century.

However, the advertiser business model cannot support web video. Consider it: the marketplace is fragmented, niche sites have the most loyal visitors, online is still new to many advertisers, audience has a decreased appetite for ads, and the content (at least on the comedy sites) is oftentimes…edgy, to put it diplomatically.

Even off-shoots of the advertiser model don’t work, such as product placement and sponsored shows. The huge conglomerates that have the money to invest in these small comedy sites only know these sorts of models – give the product away in exchange for some advertiser time.

No matter how many times you throw money at the problem, this business model still doesn’t work.

But that doesn’t mean web videos will never be profitable. (Misters Murdoch and Branson, please have your assistants print out the following explanation.)

Continue Reading Nothing Funny About A Good Online Video Business Model…

No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome

August 7, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Boomers, Business, Communication, Generation X, Generations, Leadership, Marketing, Net gens, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Marketers are confused these days. The things that have worked for decades aren’t working anymore. Can you imagine if you worked for 30 years in your given vocation and then, almost over night, all the rules changed?

In truth, marketing is only now becoming what it truly should have been – a conversation. Less lies, less spin. Marketers have been shoveling marshmallow fluff down the mouths of Americans and telling them it’s broccoli. And suddenly, as quick as you can confuse metaphors, we find that the emperor has no clothes.

I admit I’ve been frustrated with the old-school marketers. “What is with these guys, and why can’t they get it together?” But that’s not fair. Their whole world has shifted beneath them. I came to a better understanding watching a recent Robert Scoble interview with IBM engineer Mike Moran. (I highly encourage you to check it out: Robert Scoble’s interview with Mike Moran. It’s only 12 minutes long and well worth your time.)

Moran gives a cogent explanation of why marketers are having such a difficult time in the new web 2.0 environment. Here is a small sample:

“The change that’s really happening is you have to learn how to attract people to your message rather than pushing it at them. You have to figure out how you’re going to listen when they talk back. And you also have to watch what they do. Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond.

Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond. When I say ‘Do it wrong quickly,’ it’s not you trying to do it wrong, it’s that you kind of admit that what you’re doing is probably wrong because it usually is. And then you have to look back at the feedback from your target market to see how far off it is so that you know what to do next. And that’s really a tough change for a lot of marketers.

That seems really simple, but think of it: a whole industry has changed in a matter of what, less than a decade? That is pretty outstanding. It’s going from monologue to dialogue, from lecture to conversation, from directing to caring, from crossed fingers to metrics.

Continue Reading No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome…

4 Reasons Not To Rely On Market Research Alone

May 9, 2008 at 5:51 am | Posted in Advertising, Books, Communication, General, Gladwell, Malcolm - Blink, Marketing, Ogilvy, David - On Advertising, Online marketing, ROI, Usability, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments
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I was freezing my tush off a couple of weeks ago at Wrigley Field and inquired to my good friend why he had made the unlikely (in my mind, at least) switch from marketing to insurance. It seemed to me that he was turned off by the manipulative and predictive nature of old-school marketing – as though statistics and market research would tell exactly how someone would behave.

Then, just yesterday, I read both David Oglivy’s chapter “18 Miracles of Research” in On Advertising and Hank Williams’ post Who Needs Market Research. The stars seem aligned to answer a few questions about market research, including: Why can I not rely solely on market research and how can the online channel help?David Ogilvy

Sure, research is helpful to some extent. As Ogilvy said, “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals. (pg. 158)” But you are making a severe mistake if you expect focus groups, polls, and testing to divine your strategy like a Magic 8-ball.

Market research (especially customer-focused research) must be taken with a sizable grain of proverbial salt. Here are four reasons why:

1. While I think there is some use of market research, I agree with Hank Williams’ hypothesis that content and experience are much more important. People cannot articulate an experience they’ve never had. Focus on producing good content and a good experience – not whether people claim that they understand how they think they will respond to a hypothetical situation. And even if you have the product or advertisement, do you really think people will respond the same way to it during a focus group at the mall as they would in their own homes?

Continue Reading 4 Reasons Not To Rely On Market Research Alone…

Ogilvy vs. Godin: Is The Big Idea In Advertising Dead?

April 29, 2008 at 5:28 am | Posted in Advertising, Books, Boomers, Communication, Generation X, Generations, Godin, Seth - Meatball Sundae, Marketing, Net gens, Ogilvy, David - On Advertising, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Is the concept of the Big Idea dead in advertising? How much has the internet and Web 2.0 specifically altered the fundamentals of the industry?

In his 1983 book, On Advertising, master David Ogilvy held forth on the central tenet to sell products:

“You can do homework from now until doomsday, but you will never win fame and fortune unless you also invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product…Research can’t help you much, because it cannot predict the cumulative value of an idea, and no idea is big unless it will work for thirty years” (emphasis by the author, page 16).

And yet, almost the very same day as I read this from Ogilvy, I find myself almost stunned off the treadmill as new master Seth Godin holds forth on the big idea in the third disk of his audio book, Meatball Sundae:

“There’s a difference between a big idea that comes from a product or service, and a big idea that comes from the world of advertising. The secret of big-time advertising during the 60s and 70s was the big idea…Big ideas in advertising worked great when advertising was in charge. With a limited amount of spectrum and a lot of hungry consumers, the stage was set to put on a show. And the better the show, the bigger the punchline, the more profit could be made. Today, the advertiser’s big idea doesn’t travel very well. Instead, the idea must be embedded into the experience of the product, itself. Once again, what we used to think of as advertising or marketing is pushed deeper into the organization. Yes, there are big ideas. They’re just not advertising-based” (disk 3, minute 48).

Of course, we should probably define a “big idea.” As explained, a big idea is an advertising tool to sell products. It stands the test of time. It originates with the company and is distributed far and wide. It is inextricably linked to the product and the experience of the product.

In my mind, big ideas include cut-out coupons. By-mail Sears catalogs and mail-in rebates. Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit. Toys in cereal boxes that had kids begging Mom to pick that one! (Why cereal innovation is on my mind this morning, I have no idea.) Shopping malls. Radio jingles. Anything that fundamentally affected people’s decision about whether to buy a certain product or not.

So where do I stand?

Continue Reading Ogilvy vs. Godin: Is The Big Idea In Advertising Dead?…

Advertising Mistakes – How Your Paid Search Is Hurting You

April 16, 2008 at 5:35 am | Posted in Advertising, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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Most business owners have heard about Google or Yahoo ads and many are participating in these programs. These solutions allow your specific ads to reach your target audience at minimal cost.

So what’s the down-side? Can paid search actually hurt you and your brand?

The answer is a resounding yes. Done right, paid search advertising is one of the easiest ways to increase knowledge of your product or brand. But done poorly, it can cause your marketing budget to hemorrhage and turn your customers against you.

There are two ways that your paid search could be detrimentally effecting your brand.

Continue Reading Advertising Mistakes – How Your Paid Search Is Hurting You…

Epic Fail: Customer Service – How Citibank Failed and Why They’ll Never Know

March 27, 2008 at 6:38 am | Posted in Advertising, Amazon, Citibank, Communication, Companies, Decision making, General, Godin, Seth - Meatball Sundae, Marketing, Online marketing, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment
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Update: I’ve received some attention from the post below, but I feel as though I should clarify a few things.

The email from Citibank was lame, but for a huge company, not totally surprising. However, the arrival of this email does not necessarily negate that the company is listening. Toward the end of the post, I make that connection and most of the time, it’s true. In this case, however, I don’t think it is responsible to connect one lame email with a company’s entire attitude.

That said, the moral of the post – companies who fail to listen will be overtaken by those that do – still stands. I believe that will only become more apparent as time goes on. -End update

To fail may be human, but for a company to fail at customer service these days may well be disaster.

You may remember when I mentioned a Citibank ad last week in a post about features versus benefits in advertising. Their print ad was spot-on when it spoke about how Citibank fit into their customers’ lives (plus, who can resist a cute puppy?).

Citibank fail small

Epic Fail

So when I sent them an email noting my complimentary post, I expected at least a quick “thanks!” That’s the response I got from Moosejaw (they even promised to send me some schwag which must have gotten lost in the mail…). So imagine my surprise then almost 48 hours later, they reply with a standard “sorry, we can’t even respond to your email” email.

Continue Reading Epic Fail: Customer Service – How Citibank Failed and Why They’ll Never Know…

It’s Online Branding Time

March 20, 2008 at 5:46 am | Posted in Acura, Advertising, BMW, Communication, Companies, General, Generation X, Generations, Marketing, Net gens, Nissan, Online marketing, Scion, Tweens | 2 Comments
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Written by today’s guest blogger: This is my first post here on the OnlineMarketerBlog. I was asked by our kind host to share some thoughts I have about online branding. By way of credentials, I work in the marketing department of a large national company. I’m a copywriter by training with internet, print, and broadcast experience. And now for the disclaimer: These ideas which I’m about to share are of course mine, and don’t reflect the ideas of this blog’s host or my employer.

I was at work the other day when I came across this Acura landing page. It’s a robust landing page that touts the features of the car. And these types of pages are everywhere. Nissan, Toyota, Honda, GM…they all have them. And they’re all really boring. They do serve a purpose. These sites let prospective buyers learn about and price out a car. But they don’t tell a prospective owner anything about the brand.

And then I started thinking…why don’t car companies spend some of their immense marketing budgets on online branding efforts? The car market as a whole is perfect for online branding. Since cars are aspirational, a branded message speaks directly to how people should feel when they buy a specific car. In a lot of ways the brand message is just as important as a car’s features to a consumer. I tried to think back on examples of online branding in the car market and I came up with two, a Scion advergame and two Nissan Rogue videos.

So where are the online branding campaigns? Is it purely that these companies are focused on the active consumer? Someone who is currently researching new cars? Is it because they are scared that they can’t track the value of a branding campaign?

Continue Reading It’s Online Branding Time…

Please Ignore This Ad – Features vs. Benefits

March 17, 2008 at 5:54 am | Posted in Advertising, Books, Citibank, Communication, Companies, General, Heath, Chip and Dan - Made To Stick, Marketing, Online marketing | 3 Comments
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BG and I were driving to work on Friday when I commented on a radio ad. She said she hadn’t even noticed it and I can’t say I’m surprised. It was a car ad from one of the big companies – Ford or Chevy, I think – and it made me think about one of the most important rules of adverting.

Features Vs. Benefits

In their book Made To Stick, Chip and Dan Heath frequently mention the difference between features and benefits. Features are specific details that made the product unique or special. These are the phrases that the guys on any sales floor repeat ad naseum. Benefits, however, explain how the product fits into a person’s life or makes their lives easier or better.

Continue Reading Please Ignore This Ad – Features vs. Benefits…

Marketing To Latinos – What You Think You Know CAN Hurt You

March 11, 2008 at 4:42 am | Posted in Advertising, Communication, Decision making, General, Marketing, Online marketing | 4 Comments
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Imagine your job is to market to Latinos. Let’s say it is our job to sell houses to young Latino families. (While you’re flexing your imagination, forget the housing crisis for just a moment.)

OK, so we’re fancy ad execs ready to place these folks in the homes of their dreams. We’ve got two ads to chose from. The first ad features a large, politically-correctish-brownish family laughing the day away. The second ad shows a bright green lawn that was trimmed with sewing scissors and there’s a white picket fence, probably owned by people named Chet and Muffy in a locale that starts with “the” (think Hamptons, Vineyard, etc.).

Which would sell more houses to our young Latino family? What property has the appeal to seal the deal?

Continue Reading Marketing To Latinos – What You Think You Know CAN Hurt You…

2 Unexpected Valentine’s Day Ads

February 14, 2008 at 7:21 am | Posted in Advertising, Books, Communication, General, Heath, Chip and Dan - Made To Stick, Marketing, Online marketing | 3 Comments
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BG and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. She is vehemently opposed to what she describes as “fake holidays forcing people to buy stupid crap” (gosh, I love that woman). I prefer to say that every day is Valentine’s Day for us and then I giggle.

Last night I was reading Chip and Dan Heath’s great book, Made to Stick. One of their tenants of “stickiness” is the unexpected. But sometimes when ads use unexpectedness or surprise it comes off as “WTF”? They say, “The easiest way to avoid gimmicky surprise and ensure that your unexpected ideas produce insights is to make sure you target an aspect of your audience’s guessing machine that relates to your core message” (pg. 71).

I have seen two Valentine’s Day ads that I think work well with this concept. (Chip and Dan: feel free to correct me!)

Continue Reading 2 Unexpected Valentine’s Day Ads…

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