Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Video Marketing Advise for Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials - Andy Stack, YouTube

Online video is massive in its reach and scale with 6.9 billion videos watched in the U.S. in July and August of this year, and it's quickly growing into a major component of what people do online or how they consume information and entertainment. YouTube represents a lot of the growth of online video, with 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute and 3 billion daily views are registered on YouTube worldwide. While viewership on TV is stagnant if not slowly decreasing year over year, online video is seeing a 50% yearly increase in viewership.

I spoke with Andy Stack, Product Manager at YouTube following his keynote, "Video Convergence is Here: Get Ready!", at the 2011 Liveclicker Video Summit, who says, online video is a valuable tool to drive brands, and is transforming the way consumers engage and conduct commerce. The use of online video in e-commerce is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss or not fully understand.

His main message to brands and retailers is to create content, not commercials. Stack says that it's important for retailers to develop a content strategy and not necessarily an advertising strategy, and sponsor content that matters to your community and spend money to promote content that's tested and works.

Brands can’t sell brands, People sell brands 

Stack says that the definition of content is very rich and changing, by definition. So, we shouldn't be held to old ideas of what content is. It could be curated content, mash-ups, expression, dialogue, and a variety of different types of content.
"Lines are blurring between entertainment and advertising, and between consumers and marketers. Marketing platforms are rapidly evolving, and at the center of it all is online video. Brands and consumers are interacting in ways they never have before, and everyone is witnessing this through the power of sight, sound, and motion."
But underlining it all, he says, is that we’re content creators by our own DNA.
“We are all storytellers, and a content strategy helps ultimately for people to sell brands, not brands to sell brands.”
If you’re a marketer, then you'll probably recognize some of the following videos. Which of these were made by users? By marketers? Who started the conversation?

Tiger Woods 09:
Numa Numa Gecko:
E-Trade Trading Baby:
Cadbury Eyebrows:

Online Video is Social

Stack says that aside from being huge in reach, online video is also what many other media are not – it’s social in ways that move viewers to engage with your brand, connect with new ideas and even change the world. An interesting fact he shared was about the activism in Egypt earlier this year that was first sparked on the Internet and spread throughout the country to rally the population and spark a revolution that forever change people’s lives there. He shared the following quote that helped sum up his point.
"We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world…"
— Activist in Cairo, Egypt, March 2011

Another example of how video is social is campaign called ‘it gets better’ campaign, that was launched on YouTube in September 2010, by Dan Savage and aimed to help young people, especially those struggling with their identity and sexuality, deal with bullying. The video has had millions of views and within a few weeks spawned thousands of similar videos from ordinary kids to the President, celebrities and even the SF Giants reaching millions more with a strong and united message.

Video + Social = Earned Media

Stack also cites Lady Gaga as one of the most impressive genius marketers of our time who is powered by video. She regularly uses social video to cultivate and project her image and message. She launched exclusive video premiers on Vevo, starred in a Google Chrome Ad that went viral, staged a live feed from Best Buy on launch date as fans poured in to buy her album and live interviews allowed her to take questions from fans.

The results is that Lady Gaga is the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, and her music video for Born This Way has over 79 million views and in the first week of release her album sold 1.1M copies and brought down Amazon’s servers.

Stack says that a characteristic of successful videos are retailers, brands or others who have a whole social media strategy around the launching of a YouTube video.
"One of the other things I encourage is to engage the viewer in a conversation. Think of the video experience as a conversation. It doesn't start and stop with the video. There's great opportunity to have at the end of a video, various calls to action. Such that if somebody's hooked with the video, here's the next step that they can take to either engage with the brand, learn more information or perhaps discover other videos."
Another great example of a brand using video is Orabrush, which became a YouTube sensation. Who knew that oral hygiene products could be a cross-over hot with video, yet Orabrush used it's YouTube channel to sell over 1 million of the $5 tongue brushes, and major drugstores are now carrying it on their shelves. They were named one of the Top 10 Social Media campaigns of 2010.

Stack says, the power of social is something that retailers can harness to build your own brands too.  One of the important aspects of social is sharing, and 30% of people share videos they like, over 400 videos are shared on Twitter every minute, and the amount of YouTube videos watched on Facebook is equal to 150 years. As the world’s largest focus group, online video lets you know if the creative or videos that you are running on TV and elsewhere are making an impact when people choose to consume your brand and spread the word. Retailers can use video like a sand box to experiment and use the variety of tools available from YouTube to find the right mix, then rinse and repeat.

5 Things Andy Stack has Learned about YouTube
Stack says there are 5 lessons he learned from his experience at YouTube to help create successful online video campaigns:

1. Rethink what “content” means
Kutiman & Pogo make work by micro-splicing together other content.
They use films, sounds, chords, even syllables to make their music. The Khan Academy also has emerged as a new voice of authority
2. Every video is a conversation (if you let it become one) 

Electronic Arts produced this response to a user generated video on the Tiger Woods '08 game. 
3. Every video is interactive
Interactive zombie movie adventure - Hell Pizza's uses annotations to encourage interaction. 
4. Every video finds an audience.
Online Video is reaching NEW audiences every day. Blair Fowler  and her sister Elle post style and beauty related tutorials that has reached millions on YouTube and are at forefront of the "hauling"phenomenon. 
5. You don’t always have to make video, you can inspire others or curate
Tweak inspired fans to help them design their shoes and the result was the mythical shoe, with wings and a pocket for a guitar pick. )

Mass Media is De-Massing
Are they watching less TV? Generally speaking, Stack says, no. People are watching more TV. They are just watching cable. If you stack networks by percentage reach, you’ll see that 50% of viewership is on networks with a rating less than 1.0 (1% of households). And at 0.5% share (the point at which Nielsen stops measuring), you’ll find 30% of viewership.

YouTube offers great opportunities to online video publishers, says Stack:

"It’s a good time to be a content creator. Our system allows you to unlock the untapped value of networks you may not have previously considered. For example one brand seeking to target young adults found that Fuse network delivered a much more efficient cost per order than the networks they were traditionally targeting, now Fuse is a permanent part of the line up. This also means that the established media companies don’t have the high upfront cost strangle hold on access anymore"

Read Jen Fahey's related post on at:

About Andy Stack - Product Manager, YouTube

Andy Stack is a product manager at YouTube focused on the financial performance and video analytics of YouTube content creators. Prior to YouTube/Google, Andy was a serial entrepreneur mixing media with metrics. Andy co-founded Mozes, the leader in mobile engagement around music, sports, entertainment and causes; Stata Labs, a personal media search company acquired by Yahoo!; and DealMaven, a quantitative analysis software company acquired by FactSet. He received his MBA from the Wharton School and BSE from Princeton University. Follow @andystack

Monday, October 3, 2011

VidBlogger Nation Launches as First of its Kind Social TV Network on Comcast Xfinity on Demand

Marc Scarpa, veteran director and executive producer of live interactive media events, has launched the first of it's kind social TV network with Comcast Xfinity On Demand, called VidBlogger Nation, that brings popular local YouTube talent into the living room of millions. VidBlogger Nation is shot on location by local video bloggers in 10 key markets, including Philadelphia, New Jersey, New England, Atlanta, South Florida, Michigan, Denver, Portland, Sacramento, and San Francisco. The episodes are short 3-5 minute narrative shorts by unique voices from across the country who share colorful stories of people, places and things in their city from a first-person perspective. The VidBlogger Nation roll-out will initially include three full seasons for each market, with over 240 episodes available so far on Comcast Xfinity On Demand local, and they're in the process of shooting 120 more. Both Comcast On Demand Local and SimplyNew Studios will consider further markets after the initial run concludes.

I caught up with Scarpa on his recent visit to San Francisco where he met with several of his local VidBloggers, including Zennie Abraham (Zennie62), who joined Scarpa in this interview. See Zennie's article here: Comcast VidBlogger Nation New Video TV Network | City Brights: Zennie Abraham | an blog.

"We're using a lot of social platforms in order to engage conversation in and around the content that we're creating. We're using Facebook, YouTube and obviously Twitter, in conjunction with distributing the content over Comcast On Demand. So really, what distinguishes us from other types of networks is, we're not a technology platform, we're really focused on that conversation between the video bloggers themselves and of course amongst their audience."
Scarpa says that they look at their audience more as followers and friends than as viewers – which is a traditional television approach – to the point that the VidBloggers are really involved with the audience on an honest and genuine way.
"Because it's their voice that's being carried throughout the network. It's their points of view, it's their opinions, it's their stories, it's their experiences that they're sharing with that audience, and the audience actually helps them create their content." 
Scarpa says it becomes social by engaging the viewers to become involved in the programing decisions, and more importantly, they then become invested in the lives of the video bloggers themselves. This new approach transforms the traditional audience into collaborative partners in a participatory media experience. What also makes VidBlogger Nation unique from traditional broadcast television, says Scarpa, is that they went out and found people who who had stories to tell, as opposed to doing a casting session that would have attracted mainly actors.
"We went and we sought tastemakers, and voices, and personalities, and we actually searched around 3,000 to 4,000 videos in the course of a 4-week period. Then narrowed it down to roughly 100 people, 10 per market, and out of that 10, we then narrowed it down to 1 per market."
The VidBlogger Nation network talent includes:

Scarpa says their VidBloggers are already talented producers and great storytellers who shoot and edit their own videos.  He is working closely with each host to supply them with editorial and technical support, content production and legal issues.
"We wanted to create a social TV look-and-feel that emanated from the web, with a style that fit the locale of the vidblogger's world, and enabled them to be natural hosts for stories that were authentic to them," says Scarpa. "As television moves toward an all-IP universe, the grammar of what we watch on t.v. will have more to do with an emerging, and immersive, web presence. Vidblogger Nation is the first step toward blurring the boundaries between web TV and cable TV."

In this interview with Zennie Abraham, (who represents Atlanta), Scarpa says that VidBlogger Nation is not video blogging:
“I’ve always been a big fan of this school of improvisational story-telling, from the reactionary film movement to the John Cassavetes-style of film-making. What really captivated with early independent film and early web videos was this notion of ‘first-person perspective,’ where an individual is empowered to tell their story, there way, and how they want to. Web video has taken that to a whole new level.”
Zennie agrees and says the experience has been tremendous for him:
"What I’ve learned could fill a book, but the basic lesson is that the creative mind can be improved if only it’s working with other creative people. I love learning from Marc and the other vloggers. Frankly, I’m used to just letting it rip with a camcorder, where with VidBlogger Nation, I’ve become much better at telling a story with the camcorder."
Zennie is one of YouTube's first Partners, an iReport contributor before it was purchased by CNN and blogs at Read more of his article here: Comcast VidBlogger Nation New Video TV Network | City Brights: Zennie Abraham | an blog

VidBlogger Nation is a product of Scarpa's SimplyNew Studios which has long track record of producing and pioneering the live participatory programming genre for television, the web, fashion and music industry, and even the White House with the "Townhall with President Clinton" (now part of the permanent collection of the Clinton Presidential Library).

Scarpa says that the overall goal of VidBlogger Nation is to have a new forum for very talented people, like Zennie and his fellow VidBloggers, who have a voice and help them extend beyond the web into a new market, and a traditional broadcast environment like Comcast provides access to 60 million homes.

Get social with VidBlogger Nation

About Simplynew Studios
Simplynew Studios is a leading developer of participatory media programming and productions, including live television, web, mobile, and on-demand broadcast events. Renowned director-producer Marc Scarpa, a pioneer in the industry who is founding chair of the Producers Guild of America New Media Council East, established the company in 2001. Based in both Los Angeles and New York, Simplynew Studios specializes in multi-platform productions, and have delivered groundbreaking content for customers including Comcast, Sony Music, MySpace, Fox, The Recording Academy (GRAMMY awards), Marc Jacobs International, Woodstock ’99 and the White House among others.