Sib Law's poetry, photography, and other musings

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Posts Tagged ‘Viral

Launching an A-Lister’s Web Series – Bryan Singer’s H+

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Yesterday Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men) released the first two of forty-eight episodes of his dystopian near-future thriller, “H+”. Basic premise is that people now get chips implanted in their bodies. These chips basically replace their mobile devices. In one scene in a parking garage, a driver almost runs into someone. Wife suspects, then states, that he must be still watching the game. He explains that it’s in overtime and that he had “the opacity down to five percent.” Then, people start falling over dead and meyhem ensues.

The headline in The Wrap has Singer claiming, “We will change the way people view online content.” Unless he’s planning on selling the products of H+ himself, the claim is a bit…much. From Caprica’s Hollo Bands to Jesse Cowell’s Status Kill, the notion of accessing another world or transferring one’s device features to something that connects directly to the body/mind experience is nothing new. Don’t get me wrong; Singer is, as always, masterful at telling a story, creating an environment, and delivering very high quality production values.

FIRST EPISODE OF “H+”

I think his quote might have been better stated: we will tap into the way that people view online content, because they certainly do. It has long been understood in the online video industry that every episode is an entry point into a series. In The Wrap article, Singer explains, “You can reorganize the episodes, collect them and interact with the show.” This postmodern, non-linear approach to storytelling may not be completely original, but it’s darn smart. And we can be certain, given his pedigree, that Singer will be the master of it. Prepare to use your YouTube Channel’s playlist function to create your own collections, orders, etc. Going with the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats, here’s to hoping he’s very successful in this endeavor.

A final note on something I usually find valuable: how did they preview and promote the show? Assuming there’s a good PR engine operating in the background (note the article in The Wrap, above and numerous articles on release day), from a purely preview and release standpoint here’s what a quick search on YouTube uncovered:

Videos and Views a Day After Launch

Said another way, that’s essentially nine videos to launch a 48-episode online video series. All that and countless articles in publications ranging from USA Today to Wired Magazine and the view count on the first two episodes the day after launch is at just over 50,000 views. One could begin to fret for Singer at this low view count for what was surely an expensive production by online video standards. However, there are still 46 more episodes coming, who knows how many additional supporting videos, and who knows how many re-orderings of the episodes on how many different viewing platforms? Time will tell if this plotline about something going viral will turn into the series going viral. But, I think we’re only beginning to see what will be a long build for H+ and Singer’s forray into online video.

Copyright © 2012, by J. Sibley Law

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THE STATE OF SEXY: Nudity, Expletives, and Other Stuff YouTube Finds Objectionable

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Recently, Brendan Bradley (Squatters) started posting a new series (Brief Coverage) on his channel. Of the six videos currently posted, thumbnails show the female host in various sexy underwear. Two of the thumbnails include her face. The thumbnail for one of these videos recently prompted the question on Facebook, “is this porn?” A heated discussion followed.  For me, it became an opportunity to share some recent observations on the state of sexy.

For a long time, the going thinking regarding YouTube was that success was all about numbers, specifically numbers of views. Since hot-sexy (however that was defined by viewers) has tended to drive the highest number of views, videos with those subjects have driven views and notoriety. The flip-side of that coin is that the YouTube community (in some instances) and the YouTube advertisers (in other instances) have prevented material that some find offensive (in either category) from receiving monetization. In some instances, videos (like at least one in #BriefCoverage) have been completely removed from the site.

The impact can be broken down into two basic categories:

  1. Stuff that gets removed from the website or sent to the purgatory of 18+ content
  2. Stuff that doesn’t receive monetization or gets low CPMs…

My sense with #1 is that you’re on your own, it’s community driven and you’re videos remain posted at the mercy of the viewers (and YouTube internal reviewers, which number in the far-too-few). However, with #2 you are at the mercy of the advertisers and the demand for content in certain categories. We have two shows in the Ziz Comedy Network that each received monetization over the past month. One show goes after the thriving male-interested-in-slightly-sexy-content. That episode (The Largest Penis in the World) received something in the neighborhood of 22K views over a thirty-day period and made somewhere in the neighborhood of $26 – $30. The other video (Bun in the Oven) received approximately 2K (yes, two thousand) views during the same period and made virtually the same amount of money. What was the difference? This second video is aimed at new moms with a comedic message of women empowerment consistently targeting this audience with content, title, tags, etc. The other difference is that the first video captures the same audience as a gazillion (that’s the literal number) other videos on youtube while the second is doing something that is a lot more unique (relatively speaking).

You can define success in a number of ways. There are great reasons to go after high view counts or high cpm rates (or both). YouTube (though often thought of like a utility) is first and foremost a business that needs advertisers to sustain itself and needs to grow beyond its reputation outside of the webseries community: as the place that you don’t want your 13 y.o. to go alone. In that context, it’s easy to understand why and how certain things happen on YouTube. Unfortunately, for now there are three basic categories for YouTube videos with anything that a user or advertiser might find objectionable: undiscovered, adult, and removed. My sense is that as the broader community of online video viewers evolve so will the rating system and the ways that certain kinds of content finds its way to users. As that happens, it will make room for a much broader range of high quality content that, while not necessarily perfect for the Disney set certainly might be perfect for a differentiated, intelligent, and discerning audience.

Whether or not Brief Coverage is designed to do more than showcase the assets of Liz Katz, I leave to the viewer to decide. But, the conversation it fostered on Facebook reminds me of a question our start-up consultant asked me when we were first forming as an organization: “Are you planning to do porn?” Perplexed and surprised by the question we answered with a resounding: no. “Good,” came an immediate response from our smiling consultant. “There’s just too much competition.”

Why I Love Politicians and What We Can Learn from Them

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We are headlong into the silly season of presidential campaign politics. If you doubt it, it’s time to crawl out from under that rock you’ve been sleeping under. Then, once you plop down on the sofa with your laptop, smart phone, or in front of your television, you’ll figure out who the key players are. This week as we launch Puppet John Law, a series lampooning the process of running for President of the United States, it makes sense to explore why I love politicians and what we can learn from them.

 

I have worked in an integral way on numerous political campaigns; sometimes on the winning side, sometimes on the losing side. I count a number of politicians—in both political parties—good friends. Despite what you might think about their political positions, my experience indicates that (most) politicians start out wanting to make a difference and do right by their constituents. They believe they can further the cause of their electorate, that they can best represent their constituency, and that they will serve the people better than their opponent.

Money and influence sully campaigns and have since the beginnings of democracy. But even today, with all the influence and money that flows through political campaigns, one truism can be gleaned from politics and applied to web television.

“How do you win an election? One vote at a time.” One only has to think back to the George Bush/Al Gore election to remember just how true that is. Even today, we see the Republican primary contenders traveling state-to-state, fair-to-fair, house party-to-house party. Why? To meet people! Raising money is part of the equation, but the goal is to win the support of opinion leaders in communities (communities of people living together, worshipping together, or country-clubbing together, or who share a common ideology). These politicians take their message out to various communities and make the case for how they are unique, different, and better than the rest.

When you listen to top YouTubers talk about keys to their success, it’s not so different. Many of them spend inordinate amounts of time responding to comments and fans, outreaching to communities that would resonate with their show, and working to convert the passive viewer into an active fan who likes, shares and talks about their show. It’s about what makes their show unique, different, and better at connecting with an audience.

Some may argue that the key is to simply create great content. But, discoverability also comes from knowing who would likely connect with that content and helping them find it. How do you build an audience? One view at a time. That’s a great place to start.

Puppet John Law is created by J. Sibley Law with animation powered by HandTurkey Studios.

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Elements of a Hit Web Series

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Branching out to other publications, please see my latest guest column in Tubefilter:

Elements of a Hit Web Series (And the One You’re Probably Missing)

There’s a secret to building a hit web series; to writing the perfect story or cultural commentary that people can’t help but share. It’s elusive and the people who accidentally stumble upon it grow fewer with each…

Continued at Tubefilter:

http://news.tubefilter.tv/2012/02/02/elements-of-a-hit-web-series/

IAWTV Opens Award Submissions

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The following was released today by the IAWTV:

Recognizing content creators driving today’s Web television industry, the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) announced a call for submissions for the inaugural IAWTV Awards to be presented on Thursday, January 12, 2012, in Las Vegas during 2012 International CES.

Submissions for the first-ever IAWTV Awards begin Tuesday, October 4, 2011 and must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST on October 31, 2011. For more information, visit http://www.iawtv.org/awards.

For its premier event, the IAWTV Awards consists of 33 categories honoring Web series and talent, both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.  Submissions for the IAWTV Awards are open to qualifying individual producers, production teams and companies, major studios and networks, independent talent, YouTube stars and mainstream talent. A full list of categories for the first IAWTV Awards can be found at http://iawtv.org/awards/categories.

“The original online video industry is booming and the IAWTV is thrilled to produce the first awards for content creators by content creators, honoring the talented community behind the screens,” says Paul Kontonis, Chairman of the Board of Directors for IAWTV, and Vice President/Group Director of Brand Content at Digitas. “As we open up submissions for our inaugural awards, we welcome entries from content creators who are changing the way we watch and from independent talent to distribution platforms and major studios.”

Qualifications for IAWTV Awards eligibility include:

•        Only episodes of a Web series as defined by the IAWTV that were released during the period of January 1, 2010 through October 31, 2011 are permitted to be entered for consideration in the inaugural IAWTV Awards and only so long as at least two (2) or more episodes of the Web series were released within the eligibility period.

•        The IAWTV defines a Web series as a series of two (2) or more episodes held together by the same title, trade name or mark, or identifying personality common to all the episodes that initially aired and were distributed anywhere in the world via the Internet using website technology (e.g., .com, .net, .biz, etc.).  Exclusions from this are works such as previews, trailers, sizzle reels, commercials, any sequences from feature-length films for theatrical distribution or home video release, aired and unaired episodes of established TV series delivered on free network broadcast television, pay television and all forms of cable television, and any unsold traditional TV series pilots.

•        Both members and non-members of the IAWTV are welcome to submit their shows for consideration.

•        All submissions and entry fees must be received by 11:59pm PST on October 31, 2011. All submissions must be received via the IAWTV’s online entry system at http://submissions.iawtv.org from the owner or authorized representative of the Web series.

Active members of the IAWTV will vote on IAWTV Awards and nominees will be announced in December 2011 following preliminary voting. To become a member visit http://iawtv.org/join-us.

About the IAWTV Awards

The International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) Awards is an official Web television industry awards and experience established for content creators, by content creators. The awards serve as a platform for members of the IAWTV to honor the best of their profession, foster collaboration with peers and industry luminaries and to support the IAWTV. Proceeds raised from the show are used by the IAWTV for the betterment of the community by providing more member resources as well as professional development and education for professionals working in Web television.

About The International Academy of Web Television

The International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) is a nonprofit organization comprised of leaders in the field of Web television, Web video and the digital entertainment industries. Founded in 2009, the IAWTV is helping to shape the rapidly evolving Web television industry while providing a venue for the acknowledgement of artistic and technological achievement in original entertainment distributed on the open Internet.  IAWTV members include actors, agents, composers, content developers, directors, editors, producers, technology innovators, writers, and other industry professionals all of whom joined the organization based on their passion and dedication to advance the craft of Web television. For more information, please visit www.iawtv.org or follow us on twitter @iawtv.

About CEA

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $186 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services.  Find CEA online at www.CE.org and www.Innovation-Movement.com.

Trend-Setter Gets Invited to YouTube Partner Program

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Melissa Gonzalez doesn’t let the dust settle under her feet. She is co-founder of RS Pop-Up Shop, which blends online video, with fashion, branding, and a hot store front location in mid-town Manhattan on Lexington Ave. The former host of Latin Beat on BET also runs beautyfashionfitness.com. To call her a go-getter with vision would be an understatement. She’s been a Wall Street Executive, a television host, a style maven, and a successful blended-industry entrepreneur. This woman knows a few things. However, recently, she and a friend started a comedy show “just for fun” called: The Glory Box Girls. Though the chit-chat might edge toward racy (they’re on YouTube, afterall), something unexpected happened. One of their videos crossed beyond a thousand views, began receiving a lot of comments, and then YouTube invited them to include that video in their Partner Program. Melissa  agreed to go on camera can talk a bit about their entry into the Partner Program, some of the choices the program is influencing, and she agreed to come back and talk with us in about six months to discuss how it’s going.

Here is what Melissa has to say:

The Definitive YouTube Guide

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Building an Audience, Optimizing for Search, and Making Money

The title to this post is fairly tongue-in-cheek. The reality is that if you catch any well-known so-called “you-tubers” off-the-record, they’ll tell you that all bets are off. Even panelists from last night’s YouTube Partner’s Meet-up, which was held at Google’s New York City offices, confided that the ubiquitous platform and it’s community seems to be very different from year to year. Panelists included: Michael Buckley (What the Buck), Ben Relles (Barely Political), Kevin Nalty (Nalts), and William Hyde (TheWillofDC). Each of these guys gave varying perspectives on their success and have taken different approaches to their content, much which I love. However, the most helpful part of the evening were two sessions lead by Margaret Healy, Google Partner, and what she shared about how their platform works and how to make the most of our shows. What follows are some of those insights:

Michael Buckley, William Hyde, Ben Relles, and Kevin Nalty

Building an Audience

Early in the evening, Healy posted a TubeMogul pie chart depicting statistics about where video views come from (no, not from the lettuce patch). Additionally, a number of statistics were thrown out to the audience, like the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine (ostensibly second only to Google), that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and that 40% of online video views happen on YouTube. Interestingly, during the Q&A, one partner asked about securing placement on the YouTube platform. Healy’s response was that videos didn’t get popular because of a YouTube spotlight. Essentially, YouTube’s perspective is, “you need to build your own audience.” There was encouragement for partners to network, collaborate, and even form friendships. There was a lot of talk about inbound traffic to YouTube utilizing video embeds, links, and the new email option that partners were encouraged to ask their subscribers to opt-in to (note: it’s a multiple-click process to opt in). There was talk about how to share subscribers and a ton of talk about interaction. Buckley pointed to how much time he spends interacting with his audience via the comments on his videos and that he is less focused on his website than on his YouTube channel. When a follow-up question was asked about how many hours a day he spends responding to comments he emphasized: “A LOT!” I was quickly reminded of a conversation I had last year with Joe Swanberg (Young American Bodies) when I asked him how building an audience was different online than it was in film. He responded to the affect that building an audience was just the same online: one viewer at a time. So, back to the TubeMogul pie chart: while 45% of video views come from within the site, 44% came from inbound traffic (ie. blogs, links, etc.). The next obvious question is, beyond sharing subscribers and getting people to link to a video or embed a video, what can you do to find an audience?

Optimizing for Search

How, exactly, does one rise above the noise and get her video found and seen? Healy had some interesting thoughts about optimizing for search (note the earlier statistic about YouTube being the second largest) and that Google search results now include video. Healy went onto say: “I know a lot of you guys spend about 10 hours perfecting you video,” boy, does she underestimate, “and about 10 seconds writing a description for your video.” That was when she introduced Al (short for algorithm). She explained that while the YouTube Algorithms do not watch the videos, they read all the text available (title, tags, and description). She gave CookingWithDog as an example of the kind of specificity needed in descriptions to help optimize a video for search. She did a quick Google search for “cooking bento” and the cookingwithdog video was available above-the-fold. Once on the video page she opened up the description and there was the entire recipe. Then she offered a tip for those of us with text rich videos: turn on auto-captions, copy and paste the captions into the description, correct the captions, save, and then turn off auto-captions. Other things that impact the YouTube Algorithms? Any of the following will help: inbound links, frequency of posting (the more you post, the more Al will like your video), and getting included in official playlists. Also, note that the algorithms are designed to identify spam and misleading behavior as well as copyright infringement, etc.

Making Money

Once you’ve figured out how to build an audience all on your own and how to optimize your video so people will find it when they search for related stuff, of course you’ll want to know: HOW DO I MAKE MONEY?  If you want to make money on YouTube, you need to first apply to become a YouTube partner. Once you’ve done that, there’s a lot of stuff to know and figure out:

The first question is how exactly one makes money on YouTube. Very simply: advertising. Wait. No. The TWO ways to make money on YouTube are advertising and rentals. Oh, but wait…the THREE ways to make money on YouTube are advertising, rentals, and paid placement. Yes, the list is still growing. But, don’t worry…there is no comfy chair! (Special note about the third: YouTube allows partners to get paid for product placement but due to recent FCC regulations requiring the disclosure of paid content, please check the box during upload that says: “This video contains a paid product placement.”) However, the main way that video on YouTube is currently monetized is with advertising (pre-roll, post-roll, and overlays, and in-stream ad-insertion in videos longer than 10 minutes, as well as with AdSense).

YouTube has three ways they package their video inventory for advertisers.

  1. Category – When you go to upload your video, you should select which category your video is best suited for. Sometimes ad buyers will buy the entire category.
  2. Video Vertical – This is determined by all the metadata on a per-video basis (ostensibly based on views, content, and other qualifying factors such as extensive descriptions)
  3. Custom Packs – YouTube has an unlimited number of custom packs of videos that advertisers buy. Special interest right now for YouTube is video content geared toward moms.

Please note that the algorithms on YouTube/AdSense are designed to weed out racy content and other kinds of content that advertisers might find objectionable. It was difficult to get a clear read on what, exactly, racy and objectionable might be; but one must assume that objectionable will trend with the sensibilities of the culture at any given time. Healy’s suggestion was to make videos TV-ready to make them appealing to advertisers.

There were approximately two hundred partners in the room for the session and many of us “old timers” could be heard saying things like: “oh, I didn’t know you could do that now; that’s helpful.” Clearly, this was a great step for YouTube toward helping to build its collection of partners into a community. Hopefully, there will be many more YouTube Partner Meet-ups and YouTube will continue this more personal flow of information. I, for one, believe that it’s incumbent on we the Partners to build our community.

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