A “Social OS?” Don’t Bet Against It

May 28, 2007

logo_facebook-cmyk-7inch.jpgInternet and VC circles have begun to buzz recently about the possibility of social-networking sites evolving into “social operating systems” or “personal operating systems” — as central to people’s social and personal lives as Windows is to a computer.

A particularly influential voice promoting this notion could be heard this past week, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg evoked it at a major Facebook event in San Francisco.

Far-fetched? Not really. In fact, MySpace and Facebook already are approaching that level of functionality for many of their members, especially those who are 25 and under. Just ask a few teenagers and young adults how they manage their social lives, and the pervasive role of MySpace and Facebook (usually one or the other) becomes immediately clear.

Some key elements, to be sure, remain to be adequately integrated. Mobility is key, given younger consumers’ heavy phone, text-messaging and mobile-entertainment usage, and experimentation with GPS-enabled social apps. Clearly, any fully functional personal OS must work as well (and somewhat differently) on the go as it does on a desktop or laptop.

Meanwhile, coming at the personal-OS opportunity from a somewhat different angle than MySpace and Facebook are virtual worlds such as Second Life.

So — a social OS? The term itself is a bit too geeky to be adopted by the masses — but the concept behind it is logical enough and would seem likely to spawn a whole new generation of interesting startups.


Is Vidmetrix Your Next Key Metrics Source?

May 23, 2007

Marketers definitely should check out Vidmeter’s new video analytics service, Vidmetrix.

Vidmeter/Vidmetrix intends to be a “go-to” source for marketing metrics on Internet video, and it’s showing strong progress toward achieving that goal. Though he launched Vidmeter just a few months ago, founder Bri Holt brings relevant expertise to the task and he and his team are building it out quickly.

Vidmetrix, Vidmeter’s new service, “is designed for marketing firms to track their online video campaigns, see how much exposure they’re getting, and see consumer feedback,” Holt says.

That means tracking views and comments across 44 (“and counting”) video sites, and generating a rich suite of reports and tracking. Vidmetrix also enables tracking videos hosted at a business’s own site, and for integrating that data with activity from distributed channels (YouTube, etc.).

Needless to say, tracking and metrics that can bring visibility to the rather chaotic world of online video is invaluable to marketers. If you haven’t done so yet, check out Vidmetrix.


How to Do Product Placements Right

May 22, 2007

With video product placements at YouTube and other sites getting more attention in the media, including a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, marketers should be examining their practices.

The issue is not whether product placements make sense — they do (see previous post). What marketers need to focus on is how to do them right, so they’re effective.

The first emphasis, which should be obvious, must be on entertainment value. Remember, videos distributed primarily through YouTube and other websites rely almost entirely on popularity in order to gain viewers. This is completely different from buying your way in front of an audience, as with conventional television advertising. A video that lacks strong entertainment value simply won’t get played, won’t get positive ratings, and won’t pick up comments — whether it’s sponsored or not.

Certainly, “over-the-top” product-placement videos can succeed. So can poking fun at your own brand or your own mainstream advertising campaigns (within limits, of course). Blatantly subversive approaches, such as the initial “mystery” that surrounded lonelygirl15, also can work.

The products themselves can be placed in videos, promoted with a post-roll citation, or both. With subversive campaigns, the rules are entirely different and both media interest and the “reveal” must be carefully orchestrated.

Either way, keep the time element in mind. The pacing and plotting of a video clip that runs two or three minutes are more like a mini television show or movie than a commercial.


Product-Placement “Controversy” Overblown

May 20, 2007

Marketers should not let recent media reports about a video product-placement “sellout” scare them off from sponsoring videos or dropping products in.

The concerns, first raised in the the Los Angeles Times a few days ago and likely to spread further (I received a call from a reporter in Virginia on the issue after the Times story appeared), are overblown.

YouTube has been covered in the media so exhaustively that reporters are searching for new and juicy angles. I’m sorry, but seeking controversy in product placements isn’t going to win any Pulitzers. The concerns could continue to circulate in the media for awhile, but they’re essentially meaningless.

Far more important for marketers is to execute product placements and sponsored videos correctly, in order to get optimum bang for your advertising dollar.


Nalty’s 10 Tips for Running a Successful Contest

May 16, 2007

Marketers who have been following the ongoing series on video contests here at User-Generated Nation should check out a recent post at Will Video for Food.

“Viral Video Genius” Kevin Nalty offers 10 great ideas for running a successful contest.

As Nalty cautions, “Video contests continue to roll out, often ignoring some of the basics for attracting good entries.”

I’ve heard the same from marketers, who have advised that acquiring entries can be surprisingly difficult. User-Generated Nation’s recent series on contests has offered some suggestions for remedying the problem.

Nalty brings the perspectives of both content creator and marketer to the issue. His post should be considered essential reading by anyone who plans to sponsor video contests.


What Contest Sponsors Can Learn from Hollywood

May 13, 2007

What made “American Idol,” “Survivor” and “Dancing With the Stars” so successful?

These hit contest franchises have three important things in common:

First, they create an emotional tug by portraying the contestants’ personalities and individual stories.

Second, they pull us in deeper with close-up studies of how the contestants react to pressure.

Third, they inject these elements into a competitive scenario that reveals clear winners and losers in a nail-biting crescendo.

It boils down to an intense human drama involving real people that viewers have grown to care about deeply.

And it’s all totally manufactured and orchestrated, for effect.

Video contest sponsors should consider the techniques Hollywood has perfected with these hit shows.


Blockbuster Contest Idea: A $1 Million Prize

May 8, 2007

If you’re looking to sponsor a video contest that gets lots of media exposure and a slew of great entries featuring your brand, here’s an idea: Offer a $1 million prize.

I would contend that apart from buying spots for the Super Bowl, a strategy that proved successful back in February, a $1 million prize is the best way to ensure that your contest stands out. (Then again, a $1 million prize and a Super Bowl spot could be the perfect contest combo.)

Of course, $1 million is just the starting point. A contest putting this much on the line also would need plenty of conventional advertising to back it up, as well as investment in online and broadcast venues to showcase the top contestants and their entries.

(By the way, I predicted that someone would offer a $1 million prize this year over at sister blog Usertainment Watch, which is written for producers. I’m still waiting — and so are all those producers out there!)