If I were the Oscars (or Viacom)

If I had the Oscars or Viacom — both of whom pulled their clips off YouTube — here’s what I’d do to deal with — no, to exploit and profit from — the inevitable trend toward your audience promoting and distributing your content:

The first goal is to get the audience to pick and recommend your best stuff. That’s free promotion.

The second goal is to make money from advertising, either on the clips themselves or on the pages and videos people come to because they saw the clips.

So I’d work with YouTube et al on new Motionbox-like functionality (which I hear Bright Cove has, too) to enable viewers to pick out segments in the middle of video. And then I’d let them to post those segments on any of the sharing services that enable me to attach ads and make money. So say the Oscars are up at Oscars.com and you can watch them there — and earn the Academy and the network more ad revenue with every click. Say that you can snip and post any two minutes up on YouTube with a click of a mouse. If the clip is already there, it takes you there and registers that you’ve recommended the same thing as someone before you and lets you comment to join in the conversation around the clip (“Can you believe Ellen’s pantsuit?”); having just one version of the clip will lead to better conversation and community. The clip carries my advertising. The video services let me keep my revenue and they report stats to me on viewership. They also promote the clips: “Watch the most popular Oscar moments!” And when people discover those clips on YouTube, etc., they’re pushed back to Oscars.com to see the show — starting with where the clip left off. And I make money showing them advertising there.

What’s not to love? I get free promotion — from my customers! I get free hosting from the service. I get incremental ad revenue both on the clips and on my show. If I have obscure cable shows at odd hours with small audiences (cough! Viacom), I get new audience discovering me. I get branding.

See, that’s the way to exploit and enjoy what’s happening in video anyway. That’s the way to go with teh flow and find new cash flow. Sitting and whining and taking your marbles and going home doesn’t earn you new money and doesn’t endear you to your customers and doesn’t save you marketing money. It just makes you look like an old dolt. And remember: In the post-scarcity media economy, there’s always something else to watch.

That’s what I would do.

: MORE: Here’s what Mark Cuban would do: He’d flood YouTube with tiny clips to harass the viewers there. That’s one helluva way to treat your fans. Does he also serve warm beer at basketball games? Dave Winer suggests:

What if, instead, Viacom told YouTube that they could host clips from their shows, but reserved the hi-rez versions for themselves, and maybe they could have negotiated a link from the YouTube low-rez scan to the one served on their site. Anything would be better than the fractured world that’s being re-created now. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if users knew they just had to go to YouTube to find what they’re looking for, knowing that it would lead them to a purchasing experience if they want one.

It seems the entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users. They’re accustomed to dealing with artists and other companies, esp really large ones, but they haven’t learned how to negotiate with the users, and that’s who they have to deal with, if they want a future.

Let’s repeat that: “The entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users.” Amen, brother.

And Om Malik mocks them:

Instead of being glad that people (the same people who pay for their over the top lifestyles by watching movies) wanted to see some of the clips, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences today asked YouTube to remove the clips.

Don’t they realize that these clips are like milk left on the counter top for too long, and will go sour soon? Don’t they realize that in this era when people are short on time, the three-hour overproduced crap that passes off as the Oscars broadcast is not needed?

Why blame the people for putting short clips on YouTube, and why take them down now? The question is why didn’t either the Academy or ABC offer the clips themselves – thus losing out on potential advertising dollars? Why not work with YouTube and give people what they want?

Preach it.

  • The day is coming soon where more people will watch the YouTube video shorts of a show than the show itself. It may have passed already.

    I dare say it: The Oscars have jumped the shark.

  • Greg0658

    …. they could host clips from their shows, but reserved the hi-rez versions for themselves, and maybe they could have negotiated a link from the YouTube low-rez scan to the one served on their site ….

    Only thing – it seems its the content not the quality of the feed in this fast food world. Feed me.

    Don’t give up on HDtv. A night’s play of Dance’s With Wolves with chineese or pizza in front of you, still looks and sounds good.

    Thank goodness HD came to be just in time for the war on terror.

    clarification – ps: I got HDtv with tuner (had antenna) for the White Sox World Series … have not got the HD movie player device yet … waiting for the shake out

  • When is the point of declining ad effectiveness reached? Each new enterprise thinks it can make money by selling advertising.

    Aren’t the dollars available for ads finite, so that a buy in one medium will cause a drop in spending elsewhere?

    Aren’t consumers so bombarded with ads that they have lost their effectiveness? I’ve noticed that TV commercial breaks now have as many as twelve ads in a row. I can’t believe that any of these can really make an impression on people when so many are seen in succession.

    What happens when the “free” services paid by advertising business plan breaks down? There seems to be no plan B.

  • Tansley

    HDTV is great…but NOBODY is going to sit through three hours of Oscars unless they own stock in the Academy itself (was there an IPO?)

    If and when I buy an HDTV, one of the requirements for justifying the purchase will be the ability to use it with my computer – and with my track record it’ll get the most use there. We watched about 30 mins of the Oscars before switching off – I was tearing-up, but I wasn’t sure if it was from Ennio Morricone’s acceptance speech in his native Italian, or Clint Eastwood’s off-the-cuff translations of it.

    Consumers ARE bombarded with Ads 24/7…but savvy and successful advertisers have learned the most important lesson – make ads that ENTERTAIN and you will have viewers unable to distinguish whether the programming or the ADS are more entertaining. As someone who works in advertising (yes, I’m finally ‘outing’ myself), I can afford to take the most feral, Darwinian approach to advertising: survival of the fittest.

    Ads that bore me DESERVE to be sucked down into the tarpits. Ads that entertain and leave me laughing are usually BRILLIANT, and more power to the people crafting them and the services/companies they are selling.

    Here’s the deal: yes, networks ARE cramming a dozen or so ads into major commercial breaks. Some are regional/local (which have their own degree of entertainment value, depending on how you look at them) and some are just canned, lack-luster efforts by Madison or Michigan Avenue wannbes who couldn’t hold their own on open-mike night at their local karaoke or comedy bar. But SOME…a very FEW…are brilliant. And THOSE are what grab the viewer’s attention and sell. One of the great ironies in our home is that we’re often jockeying for the remote to bring the sound back up for commercials that have optical promise. It used to drive my wife crazy that I would sit and watch the commercials without muting them. But as she became accustomed to living with an ad designer, she began to ‘get it.’ Before long, SHE was coming to me to tell me about this or that commercial that had her hooked.

    Journalism/Broadcasting/Blogging – the emergent merger – is a definite. Advertising, though, is getting smarter about entertainment value…and that is just as fascinating to me.

    I think you are spot-on with the Oscars missing the boat by yanking their stuff off You-Tube. Short clips – and short viewspans – are where we’ve been headed for years…the perfect ‘teasers’…and advertising hasn’t just woken up and smelled the COFFEE on this one – they’re already in the kitchen with an ESPRESSO MACHINE…

  • Tansley:

    I don’t think your behavior can be taken as typical since you have a professional interest in looking at ads. I have my TV setup such that when I push the mute during commercials the sound switches to the local classical music station, I’ve never been tempted to hear what they are saying on screen.

    The other question is whether amusing ads actually get people to alter their buying behavior. I seem to remember a couple of very witty campaigns which were pulled when the sponsors determined that sales weren’t affected. The two that come time mind were the Piels brothers cartoons with voices by Bob and Ray (probably before your time) and the Snapple ads with the woman from Queens as spokesperson.

    Obviously some advertising works some of the time, but I’m just wondering if it hasn’t reach the point of diminishing returns. To see that this is a perennial question try this story by Ellis Parker Butler:

    (The best one about placement doesn’t seem to in the collection it deals with an automobile.)

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  • I fully appreciate using YouTube to promote your content, but there is mileage in the argument why do it on their site (other than to use the bandwidth)? Surely you want to be in control of your content? More thant that, I love the grittiness of Cuban’s use of YouTube. It’s a real spit and sawdust entrepreneur’s way of doing things. I certainly like that part of the post.

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