Is it better to be memorable to fewer or consumable to more?

This is the question Todd Purgason, Creative Director of Juxt Interactive, posed yesterday when he spoke at FlashontheBeach in Brighton. Firstly, let me start by saying that I admire Todd’s work and the work that’s come out of Juxt Interactive for a long time. However, I didn’t feel he really attempted to answer the question…so I’m going to try.

The internet is in constant flux. Four years ago it was said that there were more web pages in cyberspace than pages ever written in any language – that’s a mindbending number of pages. I’d guess that this number has doubled again since.

In order to appeal to potential customers, brands come to agencies to have a unique and memorable experience created for them which increases their brands’ awareness.

Changes in user’s behaviour online, through community-based, user generated sites like MySpace and YouTube, which have hundreds of millions of visitors every day, have revolutionised the way in which audiences use and interact with the internet. They’re less inclined to visit branded experiences preferring to find and pass on the next funniest clip on YouTube or the next hit single on MySpace. Their behaviour is changing…I know mine is. I go to sites I find interesting and on something like YouTube there’s so much content, I’m becoming so used to using it that I’m put off by going anywhere else.

Using the technology that’s out there and understanding the nuances between the different offerings that there are, you can combine a memorable experience and have it be consumed by more.

For example, by providing teaser movies on YouTube, a YouTube user called lonelygirl15 acquired over 24 million cumulative views to her series of video blogs in little more than 6 months – the 1st episode was on the 18th June 2006. By August suspicions about the authenticity of lonelygirl15 fanned the flames of the rumour mill, only helping to increase the popularity of the program, and on the 15th September a post was left on the forum announcing that sure enough lonelygirl15 was in fact an actress called Jessica Rose and that the fictional series had been created by Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, California, and Miles Beckett, a surgical residency dropout turned filmmaker. Despite this the series continues to run to this day.

This wouldn’t be that interesting until you find out that on the 9th September the videos were uploaded and streamed from Revver.com.

Now Revver is identical to YouTube in many ways, you can upload videos, it’s community driven and you’re able to copy and paste code which places the video player anywhere else on the internet. The difference between the two is that Revver offers an ad revenue payment model. Revver splits the ad revenue with the creators 50/50 – the more people watch it the more money you make, and anyone who ‘shares’ the video by placing a player pointing to it on their blog can also get in on the action. 24million page hits is alot of eyeballs and alot of money.

I guess my point is that it’s possible to be memorable and consumable – it’s called a hit. Be it a song or a tv series, both can be memorable and both are able to draw people in and engage them – They spread by word of mouth because they’re geniuinely good. I wonder whether anything along these lines would have worked out so well if the internet audience found out they’d had the wool pulled over their eyes by HBO or Channel4 (it’s going to happen at some point, mark my words). But even if they did, as long as the program stands up to criticism, I believe the audience will forgive them – they’ve forgiven lonelygirl15.

So why am I interested? Why am I so bothered? Last week AdAge published an article on DDB Chicago’s latest efforts to build an online TV network for Budweiser. The new beer tv network will have eight channels featuring comedy, reality and sports programming, with an emphasis on webisodes and humorous shorts.

There’s clearly huge interest from large brands to find a way into internetTV, online TV, “where all the kids are” TV – call it what you will, the marketing guys want in. I just find it funny that they’re going to traditional ad agencies for the answers when they clearly don’t have a clue about how these things work. DDB have seemingly hired some of the brightest comedy writers in America right now (Matt Piedmot, Producer & writer on Saturday Night Live) in order to create a online TV network channel – which you have to go to bud.tv to watch…Why aren’t they using what’s currently out there to integrate with how people are actually using the internet? This type of network is exactly what Brightcove offers, with an ad revenue model and the possiblity of syndication – why not use it like National Geographic, SkyOne have? Why re-invent the wheel?

Equally as important is the type of wheel you choose. If you’re Xbox and you want to have the Pinata cartoons made available for kids to download, Brightcove’s not the answer, blip.tv is. Blip.tv’s emphasis is on webisodes and RSS feeds. This means a series of programs can be uploaded and added to an RSS feed which kids can subscribe to and have automatically downloaded for them to their iTunes library in mp4 format to watch on long car journeys or the school bus via their iPod.

Likewise, if you want something to spread virally use Revver, it’s in the interests of those who choose to put it on their myspace page or blog to spread it – Revver offers them a revenue model for doing it – you actually get paid for spreading it.

By combining this kind of understanding with memorable and unique experiences for people, you’re offering the best of both. You’re using what’s out there in the best way possible, as a sign post to something more exclusive, more memorable, more niche…

InternetTV has been threatening the traditional networks since the advent of Tivo and I genuinely feel that we’re on the tipping point where InternetTV has an opportunity of moving into the TV space. The reason for this is the technology.

When Apple announced their iTV box it was the first indication that a soultion had been found for people to download high quality full screen video via a P2P network and experience it away from your computer in a ‘sit-back’ environment…and they’re not alone. Several competing boxes will be out on the shelves in the next 12 months enabling people to choose what they watch and when they watch it, offering them programs that they may like and recommending new programs based on their viewing habits and interests.

The other missing piece of this puzzle is the content itself…but that’s the fun bit, right?


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December 2006
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