Would Paid YouTube Accounts Reduce Pre-Roll?

YouTube Skip Logo

Would you pay to skip ads on YouTube?

In the online world, it’s rare that we’re willing to pay for anything. We almost never want to pay for content, which is understandable considering how long we’ve been getting it for free.

But as of today, I am ready to pay for a premium version of YouTube. Yup, I am prepared, PayPal in hand, to give Google my money for something they provide for free.

Anything to stop the pre-roll. Or at least require only premium-level pre-roll that is relevant to my tastes. This is worth paying for.

Freemium Upgrade to Premium
So you’re familiar with the concept of “freemium” right? Sure you are. That’s where you can get most of the features for free, but to get the “extra special awesome bonus stuff,” you have to pay.

For example, I’m an avid photographer, so I pay for Flickr Pro. Even though Flickr is free, I pay $25 a year for the upgrade. It’s not much money and I feel like I get some good value from it.

I’m also using the free version of Evernote more frequently, so I am considering an upgrade there. Maybe Dropbox too. Both provide good free services, but the extra stuff on the premium may make it worth the few bucks.

To be honest, I use YouTube way more than any of these other services. Google invests bazillions of dollars running YouTube and charges us nothing for it. A few moments of our attention (for a paid advertisement) is all they ask. Seems fair, right? Continue reading

Viral Videos Can Launch Your Brand

Karmin is having a good year. A really good year. Don’t know who they are? First, check out this video.

This is a talented young duo doing a cover version of a song by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. It’s catchy, fun, and very watchable.

As of this posting, this little video has garnered over 10 million views in less than one month. That’s a lot of views for something that’s being spread word of mouth. Continue reading

Facebook Status Off Video

Y’know, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. This video captures the geeky goodness of our obsession with Facebook status updates.

Lots of us in this age online celebrity are obsessed with self-marketing and Brand You to the point of silliness.  I’m certainly guilty of trying too hard to be entertaining in my posts.

Anyway, watch this little viral video and have a laugh.

Of course, I’ll be posting this video to Twitter and Facebook.

Google Search Stories – 53 Seconds to Message

As a marketer, I am always trying to provide the best possible message in the shortest possible time. People are busy, so you need to give them the information they need to decide if they want to learn more about your product. Give them the right message in the right place at the right time, and you’ve got their attention.

Loosely translated: You get to tell your story.

Check out the video below from Google Search Stories. In 53 seconds, Google and YouTube reinforce the motivational power of storytelling.

And just for fun, check out the Batman Search Story.

Auto-Tuning the News

Latest ‘Net rage: Auto-tuning.

It’s goofy stuff. But it shows how the age of mashups and sharing has enabled some small, random audio technique to explode into a pop culture sensation.

If you’re a marketer or advertiser, you should be asking yourself how you can leverage this temporary fad.

If you look at the embedded video, you’ll see that Progressive Insurance is placing a pre-roll ad (at least they were when I posted this).

I don’t know if the Progressive ad drives clicks and conversions to their website, but at least they were quick enough (and smart enough) to jump into this early. You don’t necessarily have to create the next Internet viral video (you would if you could), but sometimes you can just leverage the opportunity to tap into those eyeballs.

Scary Mary Movie Trailer

One of the most effective forms of promotion is the movie trailer. It’s played to the target audience (moviegoers) in the perfect arena (the theater) to tease and excite them to return next week for more fun.

Most trailers are pretty clear, right? Music and visuals pull together a one to two minute preview of the kind of flick opening next week.

Some creative folks have taken a slightly different approach. They’ve remixed classic movies to appear like totally different films…all based on the trailer.

My favorite is this remix of “Mary Poppins” called, you guessed it, “Scary Mary.” Check it out and see how small changes to text and music completely change this G-rated Disney classic into something ominous and tense.

Creative mashups like this are all over YouTube. If you’re a professional marketer, check ’em out and see how little tweaks to your campaign can have a major effect.

Interesting Links….Not Necessarily Endorsements:

Microsoft Viral Videos on YouTube

As a Mac user, I quite like the “I’m a Mac…” commercials. They effectively shed doubt upon the Microsoft Windows operating system, which makes it hard to want to buy a PC.

But Microsoft didn’t get to be 90% of the PC market by being non competitive. So it’s no surprise to see them coming on strong with a viral video campaign. Microsoft has always had videos and commercials, but it’s really kind of cool to see them tapping the power of YouTube.

I really like this one featuring “Lauren” who goes to the store to pick out an HP Pavilion with Windows Vista. It’s a slick, well-produced video campaign that positions Microsoft as a value in a tough economy. (As well as HP and Best Buy, also featured in the video. Nice product placements there.)

As of today, Microsoft’s “Lauren” viral video has over 303,000 views. That’s pretty impressive for an ad that Microsoft isn’t paying anyone to view. Zero advertising spend.

Right now, the Microsoft WindowsVideo channel on YouTube, they have 71 videos. The stats show hundreds of thousands of views for some of these clips.

Not too shabby. Even this Mac guy is impressed.

Marketing Google Voice on YouTube

Google’s plan to organize the world’s information just got one step closer to reality with the release of Google Voice. Basically, this is a service that translates voicemail messages into text.

Here’s the announcement. Watch the video, since it’s actually the reason I am posting this blog.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/here-comes-google-voice.html

Done? Good.

Google is smart on a lot of levels. They understand that people absorb information in different ways. By posting their announcement in text and in video, they make it easy for people to receive their message.

The Google Voice video is on YouTube (a Google property), which also means that people who use YouTube for news will receive their message as well. So they didn’t just tell me what was cool about Google Voice, they showed me. Seeing it in action makes me want to use it. It creates the “want.”

Marketers who have a message may want to consider offering their message on multiple platforms, including video. It seems to be working out okay for Google, y’know?

AudioSwap for YouTube – Legal music for videos

Now that my book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men and Boys” is on the stands, I am looking for new ways to promote it.

Using my trusty Mac, I created a video showing key images. The video looked great, but I had no audio. Well, no legal audio, at least.

In the past, I might have just slapped a song on it and posted it. But there’s an increased awareness about using copyrighted music. Plus, as someone who creates copyrighted images, I wouldnt want someone using my work without permission.

Creative Commons music was too restrictive for what I wanted to do.

Then I discovered a cool little feature in YouTube called “AudioSwap.”

Basically, I uploaded my video without an audio track. Then, YouTube found songs of the approximate length of my video (1 min 31 sec). YouTube allowed me to “Preview” my video with several different audio tracks.

When I finally found something I liked, I clicked “Publish,” and waited. (And waited and waited.) A few agonizing hours later, my video appeared with a fantastic audio track.

It wasn’t perfect, since the music just cuts off when the video starts. A better feature would be to give the option to fade out the audio.

But all things considered, it’s a fantastic solution for video producers like me. Hopefully YouTube continues to support this effort. And keep it free.

The final video is posted below:

Free Isn’t Really Free

Lots of people, including me, use free applications. This blog is on the free version of WordPress.

But free really isn’t free. There’s always a price.

As Google grows, more people register to use their free tools, including GMail, Google Documents, YouTube, and this little tool called “Search.” Yes, and it’s all free. We love free, right?

Google is a for-profit company that has a responsibility to it’s shareholders and employees. The smart engineers who write the code for these free applications…well, they need to get paid. Everyone needs to get paid.

So how does Google make money? Well, right now, they leverage the immense amount of data that they capture every time we do a search. Or they monetize the content of our emails. Or our social networks. Or our video viewing habits.

And it’s all legal and completely above board. It’s right there in their privacy policy, if you choose to read it. It’s really not Google’s fault if you dont read the fine print. Google is an exceptional company, creates a lot of great of amazing products and does a lot of wonderful socially responsible things. But all this is made possible because they also run a hell of a business.

Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, WordPress and others offer free services with the hopes of getting a LOT of people to register. Then, they monetize it by selling profiling data about how we use their free services. (Note: Broadcast television and radio work in similar ways. Newspapers charge a fraction of what it costs to print and deliver the paper. It’s all fueled by advertising.)

Many people are thrilled that there’s a free alternative to Microsoft’s Office suite. But when you buy their software, you get a certain amount of protected anonymity. Microsoft isnt data mining information from your private Excel spreadsheets, but free services like Google Documents and Zoho can. The front end of these services are free, but they need to find a way to earn a profit. And currently that’s done by aggregating user behavior and selling it to advertisers.

There’s really no such thing as free. And with Internet applications, free is a temporary concept. Eventually, we will all have to pay.