Saturday, April 26, 2008

We Tube -They Tube - You Tube

Suppose you make a video at little or no expense and transfer it to a video sharing site such as Peekvid, Ourmedia, Yahoo Video or, of course, YouTube. This video might be crude or in questionable taste. It might only be a long form commercial or shameless plug. So far you’ve got company – lots of it. There are dozens of such sites hosting millions of videos. Let’s stick with YouTube. It has not only the brand recognition but also the audience. Nielsen estimated over 66 million unique visitors in January 2008.

Now the hard part – getting someone other than friends and family to view and respond to your latest media marvel. The double appeal of YouTube is a potentially large audience combined with a low price. On line videos have the potential to become an epidemic as friends email links to friends, who in turn mail to their friends and so fourth.

A now classic case is that of Blendtec and its series of “Will It Blend” videos. For example, the industrial strength blender shows it can, for example, reduce a garden hose or a small appliance to granular residue. The company reports substantially increased site traffic and conversion to sales of its blenders, the least expensive of which is $ 399.95.

The Blendtec videos vividly illustrate the products value while providing amusement and a viral tidbit, easily emailed to a friend. Such cases are also quite rare – the fate of most online videos is instant oblivion. Still, online video is certainly worth a test, as long as you control costs. Two current distinct YouTube campaigns come to mind.

To promote its budget priced Corolla brand, Toyota sponsored a YouTube video contest This seems ideal for the younger budget oriented market. The contest videos have attracted an audience. The top 10 finalists combined have been viewed about 408 thousand views in the past month.

This is good traffic, but much of it by passes Toyota’s YouTube site (its so called channel) and goes directly to the entries. The Sketchies II channel received only 84 thousand visits in the past month. It also seems not to have helped Toyota’s own site, which curiously contains no references to Sketchies.

Regardless of how well you like the entries, they seem unrelated to Toyota or its Corolla. They neither tell nor show the benefits of Corolla, nor do they promote association to its brand.

This still might have made sense as an experiment. Have an idea – spend a few bucks and test it. The automotive category is crowded and boring. There are far too many shots of similar looking cars traversing similar mountain roads. The problem is that Toyota is reported to have spent $ 4,000,000 (Wall St. Journal, 3/10/08) on the campaign. This is not a lot compared with Toyota’s total marketing spending, but it’s a lot for a promotion which doesn’t promote.


Boomers, students of TV history, and fans of re-reruns may remember Get Smart – the 60’s comedy series about the misadventures of clueless counterspy Maxwell Smart – starring the late comedian Don Adams. A key prop of the series was the, for the time, futuristic shoe phone. This was a mobile phone before its time imbedded in a shoe. Max had to remove his shoe to use it, and it usually rang at an inopportune time.

To promote it release of an upcoming feature movie version of Get Smart, Warner Brothers sponsored a YouTube video contest. Unlike Sketchies, the demands of this contest are slight – 20 seconds using a shoe as a phone. This should increase participation. Heck, I might make an entry using the webcam built into my laptop.

This YouTube event may or may not help the movie. Its incremental cost is slight and it is a potentially effective way to recruit a new generation of Get Smart fans. Its You Tube channel has received over 610,335 views this month. Excuse me, my shoe phone is ringing.

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