web video thunderdome: branded vs. unbranded – you decide

Traditionally, tv events like superbowl allowed brands to reach a huge audience. Then came YouTube (141 million: number of people watching web videos in Feb 2010). Brands tended to start out thinking that Internet video was like a big movie theater that people will watch. Then moved into the area of “viral video”. But it’s not just a matter of aesthetics or a sure-fire style. It’s inherently something you can’t necessarily “buy”.

Mike Arauz
Bud Caddell
16 March 2010
web video thunderdome tumblr

Internet fame is a social phenomenon, not a magic trick or a viral, purchasable service. Brands suck at making web video. But they’ve come a long way in the past year. There’s nothing “in” the video that will guarantee something will be spread across the internet. It’s whether or not someone will choose to pass it along, purely social, not viral.

So why do we share? 1) To strengthen my bond with a group of people, 2) define our collective identity between insiders and outsiders (the stuff we think is funny is the reason we are “in”), 3) give me status in my community.

The Lessons

The internet is not like any other media. Each individual decides what their internet experience is going to be. The web wasn’t built with advertising in mind. No commercial breaks. Every click you make on the internet is a vote for a brand. Brands have to earn their place on the internet.

Be remarkable

If you are going to do something, do it VERY well. “What is going to work” is absolutely unpredictable, so you must be doing something special.

Play on past successes

Look at what spiked on the web and do something new with it.

Use the web to tell more complex stories

You can use the web to tell stories that couldn’t fit inside a 30 second commercial. The best advertisers tell really great stories. Tricks can catch people’s attention. When you combine those two things, magic happens.

Collect your fans

Use the web to grab an audience and keep talking to them without having to put together another buy. Don’t stop talking! It’s a commitment to open a channel and keep the conversation going. This takes time, but the exchange is a solid foundation. The moment you have people caring about what you are doing next is critical.

Invite participation

The ability to remix, mashup, and recut videos is becoming more ubiquitous. Viewing, rating, commenting, sharing, copying, and performing.

Start small riots

Find communities that feel passionate about something and build content for them (e.g., people who like to watch really bad auditions for American Idol). Court communities like constituencies: recognize who they are, understand what they care about, their motives and interests, and what their social currency is.

The Awards

Does a brand idea pass the “i’d rather be looking at kittens / porn test”?


Gingers do have souls v. The man your man could smell like

Cute kid tricks

The “I’m Yours” ukulele kid v. Evian roller babies

Instant Smiles

Surprised little kitten v. VW piano staircase

Song Parody

college humor: I gotta feeling parody v. The muppets: bohemian rhapsody

Lifetime Achievement

Hitler reacts to …

Video of the Year

epic beard man v. pants on the ground