Jim Louderback

October 31, 2013

Dumb Ways to Fail on YouTube 5: What’s the Frequency Kenneth

Filed under: Commentary,Internet TV,YouTube Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jim @ 11:53 am

dan ratherNow that Revision3 is part of Discovery (and renamed Discovery Digital Networks), I’m once again exposed to traditional television production cycles. Shows here are planned, purchased and produced in seasons. These are typically finite frequencies – 6, 13 or occasionally 26 episodes, with very clear start and end air dates.

Want to fail on YouTube? Do the same thing. Thinking of your content in seasons – or even worse, delivering content at random intervals – is one of the most common ways to fail.

The most successful creators on YouTube know this intimately. Pick any top 50 channel at random, and you’ll probably find a set schedule of release that’s slavishly adhered to – whether weekly, daily, and even at set times during the day. Many top creators are even building new tightly-related properties for their channels that will increase weekly frequency while continuing to follow to a rigid schedule. The incredibly talented Dane Boedigheimer just launched the first of a family of weekly scheduled series to enhance his “Annoying Orange” franchise, while Harley Morenstein – known for his weekly Epic Meal Time – just launched another regularly scheduled gaming channel.

It’s a hamster wheel. Creating successful franchises on YouTube means that once you start you literally can never stop – or face audience erosion. Here at Discovery Digital Networks we call it feeding the content monster. The audience is always hungry – and has very little loyalty to boot.

I learned this early on in my Revision3 days when we brought a show over to Revision3 called “Epic Fu”. Created by the incredibly talented Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf (and originally called “Jet Set Show”), Epic Fu was one of the early YouTube successes. The creators decided to move their show from Next New Networks over to Revision3, but ended up taking a few months off during the transition. Alas, even though they were slavishly dedicated to regular release, that gap caused a disastrous fall-off in views. With all the other new shiny on the web beckoning, the audience moved on, and we never really figured out how to bring them back.

“But Jim”, I can hear you complain, “what about shows like ‘Video Game High School’”? The popular series just came back with season 2 – about ten months after season 1 ended – and it’s still huge.

True, VGS is an anomaly – and a great show to boot. But even here there’s evidence that regularly scheduled content between seasons contributed to season 2’s success. During that 10 month hiatus, Freddie W and Brandon Jla released 22 new pieces of content on their channel, mostly video game themed. Even so, there was still a drop off between average YouTube views of season 2 vs. season 1– although that could easily be explained by the additional distribution the latest episodes received on their off-YouTube site and other places.

I’ve always thought of web-original video as more akin to talk radio and news than traditional television, and my experience bears that out. Regularly scheduled releases – at least weekly – and no gaps are required if you want to be successful. As a creator, you really want to develop habits, and regular temporal triggers make those habits easier to adopt. So take a tip from Daily Grace, Phil DeFranco and just about every other successful YouTube star: Irregularity is a path to irrelevance.

Dumb Ways to Fail on YouTube 3: Riding the Meat Puppets!

Filed under: Commentary,YouTube Tips — Tags: , , , , , , — Jim @ 11:43 am

Meat_PuppetsAssociation with a celebrity is a tried and true way to move the needle. Just put Tom Cruise in a movie, Tom Brady in a commercial or Tom Hanks as a guest host and watch viewers and sales go through the roof.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t work that way on YouTube. We’ve seen a parade of celebrities try to dominate this new medium by riding on their celebrity coattails, and have fallen flat. Everyone from Madonna to Miley Cyrus and Shaquille O’Neil has seen dismal results.

I’ve talked to a number of High Q-Score individuals, and attempted to guide them to success on YouTube – or mostly to scare them away. Because on YouTube it’s not about how famous you are – it’s about how authentic and accessible you will be.

You just can’t expect to toss up a few videos every now and then and never return. That celebrity halo that sells so much soap is just noise on YouTube. You have to actually work for your views – and that’s not what most celebrities want to hear.

That’s because at its core YouTube is a community. You can post videos and you might even get a handful of breakout hits. But without really engaging the community you’ll fall flat over the long term. And most celebrities just don’t want to put in the hard work to grow those group. It’s completely understandable, by the way. YouTube is still an emerging medium, and anyone with a notable Q-Score will make far more money by plying their trade on TV, radio or in theaters rather than on the web.

There is a massive exception though: music videos. In addition to being an incredibly personal medium, YouTube is also the world’s jukebox. A catchy song and some arresting visuals will keep ‘em coming back again and again. And if you can get naked on a wrecking ball in the process, even better!

But aside from music videos, a celebrity-themed channel where the celeb fails to show up at least a few times a week is a recipe for disaster.

January 10, 2011

FAIL: 19 Weirdest Products From CES 2011

The annual Consumer Electronics Show has come to an end, and along with all the cool new products, surprisingly there were even more wacked products on the show floor than usual.

We’ve wrapped up the wackiest, weirdest, most bizarre and biggest FAIL products from the show floor this year, guaranteed to surprise, delight and keep you LOLing and ROFLing with glee.

Here’s a partial list of our dubious winners:

Angry Birds – the board game: That’s right, soon you’ll be able to play an IRL version of Rovio’s Angry Birds. The pigs are running scared already. From Mattel

Nanda Home Tocky & Clocky: Having trouble getting up in the morning? Did your iPhone alarm clock fail at the worst possible time? Well these wacky alarm clocks just don’t take no for an answer. They bounce around, roll crazily on the floor, and basically offer more annoyance per square inch than a teething toddler.

Be A Head Case: Speaking of the iPhone – and just in time for the Verizon iPhone, this here’s an iPhone case designed for all you Bubbas out there. It includes a built in beer bottle opener – and a belt clip to disguise it!

iGrill: And what goes with beer better than charred meat? But not too charred (and not too rare either). This wireless meat probe from iDevices connects to your iPhone and lets you know just how hot your meat really is.

There’s tons more, including a couple of exercise toys that flog the dolphin even better than the Shake Weight, balls that you control with your iPhone, and even USB jewelry (so pimp).

WATCH the 19 Dumbest Products From CES 2011

February 24, 2009

How Microsoft Really Murdered Vista

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Jim @ 11:54 pm

A few days ago I posted an analysis of how internet video is exposing a third dimension to the standard reach and frequency of traditional advertising. Not every product can be sold on reach and frequency alone – these days, in many cases, it’s more important to build a deep and lasting relationship with a relatively smaller number of core consumers. These fans are called a number of things – brand ambassadors, net promoters, brand evangelists. Whatever they are called, it’s important that any product or service have as many of these as possible – they end up recommending the product or service to their friends and family.

Back before the social Internet, those brand ambassadors were good. On a strong day, they probably touched 4 or 5 people with their love of your product. But now, with the amplification effect of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Friend Feed and MySpace, a single ambassador can touch – and thus influence – hundreds. The average Facebook user has nearly that many friends, and true connectors have many times that.

Shortly after my post, I was chatting about reach and frequency with my old friend and former boss Jason Young, CEO of Ziff Davis Media. He took it further than I did, saying that reach and frequency were dead. We started thinking about egregious examples of brands that killed themselves by neglecting their core. It didn’t take long to hit on one train wreck we both witnessed firsthand – the nearly irreparable damage to Windows caused by Vista.

Jason and I had a front row seat to the launch of both Windows 95, XP and Vista. When Microsoft launched Windows 95, they had a team of evangelists and their job was to convince the opinion leaders and tech enthusiasts that Windows 95 was the way to go. Well known venture capitalist Rick Segal was on that team, back then (I still remember him trolling Comdex in a bright green/yellow Windows shirt, handing out goodies). The company spent millions promoting the benefits of Windows 95 in computer magazines, including the ones that Jason and I worked for.

Fast forward to Vista. When Microsoft prepared to launch Vista, they ignored the tech press entirely. Almost all of the company’s marketing budget went to a broad, consumer campaign designed to convince the rank and file computer users that Vista was exactly right for them. The messaging focused on feel-good platitudes rather than the significant technology advances inside the product. Microsoft opted for reach, and frequency, instead of going deep on the core set of technology influences and users. They didn’t just ignore them – they actually insulted them with messaging that was so generic and vanilla it could have been used to sell cat food.

Microsoft forgot that computers are still pretty alien to most people. Even today, most computer users have that “go to guy (or gal)” who gives them advice and tells them what to buy and how to fix it. All during the long campaign selling Vista, Microsoft ignored the go to folks, and they, in turn, were unconvinced about Vista’s benefits.

So when early problems arrived, as they always do, the tech core didn’t make excuses, they pounced. Hell hath no fury like a techie scorned. Vista, suddenly, was being denigrated by the same group that helped make Windows 95 and XP such a success.

Microsoft’s response was late, and equally as tone deaf. Instead of focusing on the core technology inside Vista, and instead of turning key technology influencers into brand ambassadors, they teamed Bill Gates up with Jerry Seinfeld in a vignette about shoes. When that failed, they turned to a broad campaign designed to blunt Apple’s brilliant “I’m a Mac” ads. That, too, failed. Microsoft continued to go for mass reach and frequency with a message that meant nothing – instead of trying to turn the influencers into advocates.

So here we are today. Windows 7 is coming out at the end of the year. Microsoft can redeem itself – but will it? Early indications are that the deep messaging, designed to turn the core into Windows advocates, has already been slashed. Right now, Windows 7 has good buzz. Even notorious Mac fan and ultra-connected geek influencer Kevin Rose has waxed enthusiastically about the beta.

But it’ll take more than just a few geeks to turn the tide. Microsoft needs a prolonged, in depth communication plan to reach the core – and to leverage their influence. I hope they wise up. Because without a deep campaign to turn a large fraction of the tech influencers into brand ambassadors, all the reach and frequency in the world will just lead to more failure.

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