October 25, 2007
I recently attended a short webinar from Weblistic, my friend Dick Larkin’s company. Weblistic helps SMEs generate more local leads from a very fragmented Web. They have not revealed too much about their secret sauce but yesterday, they showed how successful they were when search engine optimizing local video ads.
Their first assumption is that search engines are going to integrate video content within their universal search results. Google has already started to do so. Video is also a very fragmented market and opportunities to be found abound. Weblistic is placing bets on all major video sites and has created accounts at most of them. They use the “localvidsdotnet” handle on a variety of social video sites like YouTube, Yahoo Video, Guba, iFilm, and stickam. They then upload their local advertising videos and tag them with a variety of relevant keywords. Videos start appearing in the Google search engine results pages. In this example, Weblistic has managed to capture 7 of the top 10 positions for their merchant name. Cool isn’t it?
What it means: in a fragmented world, there will always be a business opportunity to defragment and simplify. The local video market is a good case study. Weblistic seems to understand that concept and is hoping to simplify Web SEO/SEM for small businesses.
October 17, 2007
Every time I come to San Francisco, I always count the number of billboards on highway 101 advertising pure-play .com companies. I use it as a straw poll to measure if we’re in a bubble or not. In 1999-2000, billboards were the way to advertise your new Internet company, almost like a vanity play. Yesterday night, driving from SFO to downtown San Francisco, I saw many telco and hardware manufacturer billboards but I only saw one from a pure-play: video search engine Blinkx.com.
Update: the New York Times talks about a related topic, ”Silicon Valley Start-Ups Awash in Dollars, Again“, this morning.
September 28, 2007
Montreal-based Brandfame has launched itself as a product placement agency for YouTube and other online video sharing platforms, connecting makers of online videos with brands that want to be integrated into the next viral video blockbuster.
Advertisers can list products they’d like to have featured in videos, and search for upcoming videos by producers to find a match for their brand. Producers indicate which productions they’re willing to integrate products into, and can search for brands or products they’d like to work with. Once a deal has been made, the advertiser pays the producer, and Brandfame takes a cut. The startup is also working on an auction system for advertisers to bid on product placement in new videos by hot producers.
What it means: first time I hear about this company from Montreal. According to these web sites, the founders are Nadim Elgarhy and Sebastian Gary. I like the concept because it replicates a model that’s already very successful offline. Main challenge will be getting enough video producers & usage to make it attractive to brand owners. I think ad agency relationships might be the key to a successful deployment. Similarly, Business 2.0 had showcased NextMedium last year, a firm that wants to automate product placements in offline movies.
Update: eMarketer talks about product placement.
September 19, 2007
I’m just coming out of the last session of this year’s DDC conference organized by the Kelsey Group. Again, a very good conference with interesting topics and multiple networking opportunities. Here are some random data points from the various speech and panels I heard in the last two days.
- Print media still represents 90% of total directory industry revenues
- 60% of SMEs do at least half of their business with other businesses
- 21% of SMEs have embraced cell phones and VOIP lines (instead of the traditional phone company land line)
- 34% of SMEs ad budget is dedicated to online media (including web site expenditures)
- Automotive represents 60% of Trader Corp’s revenues (Trader Canada)
- Jingle: at least 90% of their revenues come from national advertisers. 5% of their queries are category-based. They have close to 100,000 advertisers.
- White Directory Publishers will generate $3-4M in online video revenues in 2008.
- The optimal length for an online local video ad is 45 seconds.
August 24, 2007
(via Research Brief)
According to the Online Publishers Association, Internet users are spending nearly half their online time visiting content, a 37% increase in share of time from four years ago. The Internet Activity Index, conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings, shows that communications accounted for 46% of consumers’ time online in 2003. A dramatic shift has taken place since then, with consumers now spending 47% of their time with content and only 33% with communication.
The OPA found a number of other important factors behind the changes, including:
- A more accessible, and much faster, Internet is driving increased overall time spent online.
- The increased popularity of video is leading to more time being spent with online content.
- The improvement in search allows consumers to more easily and quickly find the exact content they are looking for, increasing the likelihood they will engage more deeply with that content.
- The Web simply offers far more content than it did even four years ago, increasing content’s share of time.
- The rise of instant messaging (IM) as a key communications tool has been a factor in communication’s reduction in share of time. IM is a more efficient communications vehicle than email.
What it means: for anyone who doubted the strength of the content tidal wave (professional and user-generated), these numbers leave no doubt. If you are traditional media, make sure your offline content is ready for the web and published there as well. Create also web-specific content and allow users to comment, tag and contribute additional content. And don’t forget that content can be accessed using non-traditional platforms: mobile, Nintendo Wii, etc.
June 20, 2007
What do you get when you cross online classified ads with web-based video? Realpeoplerealstuff.com is equal parts Craigslist and YouTube—a whole new way for customers to reach out to one another to sell their used appliances, automobiles, collectibles, concert tickets and countless other goods and services. “Realpeoplerealstuff.com combines the hottest internet trends in one, easy-to-use site: e-commerce, snarky writing, funny videos, everyone’s desire to be a star and video sharing.”
With a few clicks of a mouse, customers can upload their own video commercials, recorded on their camcorders, webcams, digital cameras or cameraphones. Ads are organized by category and location, and users can enter text descriptions, prices, thumbnail photos and tags along with their video clips. For best results, users are encouraged to engage their personality, creativity and sense of humour when filming their commercials. And who knows? One may well turn out to be the next average Joe or Jane launched into internet stardom. The service is entirely free—for now at least, though there may come a day when, like Craigslist, modest charges apply to select portions.
What it means: I really like the concept as I’m very visual. But I wonder about the quantity of energy needed to produce a video vs. taking a simple picture, even if there are many video-capture devices out there. I remember when I started selling stuff on eBay in 2002. There used to be some barrier to entry if you wanted to post a product picture. Then, eBay introduced one of their coolest seller function: the UPC code product finder. When listing a product in some categories (like videogames), you just need to enter the product’s UPC code to instantly get the default image attached to the product, usually a cover shot. By removing friction, eBay got me to post more stuff for sale. I think Realpeoplerealstuff.com will have to think about how they can remove some of that friction.
I also think that classified advertising is all about local. Right now, local seems to be a second thought to the whole site. They need to embrace local much more to eventually be successful. There’s also a chicken & egg problem with local content. You need local content to make your site relevant to local users. I think Realpeoplerealstuff.com should be looking at doing backfill content deals (maybe with Oodle.com) to improve their local content breadth and depth.