Jun 13

Blogher 07 and Scrapblog

Interested in going to Blogher07. Scrapblog have joined forces with the conference to offer an all-expenses paid trip to the conference for two. But only in North America – I wish these competitions for web based companies which are global in their vary nature would make these restrictions clear on the main page and not buried in terms and conditions.

Entry is simple – create a scrapblog, tag it and get people to visit it. This is a traffic and member generation strategy, as the more people you get to see your scrapblog, the more entries you get. Go ahead- what are you waiting for.

May 02

The cats are in on it

I can Has Cheezburger

I was going to write a post explaining the background to this, but Ethan has done a brilliant job doing just so and it’s pointless to repeat why this number has raised such passions.

For much of yesterday, almost the whole of the front page of Digg was related to the HD-DVD story, triggered by the numerous cease and desist notices. Digg appears to have calmed down now, no doubt helped by Kevin Rose’s acknowledgement of what his users were telling him, that bowing down to pressure about this issue would not be tolerated. On his last post, sitting at nearly 30k Diggs, he said the following:

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Kevin Rose on Digg

The page is sort of back to normal, although the top 10 story listings this morning carry their own tale.

Digg top stories

Meanwhile, the number of posts and sites containing the number currently site at around 60k on Google (or 300k without dashes or quotes). The cat is so out of the bag. The AACS site explains that they withdrew a key for some devices, which I think is this one? However, the whole furore demonstrates the futility of relying on security where the lock and the key have to be in the same device. It will get cracked and it’s an arms race in which there are far more people on the cracking side. The music industry are already travelling this road, are the film industry going to end up in anywhere different?

A recent study by the BBC Trust into its intention to offer video on demand concluded that:

When it came to video content, the situation was far more complex. Although no specific question addressed it, the Trust came away with the impression that, while industry considered DRM a given, the vast majority of the public was opposed to it.

Don’t restrict where i can play my DVDs. Don’t force me to buy only one operating systems. Let me choose where and when I watch things that I have bought!

PS: I know sometimes reporters get things wrong, but this story on MSNBC (apparently from the FT) seems to be from a none-existent timezone.

On Thursday, Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, reversed course and said the company would no longer delete articles featuring the encryption key, even though that might lead to the site being shut down by lawsuits.

Apr 19

The spread of the machine is us/ing us

If you read tech blogs regularly, you’ll have seen this video:

A sublime introduction to how the web is changing. Sue Thomas, a wonderful woman I bumped into a Blogher, has a post about her experience at the Web2.0 conference, where she met up with Mike Wesch who explained how it spread:

Wesch explained that he had made the video to accompany an academic journal paper, and sent it to two techies and eight anthropology colleagues to check out whether it worked – something we’ve all done lots of times. One of the anthropologists posted it on a blog with three users (according to Wesch) and within no time at all he had collected 100 views on YouTube. He was incredibly excited. When it hit 253 views he was so proud he told his Department Head. The next day he woke up to find himself featured on his own DIGG front page. Then he got 450 Diggs. That weekend he and his wife stayed up late watching the numbers rise. On 2 Feb his video went to the top 5 on youtube and stayed there for 3 weeks, dislodging even Superbowl adverts. Within a week of posting it was on 6000 blogs according to Technorati, and after a week mentions of it began to appear in newsprint. After another week, it had appeared in papers in every continent around the globe.

Mar 16

Video Popularity – Views or Links

Update: I’ve updated this post with further comments from Bri at Holt Labs

For a while now, I’ve been using a couple of video tracking sites for work-related reasons, both to see what is popular and to track some of our own videos. The two systems use different tracking methods, one is on views and the other is on links. Both have their place when understanding the popularity of the videos from a marketing perspective. I’ve blogged about them before (and have been tested their services), but here’s a comparison, plus a look at why you should use both methods.

The first is is VidMeter, from San Diego based Holt Labs, a company that seems to consistently produce interesting systems.
Key elements from their general service are:

  • Top 100 videos, based on views across 13 networks
  • For each video provides total views, views per network, traffic history
  • RSS feeds for most viewed of all time and most viewed per day.
  • Widget to add to your blog/site to provide updating lists of the popular videos.

In addition, they also provide a tracker service for you to sign up and track your own videos. We’ve been using this in the office for a few weeks to track some brand videos we have out in the wild, and it makes a difference in making everything a lot easier when you’re reporting. The tracker service also tracks links to your video, so you can tell who is linking to your videos. Holt Labs are busy adding even more services to their offering, everything aimed at making it easier for agencies to understand what is happening with their content.

The second one is the Viral Video Charts, from London based Unruly Media. This system rates the videos on inbound links.

  • It details where the video was found and how many links are being made to the site
  • Embed code to add video to won site
  • popular videos by categories
  • RSS feeds for Top 10 daily
  • Widget for your blog for top 10 (now moved from sidebar of this blog, but added in post)

The Viral Chart also accepts advertising, providing sponsored video links and blurb.

But the 2 charts give completely different results; as it stands at the moment there are no videos in common between the two of them. So as a content producer which metric should you use. In my opinion, both. Both methods give you a different insight into how your content is spreading. I asked the 2 teams why they had chosen their methods.

Bri from HoltLabs

“Ranking videos by links is good method for determining what the “blogosphere likes” and it’s usually cited on as a method for finding “good” video. Those sites are also competing with the “social video links” sites which allow users to vote on what videos are “good… Vidmeter’s goal is different. [from either link or voting sites] We’re trying to provide the most objective analytics possible about a video’s traffic and in doing that we’re able to determine what the most viewed videos of the day are. We don’t claim that these videos are “good,” but we do know that they are hot.

Scott from Unruly Media

We measure linkage and embedding in preference to views because views can just be bought or, worse, easily faked. For instance, you only need 30-50,000 views in a day to make one of YouTube’s most viewed pages or to make Vidmeter’s top 50. And we know agencies routinely fake out that many views as part of their seeding strategy….there are lots of smaller specialist shops doing viral work and it’s pretty wild west. We want to track social acts of recommendation and to find out which pieces of content are inherently viral and therefore likely to achieve high numbers of views regardless of campaign budgets or black hat techniques. We think measuring linkage and embedding is a good way of doing this. It’s still subject to spam, gaming and other forms of abuse, of course, but we find that pretty easy to detect at the moment. I’m not wanting to big up our method. It’s simply a question of what you want to find out.

Ultimately, our interest is in helping agencies to identify strongly mimetic strains of content and to map out the the routes via which specific strains of content are typically diffused. Put commercially, to provide planning and evaluation tools and to offer bespoke research and consultancy.

We added three new video sites to our roster last month – Metacafe, Dailymotion and Break.com – in addition to YouTube, MySpace and Google. To be perfectly honest, the incentive to track other video sites is not particularly strong. For instance, in February we saw 700 blog posts embedding or linking to Break.com videos. And 500,000 blog posts embedding or linking to YouTube videos. Linkage is much more skewed towards YouTube than viewing data!

So, as a marketer, how do you read these numbers? The views is very easy to explain to a client – how many people have watched their content , usually to the end. It’s easy to explain, it’s directly analogous to metrics they are used to when it comes to print or TV (ignoring the accuracy of those systems), it’s a metric that can be used across all the video distributors. It’s also more the default mode of exploration on the web. That is what YouTube and the other sites have bought, easy entertainment along a broadband pipe. Point and click, no technology knowledge required at all beyond being able to type youtube in a search box*. (something that Joost and other distribution clients need to think about). It can be gamed, and gamed easily. As a client, I hope you would never find an agency that would do that. As Bri says, raw numbers give an indication of who has seen the content.

On the other hand, if you know your audience is relatively tech-savvy, likely to have their own web pages (and I’m not talking MySpace) then links is another measure that is useful. It’s a percentage of those who watch you can take the content – and not all sites allow you to do that anyway. Linkage and embedding is a strong indicator of whether people loved your video enough to do something about it and want to share it with their readers. The choice of linking reflects on their online brand, what is in it for them- I can go and watch all the trash I like with no consequence but when I embed or link then I express something about myself that reflects on how I like to be portrayed. So linking is a reflection of this as well as engagement with the content.

So using both measures, (along with comment numbers) gives you different levels of engagement. Use them all to express the success of distributed content. If looking at 2 videos on a site with a similar view count but different link numbers, i would tend to regard the higher linked one as a better success.

And the two services? Vidmeter allows a DIY approach, giving you the numbers but look to be building out a commercial offer with more information as well. Unruly Media provide the top numbers and a commercial and consultancy service to help improve your content. Use as required!

Update: Further comments from Bri from Holt labs:

We do take the issue of “faking” views seriously, but it hasn’t been a problem. In order to register a view on YouTube, a view must come from a unique IP address. Knowing that, there are 3 ways to quickly register views:

1. Placing the embedded player on a website. Since registering views in this way still requires that unique eyeballs are watching it, we think this is fair. From your perspective as a marketer, you WANT to know if the video you embedded on a site is getting played.

2. Buying traffic. Through various ways a person can send lots of people to a YouTube page, however this still requires that unique people see the video so we also treat this as fair game. From your perspective as a marketer, you WANT to see if the traffic you bought actually watched the video so you want to know this.

3. Putting a hidden iframe to a YouTube page on another website. This method would surreptitiously allow a website with a lot of traffic to add a large number of views to a YouTube video without having people actually watch it. We consider this cheating, however there are three obstructions that prevent this:
a. A cheater needs to fake at least 70,000 views to get on the Vidmeter home page.
b. We have TWO HUMAN DATA ANALYSTS who scan the list daily to look for this
c. As you stated in the post, this isn’t relevant when tracking your own videos because you aren’t going to fake your own traffic.

In the event that a person cheats 1,000 views and then gets listed on YouTube’s most-viewed to receive 60,000 additional real views (as the case with “Spiders on Drugs”) we actually consider the 60,000 legitimate views as 60,000 people did actually watch it.

The proof that faking is not an issue is on our site. Thus far, no one has been able to point to a video that faked it’s way to the top. All the top YouTube videos are either from major providers, featured, or blogged about.

Also, I think it would be fair to note that blog links can be faked as well. The same way that SEOers would create fake sites with links to their own in order to “Googlebomb” and increase their page rank, a person could easily create multiple fake blogs and embed their videos in.

Bri makes some good points about how video views can be skewed and what they do to prevent that on the charts. However, i still feel that there is the possibility for some unscrupulous agencies to skew the results to present them to their clients – they do not refer to the charts at all, just to the video site with the view counter. This is in the same way that there are SEO agencies, buzz agencies and all other kinds of advertising agencies may do things to promote positive results. Look at Henriette’s comment for some examples of what is being done.

*that’s my default assumption of how the average person finds sites these days, after watching relatives. No need to know what the address bar is, just where the search box is and you type the URL.

Jan 29

Video tracking with VidMeter

Vidmeter tracks the popular videos across the web, giving you a hourly updated list that reflects what’s hot across 11 sites. You can get a widget that displays the hot stuff on your site as well.

Now what would really help me is if I can take this site and its monitoring and use it for videos that I want to track – let me put in a list of video URLS and track views and comments for me. Even if it can’t do that, it does give me some benchmarks of ‘successful videos’ so I can use for clients.

Jan 25

Domino’s Anything Goes – Tracking a video

This is now back…some changes but nothing substantial.

One of the projects I’ve been working on, at least from a metrics and tracking perspective, is a US campaign for Domino’s Pizza: Anything Goes, any large pizza, any topping any crust for $9.99. Supported by a heavy TV promotion, in-store, email, SMS, online advertising, all the usual stuff, it also had an unusual contest and teaser video component.

The concept behind the online promotion is that anything goes for $9.99. So for 5 weeks, starting 1 Jan, Dominos have been auctioning items on eBay for $9.99. From ipods to video cameras to home entertainment systems everything was the one price. It was set up as an Buy it Now auction; to find the items, a clue was posted everyday on the microsite that when solved gave the keywords associated with the auction page and you were told within what time period the items would be posted. There was a lot of commetary about it within the eBay community as well, as this was a new thing for the service to participate in.

There were also 4 big prizes. With each of these, there is an associated set of videos that tell a story that leads up to why the item is being sold. The first one went up 15 Jan, 2 weeks before the campaign was launched, in 3 video channels (YT, metacafe, AOL Uncut). So, meet Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is a sweet (!) 16 year whose father bought her the wrong colour car for her birthday. Looking at her videos, you eventually find out that she gets the car that she wants and she puts her Saab convertible up on ebay to sell it. And it went pretty quickly – see the winner here. A second series set up the sale of a big screen TV and there are 2 more that went up this week, one for a Harley Davidson and one for one last big surprise. (the big surprise was a Lotus car)

So that’s the campaign, let’s take a look a little closer at Mackenzie. Her behaviour drove a lot of comments, most people condemning her at various levels of politeness (it definitely brought out the worst online attitude in some people). And the views that the series for, especially the first one, were OK but not spectacular. That was until it was ‘borrowed’ – downloaded from one of the services and reposted. If any of the initial re-posters credited their source, I could not find it, which again indicates an interesting attitude. We found it first on YouTube, then Break, then 4 other sites and saw the views really stack up. Break has by far got the most views that we can count. It may be in many other places that we’ve not found yet.

The pinnacle has been appearing on the front page of AOL, on their video blog,(where it is the most commented at the moment) making their top viral video and being picked as video of the day. If only we could get the viewing numbers!

Mackenzie on AOL

Interestingly, AOL got the video from iFilm. Now, none of these reposts are branded, although the connection is normally made in the comments. But the company is still getting the benefit, being able to talk about the success in press and on TV.

Some lessons from this:

  • Don’t be surprised how long it takes for something to take off. Most views on the videos have taken place after the auctions are complete, items can have a slow burn
  • Be prepared for the comments. Once it’s out on the web, people can say anything. However, comments were closed on the video with the winner in it – there’s a difference between a character and a prize winner.
  • Don’t expect success with everything, even if the creative team is the same. Mackenzie did well, Rich man not so much. It’ll be a few weeks before we now the results of the last 2 sets.
  • Don’t be surprised when things are taken and not credited to you. Work out how to make that a success as well

After that, I’m back to recording video views.

Dec 21

Twitter Degrees of Separation

Twitter is still small enough to be fun – although that may change. Suw today asked if there was an optimum Twitter friend pool size. There probably is, which will vary by person and how much data you can browse. We’ll get the power users, with plenty of friends and far more followers. Others will keep it private and contained. It’s the Long Tail curve all over again.

The service is also small enough to be able to easily search through some names to see what the general usage is. Pick a name and then work your way through the search results to get a cross section of life.

Starting off with rachel, you find 17 people on the service using that name, including me. Of those, 8 of them are not using the service (either non updates or a couple of updates over a month ago), 2 are new (joined in the last few days) and 4 are private. Of the 3 who are seriously using it, I’ve met one of them, one has connections that I ‘know’ (by this it means that at least reading their blog even if I have never met them and they don’t know me) and the final person has no-one in common.

Let’s look at some more names – Tom, Dick or Harry. I find 20 Toms, but the search, for some reason, does not include the two Toms I am following already. 18 of them are not using it, 1 is using and I know some of their connections. And one is using it regularly but has no connections. Five Dicks*, 4 not using and one joined in the last day or so. Harry is slightly better – out of 7, 5 are not using and I’ve have no connection with the last 2. Of the 20 Bens, 15 aren’t using, 2 joined in the last few days, and 3 are using (1 private). Again the search did not pull up the Ben I know. And with 20 Ians, 14 are not using, 1 is new and I know one of the remaining 5 who are using it.

So can we draw some conclusions?

  • search seems to be limited to 20 people. And does not seem to change the results, so finding people as it grows will be difficult without changes.
  • The majority of people are not using it after they have signed up. That’s between 70 and 90% of the people I checked. Now this could be a consequence of the limited search – I thought that the search could be pulling up the first signers who have not got a critical mass of people to share with, but there were new signees in the search as well so not sure about this.
  • Most people are public in their usage. Privacy is definitely dead
  • Of those that are using it regularly, most have a fair number of connections which means they are in a community of sharers. Seeing updates prompts you to update yourself. As with any network there needs to be a critical mass before you find value. And without this, usage stops as there is no point.
  • The network requirement explains why I see familiar names in the mix – I joined because people whose blog I read have joined. The interconnectedness (or is that the incestuous nature) means that the meme spreads across the community and ensures you’ll know someone. There was at least one other connected community which seemed to have been driven by a livejournal commonality.

So what next for the Twitter club. How do they tidy up and remove dead users? How do they keep the meme going and into a wider group of people? How do you start usage in new groups before they reach the tipping point of enough people in the group to keep it going? Do the ads they are serving cover the costs? Lots of questions. Let’s wait and see.

*If this was NBC, then I would have had to bleep out the Dick. As they did when they showed this brilliant song on Saturday Night Live – Justin Timberlake and Dick in a Box.

Nov 30

Vaio Viral

This set of games has to be one of the most addictive I’ve seen. But to you by Kempt for Sony Viao, it just takes the form of one game after another. All short and suite, some of them incomprehensible (you click and something happens) it just keeps you onthe page with all the different things. The email announcing it says the time spent is over treble the industry average. I can well believe it – it is so addictive.


And I was planning on writing a post about how all the virals I’ve been pointed to over the last few weeks have a similarity to them. This one, not so much and I love it.

Nov 10

Nike Golf destroys things

Nike Golf have decided that the best way to market their new golf balls is to blast them at objects and film the resulting destruction in slo-mo. Great videos, aimed at convincing people that if only they buy these balls, they will be able to hit them hard enough to do such damage. You can vote on what you want the testers to destroy next – I voted for the Bunny. Bad design in that once I’ve voted, I have to refresh the page entirely to get back and add my name to their mailing list to find out when the next video is released; there’s also no privacy policy on the page, which surprises me considering how they normally are. the videos have not hit Youtube yet, so i can’t show you one, but here’s a shot of an exploding lavalamp.
Nike Golf lavalamp

Thanks to yesbutnobutyes

Nov 09


The agency where I work have been busy producing a series of 2-3min shorts, called Lovebites, that are being shown 5x/week in TBS here in the US, in partnership with Sunsilk. They focus on the life of a 25yo as she develops a relationship with her new man. A few episodes were filmed that would never make it onto US telly, so can be found on the website and the video sites, covering such topics as spanking, male fake orgasms and shared shaving.

Nov 07

Chevy Life – more living in cars

There’s obviously something in the air, maybe the high property prices, but, following Nissan, another car manufacturer has decided that their vehicles are perfect to live in.  This time it is Chevy, who are running the Aveo Livin’ Large Campus Challenge‘.  I’m late on this as it finished last week,

The “AVEO Livin’ Large Challenge” is a nationwide program in which two students on eight different campuses are living in the big and roomy interior of a Chevy AVEO from Oct. 30th – Nov. 3rd, competing to see who can “live the largest.”

With only class- and bio-breaks, these students, through Web cams, blogs and a highly visible location, are spending their entire week in full view of their campus peers as well as students across the country.

Who wins is determined by YOU. Watch, Predict, Vote.

They put the teams through a series of challenges, videoed them, got them blogging throughout the week and then got people to vote for the teams via text (not sure if via the site as well).   It’s hitting a lot of the right buttons for a digital interactive campaign here and from appearances, it got some traction.

Looking at the product site, I’m guessing the college student is one of their key targets.  A entry level car (I guess, cars not being my thing really), they hit 7 large potential markets and generate a lot of buzz about the car, (technorati search).   We’ll probably get a few more of these types of campaigns in the next few months, each slightly more outrageous than the last.

Nov 01

Timewasters from unusual sources

It’s not just the big brands that need marketing, small ones, organisations, groups, sports all need the marketing love as well. And they’ve all heard the call of the viral, hoping it can be the answer to their prayers. Today I bring you some timewasting games to hurry you through your working day from the British Greyhound Racing Board and the Science Museum (and they are British based as that’s the mail-list I’m signed up for; still not found a US version)

British Greyhound Racing Board

Premise: race your bi-plane around your greyhound track of choice made out of circles in the sky.

FunFactor: medium. It takes a fair bit of work to get round (ie I never made it) but the graphics and game play are good.

Incentive: no idea. There’s a prize draw of somekind. However, iy you do actually click though to the main site (which is not as much fun) you can also get a voucher for a free pint if you give them your email address.
Why: to get you to go to the races. I can see the link – have fun online, have fun at the track. But the experience when you go through to the main site is not carried through, it needs to be less jarring and the racing board site needs to be a lot better.

Bought to you by Rubber Republic

Greyhound Racing

Science Museum

Premise: Pong, in flash, with cars and supermarket trollies

FunFactor: It’s Pong. What more do you want

Incentive: A Nintendo Wii and 20% of ticket price (if you send it on)

Why: The Science Museum has an exhibition about the history of computer games. And it’s got lots of games to play to suit all ages. The game is well integrated into the main site, which tells you all about the exhibition.

Bought to you by:Stickee who need to fix the link to their site from the game!


Dec 20

Viral Ads – VW lead the way

Bore Me are listing the top 10 viral downloads for the year, for both commercial ads and for more fun videos. Interestingly Volkswagon top both the polls. In the ads section, their Singin’ in the Rain mashup ad came out on top. The marketeers would be pleased with that result, but rather less pleased that in the general downloads the spoof VW ad about suicide bombers being contained by VW’s strength came out on top.