Web Meets Living Room: Sofa Wars Introduction

Not long ago, the New York Times began the series “The Sofa Wars,” which chronicles the real-time battle to bring Internet — particularly video services — into the home. This may seem like a head-scratcher for many people, since most Americans already have this service. It’s just called something different: television.

Photo credit: dee from morguefile.com

Over the years, television has struggled to maintain viewership. The growing number of distractions provided by the Internet has causes dramatic declines in broadcast viewership. There are fewer people watching TV on their regular television sets and more staring into computer monitors. The content and experience have traditionally been different, but this is all changing.

Sites like Hulu have become web-based, go-to destinations for TV shows. But there are only so many shows you can watch, and although I love my TiVo, there’s only so many you can record. So Hulu has become my back-up source for catching up on television shows. The content has been strictly limited by certain networks, but Hulu Plus (a paid premium service) promises to provide more consistent television programming.

Certain cable companies are also promising to help bring television to the Net, including Verizon with their pending Verizon iPad application. This seems particularly promising, since Apple’s limitations have meant that you cannot watch Flash-based video on Hulu.com directly on your iPad (built to be HTML5 friendly). If Verizon provides this kind of app, it will clearly give many people a reason to stay with their cable service. After all, Hulu’s premium service provides a pretty compelling reason for dropping cable television, but Verizon’s service may add more overall value for iPad users. We’ll see.

The battle for the sofa (as the New York Times calls it) is just beginning to get truly interesting. For content creators, it means a distribution channel that previously did not exist. Specifically, Internet based entertainment will be available to people watching web videos in their living room. Sure, they can watch videos on their computer, but that experience is not quite the same as a nice, big HDTV. Familiar set top devices like the TiVo, game consoles, and the BluRay player offer direct connections from the Internet. Plus, new players like the Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee, Roku, are all trying to elbow their way into the living room.

It took me a long time to get here, so if you’re still here, thanks. If you create content or manage content marketing campaigns, it is important to understand how all of these channels work. They represent powerful new pull-marketing channels that will help you connect your content with your target audience. It is less about interruption marketing and more about putting the right content in the optimal format, so that your audience can access it when they are ready.

For example, if I am in the market to purchase a car, I am going to research my top choices online. I will almost certainly read reviews, watch videos, and explore bit of information I can find before I go to the dealership. I will happily pull your marketing messages, including iPad apps and promotional videos, if it helps me to better understand the value proposition of your product.

But after I make my purchase, I don’t want you to keep pushing messages at me. It doesn’t help me, so I am going to tune it out, which wastes your marketing dollars.

We’re in the early days of this return-to-the-living-room technological revolution. It pays to start thinking about how you can reformat your message so that it’s viable for these new channels, which will include both the big screen (TV), the computer screen, and the mobile screen. If you don’t, there’s no shortage of content creators — including competing marketers — who are actively looking to satisfy the pull-content desires of consumers.

Also check out:

Facebook Status Off Video

Y’know, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. This video captures the geeky goodness of our obsession with Facebook status updates.

Lots of us in this age online celebrity are obsessed with self-marketing and Brand You to the point of silliness.  I’m certainly guilty of trying too hard to be entertaining in my posts.

Anyway, watch this little viral video and have a laugh.

Of course, I’ll be posting this video to Twitter and Facebook.

Google Search Stories – 53 Seconds to Message

As a marketer, I am always trying to provide the best possible message in the shortest possible time. People are busy, so you need to give them the information they need to decide if they want to learn more about your product. Give them the right message in the right place at the right time, and you’ve got their attention.

Loosely translated: You get to tell your story.

Check out the video below from Google Search Stories. In 53 seconds, Google and YouTube reinforce the motivational power of storytelling.

And just for fun, check out the Batman Search Story.

Auto-Tuning the News

Latest ‘Net rage: Auto-tuning.

It’s goofy stuff. But it shows how the age of mashups and sharing has enabled some small, random audio technique to explode into a pop culture sensation.

If you’re a marketer or advertiser, you should be asking yourself how you can leverage this temporary fad.

If you look at the embedded video, you’ll see that Progressive Insurance is placing a pre-roll ad (at least they were when I posted this).

I don’t know if the Progressive ad drives clicks and conversions to their website, but at least they were quick enough (and smart enough) to jump into this early. You don’t necessarily have to create the next Internet viral video (you would if you could), but sometimes you can just leverage the opportunity to tap into those eyeballs.

Microsoft + Yahoo = MicroHoo Search

The Search landscape is once again changing. With Microsoft’s purchase of Yahoo, there seems to be a new challenge to Google, which currently holds a majority share of search traffic. In fact, Google is both #1 (through Google.com) and #2 (through YouTube, which is not typically thought of as a search engine).

It’s always exciting to see new innovations and changes. To their credit, the folks at Google have not simply sat on their lead. They keep giving us search marketers new and interesting tools for attracting leads and running Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has been showing a lot of promise, and we’re already running campaigns there. MSN search always had some intriguing demographic targeting tools, but they never pulled enough traffic to see if the system would scale.

As they join forces with Yahoo, it will be interesting to see how MicroHoo (that’s Microsoft + Yahoo to you) approaches services beyond keyword search. Let’s see some solid new ways to drive and measure relevant traffic from content, site, and video targeting.

Microsoft and Yahoo have some solid resources and assets. It will be interesting to see if Yahoo can effectively pull properties like Flickr, Delicious, Yahoo Video, or even Avatars into Search. On Microsoft’s side, they have some interesting properties that could be part of Search, including Silverlight, X-Box, Zune, Healthvault, Money, Streets, and Windows Mobile.

Let the (new) games begin!

Old Videos from Wizard World

Back when I was at Wizard Entertainment, we produced a bunch of videos to promote the Wizard World Chicago Comicon, which the company had purchased. It was a great experience to produce these videos. Here are two that I uploaded to my Flickr.

Wizard World Chicago 1999

Wizard World Chicago 2000

See more stuff at http://www.buddyscalera.com

2001: Meet Dave – Video Remix

In a recent post, I offered up a video that showed how you can re-edit a movie like Mary Poppins into a trailer for a horror movie.

Well, one eagle-eyed blog reader sent me a link for the mashup remix video “2001: Meet Dave.”

Specifically, someone remixed 2001: A Space Odyssey into a trailer for a comedy film. They had to dub in some dialogue from “Dave,” an actual comedy flick, to make it work. But it really does look like a lightweight slapstick comedy that you might rent on DVD.

It illustrates how music is essential for setting tone and mood in a creative work.

Check it out:

2001: Meet Dave from Bastetta on Vimeo.

Links…Not Necessarily Endorsements:

Scary Mary Movie Trailer

One of the most effective forms of promotion is the movie trailer. It’s played to the target audience (moviegoers) in the perfect arena (the theater) to tease and excite them to return next week for more fun.

Most trailers are pretty clear, right? Music and visuals pull together a one to two minute preview of the kind of flick opening next week.

Some creative folks have taken a slightly different approach. They’ve remixed classic movies to appear like totally different films…all based on the trailer.

My favorite is this remix of “Mary Poppins” called, you guessed it, “Scary Mary.” Check it out and see how small changes to text and music completely change this G-rated Disney classic into something ominous and tense.

Creative mashups like this are all over YouTube. If you’re a professional marketer, check ’em out and see how little tweaks to your campaign can have a major effect.

Interesting Links….Not Necessarily Endorsements:

Laptop Lauren is an Actress

Yesterday I blogged about Microsoft’s new Laptop Hunter ad campaign. It features (supposedly) real people who are given $1,500 and told to buy a laptop that matches their own specs. In the ad, they discover that their limited budget will really only get them a PC…coincidentally loaded with Microsoft Windows Vista.

It’s cool. I get it. The commercials do a good job showcasing the (initial) affordability of a low-budget PC laptop. Certain blogs, including The Apple Blog, contend that the Apple laptop is actually a better value. Whatever. I still thought it was a good ad, since it engaged me and made me think.

The Important Update
In an everyone-is-a-detective-thanks-to-Google update, someone has managed to track down Lauren, the young woman who appears in the ads. And to everyone (and no one’s) surprise…Lauren is an actress.

She even has her own website at http://laurendelong.com/. Good for her.

Now that doesn’t mean that the campaign isn’t effective and compelling. It still is. But…

But…it was SUPPOSED to be real people. And while certain companies can get away with a little bit of winky truth bending, it doesn’t usually include Microsoft.

Microsoft faced controversy a few years back when they released “Ms. Dewey” a search librarian. This campaign featured an attractive actress who would be the sexy face of search. But Microsoft got more than they bargained for when it was discovered that the actress Janina Gavankar was actually in an adult film. So, yeah, that ad campaign generated some negative publicity for Microsoft.

If you’re a marketer reading this, take note. If you plan an advertising campaign that’s based on the testimony of real people, make sure they’re really real people and not “real people who are also professional actors.”

There is a difference.

Interesting Links…Not Necessarily an Endorsement

Microsoft Viral Videos on YouTube

As a Mac user, I quite like the “I’m a Mac…” commercials. They effectively shed doubt upon the Microsoft Windows operating system, which makes it hard to want to buy a PC.

But Microsoft didn’t get to be 90% of the PC market by being non competitive. So it’s no surprise to see them coming on strong with a viral video campaign. Microsoft has always had videos and commercials, but it’s really kind of cool to see them tapping the power of YouTube.

I really like this one featuring “Lauren” who goes to the store to pick out an HP Pavilion with Windows Vista. It’s a slick, well-produced video campaign that positions Microsoft as a value in a tough economy. (As well as HP and Best Buy, also featured in the video. Nice product placements there.)

As of today, Microsoft’s “Lauren” viral video has over 303,000 views. That’s pretty impressive for an ad that Microsoft isn’t paying anyone to view. Zero advertising spend.

Right now, the Microsoft WindowsVideo channel on YouTube, they have 71 videos. The stats show hundreds of thousands of views for some of these clips.

Not too shabby. Even this Mac guy is impressed.