by: David Polinchock
The NY Post has an interesting piece on how youtube just hasn't generated the revenue that was expected when google bought them several years back. Now, back in July of '06, when we wrote Are Social Sites this Centuries Penny Press?, we asked the question about how youtube will monetize itself and we were pretty skeptical that people would like advertising on the videos they were watching. And, well, that seems to be pretty true.
It's one of the problem with advertising on these new mediums. Again, as we mused in Social Networks + Advertising = Amway, you can't just add advertising to things and hope that it will then add value to either side of the equation. But this statement is a really good example of what's wrong with our current thinking about creating advertising:
Identifying which videos will take off into viral sensations has been a challenge. "Companies would love to get involved in sponsoring a viral video, but usually by the time it happens, it's too late," said Bobby Tulsiani, an analyst with Jupiter Research.
We think that we can create value for brands simply by attaching ourselves for to someone else's work. Sometimes, as it did with the Coke-Mentos "fountains," there's a natural tie-in with a brand message. And even with that natural tie-in, it took Coke a while to step up. But you can't attach a disconnected message to something and have it create any real brand impact. If the brand doesn't match the excitement created by someone else's content, then it can in fact work against the brand. It's like when parents try to speak in the vernacular of their children. While occasionally it works, most times it sounds dumb and not authentic.
We're still hung up on trying to use our methods with new technologies and we're still for the most part missing the mark. Not that this is anything new. It took us a while to stop just taking radio content and moving it to TV. And it will continue to take us some time to adjust to the new tools we have today. What we need is more experimentation and less trying what's been done before. And we may just find that somethings just won't really work for advertising in the way we hoped. Sometimes, things just are and the best thing we can do is support them in new ways. To let them do what they do and stop trying to figure out how we can use them for advertising.