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Monetizing viral video

July 6th, 2006

The commercial potential of the viral qualities of Internet video is interesting, but overrated.

It’s an appealing idea – sort of like buying a lottery ticket for a $1 and making $1 million – but there are several major gaps between the fantasy of viral video marketing and the reality.

The rapid spread of ideas in the form of e-mails and videos is a reality. It happens…

How can this power be harnessed?

Smart business people can include viral elements in their
advertising and other communications to increase the odds that their
message will be passed along or talked about, but in the real world,
making a product or service go "viral" takes a tremendous amount of
research, planning and most important execution.

In other words, if you’re looking for a lottery ticket play, keep looking.

Hotmail is often touted as proof of the viral marketing concept and indeed for that one company in that one category in that one moment of time viral marketing generated millions of dollars in real promotional value in a relatively short period of time.

Millions of views – so what?

Since the advent of easy Internet video (2005), we’ve seen a lot of
video go viral. Almost none of it has any meaningful commercial
potential.  Today’s viral videos are not unlike the e-mail jokes that
used to and still do circulate the Internet. In a short period , tens
of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people, may receive a
popular joke from their friends.

Here’s the key point though… It’s foolish to equate sheer volume
of communication or that fact that the communication spready quickly or
the fact it cost nothing to the original publisher with commercial value.

The only communication worth anything in business is a focused
message sent to a targeted individual that leads to that individual
taking a commercially meaningful action (opt-in, inquiry, or purchase)

Everything else – from a business point of view – is just noise.

If you can create a sales message that your prospects and
customers spontaneously pass on to other qualified folks, then you’re
on to something.  Maybe not a hotmail and maybe not even a YouTube
video that’s downloaded one hundred thousand times, but something worth
experimenting with.

Experimenting with, not counting on.

If you want to play in the viral arena intelligently, get Emanuel Rosen’s Anatomy of Buzz
and your odds of actually making money from the viral phenomenon will
increase exponentially (assuming, of course, you follow his advice
which you will find involves hard work.)

Introducing eefoof.com

Sounds sort of like Hee-Haw to me – and I think it will appeal to the same audience. It’s called eefoof.com.

Eefoof is presenting itself as a competitor to YouTube.

As you might imagine, I view winning the YouTube niche to be the
equivalent of winning the Boobie Prize. Yes, YouTube has "won" the free
video hosting niche, but what exactly that victory is worth – other
than the ability to attract some venture capital  – has yet to be seen.

YouTube has still have not come up with a revenue model (or as they put it, they have not fully "disclosed" it yet.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that so many companies want to host and
stream video for free. I just don’t see how it’s going to turn into a
buck for them.

But effoof.com has an idea.

If you upload your video to eefoof.com, instead of one of 150 plus
other free video hosting sites, they will give you a proportional cut
of the advertising your video generates. 

How exactly your cut will be calculated and where there advertising
money is coming from has yet to be disclosed, but the site does say
that as soon as your account exceeds $25, you’ll receive a PayPal
transfer from the company.

A lot of heat, not much light, though I applaud that instead of
launching yet another variation of YouTube, eefoof has cooked up
something a little different. 

Easy Internet video is one of the biggest breakthroughs on the Internet. No question.

But it’s real value will come from real businesses that sell
real things to real people that put specific sales-oriented videos in
front of specific people – not from millions of people passing along video clips of stupid dog tricks and other digital ephemera

Ken McCarthy

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  1. July 6th, 2006 at 12:24 | #1

    Ummmmmm, speaking of stupid dog tricks…..
    I saw your FoodTV idea, and have created some sites based on Google Adsense Ads around different categories of videos.
    CrazyDogVideos.com is one! LOL
    Also spun off your Food idea –
    There are wine videos in the center area – links anyways – I’ll have to go put the small video snippets in there!
    I have noticed a few bucks in income from the crazycatvideos.com site – maybe 25 visitors, maybe just under $2 revenue for the past day – its getting there – I’m excited about the viral possibilities – not to make a million dollars, but even $2 a day is $700 a year – and there are 5 sites linked to each other in that group – more to come!
    Thanks for the video kick start!

  2. July 6th, 2006 at 12:31 | #2

    I couldn’t agree more. During the dot-com boom, I was out selling my business idea to venture capitalists who had virtually no interest in a real business — all they wanted to hear about was “the next big thing”. Glad to hear someone, especially someone in the Internet marketing business, talking about reality-based business, where there are real customers that actually get value from the deal.

  3. July 6th, 2006 at 16:19 | #3

    This idea that exposure = profits is common in areas outside of the internet too.
    I appear regularly on 40 radio stations across Australia and the difference between doing a show and designing a show so that people actually call and spend their hard earned cash with you is quite profound.
    In a way the whole “viral marketing” concept has shades of brand or image advertising.
    Advertising and exposure where real results are not tested.
    On the bright side if you ARE one of the few who test real results you do have a serious chance of producing a real winner if you persist and your message is highly targeted to a hungry audience.

  4. July 6th, 2006 at 17:15 | #4

    Hey! What’s *wrong* with crazy dog tricks?

  5. Ken McCarthy
    July 6th, 2006 at 18:05 | #5

    It’s just that hosting and streaming videos of them might not be the greatest business to be in.
    On the other hand… if you monetized the traffic with ads for dog-related products…like Andrew is doing.
    I guess the point is focus. If you created a site of videos of special interest to dog owners, you may have yourself a business.
    But videos of random goofy stuff?
    If there’s a business there, I’m missing it 🙂

  6. July 7th, 2006 at 02:17 | #6

    Hey Ken,
    I always like to keep up with your thoughts Ken and your blog. Great stuff. We will meet one day. Here’s my example of exactly what you are talking about… and it is current… June 2006. (Come to think of it did you get my email last week? Hmmmm… Uncanny) Note I have removed several of the URLs for privacy and business reasons.
    As an online expert I thought you may be interested in my little story on how I sold my pups using internet marketing and video..??
    Anyhow… to get some lowdown and background go to …
    and to…
    …to check out the blog and the sales page on which you’ll see the photos and video … and the selling.
    Ohh.. you may also want to check out….
    http://www.ACDPuppy.com – current google landing page
    http://www.removed for this post – early notice list personal invitation
    http://www.removed for this post – early notice list official release
    http://www.removed for this post – before release to the early notification list for people who were desperate to make sure they got one.
    Unfortunately I can’t say I’ve used the ‘website video secrets’ course – ’cause I haven’t been able to afford it yet – *although* I have been applying things I know that are taught on it. But after reviewing Mike Stewart’s videos, Jim Edward’s and others whom I know have the course materials and with a lot of trial and error I was able to put my videos together. And of course I have a background in music and home recording too as a professional muso and songwriter that helps.
    To cut a long story short though…
    Last litter – 2005 – I sold 3 of 8 pups on the internet after some google ads but mainly they were sold by newspaper and offline adverts – as usual. Maximum price in 2005 was $385 for females and $330 for males. Took us only 8 days to sell them all.
    This litter 2006 – after selling 3 online last year I left the ad on google run for a little while around two weeks after selling the pups in 2005 and then made sure my web pages had basic good SEO keywords on them. I didn’t spend too much time – I’m no expert.
    I found after a while I was getting a little traffic to my site (mainly through yahoo and msn)and generating a small list of interested people who after signing up for my free e-course (to be able to access the site 🙂 they would then sign up on my early puppy notification list.
    I did a very, very rough and basic pre-launch (ala Jeff Walker – who’s course I don’t own yet but will one day) after following some things I picked up from people I know who’ve used Jeff’s techniques to sell to me.
    After setting up the blog I had all intentions of putting every little bit of video and the photos I took up on it (again I didn’t have the hours in the day to do so) and will get them all up one day soon.
    MY POINT…. I ramble a bit – sorry…
    Of the 8 purebred (not pedigreed) Australian Cattle Dog puppies (Blue Heelers) we had for sale I have sold 7 of them (so far) at a *premium price* online ($440 females and $385 males) where they normally sell for between $100 to $200 offline. Pedigree ACD pups sell with pedigree for anywhere from $400 up to $2000 – ours are *only purebred*, NO pedigrees!
    They also went all over Australia. I am in Victoria and they went to Western Australia (other side of the country), Queensland (other end), Victoria and New South Wales – 4 of them by plane. This has never happened to us before! Usually they sell to Melbourne (2 hours) or within a radius up to 4 hours away from us, sometimes a little farther.
    Get this … as of the 1/July/06 I hadn’t even advertised them ANYWHERE! And my list size was only 32 people (early list) initially and then 380 people on my main list.
    On the 32 list I pre-sold them 5 puppies. On the 380 list I sold 2 puppies.
    I still have one male puppy left to sell and I have just yesterday started google adverts. I’ve had 2 enquiries from the USA and 3 from Australia but I still haven’t sold the last one. He’s beautiful too.
    I may also run one newspaper advert but am yet to do so. I feel I will do that next week.
    Get this … Not one person tried to barter the price.
    Of the 5 sold from the early list – 4 people paid a deposit at 5 weeks old within a day or two of telling them they were for sale and the other 2 paid in full less than a week later. Before they were 8 weeks old the seventh puppy was sold.
    And now we have one to go at 10 weeks old.
    Mind you as responsible breeders we do not let the pups go until they are 8 weeks old.
    In summary, the reasons for this success…
    1) The biggest reason is Online VIDEO. I had video on the blog and video on the sales page of each puppy and as a group.
    Every one of the people who purchased said they chose their puppy from the videos and thought it was a fantastic way to go! (Surprise surprise as Gomer Pyle would say)
    I felt these other factors played a part and helped too…
    2) Anticipation and build up – although done very roughly – like a product launch re Jeff Walker. Thanks Jeff.
    3) Guarantee – no other pedigree or purebred breeder offers our lifetime genetic default guarantee. See it on the sales page …
    4) I called and spoke with people whenever I felt they were serious or they wanted to speak with me. Definitely this helped to close sales. So personal touch is still a neccessity.
    So there you go. I am also in the process of putting up another little video of the last puppy for a lady who requested it last week. This last puppy may be sold soon too.
    So there you have it.
    Brian Lord (aka Stan)
    CEO, (Chief Cook and Bottle-washer)

  7. Ken McCarthy
    July 7th, 2006 at 09:02 | #7

    Great story and thanks for your report!
    No, I did not get your e-mail.
    (For everyone: I get a ton of mail. I can’t possibly read or respond to it all though I would like to. This blog is the best place to “talk video” with me.)
    Yes, the psychological impact of video when the right message is presented to the right audience is enormous. You’re experiencing it first hand.
    And I can’t stress this enough: NOW is the time. To be first with video is a great way to raise your profile and reach dramatically in your marketplace.
    On another note…
    You mentioned a bunch of expensive courses you wish you had or feel you need to buy.
    Here’s the deal:
    Great generic “How to make video” material is widely available all over the place. There’s lots of good free stuff on the web.
    Material on how to encode and post video to the web is not hard to find either. In fact, you’re already doing it.
    For those who are bewildered get “Secrets of Videoblogging” by Verdi and Hodson for $24.99 (Peachpit Press)
    It’s not a marketing book (at all) but it is very clear on the mechanics of Internet video and a great place to start.
    So what exactly do you need an expensive course for?
    I recommend you keep at what you’re doing.
    Invest your money in buying traffic, tracking the results and experimenting with different approaches.
    In short, develop your OWN expertise instead of relying on something pre-packaged from a distant guru whose material may or may not be worth the investment.
    There are no super-experts in this field. I can assure you of that.
    We’re all finding our way which is why I appreciate folks like you who’ve taken the time to post the results of their experiments to this blog as you have.
    As for the infamous Jeff Walker “Anticipation” course, your money can definitely be spent better elsewhere.
    There is NOTHING in that course that goes even a step beyond basic marketing common sense. It’s a sidebar’s worth of material. Maybe a chapter at the most.
    Just watch how Hollywood promotes a film…
    They tell you about the deal to make the movie when it’s signed, then they give you details about the production, then there’s a build up to the premier when the stars start hitting the news shows, then at last the public gets to buy tickets to see the show.
    That’s it. The whole story. It’s something worth fooling around with, but nothing new.
    By the way, according to David Ogilvy who was an expert in movie promotion before he started his famous ad agency, this method works because of multiple exposures. He said seven exposures was the magic number.
    The key is to develop plausible reasons to keep coming back to the public with variations on the same story over and over again without boring or irritating them.
    It’s event-driven marketing too. The fact that there is a specific DATE when everything supposedly happens focuses people’s attention. It’s the power of deadlines at work.
    That’s it.
    Create an event and then stage manage a lead up to it.
    There’s no more too it than that. It’s a valuable practice that every experienced marketer knows about, but there is no reason on earth to pay $1,000 to learn about it.
    By the way…
    If you look at the track records of the guru celebtrities who were pushing this program so hard a while back you’ll find their credibility is not terribly high.
    If there’s a buck to be made, they’re flogging it without any regard for value.
    Frankly, I’m getting tired of seeing good people stampeded into buying a new brand of overpriced nonsense every other month so I’m producing a free program that will give consumers a set of objective, analytic tools they can use to evaluate the various Internet offers as they come down the pike.
    Watch for it in August.
    In the meantime, keep in mind that high price and high hype do not mean high value. In fact, the opposite is often true.
    Phew… One long post deserves another.

  8. July 12th, 2006 at 11:08 | #8

    Hey Ken,
    Thanks for the advice. Appreciated (always).
    I do also have your System Traffic school DVD’s and watch them regularly. Great info.
    In fact I was telling my wife about this post tonight in a different context saying I probably really should get the course (JW’s) next and she said exactly the same as you.
    “Why? You’re already achieving the outcome. Make your own.”
    Hmmm… maybe she’s psychic too! Or just maybe you are both very smart!
    Knowing now what’s in the course (thank you) has actually given me the confidence to go ahead and jot down my own processes to follow again in the future and tweak.
    By the way, keep the book requests coming too as I have chased them all down and read them and especially found the Dick Benson and John Caples books very informative. I do still have another 3 of them to read as yet. Once again, Thank you.
    And while I’m on the Thank You’s… I’d like to thank Patrick from Canada (another avid reader of this blog) for alerting me to your answer here today and then for brainstorming a new product with me as well.
    Thanks Guys. I shall return.

  9. July 16th, 2006 at 03:21 | #9

    Hey Ken,
    Check this out…
    “The Beer League”
    A producer trying to get his show onto a network.
    What a great idea.

  10. Ken McCarthy
    July 17th, 2006 at 19:47 | #10

    You heard it hear first…
    Business analysts are starting to wonder how YouTube is going to make money.
    They`re even more curious about the 101 YouTube clones.
    Too much money chasing too few ideas… which is why at the System we focusing on teaching people how to identify REAL opportunities.

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