Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rambo: Something Intelligent???

I have no idea what to make of this. It is ... dare I say it ... semi-intelligent. Perhaps misguided, perhaps overly optimistic, perhaps a bit Rambling, but more intelligent than a single word Jackles or the other one have ever posted anywhere anytime anyhow any way. And while my first thought was that someone must have written it for her, the telltale Rambo typos are throughout.

What the hell is going on?? I am so confused! The world is all upset down!

I can’t tell you how many people ask me how we make money with NonSociety. It’s the third question after “What’s your name?” and “What do you do?”.

Let me back up for a second. On March 28, the first annual Streamy Awards will take place in Los Angeles. Think the Emmy Awards for original online video content. In my opinion, this is the second step in legitimizing the production of shows only broadcast online. The first step being money, the big bucks, that ole bottom line.

How can we generate a substantial revenue with videos on the Internet? Certainly it must be easier than tv because the production is cheaper, the videos are non-proprietary and easily distributed for maximum exposure, and the views are quantifiable. None of this is true for television. Even cheap reality tv.

Let’s break this down:

  1. Production: The Internet audience doesn’t demand high quality for original online content. It just needs to be entertaining. So why are people pouring six figures into online series (Dr. Horrible by Joss Whedon) when you can spend less than half that and be just as popular?
  2. Duration: Ah ha. Entertainment is a pretty big variable. DiggNation can last up to 45 minutes of 2 guys chatting and drinking beer. BlahGirls episodes are less than a minute. TMIweekly is 5 minutes. What is the true attention span of our audience and does production value influence their decision to click away?
  3. Cast: To celebrity or not to celebrity? This question weighs heavy on that bottom line. But then again, if you use an A-lister, can you skimp on the production value? Do web celebs count? Can we build more Tila Tequila’s? Let’s be honest, can we really consider iJustine and Kevin Rose celebrities?
  4. Scripted v. Reality: With the decline in episodic comedies and dramas on television, does that mean the Internet should follow suit? Screw tv, look at YouTube. Millions of people tune in to watch other people do anything and everything. Perhaps a happy medium is the answer. I think people want to see others being genuine and giving real reactions to situations.
  5. Money: As fun as it is, we can’t just make videos to brag about being on the cutting edge of digital media. Advertisers and sponsors have to come onboard to fuel your fire. But with their head in the traditional tv/print campaign model, how do we convince them the Internet is where the cool kids hang out. The fact that they could spend a fraction of their tv budget by investing in Internet video doesn’t seem to be convincing enough all the time. There’s a debate here because viewers don’t always click through to the brand’s site, so what’s the value of associating their brand with the content? How do you sell promoting their brand image instead of quantifiable sales?

Here’s my answer: I think the key to web video is creating all different formats that can exist together. Create a show with a relatively high production value with approachable characters or personas. Have these people or actors make their own unedited videos so the audience gets to know and love them. Concurrently, short, edited videos should be shot with experts and celebs to show a different perspective in an entertaining way. Approach major brands with sponsorship packages that supplement their current traditional campaign (so they don’t get their panties in a bunch). Pitch brand awareness and your distribution channels (which should be any website that will have you). License the show to a major network to increase your eyeballs and the show’s value and revenue.

I could be wrong. In fact, the “professionals” would probably disagree with me. Today I watched Children’s Hospital(think Scrubs meets Grey’s Anatomy starring Lake Bell and Megan Mullaly) and Dr. Horrible(starring Neal Patrick Harris). Both are high-production value, long episodic comedies with big name celebs. I couldn’t stand either, but the critics LOVE them. Children’s Hospital is produced by the WB so sponsorship can be built into tv ad pitches, but Dr. Horrible is an independent production and self-funded by Joss Whedon (of Buffy The Vampire Slayer).

I was reading “Screenwriters Strike Back”on Variety.com which plays Dr. Horrible against Ask a Ninja. Whedon apparently spent six figures on three episodes of Dr. Horrible (to pay for celebs, backlot shooting, equipment, tv “sheen”, etc), while Ask A Ninja founders Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine used $60,000 to launch a weekly show they continue to shoot out of Nichols’ apartment. Their show generates over $100,000 monthly with sponsors like Verizon, Universal, and Net Flix. Book deals are also in the works.

“According to digital ratings firm comScore, Internet users in the U.S. alone viewed 12 billion online vids in May, up 45% from May ‘07. The average user devoted 228 minutes per month to watching vids online,” says the article. But what are they watching and why? And how do we as content producers show the Ketchums and Edelmens of the world that sponsoring and advertising on web shows is worthwhile? What I really rant about are the Federateds who say we can’t secure the cash without them.

In my opinion, we’re here at the edge of the digital fronteir for online content. Several people have made the leap and reached the other side to bask in their Internet money. I’m in mid-air, and knowing me, I’ll come out alive :)

43 comments:

  1. Ghost written. Sorry, I know the Team Rambo people have high hopes for Mary, but she's not this bright. She's had people ghost write for her before and this is one of those posts.

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  2. Just curious...
    How do you know that she's had ghost writers before?

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  3. I was wondering if her Mom helped her.

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  4. the fact that shes thinking about these things in a fairly thorough way is what impresses me.

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  5. Someproblems: If someone helped her, that was my first guess also.

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  6. seanpercival Highlights from last night: group makeouts, drunk julia Allison, getting around on one of those bike things, corrupting @violetmae, st. Dogs about 10 hours ago

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  7. She did not write this. I agree with Web2.0. Somebody wrote this for her. I highly doubt she even knows who Joss Whedon is. She doesn't have enough knowledge of this topic to write something so comprehensive. Sorry. I'm all Team Rambo but the sad reality si that she's not smart enough to have written this.

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  8. She wrote it alright. In the absence of Julia Allison her brain started to regenerate.

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  9. And even if she got a ghostwriter, well-played posting it while Jackles is running around in an ill-fitting cheerleader costume blogging sweet dick all other than where she's eating/drinking/partying and whose ass she's kissing with her horribly Botoxed mug.

    Well played indeed, Rambo.

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  10. Her mom wrote this.

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  11. I am not buying her mother, sorry. Trey, perhaps. But what does a woman in her 50s running a consignment store know about this subject matter? Nothing. If anyone ghost-wrote it or helped her write it, it was someone younger and clued in. And smart enough to include the Rambo spelling errors.

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  12. Where are all these spelling errors? I see one. Fronteirs instead of Frontiers.

    Quantifiable? Concurrently? Non-proprietary?

    Pass me what you're smoking if you think for even a second she wrote this.

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  13. Jacy: I wasn't sold on mom either but it was the only person I thought might have helped edit. It certainly was all Mary's thoughts with a lot of solid research. Her expertise appears to be sales and now I see why she handles this aspect for NS. For such a horrific website, they sure do get a few decent sponsors now and then. I guess MR knows her stuff!

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  14. I think mary totally wrote this. She has been reading here, she is the only one that takes advice. She would be the only one of the three that would be honest about how NS makes money, she makes a dig at Rose [take that foolia]

    It is her, stop tripping and suggesting she had a ghostwriter. She is smarter than you think!

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  15. I doubt her mother helped her with this. Plus, why do you think she was unable to write this by herself? Mary is pretty smart, she had a business in her early twenties, how many of us can say that?

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  16. No way, no how she wrote this. If she did and she knows this much about ad sales and such then why would she be wasting her time with Julia?

    She didn't answer the question, either. How does NS make money? It doesn't, you say? Thanks. Can I get that 5 minutes back now?

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  17. Anon9:42: You know, I could have sworn the first time I read it I saw other typos. I read it, left it be for a half hour, then went back and cut and paste it without reading it again. And now when I reread it, I see you're right, there is just one. Was I seeing things or did she maybe go back and fix them?

    In any event, I am going to predict it was something in the middle -- she wrote it, and someone heavily edited it/cleaned it up for her.

    Or she's been working on it for weeks and spent a lot of time on it.

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  18. Mary wrote this. She has solid sales experience and results. Her crapastic handbags are sold at Bloomies and Searle. She's great at marketing and pushing product. She is street-dumb, obviously, but she's a hard worker and a smart girl left to he own devices. Much, much, much more so than the other 2.

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  19. Mary had a successful business before she jumped on the Jackles Train and hit the bottle more frequently. This shouldn't be too much of a shocker, but sadly it is.

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  20. I don't even know why she joined NS, she had so much going for her.

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  21. My friend is a buyer at bloomies. Bloomingdales was very impressed by Ms. Rambin and purchased a lot of her product with little reputation/popularity behind her. They didn't carry her for all that long but I do know she did a good sales pitch.

    **I had forgotten that I had asked this friend a while back but upon reading her post I remembered.

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  22. I think that she is reading and listening to people that are specialists on this subject. Good on her.

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  23. i agree with jacy that it was probably her research and first draft that got cleaned up by someone.

    i feel like this could be a jab at jackles, i think someone else mentioned it above. while jackles is out having fun at a conference, she's doing actual work.

    i have to say, this puts me solidly back onto team rambo. (but still team asha. team ramsha?? team anti-jackles?)

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  24. FormerGawkerEmployeeMarch 15, 2009 at 11:10 PM

    All I can say is that if she wrote this, and is this thoughtful and inherently intelligent, then she SERIOUSLY needs to lose Jackles and possibly even Meghan. She is slumming it. She could take a thesis like this one to any number of Web companies, or broadcasting companies trying to find success on the Web, and impress them with it, and possibly land her self some steady employment that way.

    The girl may not be able to spell, but she is clearly bright if this is any indication. When was the last time anyone ever thought Jackles was smart? Christ, Rambo must have cringed when she saw the nonsensical "fuck you money" video.

    Rambo: Cut your losses and do it on your own. You do not need Jackles. She is apparently going mad anyway ... you saw today's outfit and you've seen the increasingly erratic behavior up close. What else but impending madness could explain it? Lose her pronto.

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  25. She's just repeating ideas you can read anywhere on the web. It's a fairly standard 'new media' argument - for instance, she completely ignores the possibility that watching cheap-ass videos is a fad people will eventually get sick of.

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  26. I agree with Anon 11:48. What Mary wrote impresses only because it is above and beyond the usual nonsensical drivel we expect from NS. But I am not NEARLY as impressed as former gawker. I imagine if one went into any company and said what Mary wrote, the response would be, "yeah, and...?" But kudos to her for posting something thoughtful, and (I think) admitting that it might not work out, but that she will land on her feet.

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  27. There is no way a woman who spells "site" when she means "cite" wrote this without help. First, she correctly punctuates a question within a sentence ...?". This is not the work of Mary alone. But let's not start giving the author a Pulitzer. This is regurgitated rhetoric that can be culled from any number of sources. Second, she never answers the question she poses, "How do you make $?". Yes, her (or whomever's) rambling answer says how websites CAN make the sheckels. But theirs? Come on. If some communication undergrad turned this in as a paper? C+. I like Mary best of the three. Maybe because I am Trojan and have a soft spot for hot blondes. But she should stay in her wheelhouse- vapid critique of fashion and gettingvdrunk with her gay friends. And although she isn't the author, it is effort and work, something the other two avoid like the plague.

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  28. If this was ghost-written, it was by the Ghost of Business Plans Past.

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  29. The more I'm reading this site, the more I'm convinced that it's a brilliant product of JA and company. JA has semi-intelligent friends so this isn't a stretch of the imagination. Everyone starts out hating JA & company, and slowly but surely, everyone starts to like JA & company.

    Genius, guys.

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  30. Uhhh ... wrong, Anonymous. Hate to disappoint you.

    But this thread has taken a funny turn overnight.

    Mary's treatise is either far too intelligent to have been penned by her, or it's actually stupid so what's the big deal that she wrote it?

    I can't figure out what the truth is. I think she wrote it, but someone heavily edited it for her. As for its merits -- it's nothing ground-breaking, nothing visionary, but it's smarter than anything I've ever seen Jackles and the other one write. Again ... low bar. Extremely low bar.

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  31. I don't know if she wrote that, but I do believe that Mary fails to see the brilliance of Dr. Horrible. And I'm going to guess that she's unaware of how much $$$ it made (for example, most of the stars took payment on the back end).

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  32. Does she honestly thing TMI would get nominated for a "streamy award"? more like a "steaming pile of crap" award.

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  33. I believe it's her; she didn't like Dr. Horrible.

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  34. I think it's decently written but I agree with others that it's nothing earth-shattering and she definitely didn't answer now TMI makes any money beyond the obvious sponsorship deals, which we could all guess about anyway. At the end of the day there's a very simple answer to how you make money in online video. You get people (usually a targeted niche audience) to watch your show and then prove that those people will buy advertised products. And that's the trick that TMI is missing. People aren't watching the show.

    To that end - Anonymous 9.50am, I have to say, one of the things that bugged me about Mary's post (which ) was the anti Dr Horrible sentiment.

    I'm biased, I'm a huge Whedon fan, but there's no doubt that what Dr Horrible actually proved was that online video could be made of a high quality for a vast deal less money than traditional TV would take, and as you say, it also proved that talented people like Nathan Fillion and Neil (not Neal, Mary!) Patrick Harris were happy to defer payment because they wanted to be involved with it. Which isn't too disimilar from what most podcasters do - do it for the love and hope the money comes later. It was watched by an incredible number of people, and yes, it had Whedon behind it, but that's what it's going to take for more people to accept online video as being the norm.

    I don't know, that part of the post just smacked of "what's this Whedon guy doing in TMI's wheelhouse of the online world" and a sense that Mary thought Whedon, with his fancy script and his high quality picture and his professional actor shenanigans (how dare he!), was encroaching on the online video world within which the girls of TMI for some reason think they are being revolutionary.

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  35. And of course in correcting Mary's spelling of Neil Patrick Harris, I left in a typo of my own. Clearly there shouldn't have been the "(which )" in my second paragraph.
    *grumble*

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  36. TY, Anon 10:46. Exactly what I was thinking without knowing how to put it into words. She has no idea of the history behind Dr. Horrible. And lol at her not getting why The Guild is funny while thinking Larry the Cable Guy is. You aren't a nerd, Mary!

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  37. Bravo, 10:46. I couldn't agree with you more. To me Mary's post read like one long excuse for why TMI can't and doesn't make money. If Mary did write this, and she is this knowledgeable, then the only reason I can think of for TMI having trouble getting sponsors is that sponsors think the content is crap. If I were a major product sponsor, I'm not putting my brand name on a video clip of a show that looks like it's filmed in my basement. If they want to get sponsorships they're going to have to really clean up their acts and lose the crassness that has become associated with TMI. Also, and this is a note to Mary, I'd suggest cutting way back on the cocktailing before filming. Yes, it's obvious.

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  38. 11.11 - Oh The Guild being on the list of shows Mary didn't like cracked me up. $50 says she'd hate Jonathan Coulton as well. Having said that, she's never actually made a claim to be a geek so I suppose I can't knock her for that and at least she didn't pull Julia's tactic in one of those Big Think videos of referencing it just to make it seem like she's "in." Mary certainly has an authenticity that Julia lacks.

    I think The Guild is fantastic and a brilliant example of independent online video. In fact, Felicia Day is basically the archetype of what women in the online video world should be trying to accomplish, IMHO. Creating, writing and starring in her own show, building up a fanbase that had enough affection for the show that they donated enough money to give her the beginnings of a 2nd season production, and then learning from Joss Whedon that she could hold on to her rights when she licensed the content to the XBox Live folks.

    Plus she's completely relatable to other women without being overly "look at me" as Julia apparently needs to be, and I'll venture a guess that the male audience loves her as well. I think that's a huge deal because traditionally more men than women watch online video anyway. If every woman in the industry were like Felicia Day we wouldn't have any need for the silly "women in technology" panels that Julia's so fond of.

    The interesting thing to me about TMI/NS, is that they're doing stuff that other people are doing much better. The fact that they're women doesn't make them unique, and the fact that they're using online video doesn't actually make them "women in tech". I think of women in tech and I think Veronica Belmont, Amber McArthur, iJustine, etc. People who are reporting on, or using technology in an interesting way. Julia et al are no more "in tech" than Ricky Gervais or Kevin Smith, both of whom have blogs and podcasts. Technology is just the medium they're using to talk about whatever they want to talk about.

    I will say I think Mary is a really good on-air personality and if she had a fashion/lifestyle show on her own, I could be tempted to watch. I think she definitely has a natural talent for that, I just think in this case she isn't saying anything that hasn't already been covered by other people.

    11.15am - You know the interesting thing though is that a lot of shows that started out early in the video podcasting world did look like they were shot in people's basement. I mean Diggnation has always been two guys sitting on a couch with a seriously low production cost. The key, though, is that they had a built-in audience because people already knew Kevin and Alex from The Screen Savers, plus Kevin had founded Digg.com. So they built up a loyal audience and were then able to go to advertisers and say they had an audience that could be targeted. I wonder if that's actually what's the most galling for the TMI girls, that A) Julia's on-air/Gawker celebrity hasn't translated into viewers, and B) Their low-budget production and show concept hasn't ended up being something that people feel an affection for.

    Wow that was long - sorry!

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  39. Mary wrote these sentences.

    "Gary V is an evangalist"

    "The images always transport me for a second."

    "For those of you who don't know what a "Roast" is, it's when hysterical comedians come on and beat the crap out of each other and the guest of honor who is being Roasted."

    Uhm, she sure as hell did not write the ones in question.

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  40. I would put money on Megan Alagna as the actual author of this.

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  41. http://gawker.com/5170852/julia-allison-loses-one-of-her-nontrepreneurs

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  42. Mary completely fails to address the issue of quality content. Will they ever get it? Probably not.

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  43. This is a great recap of what's said and widely known in the industry. It's not genius.

    The problem with these girls is that they're not talented. Julia is Amanda Congdon 2.0.

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