Friday, July 29, 2011

YouTube marketing at its best

Great example of a youtube promotion with FreddieW for the new movie Cowboys vs Aliens. The product placement is very well done and the video has already attracted more than 3MM views over the first few days - that's probably more people than have watched the movie so far.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Silicon Alley golf invitational teeing off


Looks like i actually hit the ball fairly somewhat well on this one..

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Gossip And Golf With New York's Ad Tech Big Shots


My foursome at this week's Silicon Alley Invitational - thanks to Ross for saving our score, Chris for lowering the level of conversation and Andrew for now bringing the 1,000 carnitas tacos he constantly talked about.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good-bye Borders, RIP


Having worked in the book space for years, it's sad to see a big player in the book market go; my best wishes to the employees who will be let go and let's hope at least B&N and the small stores can stay afloat.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

lessons from the silicon alley 2011 golf invitational #SAGI11

Today i had the privilege to play golf with about 60 fellow NYC Internet entrepreneurs and a Californian golf pro Huey Lewis whose claim to fame is having secured $15k for a movie about becoming a pro on Kickstarter:

Some quick observations from the NYC Internet crowd:

- everyone is alive and kicking and there's lots of activity, especially in the ad tech space (RTB, SSP, CPC, MDC, et al)
- Android seems to be getting a headstart on Iphone with this crowd - but blackberries can still be found
- Twitter is passe with the Internet exec crowd - only about 10 tweets during the event
- Scramble lets everyone win on the golf course!

Looking forward to 2012 or maybe a rematch in 2011!

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Waste Land: Vik Muniz: creating art with the garbage pickers in Rio de Janeiro


Very moving documentary about Vik Muniz and his recent project to turn garbage into art and the catadores into artists and muses. Watch it on free with prime

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Eviva èspaña


New york groove

Friday, July 15, 2011

Youtube selling web series/ branded entertainment - 100 million views anyone?

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga


Related Stories

YouTube's Premium-Content Strategy Starts to Take Shape
Talks of Providing $2M-$5M Seed Funds to Agents and Producers Who Commit to Episodes

YouTube has pitched advertisers on funding big-budget web shows featuring stars like Kobe Bryant, Lady Gaga and "Dancing with the Stars" host Brooke Burke, asking millions of dollars to make them happen.

The pitches are part of YouTube's foray into Hollywood for polished, TV-style web video that can attract the kind of advertisers that devote most of their ad budgets on TV. The concepts were pitched as branded entertainment, shows created for or in conjunction with advertisers. YouTube is separately trying to seed the market for professional web video by funding as much as $5 million in startup costs for producers to create YouTube content channels around advertiser-friendly categories like food, fashion, sports and comedy.

The celebrity shows that YouTube recently proposed to advertisers -- so-called YouTube Originals -- would make the video site, best known for user-generated content and music videos, look more like a traditional TV network than ever before, according to pitch documents obtained by Advertising Age.

For instance:

  • "Dream Makers," a series in partnership with "Big Brother" producer Endemol that would feature Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant rewarding "outstanding young people" with with the "dream of a lifetime." YouTube is asking marketers for $1.7 million to exclusively sponsor a run of six to eight five-minute episodes.
  • "The Incubator," a series from Ben Silverman's Electus featuring 36 short webisodes with 10 entrepreneurs as they turn ideas into businesses. The price tag: $3.5 million for six months of exclusivity.
  • And, most ambitious, a live Lady Gaga concert in New York proposed for 2011, streamed on the web through YouTube and Vevo. Price tag to sponsor the one-off event? Nine million dollars for a sponsorship along with Samsung, including a presence on Lady Gaga's YouTube channel and Facebook page.

    Some of the series pitched by YouTube will never see the light of day, or a studio may opt to get their own sponsorship and proceed on their own. Some have already come to fruition: Howcast's "Chief Household Officer," pitched by YouTube as a 10-week series for $2.8 million, is running on YouTube with a sponsorship deal from HP.

    An exec close to the deal said these series are distinct from the "channel" strategy being pursued by former Netflix exec and now YouTube VP-Programming Robert Kyncl. Rather, they are pitched as branded entertainment that wouldn't get the go-ahead without a big-ticket advertiser attached.

    YouTube has been in the branded entertainment business for some time, but its involvement in selling the shows and working with Hollywood studios signal new ambition to win major marketing budgets. Indeed the price tags suggest YouTube is seeking higher ad rates than seen typically on TV. Assuming YouTube can deliver a hefty 100 million views to a series for $3.5 million in six months, that's still a cost-per-thousand viewers of $35, higher than a typical TV ad rate of $20, and more in a league with Hulu, which sells TV spots on the web for $40.

    YouTube can't be faulted for a lack of ambition. Top YouTube execs like to say they're creating the next generation of cable TV, built and scaled for the web. But instead of 500-odd channels on TV, YouTube is making a play for the "next 10,000," appealing to all sorts of niches and interest groups.

    Despite all that, outside executives involved in the talks argue that YouTube still isn't thinking big enough. "I'd rather see them take a more aggressive approach, and get brands involved earlier, rather than re-create the cable model," said one marketing exec involved in the talks.

    Key to driving views to shows, and revenue to producers, is a redesign of YouTube itself, which hasn't changed much since it was founded in 2005. YouTube has already released an iteration of the redesign, Cosmic Panda, which owes a lot to Hulu in its look and feel. This relaunch, targeted for January, will redefine navigation to rely less on search algorithms and more on human curation of video.

    While not unheard of, YouTube's asking price is significantly higher than the typical budgets for web series. If YouTube can get its asking price, it will change the economics of online video and add another significant player in the market, along with Hulu, Netflix, and perhaps soon, Amazon.

    "Every time you see a YouTube or Hulu or Netflix move into original content creation, it's more opportunity for brands," said one agency exec. "It's a bigger playing field and more ways to reach an audience."

Interesting article about Youtube's premium sales strategy; it remains to be seen how many of these they are able to sell and whether the audience on Youtube is going to be watching lots of branded content. The comparison to regular TV CPMs is misleading though as sponsoring branded content is an entirely different proposition from buying 30 second spots.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Who are the people having sex with their Fitbits?

Over the holiday weekend, there were fireworks over at after techie Andy Baio noticed that the self-trackers the company caters to were revealing their sexual activity stats online.

Angel-funded start-up Fitbit makes thumb-sized, plastic, accelerometer-equipped devices that track users’ steps, sleep and calories burned. As I noted when I reviewed the device in February, you can also keep track of your exercise manually, including sexual activity — ranging from “passive, light effort” to “active and vigorous;” unfortunately, even at its most “difficult,” it doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as the elliptical at the gym.

More unfortunately, the company has historically made users’ profiles and activity public by default, to encourage social sharing and competitiveness. Some Fitbit users may not have realized this, given that the records of approximately 200 Fitbit users’ sex-ercise were showing up in Google search results. “Dear Fitbit users, Kudos on the 30 minutes of sexual activity,” wrote Gizmodo.

The company pulled a quickie once made aware of the sexual breach on Saturday. (It can’t have been a fun holiday weekend for their crisis crew.) “We certainly did not intend or expect the sharing of intimate information,” a spokesperson told me by email.

To limit the exposure, the company has currently hidden all activity records on, no matter what the user’s current privacy settings are. (I can’t see any of my old records, even privately.) Fitbit also contacted Google, Yahoo, and Bing to get the sex stats removed from search engines.

Quite a few journalists, though, grabbed screen shots of the sexy search results, so Fitbit has removed identifying information from all profiles for the time being.

And the company learned the most important lesson of all from this experience: “We have also updated our default settings for new users for activity sharing to ‘private.’”

Out of a desire to have a successful “social strategy,” too many companies are choosing to publicize their users’ information as much as possible. This Fitbit privacy #fail illustrates once again the pitfalls of that strategy, when users naturally assume that if you give them the option to track their bedroom activity that you would only give them the option to do that privately.

Fitbit cofounder, James Park, with one of the devices in hand

Alternatively, it’s possible these users were digital exhibitionists. Fitbit leaves that option open in its statement about this. “For many people, sharing information is an important motivator for them to achieve their fitness goals,” writes co-founder James Park in a blog post. Perhaps this was a fitness fetish for some?

As I’ve written before, I’m very excited about the benefits of self-tracking, but there are privacy downsides. The more data you gather about yourself, the more data that can be inadvertently exposed. And that can be quite embarrassing, especially if you’re having a dry spell.

Interesting story about the fitbit and how some of their users' sexual activity wearing the fitbit just got exposed. My question here is: why would anyone wear their fitbit during sex? And is that better or worse than checking in while doing it (

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