September 27, 2007

Viva La Viral!: A Short List of Staggering Genius

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The internet collective unfortunately named the “Blogosphere” was on fire earlier this week with rumors YouTube would be adding short “pre-roll” ads to the beginning of user-posted videos. The brouhaha erupted over the simple fact that pre-roll ads — short ads that automatically play before streaming video content — are just slightly less annoying than having a nest of Africanized honey bees sting you repeatedly about the knee-pits.
Fortunately the Blogosphere turned out to be, as the saying goes, totally full of shit. Before the eulogies for the wild and free days of YouTube could be composed in Anglo Saxon alliterative verse and inscribed on stone tablets, many blogs were forced to issue retractions — saying that YouTube would instead be, as reported last week by the Associated Press, adding short “overlay” ads to the bottom of select videos. It was reported that the overlay ads will disappear after a short period, or can be Xed out.
It’s not that ridiculous that Google wants to turn some of that 1.65 billion dollars of stock invested in YouTube into some profit, but if I wanted to watch a bunch of advertisements all over the place, I’d just watch major league baseball.
Since we can’t be sure how all of this ad rumor stuff will shake out, and how internet video viewership is ultimately affected by overlays and pre-rolls, I’ve compiled a short list of extremely well thought-out suggestions for generating revenue through internet video without driving people to shut their browsers.

1. Product Placement: Have companies pay YouTube to add voiceover narrations by that deep voiced guy to videos where there products are prominently featured. Hypothetical: in a video where an adolescent skateboarder knocks all his teeth out in a botched Tony Hawk move, PepsiCo could pay Deep Voiced Guy to run into frame and yell, “Mountain Dew Code Alert Red Citrus Blast: Really takes the edge off being a complete tool.”

2. Public Opinion Polls: Have public polling institutions pay to put individual multiple-choice questions before videos (the videos won’t play unless the questions are answered). From the level of discourse on YouTube comment boards, this mode would offer polling institutions the chance to tap that oft under represented “Racist Idiot” demographic.

3. Blackmail: This idea is beautifully simple: have a sliding-scale payment system available for people who wish to have embarrassing videos of them taken off of YouTube. Ten robed arbiters would meet in a secret conference room at Google headquarters and work around the clock to tend to a supercomputer which would rate each video’s general humiliation quotient using a complex algorithm which would factor in variables such as how spastic the person danced, how racist they were, how stupid they sounded, whether or not the actual filming of the video could be used against the subject in a court of law, etc. Then an Electoral College would be convened for each video and place it along a Continuum of Embarrassment: the Star Wars kid swinging around a broom like a lightsaber at one end of the spectrum, campus security guards abusing Tasers at the other, and Miss Teen South Carolina somewhere in the middle. The embarrassed parties would then have to pay a corresponding sum to have the videos taken off of the website.

4. US Elections: Basically the Public Opinion Poll idea — but instead of people choosing which opinion most closely matched theirs, they would be choosing the next President of the United States of America. People refreshing their browsers to cast multiple votes might pose a slight problem, but at least Florida wouldn’t be an issue because — to the best of my knowledge — no one in Florida owns a computer.
This would also work really well combined with the Blackmail and Product Placement ideas. Republicans would pay to have a video of Mitt Romney singing the Numa Numa dance put up. Democrats would pay to have it taken down. Everyone would go home happy. (Except for Dennis Kucinich, has been medically incapable of feeling “joy” since a terrible extreme kite-surfing accident in 2003.)

5. PremiumTube: In the spirit of “It’s not TV, it’s HBO,” this plan would consist of implementing a separate paid subscription online video site. Because most YouTube videos are rednecks kicking each other in the nuts and people setting themselves on fire, PremiumTube would have to class it up. Following the cable TV paradigm, “classing it up” would consist of full frontal nudity and adding more (if possible) cursing. Think The Sopranos where instead of gangsters getting whacked each season, there is a gangster kicked in the nuts every episode. Think Sex and the City where instead of a bunch of chic thirty-something Cosmo girls talking about sexy stuff, there are a bunch of chic thirty-something Cosmo girls setting each other on fire.

Don’t know what Matt’s talking about? Google it, silly!