Why YouTube is going long-form

It’s funny, I have always been a believer in long form video. Heck, today I put up a 30 minute video with the hottest mobile social network’s CEO (Bluepulse).

But why is YouTube going longform, which is what Silicon Alley Insider just reported?

Easy: it’s much tougher to monetize short videos of, say, kids doing skateboard tricks, than it is to put some ads into a long video like the ones I do at FastCompany.tv.

Advertisers also will pay a lot higher rates for those long-form ads.


Because someone who’ll watch a 30-minute video is HIGHLY ENGAGED. They are far more likely to become a customer than someone who just watches a two-minute entertaining video.

Here’s why: long videos are a filter. Only the most passionate and most interested people online will watch such a video. Those who aren’t interested wouldn’t even consider watching a long video.

Think about the video I just put up. I bet that out of the tens of thousands of people who read this post over the next day or so that only 5% will be interested in the topic of mobile social networks.

But, if you ARE interested enough in mobile social networks to spend 30 minutes to learn more, think about what that says and the liklihood that such a viewer will be responsive to advertisments, especially ones that are contextual. Imagine that another company building something for mobile users, like Brightkite, put an ad in that video. If you spent 30 minutes interested in mobile social networks, wouldn’t you spend 15 seconds hearing about a new mobile tool that’d add onto Bluepulse? You sure would (at least in aggregate).

But, what kind of audience would show up on a skateboarding video? How likely would they be interested in hearing about Brightkite? Not nearly as much.

So, as an advertiser, which one would you rather spend money on?

Longform wins and wins big.

Oh, and don’t even start thinking about the buying process. If you do, you’ll see why Gary Vaynerchuk is the most brilliant marketer out there right now for starting Wine Library TV. I’m going to do a whole post soon just on what Gary is getting that even Google and Facebook aren’t getting.

Oh #2. Mark Cuban basically just posted the same thing I did, but comes at it from a different angle.

A Silicon Valley-Washington DC conversation

Several months ago Andrew Feinberg, founder of the Capitol Valley.net blog, laid down a challenge to me and other tech bloggers: why don’t we ever come to Washington D.C. to get the politicians’ view of the tech industry?

After all, politicians have huge control over our industry.

They can decide things concerning network neutrality, taxation, whether universities get funded so that our industry will have a constant stream of new potential new employees, immigration (one tech-industry CEO recently told me his company is losing its best R&D talent which we educated here, but then are forced to go back home due to immigration laws), wireless bandwidth allocation, and much much more.

These are issues that the “shiny new thing chasers” like me don’t often talk about cause, well, they require doing homework and building partnerships and, well, going to Washington DC. Most of the geeks I hang out with don’t like hanging out with politicians. They would rather watch an hour-long-PowerPoint presentation on some boring enterprise-focused technology than hang out with politicians.

But I saw value in Andrew’s plea. He was right that we need a new conversation about technology and politics, particularly because there will be a regime change in Washington DC in January (even McCain would bring a different approach to the tech industry than Bush had).

So, next week me and the crew from FastCompany.tv is headed to New York for a day to attend the Personal Democracy Forum. Andrew will do some interviews there with me and I’ll be on a panel discussion.

Then on Tuesday we’re headed to Washington DC. Right now we’re tentatively speaking to four congressmen/women including Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house.

My agenda for the week?

1. Learn about pending or upcoming legislation that will affect the technology industry.
2. Start a dialog between tech journalists and politician’s staffs, so we will have better understanding of what they are thinking and will have a chance to get our audiences feedback on potential legislation.
3. Hear how the regime change (er, Presidential election) will affect what they are thinking and what executives at technology companies should be aware of going into 2009.
4. Listen and bring you into conversations. I hope to do some Qik videos while there, and have some discussions on Twitter and FriendFeed.

Andrew also has us scheduled to interview a few key members of the FCC and we’re still working on our schedules to fit in some other fun stuff.

Plus, on Wednesday night we’re hosting a party which is open to all — wow, 122 are already signed up on the Facebook page for the party. We’re hosting Gary Vaynerchuk, the web superstar behind Wine Library TV and owner of one of the biggest wine stores in the world, along with a few other surprises.

Anyway, I really want to thank Andrew Feinberg. He did all the heavy lifting on this week and it should be an amazing week. He has my deepest respect and can’t wait to see what conversations start.

We’ll publish our calendars as we get them firmed up. Unfortunately in the world of politics even the best planned out calendar can instantly change due to world events, so we probably won’t know for sure we’ll get interviews with specific people until it happens.

Anyway, anything you’d like us to look into while we’re there? Leave suggestions on the comments here.

3,003 "Likes"

Over on FriendFeed, which I joined in March, I’ve been quite busy. I’ve moved a bunch of my blogging time and Google Reader time over to it. How does that time translate? Well, into a few things:

1. Comments. (Those are items I’ve commented on — 1,893 so far)
2. Likes. (Those are items I’ve liked — 3,003 so far)

A few minutes ago I just passed 3,000 “Likes.”

What is a “Like?” First of all, you can’t like your own stuff. So, if you check out my like page you’ll see everyone ELSE’s stuff that I liked. I read through rivers of noise and anything that rises above that aggregate I click “Like” on. It’s my way to signal to you that something is worth checking out. I guess these things are the “news, not the noise.”

Likes, though, are sort of magic on FriendFeed. Here’s why.

Let’s say you only have one friend on FriendFeed: me.

Well, by my liking other people you’ll see THEIR posts along with mine. FriendFeed shows you those as “Friend of a Friend” items. That means that people’s first experiences on FriendFeed are a lot better than they’d otherwise be. And minimizes my own noisiness because you won’t just see my items, but you’ll see the dozens or hundreds of things I like every day there too.

I can’t wait until I can pull things out of the database that have tons of likes and show you those. That’s where the real value is in FriendFeed but I can’t do that yet. When that happens we’ll have the ability to really build our own pages with stuff that we care about that’s vetted by other people first.

I feel a lot of responsibility to only like good things since I have 13,000+ people following me on FriendFeed already.

One reason why I do a lot more “Likes” than Google Reader Sharing lately (which is pretty close to the same thing). Because I can “Like” an item on my iPhone without waiting for a new page to render. FriendFeed is the first iPhone-compatible-sharing-system I’ve gotten on. It’s amazing how much I read on my iPhone thanks to FriendFeed now. Google Reader on iPhone really sucks comparatively.

Also, FriendFeed is far better because I can “Like” Twitter messages that don’t come into Google Reader. If you’re on Twitter please sign up for FriendFeed and add your feed so I can “Like” your items too.

Firefox down

Everyone is trying to get into download Firefox 3.0 (the release of Firefox 3.0 is the hot story of the day on TechMeme). Unfortunately most of us over on FriendFeed (which is where I hang out now most of the day) can’t get to the servers. I can’t either. Will keep trying.

In other news, Twitter is still up!

Of course this blog post caused an interesting conversation over on Firefox to break out, along with links to all the download places if you want to keep trying. UPDATE: Success! (Using the direct links).

Will Microsoft Search use Mahalo techniques to change the game?

On Thursday I interviewed a few executives at Microsoft. A few of those videos will have to wait in line (we have two weeks of inventory that needs to get done first) but because of the Yahoo/Google deal I think this one needed to be out ASAP so Rocky Barbanica did a ultra fast edit (using two cameras causes a lot more work than stuff done on my cell phone).

Here Brad Goldberg, general manager of Microsoft’s Search Business Group (aka the folks who do Windows Live Search) talked with me very candidly about the challenge the Windows Live search team faces from Google. This is the most candid conversation I’ve seen a Microsoft executive give about search. It’ll be interesting to see what Danny Sullivan, Kara Swisher, Jason Calacanis will say about this.

Already there’s quite a conversation (including links to my earlier Mahalo interviews) over here on FriendFeed.

Here’s an outline of what we talked about.

00:00: How are you going to compete with Google and do something different? Discussion of cash back plans and opportunity to make search better. “Enter in a search query for ‘Paris’ and there’s no way for a search engine to really know what you want.”
03:00 Discussion of the quality of search and how it compares to Google. Where are you and how are you improving? Brad says that the three search engines are pretty close to parity in relevance/quality. He said their research shows that the #1 thing people care about is relevance (how relevant a search result is to what they were searching for). Says search is going to be more task-specific and that search can play a much bigger role there, especially in commerce, which is what their first hit against Google was with cash back.
06:42 What about the other fundamentals? Speed, language compatibility, design? Brad says that Microsoft will need to take a lot of risks to get ahead here.
08:46 What about mobile? Brad says mapping, local, things like movie times, will play a big role in search, but that he thinks that they’ll mostly focus on the desktop experience.
11:00 What are you going to do to change the game over the next year? Brad answers “it’ll be a set of things.” Great relevance, focus on commerce/cash back/rewarding people for search behavior, and other things.
14:00 Ask how Microsoft is going to convince late adopters to use Microsoft Search. I tell a story about how it took me years to get my dad to use Google. Brad says that Google is the only brand that has equity in search. Says that most people don’t even know there’s a choice.
17:15 What about the weirder things? People search? Brad brings up Messenger and says they could do a lot more to bring people into search.
19:00 Discussion of Facebook’s walled garden and how they could enable Microsoft to search inside their service where Google is kept out.
19:59 What about media, like videos? Very few of the search results have any media like photos or videos. Brad answers back that they are doing some video preview technology that condenses the video and gives you a taste so you can make sure that the video you’re seeing in search is the right one. Talks about UI work that’s needed here.
22:30 Discussion of weather maps and stock quote charts built into search. Further discussion into how people use search and more opportunities to improve quality.
24:37 Have you looked at what Mahalo is doing? A discussion of what makes Mahalo better than Google or Yahoo on many searches. That leads Brad to talk about the difference between portals and search and what he thinks the right approach will be.
28:00 How about real-time Web like Twitter, FriendFeed? (I remember when it took more than a month for Yahoo to index my site, now Google takes hours, if not faster, and FriendFeed indexes new items within seconds). Brad has an interesting answer where he says that search will verticalize.
Ends at 31:56.

If you think this interview is good, please Digg it, Sphinn it, link to it on your blog, and Twitter it. Thanks!

Rejuvenating with Scott Bourne (and talking about whether I'm paid to pimp stuff like FriendFeed)

My goal is to have an interesting conversation with someone interesting every day. Yesterday was an all-out winner. I had conversations with two interesting guys. The first was with Ismael Ghalimi, founder of the Office 2.0 conference and keeper of the definitive database of Office 2.0 apps (Office 2.0 apps are those that are on the web and collaborative, like Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets or Zoho’s suite of stuff). That was for our WorkFastTV show on FastCompanyTV. The full show will be up on Monday. After the show we continued the conversation over on Kyte.tv where he told us even more interesting stuff about his favorite apps (he has tried about 600 of the 800 apps listed on the Office 2.0 database).

But afterward I headed over to Podango Productions to visit with Scott Bourne. I have run into Scott here and there, but had no idea:

1. He owns the studio where the first Diggnation was filmed.
2. Is an accomplished photographer. Here’s his Photrade account (his photo was on the home page of that yesterday).
3. Rides a Harley for fun.
4. Is co-founder/owner of This Week in Photography, which has 600,000 unique visitors per month (amazing growth for a new show about photography that has not had a single dollar spent on promotion or advertising).
5. Is a damn nice guy (spent two hours with me just talking about the new media business and life).

What’s funny is that the conversation started over on FriendFeed where he wondered if I was paid to pimp FriendFeed. He invited me over to do an interview on that topic, which he put up last night.

The answer is: I am not paid by anyone other than Fast Company. Seagate and SAP and some other sponsors to come soon pay Fast Company. If I ever change that, I’ll let you know. I am NOT paid by Qik, FriendFeed, Kyte, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, or any of the other companies I like and talk about a lot. I also do not own stock in any company I cover and if that ever changes I’ll disclose that as well.

Anyway, it was really great getting Scott’s perspective on things and getting a tour of Podango’s studio (which is huge, his company has done film and TV production in addition to things like This Week in Photography, which already is my favorite show about photography).

I found our two-hour conversation rejuvenated me. Which is pretty rare and why I seek out conversations with interesting and brilliant people who are trying to build interesting and brilliant things.

Who have you talked with who’s gotten you to see things in a new way?