A Serious Online Video Advertising Problem

Shelly Palmer Digital Living

Shelly Palmer Digital Living
Shelly Palmer Digital Living
As most of you know, I am the host of a daily, two-minute show called, MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer. It is not a television show, although it can be seen on TV. It is not a radio show, although it is broadcast on dozens of news/talk radio stations. It is not a video blog, although you can subscribe to it via RSS. It is not a news feed, although several text versions are available online and via wireless networks. It is not social media content, although the key insights are shared with thousands of followers via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks. MediaBytes is a true multi-media content engine that was designed to allow an audience of people who are interested in my thoughts about technology, media and entertainment to self-assemble. It is offered completely free of charge to anyone who wishes to subscribe on practically every widely used media platform.

The show is created in HD and is distributed on various websites (including shellypalmer.com, huffingtonpost.com, imediaconnection.com, YouTube, Blip.tv and dozens more), TiVoCast, Sony Bravia Internet Link, NY Nonstop (WNBC-TV Channel 4.2), iTunes (both video and audio podcasts), feedburner (video, audio and text RSS feeds), Terrestrial Radio, Broadcast Television, every form of flash, h.264, mpg, .mp3 and, of course, HDTV. We also provide daily production elements which are distributed to several thousand radio and television stations worldwide.

The show is produced every business day and requires a research staff, a writer (me), an editor, an encoding/distribution manager and an affiliate relations staff. The reason for the production overview is that, this particular two-minutes may look like a talking head combined with some graphics and clips, but the work flow for any given show takes approximately 6 hour and all of the people involved in the production are on salary here at Advanced Media Ventures Group. And, for the record, MediaBytes, and the associated production materials, takes up approximately 25% of my day.

I am not going to tell you what it costs me to produce each episode, but from reading the previous paragraphs you should be able to fully understand that it is far from free. You should also know that I have not missed a business day in two years and I take a complete road rig with me when I travel and produce MediaBytes from wherever I am. Over the past week I was at Ft. Meade, MD, then in Rome, Italy, then in Banff, Canada and back to NYC. I produced the show from every city and it was available by 9am EDT each business day.

I do not sell advertising space to third parties. As I said, the goal of MediaBytes is to facilitate the self-assembly of a community of interest around my content. For over two years, I have translated the value of this content into wealth by using what I love to call, “The Jerry Garcia Model.” I make everything available for free, but clients pay me to consult, as a speaker, they buy my books and other merchandise. The content’s job is to make my self-assembled audience aware of my capabilities and everything else takes care of itself. This has worked absolutely perfectly since the first episode of MediaBytes and, my suspicion is that, it will continue to work perfectly as long as we keep producing content that our audience wants to consume.

However, a funny thing happened this week and, to be honest, I need your help to sort it out.

About four weeks ago, I partnered with ZioPRO.com, a company that produces world-class training videos, to produce a series of Shelly Palmer branded digital skills courses. I won’t share the size of the MediaBytes subscription list with you, but it is big, by any measure, and highly targeted. On the list of “no-brainers,” selling Shelly Palmer branded merchandise to people who are consumers of MediaBytes is right at the top.

Or so I thought.

For the past six or seven episodes, I have put an integrated :11 second ZioPRO.com promo five seconds into the show. An average show is two minutes, so an :11 second promo represents an ad load of about 9%. (Just for reference, a network television hour has 22 minutes of commercials and promos which represents a 36.6% ad load). Again, MediaBytes opens with the show title, the date and then :11 seconds of promo copy followed by my thoughts and insights about the day’s top four or five stories. You can view today’s show at www.shellypalmer.com.

To my absolute astonishment, I have received dozens of emails, several txt messages and a couple of direct tweets telling me that the :11 seconds of commercial messaging “cheapens” MediaBytes. Several of my core viewers told me that putting a commercial for my own stuff in MediaBytes takes away from my credibility and makes me a huckster, etc. All of the writings were thoughtful and all were vicious in their certitude that MediaBytes should contain no advertising.

Now every bit of data I have ever seen on the subject says that a short, well-scripted pre-roll is the best form of message management for online content. My core audience obviously disagrees. So, I’ll put it to you. I want to sell my training courses to my audience as a way to offset/subsidize the cost of creating MediaBytes. I don’t want to charge a subscription fee, I don’t want to expose my audience to third party advertising that may be extremely irrelevant to them. I want to sell the online training, DVD’s, books, etc. that I create and produce.

You know how many different deliverables we create each day, the advertising has to work as video and audio, so it must be written like “radio with pictures.” What would you do? How would you offer these products? And, if you really don’t want to see any advertising in the body of MediaBytes, how do you suggest paying for the creation, production and distribution of the content?

This is the most serious question facing content producers today. Content costs money to produce. Third-party advertising/sponsor support is one model, promoting your own products is another, subscription is a third. At the end of the day, there are only three ways it works: I pay, you pay or someone else pays. Unfortunately, there is no business model called “no one pays.” In the case of MediaBytes, the model is “I pay.” It works for me as stated above. But, apparently, a fairly large number of people in my audience are uninterested in seeing even relevant product offerings. Is advertising over? If so, what’s next? Shelly Palmer


About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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