The Unpredictable Ebbs, Flos and Gangnum Psy's Must Freak Out Online Advertisers
If you ask doctors, they’ll tell you that virtually everybody coming in fears they’re suffering from some version of attention deficit disorder. What’s probably true is that they’re just stuffing too much in there, enabled by Google or Yahoo and that other one, what’s it called, yeah, Bing. The best thing about Bing is some of their ads, which display the kind of search overload much of the world seems to be living through. Those ads are the best. I even I remember some of them, that’s how good they are.
A good part of that junk-memory industry is the instantly viral feature that, it’s true, everybody must see, but that, afterward, no one sees a reason to remember.
The culture creates that trap: You can’t have missed it. But it’s not important that you saw it.
And so it was gratifying to see a fascinating Q&A in the Guardian with Cheezburger co-founder and CEO Ben Huh noting the same frustration and challenges with his humor sites. The interviewer asked him to mark the biggest changes in the very short time Cheezburger has been around, and he said:
“The rapid shortening in the lifespan of a meme is apparent. It used to take months for a meme to run its course. Now, it's a good meme if it lasts a week. But the biggest change is how quickly Internet culture has become a part of everyone's content diet, yet media companies have been slow to change and adapt to this shift. Most of media is still stuck in the broadcast model.”
Well, that rapid turnover happens because the Internet allows it to. That really scares an advertiser. They like to know what’s number one, and that’s where they want to put their advertising. “Disruptive” media is scary.
And yet, elsewhere in the Q&A, Huh admits—happily, as he should—that his company’s culture encourages risk taking. “We really had nothing to lose, so we kept on developing new sites, acquiring interesting ones that came up.”
Here’s the conundrum. Online video advertising doesn’t have a very steady grasp on advertisers, I think, for the very reasons that make it good. The Internet is fast, kind of non-thinking.
Hence, the term viral. But viral, meme inducing videos can be a very bad place for advertisers to find their pre-roll message. Last year about this time, online viewers and at least one advertiser were, if not celebrating, then at least contemplating the Psy "Gangnum Style" phenomenon. Well, that’s over, and that Wonderful Pistachios ad in the Super Bowl had far less staying power than the red gunk that sticks on your fingers after eating lesser versions of that product. Wonderful got sucker-memed.The news biz will discover, too, that pre-roll can be bad news, for them. This morning, I visited Washington Post.com to see its coverage of the still-unfolding rampage at the U.S. Navy Yard in the district. This was before much was known—at that time I went there the story was one person possibly dead, unconfirmed reports of more than one assailant—but before I saw any of it, I saw pre-roll for Goldman Sachs’ “10,000 Women” business initiative. That’s a very worthwhile project whose message was wasted and seemed so jarringly irrelevant to the news video I went there to see. Viewer, sponsor and content provider all must have felt uncomfortable. That, in the end is the challenge and opportunity of the Internet.