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YouTube.com & Video Spam

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This MediaPost piece discusses a Wendy’s “campaign” on YouTube — commercials that “masqueraded” as videos on the site. There was considerable exposure apparently, with some users responding positively and others critical of the spots.

Even though these spots may have been clever, edgy or entertaining, they’re effectively video spam because they were put there by an ad agency on behalf of Wendy’s. Get ready, there’s going to be a lot more of this once marketers clue in to how effective (and cheap) YouTube and online video sites are as an alternative to conventional TV advertising.

What’s the danger, what’s the opportunity?

The opportunity is pretty clear for marketers, unless they kill the goose. But rather than flooding sites like YouTube with TV-like spots, they should create video campaigns elsewhere that build a fan base. And then let the fans upload those commercials to YouTube. Then it’s not spam but viral marketing.

The dangers are pretty obvious for YouTube (and Google). If YouTube doesn’t police commercial video spam, users will be alienated. Google, for its part, will lose part of the revenue opportunity it bought YouTube to capture — brand marketing via online video.

But policing this will be challenging.

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Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.

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35 thoughts on “YouTube.com & Video Spam

  1. With 65000 videos uploaded daily (most of which are utterly uninteresting), I don’t see how an ad agency uploading commercials can become a spam problem. It won’t surface above the noise unless it has some appeal.

  2. Why on Earth would anyone want to “police” this stuff? You’re talking about video-on-demand. It’s not like these ads are intrusive — certainly not the way Flash overfloat ads are (or those stupid “Before we take you to our primary content, here is a word from our sponsors” splash pages that large sites have begun using.

    There are a lot of really cool commercials out there. Let people download and enjoy them. GEICO has proven the concept can make waves across the spectrum, but Alka Seltzer, Taster’s Choice, and other older, traditional brands have been proving that commercials can be engaging and entertaining for years.

    Let the cameras roll. These commercials can be more interesting than a lot of the “amateur” tripe that ends up on the services.

  3. I agree with the first comment. Policing such content is basically unnecessary because of the sheer volume of videos on YouTube. If the content is in fact funny or appealing, it will get attention (high rating, positive comments). If not, it will get poorly rated and probably get negative comments. Effectively the community will police the content themselves through their votes and comments.

  4. With that logic, this entire blog post is spam. You write something you think is a little controversial to get some attention on Digg and boost your traffic — nothing wrong with that, but I think it is a little ironic that you are getting traffic by complaining about something you are doing in the same breath. Not that I’ve never gotten traffic in the same way, but I didn’t complain about it at the same time. You win though — I’ve looked at 2 pages on your site…

  5. Mr.Martinez,
    First a word on civility, calling people stupid is not witty. These video sharing sites are a forum in which citizens can voice there agreement or dissent on any subject that they are passionate about. It is the modern counterpart to the town square, and should be protected from commercial intrusions,which are by design an effort to suppress free will.You sir may be missing the forest for the trees.

  6. Well, it may be easy to get out there, but I’ll be damned if I am going to voluntarily watch a commercial.

  7. yeah, your right, not to mention the thousands of web cam users ranting about bullshit always spamming everything. Oh, who could forget the constant spamming of daily show clips and other funny commercials. What about short film makers spamming youtube. It’s got to stop. I mean, seriously people, youtube is for grassroots use only by people that are grassroots!. You know fucking people only 3 feet tall. jesus, get over your bullshit.

  8. It’s not SPAM if i searched for it or clicked on a link to it. As much as I hate advertising and crappy fast food restaurants, this is not SPAM.

  9. How the fuck is this spam? Its not FORCED upon you. You click it.

    Ad’s working pretty damn well I’d say. Front page of digg. Made me go get my chocolate frosty im eating right now.

    “The dangers are pretty obvious for YouTube”

    Why? You’re a fucking moron.

  10. This is stupid to complain about, because these are just the kinds of commercials that someone would see on TV, encode and then upload to YouTube. What is the problem with the company uploading them directly and us getting first generation encodes?

    If PR companies start manipulating video rankings, then you can complain. But when you have a site where people can upload any video, you should rejoice in the fact that EVERYONE is doing exactly that – including companies!

  11. The beauty of YouTube is that you cannot fake page view to the top unless the people have spoken … and frankly, you also risk the wrath of those same people who will hammer you in a THOUSAND more ways than you originally thought of – whether it’s vicious or clever, if you step over the line and breach the unwritten code of the internet social network etiquette, you will pay the price – whether it’s indifference or whether it’s an outriught attack on you – tread carefully … plus, the smell test is pretty evident – you might as well be upfront and just entertain us outright like “Teapartay.”

  12. So if those were ads posted by an ad agency, what makes you any better by writing a blog post about it just to get DUGG or SLASHDOTTED.

    I hope that your getting a big fat check for this post.

    Utter crap of a blog post.

  13. I sure hope you’re deliberately trying to stir something up because your points are nonsensicle and a weak attempt at being alarmist.
    By posting the commericials themselves, you’re just generated more vid views.
    Hope Wendy’s paid you well too.
    I see no problem with companies posting their own videos. Some people may even like them.
    Again, if they colude the rating system then there is a real problem.

  14. bottom line is i have no problems with videos created by companies. look at NBC on youtube. love em or hate em, their username is NBC, their profile denotes they’re a company, therefore they can be judged accordingly. If the videos are being planted under false user names to make it look popular, well that sucks. Busted, Wendys! Should have been honest.

    These companies should tread carefully in the new media space. A false move now could push them out of the circle forever.

  15. Uhm… does anyone else find it ironic that half of the above comments are from the same ad agency trying to defend their position?

    Its really funny how advertisers seem to think they have a right to lie to and deceive people to get them to watch their ads, like advertising is a right akin to law.

    Go away dumbasses, the only people that are really interested in your links or other dumb shit are idiots like yourselves. Nobody is going to wendy’s because you spam them with crap on the internet.

    Wake up. If you want people to try your product, give it away free in a limited capacity, dont blatantly lie to them.

    A tip for the rest of you: if you want something on the internet, go search for it, dont click blindly on an ad, you just encourage shit like this.

  16. I need to agree with John and Zack.

    I don’t see a problem. If it’s entertaining, it will likely become popular. If it sucks, it will become invisible.

    I do think these things should be labeled correctly though. Why not just create a new category?

  17. I think the issue here is that companies are uploading advertising and product placement within YouTube, and not labeling it as such. Doing so can be a bit misleading to the end user.

    Some sort of labeling by YouTube of commercial messages would be a good idea.

    But then again, almost every popular video uploaded to YouTube is a commercial message of some nature, with site URL’s super imposed on videos or over promotional user profiles.

    Spam is a strong word, but the inclusion of advertising within video feeds, search results and YouTube suggestions, without the user being notified of such content as being promotional, could indeed be considered spam.

    In the search engine world, such results would be considered as so. And the same goes for email.

    Search Engine Journal embedded the videos into this post to give the user the choice to view them if they choose, doing otherwise would not be fair coverage for Wendy’s, YouTube or other arguments. The videos must be clicked upon to be played, so I see no problem with offering the user the choice to watch the movie or not.

    Thank you Greg for sharing your views with the search and online community.

  18. Thanks Frank for the reality adz tip.

    What I don’t like about YouTube is all the pornography on YouTube. It’s just a porn site and I wouldn’t want my daughter to be clicking on it

  19. Loren, regarding your comment (#25), you’re right that the same thing in search engine results or email would be considered spam. But the key difference that this article missed is there is also a user community that is capable and already provided with the tools to do the necessary policing.

    Therefore YouTube does not have to proactively hunt down and remove these videos – they’ll never become popular unless the community allows them to. So while in the search engine or email analogy the company has to adapt, in this case that is not so.

    The article seemed to imply that only YouTube could effectively resolve the issue, but the users are perfectly capable (and are) doing policing themselves.

  20. Just discovered a complete list of all marked down products at Amazon, sorted by category
    and % off, ranging from 50% off to 90% off (thanks Sonja for the effort).

    Actually I never thought Amazon would have articles with 90% off, but only in the category
    Electronics there are more than 3000 of them – look for yourself, the list is on
    http://bargains-hunter.blogspot.com/2008/02/looking-for-marked-down-prices.html
    or on http://digg.com/gadgets/Actually_I_never_thought_Amazon_would_have_articles_with_90
    (which is a blog of a woman who specializes in finding good deals at Amazon, like Britain’s “Jeanie”).

  21. The videos are not advertising fake, illegal drugs, porn, or something against YT TOS, so it should not be consider spam.

    Nice Videos, I like the first one more. Reminds me of that show with the talking French fries, meat ball, and soft drink cup.

  22. It's not SPAM, people choose to watch it, and if more do, it grows in popularity. SPAM would be if it were poster under false-pretense.

  23. It's not SPAM, people choose to watch it, and if more do, it grows in popularity. SPAM would be if it were poster under false-pretense.