Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz on the Future of Digital Media
From Abbey Klaasen’s AdAge interview with Carol Bartz this week:
Ad Age: You came into the advertising space as an outsider. What has surprised you about the industry?
Ms. Bartz: For an industry that’s based on creativity and inspiring people, I don’t know why it’s so afraid. I don’t think it should be afraid to just try some crazy new stuff. But when I talk to people about online marketing, they just seem to freeze. … I thought this was going to be a much racier industry that wore black and got out there and rock and rolled and I see it being a little shier. I mean, I’m the crazy lady.
Perfectly said, Carol. The media industry has all the pressures that come from wholesale technology disruption: the economics are collapsing, and no one knows quite what to do. But the response from too many media companies is to stand still while they shake, instead of moving forward.
Last week, Yahoo announced that it will be working with Ben Silverman and his new firm Electus to develop original video content. Notably, this video content will be designed from the get go to appeal to advertisers.
For Yahoo, this is a smart move that demonstrates they are willing to double down on the short-form video programming category. And with good reason:
Yahoo is smart to leave the reservation for a new effort like this: after all, the key to the success of any new program will be establishing them as destinations with consumers.
If these are just another node in the Yahoo network, promoted from the home page, they will fail to provide any strategic value. To succeed, Yahoo will need to temporarily ignore the pulls of the various existing Yahoo content properties in order to create a new one with its own audience.
And if freedom is the requirement, what better way to embrace it than to turn to an outside agency, which won’t have any of the overt or subtle pressures that an internal group will. Plus, it lets Yahoo be more bold and risk-share with a partner, again a plus to advance Yahoo’s strategy.
The big watchout to Yahoo: they had better do as well appealing to consumers as to advertisers. To be a financial viable initiative, they’ll not only need the big dollars of brand sponsorships, but to build and sustain an audience. Otherwise, it will end up looking great in the design and business reviews, but never really getting traction, like Google Video which failed with its premium content while YouTube flourished; and MySpace’s initial efforts to create premium sponsorable content channels in 2007.