Viral is great — but does the infection last?

Advertising Age magazine has a great story about the recent Dove “Evolution” marketing campaign, which included a video uploaded to YouTube of a fashion model before and after the makeup and Photoshop artists get to work on her. At the beginning, she is an average looking woman with blemishes and stringy hair, and after some makeup and digital effects, she is on a billboard.

Dove’s campaign is aimed at showing young women how unreal the fashion industry is, and according to the Ad Age piece it has been more successful than a Super Bowl ad: In less than a month, the ad (created by a Toronto ad shop) got more than 1.7 million views on YouTube, was mentioned on “Ellen” and “The View” and caused a huge traffic spike to Dove’s CampaignForRealBeauty.com site.

dove campaign

Tony Hung at Deep Jive Interests isn’t all that impressed — with good reason. He points out that the Ad Age article doesn’t mention anything about whether all of that traffic and views turned into more donations for the Dove fund, or caused any appreciable gain in any other metric. He also notes that traffic spikes from things such as Digg and Slashdot are notorious for overloading a site’s servers without resulting in many clicks or other tangible impact.

To be fair, it may be a little early to see that kind of effect from a campaign such as Dove’s — and there’s no question that the kind of reach it has gotten will eventually pay off in some form or another, even just in increased awareness. Another thing that occurred to me: just how successful are those Super Bowl ads anyway? I bet they aren’t that much better at turning a hot ad into real revenue than Dove’s web ad, and they’re orders of magnitude more expensive.

Reddit gets to Digg-ify Conde Nast

More acquisition news: Reddit, the Digg-style social bookmarking or social-news site, has been acquired by Conde Nast, the magazine publisher behind Wired, The New Yorker, Vogue, GQ and a bunch of other magazines. The announcement from the Reddit team — which includes just four people — is here. No word so far on whether the rumoured price of $65-million has any relationship to reality (I would be suprised if it was anything close to that).

Reddit is to become part of Wired media, and its voting-style service is expected to be incorporated into or Digg-ify some of Conde Nast’s other sites. As more than one observer has commented, it seems likely that the magazine empire got to know the guys at Reddit — including Alexis Ohanian, who I did a short email interview with last year — when they put together lipstick.com, a celebrity news site. They also did a similar kind of private label thing for Slate.

reddit

Maybe it’s just because I work for an old-fashioned media entity, but I happen to think that the kind of thing Digg and Reddit and Netscape.com are doing makes a lot of sense as part of a media property of some kind. The interesting thing to watch will be whether the magazine sites that Conde Nast tries to Digg-ify will be restricted to content from those magazines, or whether they will open them up.

In any case, congrats to Alexis and his team (who got their start working in someone’s apartment as part of Paul Graham’s Y Combinator, a kind of summer camp for startups). I hope the deal works out for them. Matt Sparkes has an email interview with Alexis here.

Hey Thumbstacks — you’re next in line

So Google now has a wiki service to add to its online document, spreadsheet, calendar and email suite. JotSpot, the wiki-maker founded several years ago by Excite co-founder Joe Kraus, has been absorbed by the Borg and is now part of the Googleplex (incidentally, I think it makes much more sense for the Borg to be all about free candy and scooters and video games rather than the creepy robots in S&M outfits — but hey, that’s just me).

googleplex

To me, it makes perfect sense for Google to offer a wiki engine for anyone wanting a Web Office suite — I think a good wiki (put to good use) is potentially a bigger game-changer for a corporation than just about anything else, especially online spreadsheets or email, or even instant messaging. And I think JotSpot is pretty good, although I’m a big fan of both Socialtext and Wetpaint.com. Ross Mayfield of Socialtext has posted his reaction here.

Now all Google is missing is a presentation engine. You ready to get the call up to the big leagues, Thumbstacks? Or maybe Google wants something that is more along the Web conference line — in which case, I would recommend Vyew.com. Steve Newson has a pretty good roundup of the other contenders here.

Mark Cuban tells a nice story, but…

Inside the chest of Megaphone Mark Cuban beats the heart of a frustrated journalist, I think. After all, not only has he started Sharesleuth.com, which does investigative journalism of a sort (which Mark gets to trade on before it is released to the public) but his latest post on the shadowy details of the Google-YouTube negotiations suggests that he knows a good story when he sees one — and is more than happy to pass it on regardless of whether it passes the smell test or not.

Okay, that isn’t really journalism, but it’s pretty close to what passes for the real thing in a lot of circles — including some newspapers I could name. And why not run with it? After all, Mark specifically said (without punctuation, for some unknown reason): “I cant say this has been fact checked. It hasnt. I cant say its 100 pct accurate, I dont know. But it rings true, and as I said, I trust the source.” Hey, if it’s good enough for Mark it should be good enough for us, right?

gootube

The only problem is that much of it doesn’t ring true. As it happens, I read the same description on the Pho list, and while some of it sounded perfectly plausible — the six-month grace period given to Google, the structuring of the deal with the music labels as equity so that they could avoid having to pay artists, and so on — I would have to agree with Don Dodge (who used to work at Napster) that the part about getting the labels to sue Bolt and Grouper to somehow take the heat off doesn’t make any sense at all.

Someone else on the Pho list had a similar response to the “industry insider’s” description of what happened: “I would say the bit about piling on lawsuits against competitors to YouTube is wildly unlikely as an agreed-upon strategy,” this knowledgeable person said. “If true, it is certainly unlawful and potentially criminal… and there are just too many good, smart lawyers at UMG, YouTube’s backers and at Google to permit that kind of arrogant lame-ass conduct to occur.”

Not only that, but this person pointed out that such lawsuits could easily wind up setting an unfortunate precedent for Google, which makes it even more unlikely they would support such a strategy. Still, aren’t conspiracy theories fun?

TV 2.0 — slouching towards Bethlehem

Two announcements that indicate the process of evolution in the TV 2.0 business is really picking up a head of steam: Brightcove — which until recently was like the wizard behind the curtains, powering online TV ventures such as the recently announced music video deal with Warner Music — remakes itself with a consumer-facing site and service that plans to compensate users for video content, and Metacafe announces its “producer awards” feature, which pays video uploaders $5 for every 1,000 views their video gets above the 20,000 mark.

Plenty of people wondering what this means for GooTube, of course, now that Google has paid $1.6-billion out of petty cash for the thing — but it’s also worth wondering how the folks over at Revver are feeling, since they more or less pioneered the whole “pay the users” video thing. Thanks to Revver, the guys at Eepybird.com who made the Diet Coke-Mentos video got $30,000 or so for all the views that their clip got (Revver pays creators 50 per cent of the ad revenue they get, and you can also get paid based on how many places the video is embedded).

headroom

As Matt Marshall explains over at VentureBeat, Metacafe not only pays producers of video, it also tries to filter out the chaff by submitting videos to a group of reviewers who give it the thumbs up or down before it hits the site, adding a kind of Digg-style (or American Idol-style) voting aspect to it. And then there’s Brightcove, which will give content owners 50 per cent of the revenue from ads, or the ability to offer paid downloads of their content, for which they get 70 per cent.

In a sense, YouTube and its ilk are coming at the market from the opposite end of things as Brightcove: they started with videos of kittens and skateboarders hurting themselves and so on, and are now trying to become more mainstream and legitimate, while Brightcove started as the corporate stooge who works with the networks and now wants to layer some popular, viral video on top of all that. Who will win? The betting window is now open.

Update:

Marshall at TechCrunch notes that Google also tweaked its video service today, by adding a “sponsored” video category aimed at major TV production outfits (those with at least 1,000 hours of video). The new feature launched with a Coke video with none other than the Eepybird Mentos guys.