After reading this interesting article over at BusinessWeek, the average audience of viral videos or funny web content in general might get a completely new opinion towards the once indepentent and user based nature of the movement.
Do you know what a viral video is? It is a short video clip. Most clips are funny sightings from TV, snapshots from daily life or unwillingly humourous recordings. Someone then posts it on the web and after a few persons picked it up, the rumour of a new funny clip spreads quickly through blogs, e-mail and the traditional web of homepages etc. It's the kind of content you would find on pages like our affiliated funtab.com.
As anekdote on the invention of viral vids, BW tells this story: "Six years ago, ad executive Ed Robinson carried out an experiment. He spent $10,000 to produce a humorous video about a man who meets an explosive end while inflating a child's raft. He attached his firm's Web address to the clip and e-mailed it to five friends. Then he waited. By the end of the week, more than 60,000 people had seen the 12-second spot, Robinson says. The video had "gone viral," passing from Robinson's friends to their own friends and from there, to blogs and sites across the Web. Within three months, Robinson's Web site received 500,000 hits." So much to creation myths.
But the advent of such viral videos is going to become solid online business. Google, always quick in adopting started Google Video, which was once intended to deliver only high-quality content such as TV series, music videos and the like, but became an outlet for "funny videos". YouTube, the ugly twin of Google Video was actually first mover and embraced the cheap nature of user contributed content fully. Today YouTube is ranked 16 on alexa.org - quite an impressive footprint for trivial video content. This leads to others trying to copy the idea, such as download.com (which started a video section, which seems to be now merged/closed into cnet TV), www.revver.com etc.
Ad revenue should be flowing, but still YouTube and Google video want more. The next idea is now to cash in on viral video. Advertisers are spending more and more money on generating online buzz. See Food marketing over the net to children Carl's Jr.'s Paris Hilton advert (for a burger) or Crispin Porter + Bogusky's Burger King - 'Subservient Chicken'. The major outlets Google and YouTube are now experimenting with charging for ad placement and buzz on viral videos. The idea is to charge for someone who will talk about your video and cashing-in on the "reach potential multiplicators of your message" idea.
When will blog authors ask for a donation to post a specific article? Won't be long...
By the way, this post is the proof that we were among the first to notice the viral video hype covering the Burger King subservient Chicken Commercial and sensing the viral-video-hype... ;-)
Also read the article on how YouTube and Google Video collide with RIAA