The Next Frontier

This was once the cutting edge …

A few years ago, a friend of mine was hired to make an ad for M&Ms.

The budget was a mind-shattering $3million for a 30-second spot.

It got me to thinking.

Most of an ad is the creativity.  They can be simple, but they have to be clever.

And many of them can be made by anyone with a camera, a laptop and some command of graphics. If you can do laptop animations or more, all the better.

Current.com, the venture we started with Al Gore to democratize television has been pushing the idea of ‘User Generated Ads‘ for some time.

The results are pretty good. One person even sold her ad to L’Oreal for $10,000.

So, I thought, let’s take this to the next level.

We all know that VJs can carve out their piece of the pie in the world of news and docs and reality shows. But what about the world of advertising? Is this ripe?

I think so.

Suppose we had a hyper-local tv station somewhere in the world.

That station’s bread and butter is going to be local advertising – really local advertising. The kind of ads that would support a small town local paper.  The dry cleaners, the local pizza place. The shoe store.

These are not the kind of people who would normally buy TV ads. Or produce them. Or even think about them.

But suppose they could?

Suppose that by using VJs to produce your local news, you drove the cost of production so low, that an ad spot went for $150, or even $50.  Would this attract a local pizza parlor to advertise on local cable?

I think it might… if we made it easy enough for that guy to get his ad made and on the air.

Now, he’s not going to go to an ad agency, and no ad agency is going to talk to him. For those prices, you’re not going to get 10 minutes worth of time from a ‘creative director’.

Nope.

But you might get it from a creative person who had a camera and an edit and an idea on how to make a cool 30-second spot for the pizza guy.

And the pizza guy might be pretty intriguied with the idea of his being on TV, explaining why his pizza was the best in town.

And suppose we paid the creative guy, the one with the camera who made the spot, a commission and a royalty every time the spot aired – not matter how long it aired.  Actors in commercials get paid as long as the spot runs, even if it runs for years. Why don’t we do that with the creative person who made the spot?

The intial buy might be small, but if the spot keeps running, it keeps paying.

The long tail effect.

So that’s what we’re going to do.

And we have all the pieces in place.

We’re starting in DC, and we’re looking for a few good ‘creative people’.

Lemme know if you’re interested.

I think it will work.

Quite well, in fact.

10 responses to “The Next Frontier

  1. The concept is very valid, a logical extension of stock video. It puts powerful imagery in the hands of those who hitherto could not afford it, much as the SFX packages for video editors offer backgrounds and animations they otherwise couldn’t afford to make.

    Try not to limit the venture to a US-centric undertaking; I’m finding incredible video innovation from Brazil, Poland, Russia and India, not to Mention South Korea.

    Bonne chance!

  2. The only problem, that i see, for a hyperlocal market is the fact that in a village of <10.000 people, a new pizzeria cannot not open without everybody knowing about it. And mouth to mouth propaganda works especially good in closed, small communities and for a product that has little competition in its respective market segment. The reason for M&M to spend so much on adds is that it has too many competitors that offer the same (or a very similar) product in the same market. Without 70% of the costs going into advertisement, M&M could not drive growth in its market segment anymore.
    The side effect of this VJ produced adds would be a rapid commercialization of very local and hyperlocal customs and businesses. Would it be a success? I don’t know. Established production companies (from audio recording to video/film production companies) for which such small jobs often pays the bill, would get harsh competition that solely rests on the price difference. Since creativity is not a weapon of the weak and lonely VJ or self made producer but rather an asset of most small/medium sized production companies, i would argue that your idea might harm a market more than it would empower it.

  3. I thought you had already tried and failed at hyperlocal tv? Repeating like a scratched record🙂

    The picture reminded me of the NTNON GRAMMOPHONE sketch. So not a wasted post.

    http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=dSINO6MKtco

  4. No.
    The hyperlocal station pilot is now a bit more than a year old and very successful. They want to roll out more of them across the country, but I am toying with the revenue side – hence the experiment with the hyperlocal ads. I have a partnership in this business with a man named Carl Spielvogel who founded one of the biggest ad agencies in the world, Back-Spielvogel-Bates, so I feel pretty confident we can make this work.

  5. I’d bet old Carl Spielvogel has no idea who you are and that whatever dealings you have with his organization, they are with someone well below Carl’s pay-grade and authority.

    But maybe I’m too cynical.

    Funny how you, in one breath, claim to have nothing good to say about Bush and Company, yet you rush to drop Carl’s name here as some kind of proof you have “connections”.

    Don’t you want to also reference Carl’s past ambassadorship under the first President Bush as well?

  6. Actually, Carl and I have been business partners for almost 10 years now, on a variety of projects.
    Like this one:
    http://ctzn.tv/about/us
    I first met him when he was on the Board of Governors for the VOA in 1996.
    He was indeed Ambassador to Slovakia, but that would be under the Clinton Administration. He was one of Clinton’s biggest backers, and later Al Gore.
    And I thought you were a journalist.

    ps. you also might find this interesting:
    http://www.societyofeditors.co.uk/page-view.php?pagename=MichaelRosenblum
    I am giving the keynote speech in england at the Society of Editors conference.
    (note the Spielvogel/Verizon ref in the bio).

  7. $ said:

    I’d bet old Carl Spielvogel has no idea who you are and that whatever dealings you have with his organization, they are with someone well below Carl’s pay-grade and authority.

    Beginning your response with a statement akin to the Faux News Organization – oh wait – you work for said fake news organization.

    $ said:

    Funny how you, in one breath, claim to have nothing good to say about Bush and Company, yet you rush to drop Carl’s name here as some kind of proof you have “connections”.

    Don’t you want to also reference Carl’s past ambassadorship under the first President Bush as well?

    ROFLMAO – you stepped into that one.

    Wait for it – wait for it!!!

    Michael said:

    And I thought you were a journalist.

    Yup – you REALLY stepped into that one – so much for those journalistic credentials you like to banter about.

    In the immortal words of Monty Python and The Holy Grail:

    “Now Go Away or I Will Taunt You a Second Time.”

  8. Michael,
    Good luck with the new venture. Here’s an enhancement – if the VJ’s retain ownership of the spots they produce, they can get additional licensing fees from the advertiser to run the ad on other broadcast outlets. Once the advertiser has a commercial they might want to run it where they can get the most reach.

  9. Still waiting for a VJ paycheck for you as well Cliff.

    Maybe some day someone will pay you to do what you claim to have the ability to do, but can’t.

  10. I should add, I made a mistake about the administration he served under as an ambassador.

    I apologize for the error.

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