“Content is King” is a lie that’s been perpetuated in web video circles for a few years now. “Eye Candy” has always been.. Queen.. but I’ve recently noticed that the tables have turned and Content actually *has* overtaken EC..
I wrote about EC in March 2008 and mentioned “the formula”, which was that whatever actual content you had, the way to get views for your show was to have an attractive female as the ‘front’ or the ‘face’ of the show. She didn’t have to know or understand JACK about JACK so long as she could look good and read her lines. I probably noticed this formula in 2007, since I got started in online video in 2006.
Regardless of the content, the most popular shows were headlined by a female that was nice to look at. Period. (with the one obvious exception being Ze Frank’s “The Show”)
It was even worse on YouTube, because everybody knew that YT took the picture that represented your video from exactly 50% into your episode. If your video was 6 minutes long, the still YT would take was @ 3 minutes. So.. Regardless of what the actual content was, people would figure out the final length of their show and insert a few frames of a chick in a bikini exactly in the middle. They’d upload their show, YouTube would pull the image of the bikini chick, all the boys would click on it expecting to see some ass, the video would get popular and then eventually ‘featured’, where it could really take off and get more views. Continue reading “Content is King, *NOW* (Eye Candy is Over)”
My sister Liz is funny, but that’s because she’s my sister and we share superior genes. Kim will catch you out there with a slew of punchlines if you get on her nerves, FRLZ, and I think Mel’s probably pretty mentally dangerous in a snap-fest, but, overall… are women FUNNY?
I know there are female comedians, and I’ve been laughing incessantly over how I can’t tell Tina Fey apart from Sarah Palin,
but… in general… are women funny? And if so… Is there “Male Humor” and “Female Humor”?
I’m thinking about this because I watched / listened to a panel of bigwigs in the internet comedy space yesterday. After they spoke, they had a Q&A session, and my homegirl Kathryn Jones got her hands on the mic…. RUH ROHHHH!!! 😀
So, basically, Kathryn asked “Where is the content BY women and the content FOR women?” and the answer was “um, uh, um, uh, um…” hahahahaha 😀 Kathryn’s been asking this question ever since I met her, so as soon as I saw her get the mic, I was like AWWWWW HERE WE GO!!!!! 😀
The answers made sense, business-wise, and the thing to remember is that this internet stuff is business for them, not art or entertainment. If you do “art” and nobody watches it or buys ads on your content, you get fired. If you do business, and it’s the same business over and over, you get advertising dollars and you keep your job.
Basically, they said they have a demographic and they cater to it. Business 101. If the people watching your content is GUYS, then you make more content that GUYS would like so that they tell MORE GUYS to watch your videos and you grow your community and make more money.
Rocketboom had a study done a while back, which IIRC determined that a whopping 8% of their viewership was female. Of course, that has to do with Eye Candy, but that’s a different topic. The point is… well… the point, I guess, is a question… “If 92% of your viewership is male, why cater to females at all?” or, “Why not do things that affect 92% of your viewership instead of 8%?”. That’s how I was feeling during that silent period right after Kathryn asked her question and the panelists were mentally deciding who was going to address it. 🙂
One panelist even said that if they were going to do female-oriented content, they would have to make a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITE! 😀 This and other comments that escape me right now are what got me thinking about this topic. Is there a difference between “female humor” and “male humor”? Do women (in general) get stuff that’s “funny to women” and men get stuff that’s “funny to men”?
Assuming that’s the case… In this era of niche marketing, there’s no “space” for the combination of “male and female humor”. Doing stuff to attract women will “turn off” male viewers, taking away from “the bottom line”. The question becomes whether attempting to increase the low percentage of female viewers will decrease the number of male viewers to the point that it wasn’t worth it in the first place.
The moderator had the solution… technically… which was to bring in female content creators to make videos specifically geared towards a female audience. However, this fit EXACTLY into the other two theories, which were basically “We’re going to cater to what our demographic is” and “If we’re going to ‘add’ females, we need to make a completely different site”.
On a different topic, yet the same, in a way… I ran into the same issue with my DatingGenius blog. Being a guy, I can blog all day and all night about tricks and tips for “getting girls”. It’s easy to create content for males, because all guys want to know is how to get around the artificial obstacles women throw up which prevent / delay guys from getting laid. It’s not so easy for me to create content for women, because I have to reverse-engineer it. I think to myself “What would *I* do to them?” and then figure out their defense against me and write it. The only other way I get female-oriented material is through actual discussions with my myriad homegirls and selecting common issues that they have, like why guys catcall.
Thinking about this question in terms of my own content, it’s clear to me that if I gave a damn about having female-oriented content and I knew damned well that my mind didn’t generate this stuff on its own, I would need to bring in someone who understands “female comedy” to handle that part of my business for me. This is why it was funny to hear “um, uh, um…” when Kathryn brought up the same topic she always brings up 😀 , because you would think that if I’VE heard the question a million times, THEY would have heard the question a BILLION times and done something about it by now.
However… Being that internet video is about “the bottom line”, viewership, eyeballs, revenue sharing, CPM, CPC etc etc etc, women may just have to wait until they’re seen as a “market” worth throwing funds at…. haha Wait… I forgot something. 😀
Assuming that it’s NOT the case that there’s “male humor” and “female humor”, there should be a crossover. You should be able to make comedy shows by females that males flock to (other than because they think she looks good and don’t give a damn what she’s saying anyway) and comedy shows by males that increase the female presence in your demographic surveys.
The whole idea may be self-fulfilling. We can’t get female numbers up higher than blah blah percent, so why bother catering to them? Meanwhile, not catering to them doesn’t increase your female viewership past those traditional percentages.
I have no idea and totally don’t care what my demos are for DatingGenius. I try to mix it up and have something for tha fellaz AND tha ladiez! Then again, DG isn’t a business. It’s something I do for kicks. If I were doing it for money, haha, I might be in the same boat with the panelists, saying essentially “Our statistics haven’t show that the sector you’re asking about is worth us wasting our production money on, due to lack of ROI”.
So maybe it doesn’t matter whether women are funny or not. Even if they WERE, they’re not going to see any light unless businesses can figure out ways to make money off of them. Seems to me like a void waiting to be filled by women that are willing to create their own content, encode, post, distribute and market it THEMSELVES and take advantage while the currently established sites get caught slippin’.
For a couple of months, I billed myself as a “Social Media Expert”, which I am. 😀
I removed that title because in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t say anything specific or useful about me. It was mostly “Keeping up with the Joneses”. I would look at people billing themselves as SMEs and go “um… if THAT PERSON’S an expert, I’m FOR DAMNED SURE an expert!” hahahaha 😀
I stopped thinking about it a long time ago, but today, I read an interesting article by Jeremy Pepper, entitled “Taking Stock – Can Social Media Do What It Claims?” that’s briefly rekindled my interest in the topic. Amongst some other interesting things, Jeremy writes:
“JP: … While people are glomming onto social media, there seems to be very little being done in the circular nature of the social media consultants.
You don’t hear/read about campaigns that are helping change the world. You don’t hear/read about campaigns that are being done with the large agencies or consultants that are trying to help make the world a better place.
You read social media people talking about social media … and that seems to be it. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy of Valleywag’s 250. And, I have written about this before, and nothing much changes.”
Jeremy then goes on to name a few Echo Chamber Bigwigs and he gives some suggestions for useful things they might do with their massive numbers of followers on various social media sites.
As I looked at his list and what he was suggesting that these people do, I was reminded of my post from four months ago, entitled “Content / Production Value / Popularity”. As a content creator, I’ve been very interested in how people acquire followings and what they utilize their fan base for. By March 2008, when I wrote C/Pv/P it was clear to me “what’s going on around here”. 😀
And, yes…. This is getting back to the point of what this has to do with Jeremy’s post. 😀
What’s going on around here is that people are trying to sell stuff. Period. There are two ways to do this, but they end up at the same destination. The first way is to create content that people like and enjoy and pass on to their friends, who then become viewers and hopefully PASSIONATE viewers and carry the flag for you to their towns, cities and countries all over the world. If you look at the videos from when DiggNation came to NYC and there were lines all up, down and around the block of nothing but excited FANS, FANS, and more FANS, that’s a prime example.
The other way to “sell stuff” is to base your show or site around someone that comes with a pre-fab fan base. If you don’t understand this, it’s often confusing when you see people with LESS TALENT brought on board when there are people with obviously WAY MORE TALENT available for the project. For instance, let’s say someone’s a way better musician/producer than I am, but they don’t have any social media props. If you put the two of us up for the same project (read “selling stuff” inside the Echo Chamber), you can either HOPE that people will like his/her music, and it will catch on, OR you can go with what you know, which is that I currently have 993 Twitter followers, 734 Facebook “friends”, 636 Myspace friends, etc, etc, and Google loves to Nom Nom on everything that I do, so you can find me at the top of the search results for Bill (#5 of 388,000,000), NYC dating (#7 of 309,000), video editor resume (#2 of 802,000) and Emmy Award Editor (#1 for my resume and #2 for my Indy Mogul episode, out of 612,000 English pages).
So when you look at it for what it is, what counts inside the Echo Chamber (aka the Fishbowl) is “reach”, or perhaps how much of a built-in marketing machine the person brings to the table and *NOT*…. I repeat… *NOT* their ability to make anything that remotely resembles a professionally produced or edited video. You do NOT have to have ANY talent as an on-air personality… you have to have a fan base. You do NOT have to have a track record of well-done videos… you have to have a fan base. You do NOT have to look good COUGHunlessyou’reafemaleCOUGH… you have to have a fan base.
This is one of the reasons the term “famous for nothing” is tossed around so much. If you ask “do you know XYZ?” or “have you heard of XYZ”, the answer will be “yes”. If you ask what that person does, you’ll see perplexed facial expressions and the scratching of heads. 😀 Basically, these people are popular NOW, and unless you were around back in the day when they initially developed their fan base, you can’t figure out WHY anybody would care what they said about ANYTHING outside of whatever their ultra-narrow niche of expertise is…. whatever that might be. This leads me to my point about Jeremy’s article…
There is a difference between the ability to attract attention and the ability to influence those whose attention you’ve attracted.
Lindsey Chen and I dropped a post two days ago, and two hours after I pressed “publish”, the visitor map for that one article looked like this:
What this means is that we wrote something that people were interested in reading.
What this does NOT mean is that we have any influence over anyone who read it.
Is it POSSIBLE that people might listen to what we have to say on topics other than dating? Yes. However, the fact that we have X amount of “eyeballs” doesn’t necessarily translate to the ability to mobilize ANY of those people in the direction of a cause. This is what makes it seem like social media is full of hot air. 😀
What we’re developing is “cred”. The important question is “what area/field are we developing ‘cred’ IN?” If you’re famous for asking people questions, why should anyone care what YOU have to say? If you’re famous for being attractive… why should anyone care what YOU have to say? If you’re famous because your parents are famous? If you’re famous because you did a cool video one time? If you’re famous because you have a lot of subscribers or video views on YouTube?
That’s what happens when people aren’t following you for YOU, and they’re following you because of what they’re getting out of following you. If you get advance information about gadgets, people are going to follow you… Not because they LIKE you, but because THEY want to find out what YOU found out. If you made a bunch of money and sold a startup, that’s great for you! 😀 and congrats!… but people are going to follow you to see if THEY can learn what YOU learned and do the same thing YOU did. It doesn’t mean they like you or care what you have to say. I’m sure that most people that hit my site for dating advice don’t even read the poster’s name, or if they read it, even remember it. 🙂
Having said that… Along the lines of Jeremy’s question and request: “show that social media can change the world”, I do remember a situation where Chris Brogan rallied people to support Amanda Gravel in an event she put on to support someone. I’ve also seen musicians publicized and supported via social media. Very recently, Whitney Hess wrote a heartfelt post about someone she knew who died. Jay & Ryanne have traveled to REMOTE PARTS OF THE WORLD to teach people who never would have found out about it about blogging, internet connectivity and videoblogging.
So.. I’m not saying it’s impossible. It’s definitely worth a try to utilize social media for something other than publicizing ourselves, 🙂 However, the “cred” necessary for becoming known as an authority that people can look up to to point out worthwhile causes is NOT being built up through demonstrating one’s proficiency at Public Relations. You can talk about business and social media ALL DAY, and if you turn around and don’t pay people WHAT YOU OWE THEM and ON TIME, your “cred” is ZERO. You can get interviews with “important people” ALL DAY, and if the word in the street is that you treat your fans and followers like garbage, your “cred” is ZERO. You can sell as many businesses as you want, and if nothing you have to say RIGHT NOW is original, current and relevant… your “cred” is ZERO.
So, if you’re looking for people to announce when they finally make an iPhone with the camera on the correct side so we can do video iChat with it, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for people that can tell you what tools and sites to use to enhance the productivity of your company… you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for what Jeremy calls “a higher value to social media, where we can make people’s lives better and really rally people to help others”, I’m sure there are people that are using social media for exactly that purpose, like maybe Roxanne Darling, but for the most part… “Ain’t that type of party”.
McCarthy: The “girl in front of a camera, talking about stuff” has almost become a Web cliché by now. How do you hope that Moblogic will be different?
Campbell: One of the things that we’d like to move beyond is just being a Web talking head, like a Web counterpart to the TV talking heads. So a lot of the talking on the show is going to be done by people that we meet all over the country, and eventually hopefully in other countries, about the topics that we’re talking about. I’m not an expert, I’m just expert at talking to people, and that’s how the stories are going to get formed.
I found it cool that Caroline brought up what I affectionately call “the formula”, since it’s been my experience that everybody knows it’s going on, but nobody wants to discuss it.
“The Formula” for internet shows is that no matter how your content is aggregated, researched or scripted, make sure you have an attractive female in front of the camera to “talk about stuff”. That’s pretty much it. 😀 The obvious problem here is that it’s very tough (if not impossible) to tell who’s tuning in to hear about the content, and who’s tuning in to “check out the chick”.
Does it matter why they tuned in? No. Views are views. Sponsors and advertisers want to know how many times their ad is going to be shown. Revenue Sharing is based on hits, not “reasons why”. Also, I’m not knocking utilizing Eye Candy (EC) to draw attention to a show or product or get guys to concentrate on the screen long enough for your message to get across. 😀 It’s the same thing as having “booth babes” at conventions or car shows.
Or, is it?……..
I think it’s very important to note what percentage of your show’s props are due to content vs the looks and hopefully TALENT of the EC. There are several flavors of EC:
1) Entirely Talentless = Just looks
2) Knows how to read the teleprompter, but not theatrically
3) Enthusiastic and personable, but not knowledgeable
4) Researched and wrote her own material
5) Actually lives what she’s presenting about, obviously knowledgeable and speaking from a first-hand, in-the-trenches perspective.
I suppose flavors 4 and 5 might not qualify for EC, because you’re not “dressing up the show” by having her speak. She’s not a front. She’s the actual show. If you ran into her in person, she could intelligently engage you in conversation about facts that didn’t come up on the show or tangents she didn’t explore. However, for the purpose of this discussion, I’d like to include all the flavors as we consider how dependent your show is on the EC.
So… Let’s think about what happens when “The Face Of The Show” leaves the show…..
Let’s say you’re doing a show with an ECfl5. Actually, there wouldn’t be much for you to do except tell her when the camera’s on. 😀 She knows the material, she’s prepared what she wants to say, and really all you’re doing (if she needs you for anything at all instead of producing her own show completely independently) is helping HER to bring her vision to the masses. There is no “leaving the show”, because she IS the show. If she makes another show, it’ll be the exact same thing, with a new name, and without YOU connected to it. 🙂
ECfl4 is pretty much the same thing, except it’s likely that the research she’s doing doesn’t make her AS unique as an ECfl5, though she’s still extremely important for the show to have the same style and delivery. If she leaves the show, not just the look of the show changes, but you’ve lost the ability to write the shows in the same way that you did when you were building your audience. Also, if she joins another team or makes a similar show on her own, she automatically transfers the style of your show to hers. You can get another researcher, but if your viewers don’t appreciate her looks AND her new style, that might be all she wrote.
ECfl3 is a pretty good combination for both sides in a show break-up. 🙂 Guys love to watch her talk. She’s fun and interesting. She’s someone that they would love to actually meet in person at a conference. Perfect. 😀 At the same time, since she’s not the writer or researcher on the project, none of the infrastructure disappears if she leaves. She’s “acting” what you tell her to act, so that’s what she’ll do on her new show. There are mannerisms that she’ll bring to the new venture that come from working with you or your team, but for you, transitioning to new on-air talent is seamless. She’s basically an informed spokesperson. The information doesn’t leave with her, and next week… (well… whenever you get new EC hahaha) the show goes on as planned.
ECfl2 is pretty much dime-a-dozen. Imagine the reading skills of a used car salesman in a late-night low-budget television commercial. “This. Is. Not. A. Lemon… Believe. You. Me….. I. Gah.Rohn.TEE. Ya. That.” In this case, you might be better off taking your chances and using an actual guy. 😀 … Or, at least a less-attractive female that can actually deliver the lines well and make your show look intelligent.
The problem here is in comparison to the better flavors. ECfl3 is like having a conversation with a friend. ECfl4&5 are like hearing a technical conversation… Like last year at BlogHerBiz ’07 when Lisa Stone moderated a panel which included Google’s VP of Search Products and User Experience, Marissa Mayer:
So, once you’ve heard knowledgeable women “kick it, off the top” about intelligent and progressive subjects, you’re just like “oh, come on :/” when the ECfl2’s trying to read sentences and pause because she sees a period, and didn’t understand until then that the sentence was about to end. 😀
Also, that’s the fault of the producer or whomever’s in charge of the production. If there’s a bad read, have the talent DO.IT.OVER! :/
Which brings us to ECfl1, hehehe… This is when the producer says “I don’t care WHAT you people think! I know she can’t act and I know she can’t read, but she looks good, so I’m going to get hits and that’s all that matters”. Content-wise, these could actually be silent videos, or at least without her talking, because nobody’s listening anyway. It’s kind of a cycle… Since the EC has no mental connection to the material (if you bothered to write any material in the first place) the people who find out about your show and continue to watch it are tuning in to see how the EC looks this week. Because of this, if she leaves the show, your ratings leave with her because the EC *IS* the show, so you’re kaput.
So… Interestingly enough, if you’re a show producer, “middle of the road” is the way to go. If she knows too much, your show suffers when she leaves because she removes the infrastructure. If she comes off as a dolt or a simpleton, your show suffers when she leaves because NOW you have to survive off of the merit of your content….. Content which you disrespected in the first place by not selecting the right woman to represent your project from the giddyap.
A few days ago, I became aware of a… series of comments (because it wasn’t actually a conversation or a debate) that revolved around the reasons someone would choose or hire someone else to be a spokesperson for them. I missed that conversation, entirely, so I’ll just mention my thoughts about it here, and be done with it. Specifically, it pertained to whether a woman should be chosen for the job? and if so, should it be an attractive woman? and if so, should that be the deciding factor in hiring her? To be even more specific, they were looking to hire someone to be on-air talent… not on television, but on the internet. A host of a show. “The Face” of their broadcast.
Anyone could have been chosen to be the host of this show, yet they specifically requested an attractive female. This was called “sexism”. Definition #2 of sexism, according to m-w.com/dictionary/sexism, is “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex”. Could choosing an attractive female to host a show foster stereotypes of a woman’s social role? Could choosing a more attractive woman who knows nothing about the topic (but is going to be fed her lines anyway, via a script) over a less attractive woman who knows a lot about the topic imply things to the viewers or people that become aware of this situation about the role of a woman in this society or what’s valued about her? I think it says more about the people looking to hire this attractive woman and their target demographic than it says about the woman herself or women in general. What could be the reason that an attractive woman was desired for the position? How about RATINGS? 😀
How about if one of the reasons… if not the ONLY reason to put on the show was to get viewers? How about if they knew that they would get MORE viewers to tune in with an attractive female spokesperson than an unattractive female or a male? What’s their incentive to go with decidedly less effective ‘bait’ when they’re fishing for viewers? Where’s the ROI?
All this new spokesperson has to do is study some simple introductory lines or read them from a teleprompter. She’s there to wave and smile and look good and ATTRACT viewers to watch the show, which benefits the guys that were looking to hire her in the first place. Mission accomplished. If you’re trying to do a show about lawyers, and you hire a woman that looks good and is NOT and never WAS a lawyer, you’re a fool. If you want someone to turn letters on a game show, there’s no need to hire a lawyer. 🙂
What does that say for the _content_ of a show that needs eye-candy to get viewers? hehehehe… well…… 🙂
However, like I said… I think it says more about the show and the show’s demographics than it says about women. If the show’s topic is appealing to men, then putting an attractive woman in the spotlight is only going to benefit you. Look at Harlequin….
They’re selling fantasies to women. Does Harlequin hire busted-looking, out-of-shape, unsuccessful-looking ‘Joe Average’s to model for the covers of their novels for women? NOPE! 😀 You know why? Because fewer women would BUY.THE.BOOK. They’re better off using covers that don’t imply anything about the guy’s looks at all than they are using a cover that defines the protagonist as visually unattractive.
That’s not to say that I don’t see the other side of the ‘argument’. Television’s filled with uncommonly attractive people, percentage-wise. Most places you go, people don’t actually look like that. 😀 I understand that a lot of girls and women feel pressure to attempt to make themselves look like models because they think models are the definition of good-looking, when, in fact, models are models because they fit the ONE.SIZE.OF.THE.DRESS that the designer made for the show. They hire models to fit clothes… they DON’T make the clothes to fit the models. I understand the reasons that women want to ‘fight the power’ and get more unattractive women into on-air-talent positions. However… what they’re missing is that the woman wasn’t being sought because she was a woman. They were looking for someone that would have been attractive to their target demographic… MEN. If you take away the desire to hire someone attractive, that doesn’t mean that the unattractive woman has a chance at all. She’s on the same level (if not lower) than a man now, because neither the man nor the unattractive woman is going to add to the show’s ratings. Unfortunately, even fighting the power doesn’t mean a win for the unattractive woman… it’s merely a loss for the attractive woman. And, yes… I’m aware that I’m using terms that relate to _visual_ attractiveness, because that’s the line that was drawn in this particular case.
Do I think this situation was sexist? No. It would have been sexist if what the new employee looked like wouldn’t have mattered at all to their ratings. If they were hiring a video editor, who was never going to be seen on the broadcast, choosing a more attractive and less qualified woman would have been a sexist decision, benefitting the men in the company that would rather walk in the editing suite and see an attractive woman, and hurting the bottom line, since she would be less effective at getting the job done than the less attractive woman. In the case of hiring on-air talent for a mindless hostess position, go for the gusto. Get all the ratings you can, because that’s where you’re going to get viewers, fame, advertisers, more work… whatever. If you need the new hire to actually DO SOMETHING, go with the most qualified person in the best interests of your business.
Like I said, I missed the boat on this conversation, but it ended with ZERO resolution, whatsoever. Each camp rallied around their respective positions, and no solutions came up that might have gotten a less attractive, yet more qualified female the job. In this case, its absolutely right what the women were saying, that her personality wasn’t being showcased and that she was chosen for her looks instead of her ideas and thoughts. “Someone” also said something that I found interesting and true. One of the arguments from the “good looks” side was that “sex sells”. Her response was that it wasn’t actually sex that was “selling”… it was how attractive the woman looked. I think she’s absolutely right. I don’t think a more sexual or sensual, yet visually unattractive woman would have stood a chance of being hired for this position, because she still wouldn’t have helped the ratings.
What never came up in the conversation is Human nature. Regardless of the technology, it’s still people on the other end of the line. Attractive people get more ‘stuff’ in this world. That’s how it is. Every time there’s a scientific study done, those are the results. All other things being equal, attractiveness wins the position. Even when things AREN’T equal, attractiveness wins the position. It’s valiant and respectable to fight the good fight, but until the society changes to the point where the viewers don’t care what the host / hostess / romance novel cover model looks like, their visual or physical attractiveness is going to be a tool to use to bait viewers into watching something they otherwise wouldn’t even consider taking a FIRST look at.