Thoughts about the “Fast Company Influence Project”

I can’t tell you anything about the actual Fast Company Influence Project because I never clicked on it. I never came close to clicking on it, which is where I feel we will discover some of the myriad lessons to be learned from this situation.

First Impression

The first time I heard of the project, I didn’t hear of the project.

What I mean by that is that I didn’t realize that I had had a run-in with the project before I realized that a) there was a project and b) people didn’t like it. Continue reading “Thoughts about the “Fast Company Influence Project””

Welcome To The Dead Pool

A lot of shows and sites have been receiving the Fail Whale recently.

Bill Fail Whale

There’s nothing wrong with failing. Happens all the time. “Happens to the best of us”. Sometimes, it’s not actually a failure so much as an inability to meet requirements for continuation. You could have a perfectly successful show as far as getting the job done and delivering on time, but you’re just not getting the numbers of views or members or whatever your sponsors asked you for and your authorization to continue the show (or your funding) gets pulled, and that’s that.

More important than failing is what happens AFTER you fail… What happens to your media? What happens to your site? Did you think about this before you started your show?

I’m thinking about this today because I read Liz Burr’s post “Do Social Media Strategies Go To Heaven?”, where she talks about her WIRED SCIENCE Facebook app and the fact that the show itself was canceled and will not be coming back to PBS. She writes:

“The show’s cancellation has me asking myself, where do social media strategies go when they’re no longer needed? So far, the results of our most significant strategies are:

The Facebook application is especially interesting to me because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Since launch, the application has been averaging 100 new installs per day. This is with no paid promotional activity whatsoever. I don’t expect this to stop anytime soon, because I don’t think we will reach a ceiling going at this (slow but) steady rate of installation (considering the number of users on Facebook). I designed the application to be viral enough for it to self promote. I suppose I could turn those activities off if I wanted to.

For the blog, we have decided to stop all posting, write our goodbyes and leave commenting open for a few weeks. We will then shut down all comments, and leave the blog up for the sake of Google and reference.  I am not sure what to do with the Twitter account. It essentially was a machine for the blog and site updates, but with no more site updates, what else is there? I suppose the Facebook fan page can stay in place, however we’ll probably put up a notice about the show and site saying farewell.”

So that project is ending, because the show it was supporting wasn’t picked up for a new season. However… The work that was done will remain and fans of the show will have access to it. Basically, it becomes “what it is”. A project that used to be active and is now inactive. C’est la vie. ๐Ÿ˜€

There’s a Next New Networks show called Bride-O-Rama that went “on hiatus”. ๐Ÿ™‚

I can’t find on the page when the episode I embedded was uploaded, but a) I happen to know this particular show was cancelled a long-ass time ago, and b) the first comment is from October 29 so let’s assume it was canceled in late October, 2007 which was 8 months ago. Similar to the pending status of the Wired Science blog, this show remains in suspended animation. The shows are there to watch. The comments are there to read. As a matter of fact, NNN’s still serving recent ads on those pages, so anybody who happens by to check out some of the Wedisodes is helping out NNN’s bottom line.

OTOH… We have FastCompany.TV’s former offering “Global Neighbourhoods”, which as far as I know was canceled this very month, and immediately disappeared off the face of the earth as if it never happened.

Here’s what the “Global Neighbourhoods” creator, producer and host, Shel Israel had to say about it in his post Several Changes:

“That brings us to GlobalNeighbourhoods.TV (GNTV), my other online video program. Unlike WorkFast, GNTV is my baby, is an extension of not just the Global Survey, but Naked Conversations as well. As many of you know, GNTV was launched in March at FastCompany.TV, and–shall we say–had an inauspicious start.

When GNTV launched, I was not quite ready for prime time. If I was an actor, I would say I was prepared for a summer stock script reading. When the curtain went up, I found myself instead at center stage of an opening night on Broadway with some determined hecklers in the audience who managed for a while to distract me.

Most people seem to agree that I got better. After 14 episodes, I think GNTV has proved its value and professionals hungry for insights into how they can use social media in their businesses have found GNTV to have more than a little value.

A few weeks back, however, FastCompany granted my request to take back GNTV, to remove it from their site and to eventually relaunched it o a smaller scale on this site. Primarily, with FastCompany as a partner, the cost of sponsorship was too high for a new program. Here, I can charge a sponsor significantly less dollars and have great flexibility in the sort of deal I can offer. Here, I am the sole decision maker.

GNTV will go on a brief hiatus, until perhaps mid-August. I need to deal with the complexities of AV, production, storing, hosting, compressing, measuring, etc. Because some of these costs can be quite significant, I also need to have sponsorship before I restart.”

To be fair, Shel has posted a set of links to his 14 GNTV episodes he produced for FastCompany.TV on his blog. This means that assuming you knew he had a blog at all and assuming you saw that one post, you know how you can view his videos. I would guess that he Twittered the information and used whatever other publicity outlets he has at his disposal. However… Someone returning to FastCompany.TV will find that his show’s tab has been replaced with a photography show, and short of putting “Shel Israel” or “Global Neighbourhoods” in the search box, there’s no evidence that his show ever existed.

As far as his plan to relaunch his show on his own site… there goes his google juice. His videos will be available in the future at a completely different address on redcouch.typepad.com instead of fastcompany.tv. What’s the point? The point is that people are still hitting my Cory Lidle plane crash video from October, 2006, because they know where to find it from people’s bookmarks, forum posts and blog links.

If I had been moving that video all over creation, from domain name to domain name, people would hit dead links from the google searches and IME, *NOT* do more creative searches to try to find the same content… They just move on to other content that comes up easily under the google search for the same topic.

Similarly, maybe you have the same site… except your video host fell into the Dead Pool. Recently, VideoEgg discontinued its consumer video service and sent out a notice to people that had videos hosted by them that they were going to cease to host them shortly. Also, DivX’s Stage 6 streaming video site folded. The problem with this is that A LOT OF PEOPLE had videos on their sites which were actually embedded FROM VideoEgg or Stage 6. This means that they had to scramble to a) pull all their videos from those hosts, b) find a new host for all of their now-homeless videos, c) upload all their videos to the new host and d) go to every single post and change the embed code from the Videoegg or Stage 6 location to the new host location. If you happen to have over 300 episodes online, that could be a MAAAAAAAJOR DRAG! ๐Ÿ™

So, that’s another thing to consider when you’re ready to make a show on the internet. While you worry about content and worry about being interesting and worry about being entertaining, and worry about getting sponsored and worry about your show being sustainable and worry about growing your audience and worry about creating surrounding social sites… you ALSO have to worry about what happens when your show lands in the Dead Pool. Do you have ownership of your own content after the fact? Do you have ownership of the site that it’s on? Are you going to have to uproot everything and start all over? If you get a new sponsor, can you easily swap the old one out and continue seamlessly creating content?

Believe me, you want to figure out / negotiate all these things UP. FRONT. and NOT when you realize your show that you thought was going to run forever is going down the tubes.

Welcome to the Dead Pool.

Budgeting For Internet Video (You Get What You Pay For)

Reader Adam H. had a couple of questions about what I thought about the Fast Company / Robert Scoble / Shel Israel thing that’s been going on now for about a month. The first GlobalNeighbourhoods.TV video was dropped on March 19th… Actually, the first FOUR episodes were released on that date and since then, post-production of that show has essentially been non-existent during a virtual metalstorm of criticism of nearly every single aspect of that show.

I commented five days ago on Shel’s site here and here. I thought I’d say something today about budgeting for internet video, with the focus being essentially that you get what you pay for, and if you don’t pay for anything it’s not only the content creator that’s going to be ridiculed, it’s YOUR brand.

Here’s the problem with internet video. I’ve been saying this for probably over a year now, and nothing’s different today. The way television works (which I know, because I’m a broadcast editor) is that the money comes from advertisers. The reason the money comes from advertisers is because they want to take advantage of *you*… the viewer. They know that 2 million people are going to sit in front of the television and watch this show, so they’re willing to pay the network to get their product in front of that many potential customers. Television is ALLLLLLL about sales. That’s why they call them “soap operas”. The point was to sell soap. ACTUAL soap.

This model doesn’t exist with internet video. Not only do you generally have a smaller audience, but you can’t prove demographics. This means you can’t convince an advertiser to give you big money to do an internet show. Since there’s no real revenue stream, it’s spawned a mentality of individuals and companies trying to do or get something for nothing. The less they can spend and still have a video to put on youtube or wherever and try to get hits, page views and revenue shares, the more they like it.

That’s the internet video formula. Spend little, get a garbage product, have people click on it anyway, split the revenue with the host. As we’ve seen with people that have gotten millions of hits on a video and pulled in maybe a couple of thousand dollars worth of revenue, it’s just not worth it. The odds are low that you’re going to get that many hits, and the fact of the matter is that time is money. Unless you have a sponsor, making video on the internet is a money-LOSING situation.

For example… If you work in NYC, and you’re the slowest, least-knowledgeable nonlinear video editor with his/her own system, you can still get $30/hour. Using that insanely-low number as a base, let’s look at the time that it would take to do the Shel Israel show. Actually… Let’s kick it down to McDonald’s wages… What do they get? $10/hour? Is that minimum wage at this point? Let’s say you could get someone to work for $10/hour to make Global Neighbourhoods Television.

The first thing you have to do is shoot the show. Assuming the company you’re going to talk to is local to you, you have to get paid for the time you spend at that company plus the time it took you to travel there. Let’s say you spent 5 hours at a company, traveled another two hours to get there and back and shot 2 hours of footage while you were there (I have no idea how long they actually take or how much they shoot to do their show).

Off the bat, your show has now cost you $70 in time and $15 in tape if you didn’t buy bulk. That’s assuming you already own a camera. That’s assuming you already own a microphone. That’s assuming you already own lights. That’s assuming you’re going to run the camera yourself WHILE you do the interview. If you want to have a cameraman follow you around, let’s say you were able to find someone else that was willing to work for my version of minimum wage, $10/hour. That means that your show is infinitely better, but that it now costs you $140 to shoot. It also means that most likely, the person that you hired… SUCKS, so there’s a good chance that you won’t get anything good for your no-budget production.

Now you have a show “in the can”, meaning you have the elements, but you don’t have a finished show. This means that you have to find someone that’s willing to edit your show for $10/hour. Off the bat, there’s going to be a two-hour loading fee because if you used tape, it has to be ingested into the system in real-time = $20. If you didn’t hire a producer for $10/hour to make sense out of the footage that you shot, that means that the editor has to play through ALL of your footage to extract the best parts = another two hours = $20. Now, the editor is either charged with making your show him/herself, or it’s a supervised edit, meaning someone is telling the editor what they’d like to see happen. Let’s assume it’s going to take four hours to edit the show. That’s another either $40 or $80 depending on the number of people involved. That also doesn’t take into account Suite Fees and Equipment Fees.

So… Adding up this bunch of $10s, we end up with a base price of something like $165/episode for a show that’s shot in one day, by one person and edited during a four hour time span. No revisions. No changes. No more work done on that show past one day. Now… How does that money come back? Revenue-sharing? Let’s say you can get a $7 CPM (cost per mille) for your videos. That means that for every ONE THOUSAND TIMES that someone clicks on your video, you receive a whopping $7. And that’s AFTER you accumulate enough of those thousands to make it over the low limit which the host has agreed in their ToS that they’ll write you a check. That might be $25 and it might be $100, so you don’t get paid JACK unless you get 25/7×1000 views. Let’s call it 4,000 views gets you $28 and THEN you get paid.

$165/$28 = 5.892. Multiply that by 4,000 views, and you’d have to get over 23,000 views to break even if you’re working for $10/hour. Sure, you can do other stuff like have banner ads on your page and google ads, but basically, you can see that without sponsorship, Shel’s not only doing a show for free, he’s actually LOSING MONEY doing the show. SOMEONE’S got to come up with that $165/episode. If it’s a weekly show, that’s $660/month.

PLUS… Unless you’ve got it like that, and you have a business that makes money without you being involved, you have to factor in the opportunity cost of not being able to make money during those hours that you’re shooting and editing your show. You also have to factor in downtime on your computer while videos are being rendered, compressed or uploaded to the internet.

So, even with this hypothetical minimum wage example, we’re looking at $800/month to produce Global Neighbourhoods Television…. in its CURRENT state.

So now, you’d have to wonder WHO you could get to pay you $800/month as a sponsor of a no-budget show. You’re not going to be able to sell “numbers” unless you’re popular for some reason. You’re not going to be able to sell page views either.

Apparently, what happened in this particular case is that Shel Israel’s show has been submitted for editing. Today is April 10th. The show, which was originally announced as a daily… was kicked back to being a weekly… and now hasn’t been updated since March 28th, which will be two weeks ago, tomorrow. If it actually becomes a weekly show, tack on that four hours of minimum wage editing for another $40/week = $160/month and now, the budget is approaching $1,000/month, including shipping tapes to the editor.

So now, I can get to Adam H’s questions:

Adam H: What is Billรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs opinion on this? What are his thoughts on why the videos are lag coming out, why they are long and boring, about FastCompanyTV in general?

My guess is that the videos aren’t coming out on schedule because Fast Company’s in between a rock and a hard place. They only have two choices… Release videos of the same ‘quality’ or get the videos worked on. It seems like they’ve chosen to get them worked on. Neither solution “works” for them.

If they release videos similar to what they’ve already produced, they’re going to be the subject of even more ridicule than they already have been. “They”, being the entire crew involved in this: FastCompany, Robert Scoble, Shel Israel… in that order.

If they get Shel’s videos worked on, the minimum wage editing money is going to have to appear out of thin air. As far as I know, there’s still no sponsor, even though that Seagate advertisement is STILL on fastcompany.tv/global-neighbourhoods-tv. Actually, they could virtually “pay” for Shel’s show to get edited if they have a staff editor and just tack it onto his/her list of duties for fastcompany.tv. That still incurs the opportunity cost of that editor taking time away from doing edits that were originally in their job description.

The other problem with getting the shows edited is that they’re already shot incorrectly. This means that the 4 hours (plus 2 hours for loading, plus an hour for encoding, uploading, tagging, etc) that I estimated for the edit will probably be more like 8 hours and probably spread out over several days, including running the show by an EP (more minimum wage $$/episode) and making several revisions until it’s deemed worthy to be released.

Why are they long and boring? Their focus is on “content” and not entertainment. Basically, what they do is bring you along as a fly on the wall while they hang out with business people and ask questions. Their goal is to archive these Q&A sessions. Basically, as an editor, I can tell you that watching their shows is like watching raw footage. It’s what you would see if you opened up the viewfinder on the camera they used to shoot it and pressed play. The credit that I can give them is that the only show of theirs that I’ve listened to end-to-end was the Jason Calacanis interview, which was broken up into a 20 MINUTE SEGMENT and a *24* MINUTE SEGMENT with a third segement still to be released. I probably watched the first 5 minutes’ worth, then let it play in a background window like a radio program while I did other things. So I can guess that if the niche that they report on consistently has topics/guests that someone’s actually interested in, then their long, boring videos are consistently useful to someone. I’d love to see stats on how many people are return viewers and what percentage (time-wise) of these 44-minute and counting videos are actually being watched.

What about FastCompany.TV in general? hahahaha Interestingly enough, I said what I had to say about FastCompany.TV when I heard about it through the grapevine. I left my comment on Robert Scoble’s announcement post, three months ago, on January 16th, 2008. Video quality isn’t based on a website… It’s based on a team. Bring the same team and you get the same videos.

Meet the new boss….

Same as the old boss………

Bill Cammack Fast Company Blogs Best of 2007

Fast Company made a collection entitled
Best of the Fast Company Blogs: Business Trends of 2007“.

My slide, (pictured above) for my FCE Blog “DeMux” is here.

Bill Cammack:DeMux

Happy New Year, Everybody! :D

2008 has arrived. 2007 was a complete TRIP, for real. The playing field changed right out from under us as we were playing the game. Every other week, there was some new technology that people flocked to and either disturbed or enhanced our interactions with each other and our friends, fans and clients.

As I mentioned in my Fast Company Expert blog, I realized that as quickly as I’ve been running to keep up with technology, just as quickly, I’ve been running ahead of, or, more importantly, AWAY FROM friends of mine that aren’t anywhere near the leading edge of technology and really couldn’t give a damn about it.

That’s not good enough for 2008. Nope. :/ This year, I’m taking my technological advancement in reverse and seeing how many of my friends I can recoup from the past. There’s no reason I should have 352 followers on http://twitter.com/BillCammack, and not one of them is a friend of mine from 5 years ago.

“Social” media is supposed to be just that… SOCIAL. If that’s true, I’ll be able to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from past phases of this long-ass life! ๐Ÿ˜€ Hopefully, I can find out who’s doing what and who’s working where and who has several kids and who moved to another country…

’07 was all about business. ’08 is about WE… The PEOPLE! ๐Ÿ˜€

Bill C.
Cammack Media Group, LLC
ReelSolid.TV Season 03: Delusions of Grandeur