Interview with Scott Button: UnrulyMedia for ruling bloggers

unrulylogoUK-based ad network UnrulyMedia specializes in viral video seeding: bloggers get per-view payouts for including the videos on their site – and that’s revenue stream which easily triples Google AdSense, so it’s not a big surprise that dhe network is a huge success. Payout rates are very fair, the whole system is transparent. Instead of running after a quick buck, UM puts the focus on quality; most video campaigns are highly entertaining, in the past I posted some of them here on datadirt. I did and interview with Scott Button, CEO of UnrulyMedia: he answered all my questions about the future of viral marketing – this one is a must-read for anyone interested in viral seeding!

The interview is avaible on datenschmutz in German as well – thanks a lot to Vivian Wagner, campaign manager Germany, for translating this piece!

datadirt: When and with what intention did you found Unruly Media?

Scott: We founded Unruly Media in January 2006. We started out collating cool viral content from around the web and launched www.viralvideochart.com in September 2006, which uses a blog scanning engine to determine the videos that are being shared most rapidly in the blogosphere and who’s doing the sharing.

!: We branched out into video seeding in 2007 as it was an ideal way to monetize the Viral Video Chart site and the sheer scale of the demand soon encouraged us to open up this sort of viral advertising opportunity to other sites and blogs. We now have a network of over 3,000 publishers across Europe and North American who earn money showing the latest viral videos, movie and game trailers to their readers.

?: In your opinion, what will the future of Video-Seeding(Viral Marketing) look like?

Unruly AutoUnit-player

I think we’re going to stop thinking about this in niche and jargonized terms such as ‘video seeding’ and ‘viral’. As brands and agencies shoot more video for the web, we’re going to see a natural move away from the 30 second spots to longer form content (60-120 seconds) that’s got time to be more entertaining, more useful, and more engaging.

Blasting viewers with short, commercial, interruptive video messages is getting more expensive and less effective every year. It’s a no-brainer for brands to start making and commissioning content that their fans, customers and prospective customers will want to watch.

As we see things, we simply provide a marketplace that matches up high quality content with audiences who want to watch it. Sure, that includes ‘classic virals’ trading on humor or sex, but it also includes movie trailers, game trailers, infommercials, and lots of niche content for niche audiences.

?: What are common reactions from bloggers/webmasters who are part of your Unruly Network?

!: We get a lot of positive feedback. Sure, we would say that! But bloggers and webmasters genuinely love our model. They love getting paid to show good content to their readers rather than annoying ads. They love the fact that the viewers stay on their site. And they love the fact it earns them more money than AdSense and most other advertising programs they’d be eligible for.

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?: In what way does the German market differ from the English or American market (in reference to blogger feedback, willingness to put paid videos on their website)

We’ve found the German market a little harder to enter than the English and American markets. This is our fault. Although we employ German nationals to scout for good German sites, our publisher network is entirely English-language and is denominated in US$. We understand that this is going to be bit off-putting to German bloggers and we do hope to localize our product in the future. That said, we’ve got some fantastic sites we work with in Germany and we’ve run several high profile campaigns there already.

?: In your opinion, what are the basics for a successful video campaign?

!: The content needs to score very highly on one of the key triggers of sex, humor, shock, originality, spectacle, inspiration or illumination. These are the reasons people pass content on. It then needs to be seeded in a high impact way to several hundred thousand people in the right target demographic. And finally, the content has to be made really easy to share, especially within social network environments, because this is where a lot of the dissemination takes place.

?: In what way and how will viral marketing change in the next 12 months and how will that influence the CPC?

!: Lots more content, Lots more noise. It’s going to get harder and harder to get cut through. I mean it’s pretty hard already, with over 300,000 videos a day being uploaded to video sharing sites, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

vivianwagnerVivian Wagner, Campaign
Manager Deutschland

On the one hand, the increased demand from advertisers is going to put an upwards pressure on prices. I think there’s going to be more focus on targeting and site quality, too, which is also going to put upwards pressure on prices, at least for high quality sites reaching desirable audiences.

On the other hand, inventory around video content will keep increasing, and the video sharing sites are going to get better at opening this inventory up. So this may balance out the increase in demand. CPMs for pre-roll, for instance, are already eye-wateringly high and seem unsustainable when compared to the gross costs per thousand when buying TV. That said, one of the more interesting areas that I think none of us has figured out yet is the value of an engaged viewer. When we get someone to voluntarily watch a 2 minute film, that’s delivering significantly more value than a 30 second TV ad playing to a distracted, multi-tasking viewer or an empty room.

In addition, the market is going to become a lot more ethical, professional and transparent. We’re extremely pleased that the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices has now been implemented in most member states. What this does is criminalize a bunch of marketing techniques that were already ineffective and unethical – fake comments, fake voting, non-disclosure, surreptitious product placement – thereby outlawing a wide range of clandestine and underhand guerrilla techniques that formerly passed as ‘viral marketing’. Instead, this places the emphasis back where it should be – on great content, on high volume, legitimate distribution routes, and on frictionless sharing tools that enable content to spread more rapidly among online communities.