New year, new YouTube—part 1

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Just before Siegel+Gale’s New York office packed up for the holidays, strategy director, Mary Quandt took a look at the value of Twitter in today’s brand building strategy. Her verdict: “One hundred and forty characters just doesn’t do it.”

In her post, Mary identified many instances where Twitter can make a difference (e.g., customer service, recruiting). But for a central marketing platform, she decided that Twitter’s tweets are too fleeting—they just don’t get enough focus time from customers to have any substantial impact.

I think she’s right.

In the modern, attention-strapped marketing landscape, focus is key. So it’s fitting that the most impressive place to make a mark in last year’s digital marketing landscape wasn’t Twitter or MySpace, or even Apple’s iAd platform. It wasn’t Facebook, either (despite that impressive Goldman Sachs valuation).

Instead, the biggest splash in online advertising in 2010 came from the third most popular website in the world—YouTube.

This year, look out: As YouTube video makes its way into more mobile phones, more pockets and more living rooms (via digital media receivers, smart TVs, and iPads or tablets), the service will continue to power more viral, word-of-mouth marketing than ever before.

If you don’t believe me, consider the “Old Spice Guy” (a.k.a. Isaiah Mustafa), who in 2010 became part of the most shared web video campaign, ever. Some notable stats:

Not bad, for your grandpa’s aftershave.

Or, try another example that wasn’t produced by an agency, the “Bed Intruder Song“: the remixed news interview with Antoine Dodson was the first digital download to break the Billboard 100 (it peaked at #89). Produced by the Gregory Brothers (who honed their skills “auto-tuning the news”), the video broke #1 in iTunes sales and garnished over 60 million views. Moreover, through his incidental fame and revenue from the tune, Dodson helped move his family out of the Huntsville, Alabama projects.

YouTube videos are shareable. They’re easily embedded. They’re searchable and rate-able and often short enough that they don’t take up much time. All this in mind, it’s no surprise that of Greg Rutter’s Definitive List of The 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet, only 20 are not links to YouTube videos.

There are countless more case studies from 2010*. Without a doubt, the potential for web video marketing and your brand today is enormous. But building brands on YouTube isn’t turn-key. In my next blog, I’ll reach out to Joshua Green, co-author of YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, for what’s important to think about when composing your web video strategy.

*Here are some of my personal favorites:

  1. Filmography 2010, a mashup of films from the past year;
  2. Introducing the Word Lens iPhone app;
  3. Lost re-enacted by cats in one minute
  4. LeBron James: via Nike, Cleveland, and Michael Jordan;
  5. The Jambox, by Jawbone

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