Thursday, February 01, 2007

Web 2.0 Companies Launch YouTube Channel

Web 2.0 Companies Launch YouTube Channel

Shankar Gupta, Thursday, Feb 1, 2007

AT THE TURN OF THE century, a handful of high-flying dot-coms announced their presence with flashy but break-the-bank Super Bowl ads. This year, the up-and-coming Web 2.0 companies are hoping to harness a more affordable ad channel: YouTube.

Six companies--avatar design firm Meez, instant messaging company Meebo, blog search engine Technorati, social network Multiply, address book site Plaxo and viral widget company RockYou--have banded together to create a slate of spots to run on YouTube on their own channel, "SuperDotComAdsXLI."

With Super Bowl ads going for as much as $2.6 million per 30-second spot, a TV campaign was out of the question for these companies. So they turned to the Web in hopes of capturing some of the attention surrounding the football game. "There are a bunch of us for whom doing a Super Bowl ad isn't even on the radar," said Michael Lehman, director of marketing for Meez. "We don't have those kinds of budgets. But we do think about how we can use the viral power to get new users."

Lehman added that the companies feel comfortable sharing an audience because none of them directly compete. "It's great, because we can work together to help each other get bigger," he said.

Aaron Kane, a spokesman for Technorati, said the companies hope the viral ads will provide more of an outreach than an offline Super Bowl ad. "None of us can afford to buy million-dollar spots on television, but this is Web 2.0 in all of its liberating, citizen's media splendor," he said. "Often times, our audience will do our advertising and distribution for us."

Some of the creatives ape other successful ad campaigns--Meebo's ad, for instance, closely mimics the popular 1998 Volkswagen "Sunday Afternoon" spot. At least two other spots incorporate movie scenes. Technorati uses a clip from "The Big Lebowski" to promote its upcoming feature, "WTF," which on Technorati stands for "where's the fire." Kane said that an online-only ad allowed the company more leeway when designing an ad. "The edginess is good for viral distribution," he said. "We gave it a lot more creative freedom." Plaxo's ad is a parody of a scene of a scene from the comedy "Old School."

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