In case you missed it, YouTube/Google threw a star-studded event for advertisers Wednesday night to promote its $100 million investment in new "channels," Google’s initiative to bring professional entertainment to the world's largest video site.³ There was Jay-Z, Flo Rida and the Neon Trees, Julia Stiles, Jennifer Beals, and Virginia Madsen, all partying down with the search giant’s generalissimo, Eric Schmidt.
Better still, Google unveiled a $200 million campaign to market the premium video channels by using YouTube and the Google Display Network, among other resources.¹
Get ready, you’re about to see a flood of online ads promoting Google’s latest pet project.
"We will fish where the fish are in a mighty big pond," said Google VP of content Robert Kyncl in an appeal to ad agency execs. "If you want to lead, join us now for the next seven years. We can build audiences together. We can build brands together" (my emphasis).¹
What happened to good ol’ “do no evil” Google? Let us remember the words of Larry Page, who wrote in a recent blog post, “We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love.”
But I’m confused. Isn’t this the same company that changed its search algorithm to level the playing field for the little guy, who supported such free-love inbound marketing principles as unique content creation?
Judging by the preponderance of back slapping from the cigar-chomping, scotch-swirling Madison Avenue illuminati in attendance at the YouTube gala, I’d say Google is more focused on making a “push” toward the old-school marketing world order.
By contrast you have Facebook, whose apparent rejection of big media, even as the social network prepares for its historic IPO, has left ad agencies in an uproar. As David Smith, the CEO of digital agency Mediasmith, noted with exasperation: "Facebook just doesn't seem to care. They're still trying to grow this thing. The question is, do they want the big bucks?"²
Big bucks indeed.
When taken together, these two developments leave me asking one question: Is Facebook cooler than Google?
Paul Sloan of CNET wrote a post on this topic, where he quotes Mike Parker, the co-president of U.S. operations of Tribal DDB, talking about his frustration with Facebook: "For the longest time, we've been trying to call Facebook to do business with them and there's nobody to pick up the call," said Parker. "They're very focused on the consumer experience, and less focused on revenue and working with advertisers."
Sloan goes on to recount the grievance of another exec at one of the world's biggest interactive agencies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity: "We know the reach is there," she said. "The problem is that Facebook isn't willing to do anything different for the client that wants to spend $10,000 versus $10 million." (How about those of us with considerably less than 10k to spend?)
So what’s got big media champing at the bit to advertise with Facebook, anyway?
As I noted in an earlier blog, Facebook has been aggregating the profile information of its now roughly 900 million-strong user base for years, and it’s able to use much of this information to provide marketers laser-focused ad targeting. Location, age, gender, precise interests, Facebook connections, sexual orientation, relationship status, languages, education and specific workplaces are some of the fields on offer for keen marketers.
If they can get at it.
Much to the consternation of ad execs, Zuckerberg reminds us in a recent letter to shareholders, "Facebook was originally not created to be a company …it was built to accomplish a social mission -- to make the world more open and connected." And that mission, he writes, continues to underlie all decisions the company makes.²
In fairness, all glitz aside, Google (as usual) has big plans for its YouTube video platform, envisioning it as the logical evolution of cable TV. As Chris Hardwick, host of Nerdist channel, points out, "The web will be to cable TV what cable TV was to broadcast.”³
As the world goes social mobile, it’s hard to argue against web-based video playing a prominent role in the future of entertainment. In fact, that’s exactly what Google is betting on with its focus on YouTube premium channels.
I don’t often question Google’s destination, just its disjointed motives. As Google tries to be everything to everybody, Facebook seems to be staying on message by aligning with Zuckerberg’s social mission (at least as much as a 100-billion dollar company can these days).
I doubt if this point will be lost on the Millennials, whose spending power is set to eclipse that of the Baby Boomers by 2017, thereby driving the future of American Consumerism.
What’s the bottom line for small business? At least for now, Facebook is cooler than Google.
³ Ad Age, “YouTube Commits $200M to Promote Premium 'Channels'”
Image Courtesy of Ogilvy