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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Creating a Business Around Web Video

In the "Small Business" section today, the NY Times has a piece about how the Mentos and Diet Coke duo, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, are trying to create a mini-entertainment empire in Buckfield, Maine. Unfortunately, the piece is a little short on financial specifics. (Grobe told me recently that the pair's first video for Google, "The Domino Effect," hasn't earned as much as their hit video from last year, "Experiment #137," distributed in partnership with Revver -- or been viewed as many times.) Keith Schneider writes:

    ...the creators of EepyBird, named after a character that a friend invented, know that their tale of entrepreneurial adventure on the Internet is just the first act of a larger media drama overtaking their lives, where little players are drawing the attention of big players. It is also making them important players in shaping the young business of selling entertainment on the Web. is among the small but growing fraternity of entertainment sites — like,, and — that are starting to reap a tiny part of that ad revenue, while benefiting from sponsorships, celebrity appearance fees and other sources.

    “The Internet is a social space, a new town square,” said Mr. Voltz, who was raised in San Francisco, where he performed as a juggler and fire eater on street corners. “If you’re an entertainer or an advertiser, you need to be there.”

There is, however, a seemingly skeptical quote from TV guru Shelly Palmer that livens up the story:

    For now, the online entertainment business is producing “digital snacks,” [Mr. Palmer] said.

    “Anybody can become famous for 15 megabytes,” Mr. Palmer added. “But to be a real business, they have to be able to promote themselves without a viral success.”

What does that mean? Promote themselves the way TV promotes a new show, with pricey magazine ads, billboards, and on-air teasers?

Or perhaps he just means that the challenge is turning viral success into a regular, long-term viewership -- which will be tough.

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