Sunday, 8 February 2009


One of the most frustrating things in digital creativity is the fact that most of the big money goes straight to paid search. According to the IAB "paid-for listings maintained its position as the largest single format with a 58.3% share of the market. £981.0m was spent on search in H1 2008". This means creative agencies are generally disconnected from 60% of the business and disconnected from Google and it's engineering prowess.

So I was intrigued when I finally caught up with a story I had missed last year. I recently discovered that Seth MacFarlane, creator of “Family Guy” on television, teamed up with with Google to launch “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” - an animation series to appear exclusively on the Internet. What was interesting about it was how it was to be distributed by Google.

The New York Times, reported:

"The innovative part involves the distribution plan. Google will syndicate the program using its AdSense advertising system to thousands of Web sites that are predetermined to be gathering spots for Mr. MacFarlane’s target audience, typically young men. Instead of placing a static ad on a Web page, Google will place a “Cavalcade” video clip. The content will also be distributed via YouTube.

Advertising will be incorporated into the clips in varying ways. In some cases, there will be “preroll” ads, which ask viewers to sit through a TV-style commercial before getting to the video. Some advertisers may opt for a banner to be placed at the bottom of the video clip or a simple “brought to you by” note at the beginning.

Mr. MacFarlane, who will receive a percentage of the ad revenue, has created a stable of new characters to star in the series, which will be served up in 50 two-minute episodes.

In an interview, he described the installments as “animated versions of the one-frame cartoons you might see in The New Yorker, only edgier.”

For a more substantial fee, Mr. MacFarlane has been working with advertisers to animate original commercials that will run with “Cavalcade.” Google and Mr. MacFarlane would not reveal any of the advertisers, but the two said that several deals are among the largest ever landed by AdSense, which went into business in 2003.

Google, which calls the distribution service the Google Content Network, until now has only dabbled in distributing original content. In May, it announced a deal with The Washington Post to distribute real estate listings from the newspaper’s Web site in a similar manner."

That was last year, and the videos - like the one above - now sit on Burger King's Youtube channel. But the promise of 50 2min videos was not realised, as Burger King has dropped out, and been replaced by Priceline (the US Travel Co). Their first video is below (not sure its funny, I preferred the one above).

This whole initiative is interesting, not because of the fact its video - as Google has run video banners on its content network for a year or so already - but because of the investment in high quality creative content, and the way its been monetised. This idea starts to show how digital creatives and engineers can work together. All very interesting, and very exciting.

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