being early = wrong v2, the spot runner story

Today Henry Blodgett argues Google should buy Spot Runner essentially arguing Spot Runner is enabling targeted TV advertising for the long tail of local advertisers.  Spot Runner’s not the only company dreaming the dream of enabling the long tail video advertising (both online or offline).  And based on a conversation I had a little awhile ago with David Stern, VC at Clearstone Ventures who has a passion for online advertising, VC’s are dreaming the dream as well.   Seems to make great sense as Henry points out – imagine if you can make TV advertising easy – then everyone would do it.  WRONG – at least not this in this generation.

David was looking at the space and wanted my take on it as venture play.  Thinking about it for a second (and I have experience in cable tv and in online video – going back to the earliest, earliest days of that market thanks to my experience co-founding SimplyTV.net) – my answer was video marketing seriously lacks an addressable market.  Video advertising beyond the core (ie. local car dealers, mortgage companies, political campaigns and humongous CPG companies) is a long, long way from crossing the chasm to becoming a mass market phenomenom.

The problem with video is that so few marketers have any experience using it.  They don’t know how it works, how to produce it, how to judge it, how to report on it, or how to buy it.  Seriously how many companies have ever used video advertising in this country? 10,000 maybe?  How many use it regularly? Less then 1,000 more likely.  Therefore no matter how easy someone like Spot Runner makes it – it isn’t anything any substantial number of marketers have any comfort with.  And that’s hugely important – when 250,000 marketers are familiar with search marketing and are comfortable using it and millions more with yellow pages advertising.  The last thing most people have the time and energy is to learn something new.  Seriously how many people over the age of 25 have ever even edited a home movie?

Now that last comment raises a key point because the under-25 set is the YouTube generation.  They are being raised in era of ever cheaper camcorders and camera phones with video capabilities.  They are being raised learning and thus knowing how to express themselves using video.  So in 10 years when they start their marketing careers they will be looking to use video because they know how to communicate and judge video.  Then you’ll be looking at a market that might truly be interesting for spot runner, et al.  But tjhat’s a decade from now and as I wrote the other day – being early is good as being wrong.

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