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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Video Nation

21 June 2011 by Guest

This is a guest post from Brian Barnes, Managing Director of

So here I am feeling quite stumped. How do I write anything informative and stimulating about the new video generation and content? After all I am a dinosaur. Not only that, as a vegetarian I am feeling quite the Brontosaurus rather than my nephew’s exciting favourite, T-Rex.

I was trained how to edit video by dripping magnetic liquid onto 2 inch video tape then looking at the video tracks under a microscope to enable cutting it with a razor blade. Who is going to take me seriously?

Well I hope and pray that my perspective of 30 years in broadcast and 20 years in corporate video can not only give me credibility with the older generation but set things in context with the new! A tall order but here goes…

The one thing that gets me out of bed every day and stimulates me to lean on my Zimmer frame and go to work is the amazing advance of technology.

Here I am pontificating about online video and the future, so what is video online giving us?

There was a sea change around the time of the Vietnam war with news coverage that meant you saw very quickly what before would have been censored or delayed, it was the first TV war.

There were many landmark media images that turned public opinion against the war but the day after my 11th birthday in 1972 the Americans dropped a Napalm bomb on Trang Bang. The moving images and subsequent still picture were striking. The public saw an innocent 9-year-old girl burnt and unlikely to survive.

Nixon doubted the authenticity of the photograph, thinking it might have been “fixed.” After all, Americans never get it wrong and hurt civilians… After 14 months in hospital and 17 surgical procedures Kim Phúc is still alive today and is living proof of the authenticity of that photo.

So we learned never to underestimate the power of immediate, remarkable images. We still relied upon established media agencies to record and deliver content.

The Internet changed all this and opened the floodgates to individual global expression.

On Valentines Day 2005 a new relationship formed, the domain name was registered.

The early uploaded content was banal; the very first clip was one of the founders at the zoo! Things soon changed and every sort of content started to appear including all manner of images that were immediately news worthy and not controlled by anyone.

The old model was the public seeing how the news developed by scouring the airwaves and Internet. Now the news agencies are scouring the Internet looking for news generated by the public!

So Nixon doubted the authenticity of an image, now authenticity is doubted all the time.

Of course fiction is a major factor in entertainment, marketing and sales.

We have long been sold to and entertained by “creating” fictitious books, films, commercials but now we have amateurs and professionals creating content and using the same “channel” the lines are blurred.

We have professionals creating content as if they were amateurs so they can get a bigger “viral” response.

We are more likely to syndicate a video between ourselves if we think it is genuinely from an amateur source “peer to peer” file sharing if you will. But how do we tell the genuine amateur clip from professionally crafted subterfuge, the Trojan horse of branding awareness or sales, let us look at two examples:

The first is the guy sliding down the ramp on a hill and flying an incredible distance with no safety net then landing unscathed in a small pool. It has all the feel of an amateur person shooting it in one shot with a camcorder so it must be real yes? No it was an incredibly clever viral campaign for Microsoft Office in Germany but it went global very quickly, views are now running at about 5.5 million.

The second is the girl who likes cats that theoretically was taken as a video from the dating site eHarmony. She is such a space cadet that everyone is showing it to friends and now the viewing figures are approaching 10 million.

So what are they accomplishing?  Well it isn’t immediately obvious that the megawoosh video is associated with Microsoft Office and I am not sure how many views convert to sales but it is a good branding awareness exercise.

The eHarmony is an even better use of viral because of course the content identifies the brand and the details are in the video, so it doesn’t matter where the video goes or how it travels it increases brand awareness. I am sure many people went to eHarmony to see what the fuss was about.

The great thing with viral is that it doesn’t stop at the first video. People start to post replies and then those get viewed and then the original content is sought out again.  With OK Go many people replicated the dance on exercise machines even playing it stop frame animation with Lego. In fact sometimes it is quite hard to find the original and even why it was produced in the first place. That is why although the megawoosh viral is good the eHarmony is better. The guy who replied to the “I love cats” video was really good fun as he posted a parody of the original but paying homage to “cheese burgers” see TheFellowsBearded.


So the clever money is as always in ensuring that the overall strategy is in place to support the efforts of the creative and technical team. As with cinema phased release to different markets delivers a longer revenue/exposure tail.

  1. The viral hits the internet
  2. Views escalate
  3. People post replies
  4. Views escalate
  5. The how it was made video is released and brand revealed (if not in the clip)
  6. Views escalate
  7. If good the ad gets picked up by TV shows and reviewed
  8. Views escalate.
  9. Supporting reviews and articles and syndication worldwide feed the brand, website and YouTube site.


In conclusion on-line video is here to stay and creativity combined with a clever strategic plan that leverages social media can facilitate a fantastic return on investment for the customer with a small budget. It also gives agencies more power to deliver a great campaign for their clients.

But the market and technology are changing quicker than ever and so the message to all my fellow dinosaurs out there is, if you don’t evolve you die. But dinosaurs didn’t die they became birds, with all the new opportunities for video we can all fly if we try hard enough…


About the Author

Brian has worked in broadcasting since 1979 when he joined the BBC and qualified as a broadcast engineer. He then went on to Granada TV where he worked in studios and news production as technician, sound recordist and editor. He spent 8 months as the Head of Technical Operations at Lime Pictures (previously Mersey TV).

At Activideo, he combines his technical skills, valuable industry contacts and desire to make content that can help your business reach your customers and grow.