Understanding Video SPAM and Protecting Your Brand

Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.

frustrated-with-spam1According to Wikipedia, SPAM is the “abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages.”  While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media:

Now you can ad video to that long list.

 There are numerous companies that disseminate unsolicited messages in bulk.  But is it SPAM?  Let’s take a look at a couple of companies that are distributing a variety of videos that are commercial in nature. VidPow is a company that has set up its own platforms on sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. VidPow has its own video servers that that you can upload files to, but the service it provides for distributing your videos is separate. 

When you take a look at VidPOw, you’ll note that there are insurance ads, attorney ads and “How to make money” ads there.  Is it SPAM?  Not really. Why?  Because they are not forcing the messages onto anyone. They aren’t sending it to people’s email boxes or even sending out bulletins.  But, your video would be among some ads that you might not want to be associated with.

As an experiment Circle of Seven Productions sent some of its book videos through VidPow.  They claim that they can get you top SEO placement if you use their service.  That was not the case with us.  Our own video distribution placed us high on SEO, because it was more relative to books. We did not get a lot of views there either. Those views would have to come organically, with people searching for the right term. VidPow does not cultivate an environment that invites greater views.  Still, it isn’t SPAM as defined by Wikipedia.  SPAM is sent to someone without that person asking for it.  VidPow’s system doesn’t work that way.  And for us, it simply doesn’t work.

Another company that more closely fits the SPAM definition is WideCircles.  When Wide Circles first started we tried them out.  They claimed to be thoughtful in their postings and we sent out an ad message that would be posted on appropriate classified ad sites, blogs, etc.  We would be given the list of where everything was posted so that we could follow up.  But, it didn’t work out the way we thought it would. Following up was cumbersome and the “appropriate” sites were questionable.  We received complaints, which we immediately addressed and apologized for, thus saving our brand reputation, but it was not a pleasant experience. We no longer use that service. And though they continue to evolve, WideCircles is still a bulk message delivery system, which falls into the SPAM category.

tubemogul-logoThe lesson is clear.  When someone claims to do distribution for you at a reasonable rate you want to check out their reputation and claims.  Over the last couple of years we’ve become more savvy in how we do that.  Our distribution is done via TubeMogul, using some software and manually. TubeMogul has an excellent reputation and we feel that our brand is protected there.  If TubeMogul finds video spammers they are locking them out. So, they are actively protecting my brand for me.  This is a company I highly recommend with confidence.

Sometimes you learn the hard way and you fall victim to companies with less integrity than what you want associated with your brand. You need to immediately take action when that happens. Do not continue to associate yourself with companies who SPAM. And because SPAM messaging can be lucrative, you need to continually monitor who you are associated with when it comes to distribution of your video.

Recently, Spike.com started removing videos that were commercial in nature. That included book videos. We’d been with Spike for years, so when our videos started to be rejected we were concerned. Our distribution manager spoke with the team and devised a plan. We would send our distribution sites a formal letter. The letter told them who we are, that we are professional producers, what book trailers are and that we license all of our material. We offered to be audited on any of our projects.

Spike.com answered our letter via email last week. They had reviewed our claims, our business and our videos. They agreed that book trailers were similar in nature to movie trailers, thus making them a form of entertainment. They gave us a PRO account at no cost and offered to upload the rejected videos for us.  Now we are on file at Spike.com and have a PRO account that allows us to distribute to that site without fear of rejection. It created a deeper relationship with the site and brought us to their attention. Currently, all of our sites are being sent a similar letter. We are being pro-active, protecting our brand, our platforms and our videos.

Some sites will see commercial videos as SPAM.  For those sites, book videos can fall under that category, so it is imperative that we communicate effectively to keep those platforms open for the publishing industry. If a site allows movie trailers, they most likely will allow book trailers. They just need to know what a book trailer is.

Video SPAM is going to be a hot topic in 2009.  Protect your brand.  Don’t let it be labeled as SPAM.  Be cautious about who you allow to distribute your videos and understand how they are accomplishing that distribution. Video brands have become increasingly important to social networking sites. Reputation and brand for videos and video distribution will be a serious consideration when creating book videos in the future.

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