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Plesser pounds drum for Beet.TV

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Andy Plesser, founder of PR agency Plesser Holland Associates, has turned a flair for filmmaking into a new video blog, or "vlog," that is attracting attention as a potential b-to-b media vehicle.

Beet.TV (www.beet.tv) debuted in April and runs five days a week. It features interviews with journalists, technology executives, analysts, venture capitalists and podcasters. The clips, which each run less than five minutes, have been garnering about 5,000 viewers a week.

Plesser conducts many of the interviews himself, tackling issues concerning the transformation of media with, say, Ken Auletta, media analyst for The New Yorker, and Stuart Elliott, advertising columnist for The New York Times . He also produces vlogs created specifically for clients such as Fordham Law School and Technology Review, a bimonthly magazine published by MIT.

What started out as a hobby has morphed into a major business opportunity for Plesser. Google recently agreed to solicit advertisers that can align their marketing messages with Beet.TV programming. The deal involves revenue sharing between Google and Beet.TV, which operates as a separate unit of Plesser Holland Associates.

"When you think of user-generated video, what comes to mind is humorous uploads of people doing crazy stunts," said Hunter Walk, a business product manager in the Google Video group, who in June was featured in a Beet.TV piece. "But what's just starting to emerge is how b-to-b marketers are using online video to reach new audiences. ...The appetite for high-quality content is very strong and will attract high-quality advertisers."

Spending on online video is expected to soar in the next few years, increasing to about $1.5 billion in 2009 from a projected $385 million this year, according to eMarketer.

Plesser, a 25-year PR and marketing veteran, said vlogs present a huge opportunity for b-to-b marketers to talk about their products and services. "The beautiful thing about advertising on video is finding a pre-roll or post-roll message to wrap around the clip," he said. "How many people actually read display ads? But people will watch a 15-to-30-second ad because they're used to that."

Text that surrounds each video clip is accessible via search engines similar to the way print articles are accessible online.

Can b-to-b capitalize?

For b-to-b publishers and their customers grappling with how to capitalize on the growth of online video, vlogs may hold great appeal.

"I've spoken with advertisers again and again who say they are not satisfied with more display advertising and want a complete package of video, print display and interstitials because audiences think that stuff is really cool," said Jason Pontin, editor and publisher of Technology Review (200,000 circ.), who is featured in Technology Review's vlog (www.technologyreview.com/blog).

"B-to-b advertisers either want audiences that are mass or want to reach a purchasing decision-maker, and in both instances video is a good part of the strategy. I would never suggest that video is sufficient in itself, but it's a necessary part of an effective marketing strategy."

Motorola is currently sponsoring Technology Review's vlog in connection with the magazine's Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT Sept. 27-28. The banner ads plug Motorola's wireless broadband services.

"From a b-to-b standpoint it's the ultimate targeted marketing opportunity," said Wendy White, director of marketing for the Motorola Technology Organization, the company's research unit. "By using vlog tools, you can create a very distinct message and, through emerging social networking and affinity groups, users will find the information."

Motorola chose Technology Review's vlog, White said, because one-third of its cell phone users have video capability plus the ability to upload consumer-generated content.

Motorola's video blog

"It's an opportunity in a relatively safe environment to try some new tools and create thought leadership," White said, adding that Motorola is currently developing video-blogging technologies. "We're just at the beginning of the video blogging revolution." Motorola has not indicated whether it will continue to advertise on Technology Review's vlog after the MIT conference.

Plesser is taking pains to distinguish Beet.TV by producing original video content. Several media companies, such as SmartBrief, offer online news video uploaded from mainstream news organizations with ads accompanying the video clips.

"With Google selling, I'm sure he'll be able to generate revenue," said Rick Stamberger, president-CEO of SmartBrief, which reaches a total of 900,000 business professionals via 33 b-to-b e-mail newsletters. About 90% of the verticals are advertising-based.

"Plesser sees video as real, and [marketers] ignore at their own peril. I'm just not sure they know what to do with it yet," Stamberger added. "There's no question that intelligent b-to-b [marketers] are going to look at how to advertise in the [vlog] space. But we're definitely in the first inning."

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