The Distributors: Bates covers pop culture events in New York in a quirky man-on-the-street style and distributes his videos through Web video service blip.tv, via his Web site www.DavidJr.com. He also uses blip.tv to deliver his videos to iTunes, via RSS and to e-mail subscribers. In addition, he maintains accounts with Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to direct traffic to new videos. "[On] Twitter I don't update with what I ate for breakfast. I just announce videos, announce upcoming videos or announce events," he said. However, he no longer maintains his library of videos on YouTube, instead housing just two teaser videos there. "I think it's most important for people to watch my work on my site, with just one official video player [in] blip.tv. Easier to track, upload and I can get a great CPM with them," he said. "YouTube is awesome for hits, but, I want to be my own place, not 'on David Jr. on YouTube.'"
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Sponsors: Bates recently landed Puma as a sponsor for his videos via an ad deal put together by blip.tv. Puma will sponsor his videos during July and August. Also, Bates partnered with Mars-owned Starburst to produce at least 16 videos for a new digital marketing campaign for the candy maker that launched in mid-July on Starburst.com. That campaign is one of the biggest bets by a brand advertiser in indie Web video and is centered almost exclusively on subtle brand messaging behind videos from Web stars David Jr., Rhett and Link, Katers17, David Choi and "Nite Fite," a new animated talk show from Web studio Next New Networks. One of the Starburst videos Bates created is on the subject "What is original?" In the video he asks that question of people on the street in Manhattan. Starburst isn't mentioned in the video. The tie-in comes through the question itself, because "What is original?" is a tagline for the candy. "Having a partnership with places like Starburst or Puma is great because the money/support is there from the beginning," Mr. Bates said. "That helps me with exposure and money and I can just think about doing the work." Prior to the Starburst and Puma deals, which were inked within two days of each other, Bates had only made a small amount of cash from companion ads on YouTube and Revver. (For the current Starburst ad campaign he will upload videos to YouTube as part of his contract.)
Content: Mr. Bates' videos are shot in an "on-the-scene" style in which he conducts man-on-the-street interviews at New York events like art openings, fashion shows, movie premieres and specific events (such as Comic-Con and the launch of the second-generation iPhone earlier this month). For his recent video on the iPhone he visited Apple stores in Manhattan and asked people in line if they believed in UFOs, how many sugars they take in their coffee and if he could check his e-mail on their new phones.
Backstory: Mr. Bates created his first Web site in 1996. He chronicles all the changes in Web design over the years, and http://davidjr.com/mydigitalpast/ along the way he created a site about film parodies at www.davidjr.com/filmparodies. He introduced Web-cam videos in 1995. www.davidjr.com/dimensions. He began shooting his current on-the-scene style of Web videos in 2004 and now has 295 videos on his site at www.davidjr.com.
Endgame: Bates said he is committed to the Web. "I don't see myself stopping Web videos," he said. "I'd love to expand it to other countries, get a bigger audience, do a roadtrip, following a politician or a rock band, celeb. I love the immediacy of the Web. I love that I'm the creator and the gate keeper, but I'd love to also dabble with producing/directing and maybe editing and possibly acting for film and TV projects. I'm open to any medium. I like telling stories."