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Comcast's Fancast Site Features Funny TV Reviews; CTRs Above 1%

Fancast Our TV Picks

The Our TV Picks section of the Fancast site features an eclectic batch of TV show reviews (from sci fi classics to sexy superheroes to contemporary reality TV) by writers from Boing Boing, Dooce, NOTCOT and Ask A Ninja. FM helped put all the pieces together.

Comcast is running banner ads on those same sites, with clips from the authors’ show reviews.

Dooce Ad for Fancast

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that ads, for example, on Dooce featuring an excerpt of more Dooce content would drive click-through rates that can be counted in whole numbers. But what can I say — I’m an old-fashioned guy who continues to be impressed by CTRs above 1% on banners that are SFW.

UPDATE 12/10: Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing explains to her readers how the sponsorship works:

“A disclaimer, in the interest of transparent über-sharing: I was paid to write these posts, and the site is an online video hub run by Comcast.

“I wasn’t told what to write about or not write about, and my work wasn’t edited or modified in any way, so I picked freaky stuff I genuinely liked, and in a few cases, had some sort of personal connection with.”

Uber-well done, Xeni and Comcast!

(Credits: Robin D’agostino at Comcast Interactive Media, and Michael Cohn and John Shankman at FM.)

The “Voodoo Bullshit” That Keeps Media Companies In Business

At South By Southwest today, Ask A Ninja’s Kent Nichols explained how his budding media empire makes so much money: The “voodoo bullshit” performed by “sweaty people who drink,” aka, the ad-sales team at FM. While we all do our best to keep our perspiration to a minimum (no comment on drinking), he does have a point. And even if I didn’t agree with the characterization, let’s be honest: I’d never pick a fight with Ninja.

But what is it with the ad-sales-people-are-like-farm-animals stuff? Here’s Arrington at TechCrunch in a comment last week. (The original post discusses FM’s value, valuation and acquisition rumors from a few months back.) A stud?! I’m blushing.

Arrington Comment

Kent and Mike, thank you both for the kind (and evocative) words!

Doritos Ad Created By Ask A Ninja

I meant to post this months ago, when the Doritos “Strong Snack Productions” campaign was running in Ask A Ninja episodes. Better late than never! A bit of conversational marketing stolen from old-school radio: The DJ read. It’s not an endorsement (so radio DJs do that also), but it’s more powerful advertising because it’s done in the host’s voice and shares its tone with main programming.

TV Deal Isn't Tempting to Ask A Ninja

For many creators of digital video programming, argues Ellie Parpis in AdWEEK, the lure of a TV deal is still powerful: “Although the Web is becoming as important a distribution vehicle for entertainment as traditional TV, the goal for many is still to end up on the good old boob tube.”

Not so for the gang at Ask A Ninja:

“Kent Nichols, improvisational comedian and co-creator of, an online comedy series featuring a ninja who answers user e-mails, says there’s no incentive for him and his partner, co-creator Douglas Sarine, to consider taking it to TV. ‘We met with all the major studios about Ask a Ninja. It doesn’t make sense in terms of money,’ he says. ‘We gross about $100,000 a month in revenue. These were early offers, but they were a fraction of what we could make in a year.’”

Ninja Logo

While FM manages advertising and sponsorships for Ask A Ninja, we still don’t know who’s behind the mask.

Writers' Strike Has Doubled Online Video Viewership

From TechCrunch, which takes a look at Nielsen NetRatings numbers over the past few months. Andreessen was right, the strike is launching digital video into the mainstream. Add that to the cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards (the Oscars might be next) and NBC giving money back to advertisers, the Writers’ strike will go down as the turning point for video online.

iMedia's Best and Worst of 2007

iMedia 07

iMediaConnection invited me to contribute to the Best & Worst of 2007 round up. My favorite campaign of the year:’s sponsorship of Ask A Ninja. The campaign that made best use of user-generated content — if you count editorial posts on Boing Boing or OhGizmo “user generated” — was HP iPaq 510′s sponsorship of “voice posts.” The agency that, to me, went furthest in pushing the envelope was Goodby Silverstein for Sprint’s concept, HP’s campaign around voice posts (above), and HP’s Blackbird gaming system launch.

Boing Boing TV, Ask A Ninja Among Best of iTunes 2007

The people behind the curtain at iTunes are out with their “Best of 2007″ lists. Two of my favorites (and FM partners) made the cut — Boing Boing TV in the “New This Year: Video” category, and Ask A Ninja in the “Classics: Video” category.

iTunes Best Podcasts 2007

Ask A Ninja: The Money Is Good

Ninja on

In an interview with, Ask A Ninja’s Kent Nichols threatens to kill, but I’m assuming that’s just Ninja humor. Meanwhile, TV Week reports that the Ninjas are doing well financially:

“Near the top of the pile [of digital video programmers] sit Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine, who have parlayed their ‘Ask a Ninja’ Web program into about $100,000 a month in ad revenue and income from merchandising and licensing….. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Sarine, the ‘Ask a Ninja’ duo, learned all about the threshold between Web video as an avocation and a vocation.

“They started their ‘weekly-ish’ Web show two years ago with about $60,000 from friends and family. Since then, they’ve generated 70 million views on YouTube, and other sites. They managed to live on that income, supplementing it with occasional odd jobs. About a year ago, they decided to focus on wringing money from their Web popularity.

“‘You can’t take views to the bank. You need a concrete plan to turn those views into money,’ Mr. Nichols said.”

“So they paired up with video-sharing site Revver, which splits ad revenue 50-50 with content creators, and earned between $40,000 and $50,000 in an eight-month period.

“The pair then signed a deal with Federated Media, which now sells ads for the show. In the last year, the number of ‘Ask a Ninja’ views has jumped from 2 million to 2.7 million per month.

“‘That pays the bills,’ Mr. Nichols said. ‘Advertisers now have a credible way to reach the target demo of young men who have abandoned TV, and we are providing a concrete way to get into those kids’ brains.’

“Companies including SanDisk, Palm, Doritos and Toshiba have signed on as sponsors.”

(FM manages advertising and sponsorships for Ask A Ninja, but FM does not disclose revenue figures for any of its partners.)

Web 2.0: Making Money On Video, Podcasting

I was on a panel this morning with Mary Hodder of Dabble and Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media, discussing revenue models for online video and audio. Stat from Mary: Each day 300,000 new video files are uploaded to the web. Stat from Ask A Ninja’s Kent Nichols: In August 07, there were 9.7 billion searches and 9.1 billion video views. Wow, that’s something to think about. Someone asked me how much money we’re all talking about; I said we should start by taking that $5 billion (3% of $162 billion in US TV spend) that Nielsen just announced is wasted because no one is watching. After that, we should take a look at the other $157 billion. Hey, maybe Nielsen is being generous to the networks.