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Make GIFs from YouTube Videos

GIF YouTube

Do you have trouble creating teasers for your YouTube videos? Sure, we all do!
Welcome to a new, simple-to-use service called GIF YouTube.

Simply visit any YouTube video. We’ll try this lovely intro video for EchoBoom Sports’ Arrival release:

Then, add GIF to the domain, like so:

Pick a start time and length. Then click “Create GIF.”


There. You no longer have an excuse NOT to promote your YouTube content on social media with GIFs.

We’re still not taking sides in how you pronounce GIF, though.

Annotations 2: Revenge of the Annotations

My friend Matt Gielen and I discuss all aspects of running YouTube channels from the very small to the cliched 30,000 foot view. Matt’s as old a hand at YouTube as you can get and has done great work leading the audience development effort at Frederator Studios, distributors of the finest animated shows on YouTube. We’ve discussed annotations at length and Matt has written the definitive blog post of 2014 on how annotations could be hurting you. Please go read that! Since his post is so definitive, I wanted to touch on some examples from our network where we’ve also proven those best practices, not rehash them.

For our purposes we’re going to use two videos from our action sports channel, Echoboom SportsStreet Dreams is a feature-length film about skaters and features many popular skaters from 2008/2009. We have uploaded the full film to the channel and it’s currently the most-watched video there.

Street Dreams Poster

The other video is a full scene (what we call a “full part” in Action Sports video) from our release Like a Lion – The True Story of Legendary Skier Tanner Hall

Like a Lion film poster

With Street Dreams you can see that the video, launched in January, has very high close rates on its annotations. This means viewers are actively shutting them off. I consider annotation closes to be anti-clickthroughs. They aren’t simply a viewer passively ignoring your message. They are actively doing the exact opposite of what you want them to do. The clickthrough rates (CTR), in this case on annotations asking viewers to subscribe, are very low in part because there’s a high close rate.

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Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox & Broad City

December 23, 2013 YouTube No Comments

GoldieBlox-image-1024x721About a month ago, toy company GoldieBlox created a viral hit with an ad featuring a fascinating Rube Goldberg setup and a parody song of the Beastie Boys’ “Girls” as the soundtrack. GoldieBlox makes toys marketed towards girls that break out of the stereotypically gendered ones normally seen in stores, encouraging the growth of women participating in science, technology, engineering and math careers (STEM). Their video ad’s success on YouTube and beyond came on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign and garnered them millions of eyeballs on their products and message.

However, if you go to their channel now, you’ll notice that the version of the video there is quite different from the one I linked to above. Why is that? Well, sometime around Thanksgiving, this happened:

When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.

Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.

We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.

The Beastie Boys had a problem with the parody of their song. This is actually when I first heard about it at Skepchick, one of my favorite blogs. This story has gone back and forth in the press, but GoldieBlox ended up filing a suit calling for injunctive relief. As far as my reading of Wikipedia goes and some other commentary I’ve read, this basically means they sued to get a court to say they weren’t doing anything wrong. The remaining Beastie Boys responded with an open letter of their own:

Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad. We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.

As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.

Last year, the Beastie Boys lost member Adam Yauch to cancer. Later, Rolling Stone reported that his will stipulated that none of his music was to be used in “for advertising purposes.” It appears in the above that the remaining Beastie Boys were honoring this as well. The status of the suit is still pending and Fortune comments that it will likely never go to trial, but also goes on to talk about how damages might be determined if it did.

So how does the comedy web series Broad City come into play? Growing out of the vibrant Upright Citizen’s Brigade comedy troupe, the series gained a small following on YouTube. Amy Poehler is now set to be executive producer of the show at Comedy Central, where it will begin airing in January. And that’s how it came to my attention between segments of The Daily Show. It took me a second while watching the commercial for Broad City, but I quickly noticed the music: “Ch-Check It Out” by the Beastie Boys.

Now, it’s conceivable that this is actually a sketch for which the music was licensed which was then turned around for use as a commercial, but that would seem to still run afoul of both Adam Yauch’s will and the stated wishes of the Beastie Boys as reported in the press.

What do you think?

Better Know a Country by Its YouTube Stats: San Marino

November 25, 2013 YouTube No Comments


Last time we covered Belize, where over 6% of the country’s population visited us that month. This month San Marino ups the ante, sending over 8% of its citizens to watch videos with content from The Orchard.

So far 2,200 Sanmarinese have watched our videos over 6,000 times. Our visitors from the enclaved republic in the Northeast of Italy are mainly interested in videos of goings-on in San Marino. Unsurprisingly for a country founded by monastics in 301 CE, many of these views have gone to a video showing the daily procession of monks.

One thing I find odd about this country’s viewers is their lack of attention span. It’s one of the lowest I’ve seen, at 22% or so. The demographics also skew older, in the 45 – 54 range. If I were attempting to capture the interest of more of San Marino’s 30,000 inhabitants, I’d probably focus on local content. For instance, if I were a band that really wanted to tour here, I’d produce a promo video with a slideshow of beautiful Sanmarinese mountainsides. I don’t guarantee that this will work, but there does appear to be a strong patriotic flavor to their viewing habits!

I wouldn’t expect anyone to ‘like’ what you create, though. Very few visitors are interacting with videos on any level other than watching. Almost no likes and no favorites added. A grand total of three people said anything at all in comments and only 15 decided to share something. In my estimation it would probably be harder to corner the market in San Marino than it looks. It’s definitely a place worth a visit, but it’s probably not who you’re trying to reach on YouTube.

Take a look at your YouTube Analytics to find out how you can similarly adjust your strategy for a specific market.

Better Know a Country by Its YouTube Stats: Belize

November 5, 2013 YouTube No Comments

belizeWhen 6% of a nation’s population visits your videos on YouTube in a month, you take notice. Enter Belize! 8,800 square miles of tropical paradise filled with jungle and reefs which exports petroleum and plantains, two things which start with P. In October, 80,000 views of content from The Orchard came via Belize. While I’m not sure what’s stressing our Belizean friends out, I know it must be something, because our most popular content there is lengthy chillout and relaxation mixes.

Another thing the folks from Belize love also starts with a P: Nigerian Hip Hop duo P-Square. Their new release “Personally” was our top content for the territory last month. The largely older male audience is really into rhymes from the continent across the Atlantic. Quite a lot of them are watching on mobile phones, though the computer still offers the lion’s share of views.

People in Belize are also generally very friendly, liking videos 20 times more than disliking them. As many as 50 favorites were added and almost 100 shares, mostly for P-Square.

I highlighted these stats to show that working on YouTube is not always about serious best practices and crossing off items on checklists. Often a fun part of the work is digging into the data and seeing where it goes. This can influence how you publish video, what kind of videos you’re making, how you interact with fans and where you do your marketing. Sometimes you’ll find anomalies in the data and upon further inspection you’ll have discovered a novel tactic or strategy growing out of that data. In this instance, I might take a wider look at P-Square’s performance and might find that we can grow an engaged, revenue-generating audience by targeting some advertising to YouTube users there.

Or I might just call it a day and visit the Great Blue Sinkhole in Belize.

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The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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