Hillary Clinton's spoof of The Sopranos finale, posted widely on YouTube, seems to be generating the buzz her campaign sought. But aside from some banner ads, YouTube doesn't really provide commercial interruptions, nor does it encourage users to use videos for marketing purposes.
Meanwhile, several start-up sites are serving up video classifieds, letting you upload homemade commercials to show off what you might normally put out on eBay, Craigslist, or at a yard sale.
The free Real People Real Stuff has been described grandly as the "YouTube & Craigslist love child" and a "Web 3.0" site. In the market for a baby bath tub? The ad categories are funny, although there's still nothing posted to the "No legs" section for pets. The site also has clear instructions for uploading to the Web from a mobile phone or from better-quality cameras.
Restaurants and pets are popular categories on iMoondo, which gets the most traffic in this category. Better than panoramic-view photos from, say, Realtor.com, videos are a natural medium for showing off local real estate, whether it's a "doggie dream pad" or a $2.8 million single family home. iMoondo is easy to peruse and free to use. Although Massachusetts-centric, its makers are adding sections for Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia this summer, in addition to building pages in Spanish, German, French, and Japanese.
Most of the video classifieds remain in a fledgling state, and they also tend to be based outside of Silicon Valley. RealPeopleRealStuff comes from Norfolk, Va., and iMoondo is out of the Boston area. Among the sites that don't seem to be finding an audience, at least at this point, Houston-based CellIt focuses on ads uploaded from mobile phones, CmyList comes from Arizona, and iPoste out of Sausalito, Calif., partnered this spring with classifieds aggregator Oodle. VAD List appears to be from Canada.
I'm surprised that the video-classifieds concept hasn't taken off already. Big corporations have held contests to solicit user-created TV ads, but truly grassroots commercials remain rare. There are niche video ads here and there, such as for regional real estate listings, or on car enthusiast site Streetfire. Again, dear Craigslist, won't you consider some more innovative ways of presenting classifieds? And how about eBay?
RealPeopleRealStuff claims to have a better business model than YouTube. But Google could probably whip up a video-ad section on YouTube and overshadow these start-ups before they develop a loyal user base. (Tradepoint ads in Canada already have their own YouTube channel.) Then again, video spam is much trickier for a business to monitor than text. Question-and-answer services, including Yahoo Answers and Answerbag, had mixed results with video before nixing it. I wonder how iMoondo and RealPeopleRealstuff in particular will fare. Is this a wide-open field about to take off, or just a novel idea that's too hard to execute?