AOL’s Google Reunion Grows Yet Again: Former YouTube Ad Guy Shashi Seth Joins Up

sethOf course, Time Warner’s (TWX) AOL has hired yet another Google (GOOG) veteran. That’s what the company does under the Tim Armstrong regime.

Today’s example: Shashi Seth, the one-time “monetization” boss at YouTube, who was most recently running sales at Cooliris, the video Web wall start-up. His new job: Senior vice president of global advertising products, reporting to Armstrong’s lieutenant (and Google vet, natch), Jeff Levick.

I thought Seth’s job title sounded a whole lot like that of Senior Vice President of Global Sales Development Erin Clift, whom AOL brought out to meet with reporters last week. But AOL folks tell me Clift is still there and has a much different role: She’s the “agency and market guru” and he’s a product guy.

Seth will be working out of AOL’s Silicon Valley outpost with new hire Brad Garlinghouse, who comes to AOL not from Google but via Yahoo (YHOO).

Here’s the release.

NEW YORK, NY – September 29, 2009 – AOL announced that Shashi Seth has joined the company as Senior Vice President of Global Advertising Products, responsible for building and scaling AOL’s advertising platform and developing industry-leading products. Seth comes to AOL from Cooliris, where he served as Chief Revenue Officer. Prior to that he was with Google, where he served most recently as head of monetization for YouTube.

“Shashi is unmatched in the industry as an innovator with an outstanding track record of developing new and better ways to serve advertisers on the Web,” said Jeff Levick, President of Global Advertising and Strategy at AOL. “As we move forward on our strategy of becoming the world’s largest provider of display advertising, Shashi will play a critical role in creating the best products in the business for our advertising partners.”

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to come to AOL as it moves toward becoming an independent company,” said Seth. “The company already has an incredible combination of scale and a suite of great advertising products and technology, and I’m looking forward to working with AOL’s talented team to build on this strong foundation.”

Seth will report directly to Levick from AOL’s expanding Mountain View offices, joining Brad Garlinghouse, who was recently appointed to lead AOL’s Communications efforts and lead the company’s West Coast AOL Ventures efforts.

Prior to coming to AOL, Seth was with Cooliris, where he was responsible for revenue generation and business development. At Google, Seth was responsible for building advertising products, exploring all monetization opportunities, and defining business models for YouTube. Before that, Seth was the Product Lead for Web Search at Google. Prior to Google, Seth was with eBay, where he was responsible for building and managing eBay’s successful APIs & Platform. He has also worked for the Gap, where he launched their online stores, and co-founded two startups. Seth started his career at NASA Langley Research Center, where he built flight simulators and avionics equipment. Seth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Kanpur, India, a Masters in Computer Applications from the University of Pune, India, and a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Miami.

This Just In: YouTube Is Ginormous!

kingkonglivesYou already know this, but it’s always good to be reminded: In online video, there’s YouTube, and then there’s everybody else. Today’s data point: Comscore’s (SCOR) August video report, which shows Google’s video site generating 10 billion views and owning 39.6% of the market.

That’s 10 billion views, and that’s just counting Web surfers from the U.S. Factor in international visitors, and… it would be a lot bigger.

The rest of the rankings look about the same as they as they always do — puny compared to Google’s (GOOG) status. That is, if you add the next 9 biggest sites up together they won’t come close to matching YouTube’s share. But for the record, Hulu gained share but lost a position to its corporate cousin Fox Interactive Media/MySpace, its corporate cousin from News Corp (NWS). And Time Warner’s AOL (TWX) replaced Disney’s ABC (DIS) at the bottom of the rankings. Click chart to enlarge:
comscore chart

Yet another reason it’s amazing that it took Warner Music Group nine months to hammer out a deal to get its video back on YouTube — and bear in mind that they’re not there yet. If you’re in the music video business, and you pull your videos off the world’s biggest video site, you better have a very good reason to do so.

In other shocking news: This movie is 12 years old. That’s older than Google!

How the YouTube-Warner Music Deal Got Done: Meet Vevo Jr.

green_day_Warner Music and YouTube, co-owners of the one of the Web’s nastiest spats, are about to patch things up. How’d they do it? By cutting a deal that looks a lot like the one YouTube has already made with Universal Music Group.

Last December, talks between Warner and YouTube to renew a licensing deal broke down, and Warner’s videos disappeared from the world’s largest video site. Now, as Advertising Age has reported, an agreement is in the works that will bring Green Day, Madonna and their label-mates back to the site.

What hasn’t been reported, so far: The deal terms themselves. Neither company is talking, but sources familiar with the negotiations tell me the new pact will be similar to the one Google’s (GOOG) video unit struck earlier this year with Universal Music Group.

That deal created Vevo, a sort of “Hulu for music videos,” owned by Universal and Sony (SNE). So think of Warner’s deal as a “son of Vevo.”

The big idea is the same: Try to create more value for videos by limiting their distribution and creating a more ad-friendly atmosphere around them, and share ad revenue between YouTube and the videos’ owner. The big points:

  • Unlike Vevo, Warner and YouTube won’t be creating a separate site for Warner videos, and Warner won’t be creating a separate company dedicated to its videos. Instead, YouTube will help Warner create a “premium advertising platform” for its videos within YouTube.
  • Warner will take primary responsibility for selling its videos, and YouTube will receive a cut of the revenue.
  • Warner will no longer receive a licensing fee each time one of its videos is played.

I gather that a lot of this is still being hashed out, and some of this will evolve even after the deal is inked. For instance, Warner needs to figure out how it’s going to sell advertising for its clips, since it doesn’t have its own sales force. Timing is also up in the air: Even after the two sides formally announce the pact, users shouldn’t expect to see Warner videos instantly reappearing on YouTube; it may be that they only get rolled out as the new ad platform is built.

Then there’s the ad platform itself: I haven’t been able to get a concrete definition of what this is supposed to look like, but for now, I’m imagining something like the “channels” YouTube has made for partners like ESPN, except they’d be made on an artist-by-artist basis.

All in all, this sounds like a fair deal. Warner loses a guaranteed revenue stream, but if its contention about the value of its videos is correct, it will make even more than it did under the old arrangement. Meanwhile, YouTube gets to hang onto “premium” inventory without being locked into the kind of  pay-per-play arrangement that helped drive the site’s expenses sky-high.

The potential downside for YouTube: If this works–or if the Vevo deal works–it will have to create similar packages/portals/platforms to retain or attract other “premium” content suppliers, like, say Hollywood studios. But given that the site has had limited success getting those guys on board so far, that’s not the worst fate in the world.

In the meantime, even though Green Day is Warner act, you can still find plenty of its clips on YouTube–it’s just that most of them are odds and ends like this grainy concert video:

SNL Season Premiere: Megan Fox, Russian Brides, Biker Chicks & F-Bombs (VIDEO)

SNL sketches premiereIn between all the search results for “SNL” on YouTube that consist of Jenny Slate dropping the F-bomb, there are a few other clips from other sketches, including the monologue from host Megan Fox and performances by musical guest U2. Alas, no results so far for the quite funny Transformers-inspired digital short (call it ‘D**k very much outside the box’) which featured a cameo from Bev Hills favorite (and Fox boyfriend) Brian Austin Green. Thanks, Hulu!

Cold Open: Quaddafi at the U.N.
Flight Attendants: Megan Fox and Kristen Wiig
Commercial Parody: Bladdivan
Digital Short: Megan Fox & Will Forte
Russian Brides – Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Bill Hader, Megan Fox

>>>NEXT: “Burning Up The Bedsheets” With Megan Fox, Jean K. Jean, and Judy Grimes

Blago on the Daily Show: Great Hair, Zero Credibility

Daily Show BlagoDisgraced former Illinois Governor and thwarted reality star Rod Blagojevich was on the Daily Show with Jon Stweart last night — and Chicago was not impressed.

The Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn wanted it to be more hard-hitting: “Usually nimble host Jon Stewart, like so many talk-show hosts before him, kept the focus on the senate-seat issue — potentially one of the weakest items in the bill of particulars — and let Blagojevich prattle on about how once we hear all the tape recordings we’ll realize he was only acting on behalf of the people of Illinois, not himself, and this is all some ghastly misunderstanding.”

NBC Chicago’s Andrew Greiner thought Stewart let Blago dominate him: “Stewart did his best to keep Blagojevich on the funny — numerous hair jokes were made — but the former governor, for the most part, controlled the segment and hammered home his message of innocence, by touching on many of the themes in his book The Governor.”

Chicago knows better — and they’ve had years of listening to Blago, and an earful of his tall tales. For the rest of us…well, it passed long ago from news into entertainment. Last night’s interview was jovial and genial, partly because it didn’t matter what Blago said — his credibility is nil, we all know that.

But just because it’s not awkward and belligerent does not mean it’s not effective — or entertaining. Here Jon Stewart just let Blago talk — and the full extended interview, below, is just over 18 minutes — and make his case for why he’s innocent. It boils down to “there’s a tape out there that PROVES I didn’t do it!” and despite Zorn’s and Greiner’s exasperation, I don’t think anyone watching that interview was fooled. All they saw was Jon Stewart gently letting him unspool his story, and querying him on known facts and logic along the way. Said Stewart: “I want to believe you! You are a charming dude with the best head of hair I’ve ever fucking seen! So I want this to be real!…But it’s hard to believe.”

The operative part there is “You’re a charming dude” — Blago makes for a great guest, or a funny New Yorker article or whatever, and so he’ll keep on making the rounds to spin his story. As long as he doesn’t suddenly get squeamish about what he’s spouting — and he won’t — then he will be on someone’s couch, or possibly singing Elvis. Unless he’s in jail. Draw your own conclusions about that — Jon Stewart said he’d have Blago back on for a hug if he was vindicated, and I’m sure he meant it. But let’s just say no one expects to see him hugging Jon Stewart any time soon.

Videos below.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 3
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests

Gawker’s Nick Denton: I Paid Big Money for “McSteamy” Sex Tape

Earlier this year, Gawker Media’s Nick Denton announced that he was going to start paying for salacious clips, tips and other submissions, but that he hadn’t worked out the details. Looks like he figured it out: Denton says he paid the source who provided his blog network with the so-called “McSteamy” sex tapes that have earned him both a lot of traffic and  a lawsuit.

The not-so sexy video clips, which Gawker published last month, involve Grey’s Anatomy star Eric Dane, his wife Rebecca Gayheart, and former beauty queen  Kari Ann Peniche. How did Gawker get their hands on them?

“Well, obviously we paid our contributor (and from the traffic, you can suppose quite handsomely!)”, Denton told the the New York Times’s David Carr, this morning.

I followed up with Denton, via IM, and he wasn’t much more forthcoming than that. But he did confirm that his blog network gave the money to Mark Ebner, who describes himself as an “award winning investigative journalist” who “has repeatedly positioned himself in harm’s way”. Ebner also runs the gossip site Hollywood Interrupted.

Denton wouldn’t say how much he paid Ebner for the video, and I haven’t been able to reach Ebner himself. But I have a hunch that Ebner hasn’t received as much as, say, a Conde Nast freelancer can get for a feature piece.

The math: In the old days (last year) Denton was paying $7.50 for every 1,000 views, but he has likely reduced that rate as Gawker’s traffic has grown. Even if he kept that rate the same, Ebner would be getting $22,500 for the 3 million views the clip has generated too date. That’s nice money, but not life-changing.

But Denton is paying above and beyond that for the clip: Rather than posting it on the likes of Google’s YouTube (GOOG), which likely would have taken down the video by now, he’s serving up the clip himself. Which means he’s paying every time someone views it. And now, he has legal bills, too.

What’s Denton in for, so far? He won’t say. But here’s the half-serious quip he used to conclude our IM chat: “Hey, this news business is expensive!”

Vevo, Universal Music’s Hulu for Video, Gets a Salesman

david kohlVevo, the music industry’s attempt to create a Hulu-like hub for its videos, is going to attract a lot of eyeballs when it launches later this year. Here’s the guy who’s supposed to attract advertisers: David Kohl, a former Nokia executive who starts work today as the site’s sales boss.

Kohl’s job is a key one at the venture, whose premise is that the music industry can do a better job of selling its video inventory than sites like Google’s YouTube (GOOG). Vevo is a joint venture owned (for now) by Sony (SNE) and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group; YouTube will help power the site and will share in some of its revenue.

In theory, there could be a lot of dollars to go around. When Vevo opens its doors later this year, it is expected to generate some 450 million video streams a month. In theory, the fact that a single company will control the way the videos and displayed and distributed will make those streams more attractive to advertisers.

vevo-logoBut there are plenty of skeptics who think the site will flounder, in large part because the music industry has never figured out how to run a successful consumer business, and the media business has a terrible track record when it comes to joint ventures. In Vevo’s favor: They said the same thing about Hulu, and that has been a success, at least operationally.

Kohl will run a six-person sales team he intends to expand, people familiar with Vevo’s strategy tell me. Up until now, Vevo head Rio Caraeff has been overseeing sales himself — and learning on the job, since he didn’t have any sales experience of his own. Vevo now employs about 45 people.

At Nokia, Kohl ran the company’s interactive ad group; he has also put in time at Viacom’s MTV Networks, Vivendi Universal and Comedy Central.