Hugh Macleod of GapingVoid fame may be on to something with his idea of a “global microbrand” (cartoon). He defines this as a small, tiny brand, that “sells” all over the world.

With the internet, of course, a global microbrand is easier to create than ever before. … with the advent of blogs this was no longer just limited to people who made products. We saw that any service professional with a bit of talent and something to say could spread their message far and wide beyond their immediate client base and local market, without needing a high-profile name or the goodwill of the mainstream media.

What excites me about it is the fact that I now live in a small cottage in the English boonies, and careerwise I’m getting a lot more done than when I lived in a large apartment in New York or London, for a fifth of the overheads. For one fiftieth of the stress levels.

Hugh is one of the few people who makes their entire income from blogging. Recently he has pursued this microbrand idea with clients such as a little known wine maker in South Africa. His goal was to get people talking about and then tasting their wine. In the world of e-commerce it’s all about how many “eyeballs” you have so bloggers with a large number of eyeballs can turn that interest into money.

But it’s not always as easy as adding banner ads to a blog. Instead of telling people how great the wine tasted he took the “soft sell” approach. He began a discussion about how wine labels should be designed. This attracted his viewers to participate in redesigning a new label for the wine maker. What was the result? The wine maker doubled their sales in under 12 months!

Think this is an anomaly? Maybe it just happened once? Not if Business 2.0 is already writing about something similar they call the “Media Microchunk”. In a recent article they describe this phenomenon using this example:

Andy Samberg, a rising star on Saturday Night Live, owes his success to short video clips. After all, Samberg was discovered by SNL producers who saw his comedy sketches on TheLonelyIsland.com–a website he started with two friends (who also got hired by the show). So it was fitting that his career really took off in December, when a spoof featuring Samberg and SNL co-star Chris Parnell rapping “The Chronic(What?)cles of Narnia!” was posted by a fan on the video-sharing site YouTube.com. It has since been downloaded more than 5 million times.

This movie short had no idea it would be viewed that often (probably even more as you read this)! (One thing about fame is that you know you’ve made it when people begin to copy your work.) To spoof this, an East Coast group created “Lazy Monday“. Not to be outdone the West Coast responded with a movie short of their own. This was followed soon by a similar (and equally hilarious) movie short from the Midwest called “Lazy Muncie“.

Think that THIS is just a fad? Just a brief movie craze? Let’s take a look at a commercial first and then what a major television network is doing to build upon this. Check out the TV commercial that Bravia made. Sending 250,000 multi-coloured ‘superballs’ bouncing down the streets of San Francisco may seem the strangest way to advirtize, but that’s exactly what they did. Mix that video with some soft and emotional indy-rock music and you have yourself a microchunk! How do you know it worked? Well BoingBoing, the most linked to blog on the Internet, picked it up (this is similar to being Slashdotted for IT people.) Still not sure you made it big? It was quickly mimicked in another video of a similar nature.

The Business 2.0 article continues with how to make such ads into a revenue stream.

Comedy Central’s clip service, called MotherLoad, offers one take on how a microchunk business model might work. It’s entirely free, but it plays in a pop-up window alongside a giant ad. (Short commercials also play before some segments.) In operation for only a few months, MotherLoad makes Daily Show clips available the morning after they air; hot ones have been watched, e-mailed, and blogged about hundreds of thousands of times in subsequent days. Instead of coming to the network’s website twice a month, the average visitor now shows up three times a week.

And finally the how-to of microchunking:

According to Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures who sat on the board of bookmark-sharing startup Del.icio.us until it was sold to Yahoo (Research), there are rules for distributing content in the future. First, of course, microchunk it: Reduce entertainment to its simplest discrete form, be it a blog post, a music track, or a skit. Second, free it: Let people download, view, read, or listen without charge. Third, share it: Let consumers subscribe to content through RSS- and podcast-style feeds so they can enjoy it wherever and whenever they like. Finally, the moneymaking part: Put ads and tracking systems into the digital content itself.

It’s a matter of what people are willing to pay for and/or put up with. Salon Magazine has been using advertising in a unique manner for quite some time. You can read a stub of their content but if you want to read the full article you have two options: You can either pay a small annual subscription fee or watch a short advertisement. I don’t mind sitting through this inconvenience if I only have to do it once a day, but others may just not read the articles.

In a Newsweek interview Rupert Murdoch is quoted as saying the microchunk will take off for cell phones.

We’re downloading minute segments—original “mobisodes”—of the Fox hit “24.” Soon we’ll be downloading the funniest joke of the week in “Family Guy.” People will be sitting in bars and holding up their phones and laughing. It’ll be a pretty serious piece of revenue for us someday, probably.

I’m surprised cell phone companies don’t already offer their customers the option to pay for text messages OR allow them to text for free with a small ad attached to each one (similar to how Hotmail puts a small ad for themselves at the bottom of every email.)

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