As Marissa Mayer prepares to give her speech to television executives at the Media Guardian TV festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, tomorrow, she would do well to consider how a fake TV news anchor is helping Google's advertising plans, one video mashup at a time.
Mayer will encourage the boob tube brass to consider--if they haven't already--the Web as a way of increasing TV's popularity. Internet as friend, not foe. Ad generator, not ad competitor.
"The Internet creates more of an appetite for media--it doesn't replace physical books, radio or TV," she told the Guardian recently. "I don't think it should be a threat to existing business models. It should cause users to consume more."
Enter Stephen Colbert. The faux media maven has made an art of using the Internet--especially online video--to promote his Comedy Central show. After successfully inciting his users to edit Wikipedia entries on his behalf (the traffic uptick may have crashed the server), Colbert exhorted fans to create video mashups of his light-saber antics in front of a green screen. The result: Hundreds of thousands of people watched his show on YouTube. Apparently satisified with the exposure on YouTube, Colbert is now asking participants to upload videos to colbertnation.com.
Thus, Colbert has become a prime example of Mayer's message: The Internet bolsters your audience, it doesn't degrade it. Colbert's show is on TV for 2 hours every week. The Internet is on 24/7.
Colbert's success bridging the offline/online gap is good by itself, but that's not all. Colbert's embrace of online video will eventually translate to more ad dollars for Google and Comedy Central's parent company, Viacom. Google recently began testing video ads using the media company's channels, including shows from Comedy Central.
So now imagine if Viacom started using Colbert's video mashups as advertisements. In a media world where fame is its own reward, show me a fan of Colbert Nation who wouldn't want his creation syndicated across the Internet.
And show me a TV exec who wouldn't smile at that virtuous circle of profits.