According to Business Week, Ed Robinson spent $10,000 to create a humorous 12-second “viral video” and e-mailed it to five of his friends with his website address. Three months later his site had received 500,000 visits.

Wouldn't we all like to score with a creative hit like that?!

As the article describes, big dollars are beginning to flow into online video ads on sites like YouTube, Google Video and about one hundred other sites that share videos. But the field is already getting cluttered, with major brands spending $200,000 on a video competing with Valley girls and their videophones. YouTube alone, the 800-pound gorilla, serves up millions of videos daily; according to MediaPost its traffic has quadrupled in the first half of 2006.

For non-profits, there's still a relatively low “cost of entry” for experimenting with online video, both in the context of viral videos (where you're hoping simply to ignite a free ride from your audience) and paid placement (where the calculus is similar to traditional direct response TV). Again I'll say, when you find an opportunity that combines the impact of video, plus the ability to target precisely (at least with paid placements), plus the immediate “one-click” direct response capability of the online channel, it's worth checking out!

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