Rocketboom creator: Study new Internet culture like a foreign language

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NEW YORK - Andy Baron, founder and producer of online video news and entertainment provider Rocketboom, shared his views on best practices for advertisers seeking to connect with hard-to-impress online consumers at "Communications 2.0: The Future of PR" at the Microsoft Briefing Center, New York.

After an initial investment two years ago of a $350 dollar video camera, a laptop and a world map which acts as the daily three-minute show's backdrop, the show now receives 300,000 visitors a day and raises $85,000 in ad revenue a week, according to Mr. Baron.

"The audience of people out there on their computers is very different than those people sitting on the couch," Mr. Baron said.

He suggested that the "information junkies" found online are more critical and time crunched. In contrast to traditional news sources, the Internet provides a quicker way for viewers to research and seek entertainment and novel content.

"If you spend some time and force yourself to spend time online, you'll start to understand this new Internet culture as if you were learning a foreign language," Mr. Baron told marketers attending the event.

Mr. Baron owes some of Rocketboom's growth to his ties with various content platforms and his initial focus on content and audience growth rather than monetization. The initial buzz was generated through an e-mail sent to a video blogging group on Yahoo with about 30 members.

Advertising with niche sites such as Rocketboom is not for everyone.

Mr. Baron admitted to being protective of his audience's time and privacy. Contrary to requests from big agencies, the site does not collect traditional audience demographics such as age or gender. Ad spots are created by the Rocketboom crew and integrated directly into the three-minute segment in order to maintain authenticity.

His advice for working with similar niche sites was simple.

"Try to go into it with an open mind," he said. "Be willing to allow it to mold itself a little bit."

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