If you still haven't seen the Mentos-and-Diet-Coke-fountain video that came out earlier this year, congratulations. You are among the few, the proud—the ultimate YouTube luddites. Chances are, though, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Which makes what happened this week all the more interesting.
On Monday, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, the two backyard scientists behind the Diet Coke/Mentos experiment, released a sequel to their original phenomenon as the first Google “Sponsored Video”—a new program from our Internet overlords aimed at sharing ad revenue with marquee videographers. The new video (see below), in which the lab-coated duo initiate a domino-effect chain reaction with their famous two-liter Diet Coke fountains, features prominent linkage to coke.com and mentos.com, followed by a short message urging viewers to enter a coke.com-sponsored contest by submitting their own Mentos/Diet Coke–related footage.
The new Google program presents another potential solution to the challenge underlying the explosive popularity of online video: finding the best way to make money from the immense mishmash of user-generated clips. Grobe and Voltz made $35,000 on their first video’s massive viral success via Revver, a YouTube–like site that serves an ad at the end of each video and splits the revenue generated with you 50/50 based on how many times your clip is viewed. The financial details of their current deal with Google, Coke and Mentos are, so far, unavailable.
Unlike Google’s revolutionary AdSense service, which capitalizes on small amounts of targeted-ad revenue collected by millions of smaller sites across the Net, Google video sponsorship will be available only to large-scale content providers with more than 1,000 hours of content or broadcast exposure.
The question remains, though: Is this landmark arrangement a glimpse at the future of online video? Will the second video, with its unabashed commerciality, be as fun as the first one (which even without the obvious branding probably encouraged the sale of lots of Diet Coke and Mentos)? What do you think? Watch it below and let us know in the comments. —John Mahoney