Video Blog Sellout::Rocketboom Nets $80,000 After eBay Auction

    by Mark Glaser
    February 12, 2006

    i-bb9a93ee4c58736461113049b4fa1bf5-Congdon Watches eBay.JPG
    When Andrew Baron decided to use eBay to sell the first ads on his popular video blog Rocketboom, he was worried that no one would bite. But bite they did.

    After Rocketboom’s 10-day auction, the winning bidder had the screen name of StarFinder5, and paid $40,000 for five ads to be produced by Rocketboom. Rocketboom also retains creative control of the ads. Baron told me that the winner was actually TRM, a maker of ATM and copy machines.

    With all the attendant publicity around the eBay auction for ad space, Rocketboom ended up selling another week of ads to Earthlink for a similar price, netting the venture a tidy $80,000 for two weeks of ads. At this rate, the vlog could pull in more than $2 million if they sell out a full year of ads.


    “We also sold our second week of ad space, similarly, to Earthlink for about the same price,” Baron told me via email yesterday. “We are trying to finalize a couple more [deals] early next week too. Pretty exciting!! So the first week of ads for TRM will run on March 6 to 10, and the Earthlink ads will run March 13 to 17. We did the deal with Earthlink outside of eBay. They wanted to bid but were having setup problems with eBay.”

    Sometimes you wonder if a gimmick like an eBay auction will pay off more than once. In this case, it looks like Baron and his on-camera star Amanda Congdon (pictured above) hit the jackpot with many interested parties. It helps that their video blog reaches thousands of people using a unique distribution channel — the Internet and via TiVo. Rocketboom is the ultimate on-demand news spoof.

    On Friday’s show, Congdon sat lounging on a couch, smug about closing the deal on eBay. But you can never tell how much she’s serious and how much she is laughing at herself.


    “I do think 2006 is going to be a great year, because I think video blogs are going to get more mainstream,” she says, half-seriously. “And videobloggers might be against that. But I think we should all embrace it, as a giant change and shift in media. I think it’s going to be amazing for the mainstream to discover what we’ve all known for quite awhile.”

    She also spoke about using the money to get a teleprompter and new background, and investing more money in the show. Then after much self-satisfied talk about how spirtual she is, and how she is recognized on the street, Congdon was interrupted with a call on her smart phone.

    “Hey Satan. I’ll get my soul faxed over this afternoon.”

    Now comes the tough part, as Rocketboom will be helping create the ads for TRM and Earthlink. While we can expect them to be funny and tongue-in-cheek, the advertisers might wonder if the mocking will go too far.

    Do you think the advertisers are paying too much for ad space on Rocketboom? Will they get their money’s worth? Are they giving up too much control?

    • Hi Mark,
      Which definition of sellout are you thinking of in your post title, “Video Blog Sellout”?

      1. The act of selling out.
      2. An event for which all the tickets are sold.
      3. Slang. One who has betrayed one’s principles or an espoused cause.


    • Are advertisers paying too much? Hmmm….how does one define that? Clearly what the market will bear is the true definition of worth. Yes? Sellout? What kind of Left-wing pinko organization is this PBS? I mean really! Seriously, have you ever thought about doing a pledge drive – on Ebay?

    • Steve & Milt,
      I think by “Video Blog Sellout” I was playing on the double-entendre of Rocketboom selling their ads, as well as “selling out” in betraying principles. However, it was intended to be tongue-in-cheeck just like Rocketboom is. I honestly wouldn’t begrudge them making money and running ads.

      I won’t speak for PBS, but I don’t have a problem with pledge drives via eBay, perhaps by selling memorabilia or something similar?

    • Hey Mark,

      Interesting piece.

      I run a new media production company, and there is no getting around the fact that content development, production and bandwidth all require time and/or money.

      There seems to be growing acceptance in the blogosphere/podosphere that someone has to pay the freight for this stuff. Witness the growing number of ads and AdSense insertions on your favourite blog… not much different than Ed McMahon flogging Alpo during the breaks on the Tonight Show, is it?

      I’ve been meeting with media buyers recently, and Rocketboom’s deal with TRM for $40/1000 impressions isn’t unreasonable, especially given the buzz around the show right now.

      Your blog is always a great read. Keep up the good work!

    • I agree with Steve

    • I also own a new media company, as well as an interactive marketing firm. In August 2005 I had a long conversation with Andrew Baron about all of these issues.

      Andrew, at the time, struck me as a ‘very young’, highly intelligent, innovative guy, with a lot of people rooting for him. He understood the reach, and production, ramifications of video blogging, but very little about the business, and about revenue stream analysis. That was why we were talking.

      Now, what we are seeing is the realization (by Andrew) of the realities of the business environment. It’s my conjecture that Andrew’s astute mind has grasp ‘The Money Element’.

      But that’s not the end of the story. Amanda was amazingly quick, and nimble, in her media response to these lightning fast events. Good for her, too.

      My suggestion to the two of them, is to negotiate their disagreements, and work together- that will mean a massive, immediate, financial success for both of them. If they cannot work together, they each should do the following:

      Andrew must move to solidify RB as a stabilized vblog immediately, and not change the fundamental production structure of the show.

      Amanda, who is doing a blinding fast job of media re-spin, simply needs to follow through with it (for the rest of this week), and then IMMEDIATELY afterward, start her OWN vblog, and NOT sign on with an existing vblog. Later maybe, but not now.

      These kids are young, but what happens here will reverberate through their careers for years, if not decades, because they started it all, and will be referenced as the Mother & Father of the vblog.

      Also, I agree with Sebastien, that $40/cpm is not bad. But the price is closer to $20/cpm, which both prices must fit the long term ROI prospects of the buyers. That price will surely go down as RB legacy vblogs aggregate, inventory rises, and spin-offs (like the Jet Set Show??) develop. Let’s hope these kids keep their heads, and stay out of court.

    • This is a really great idea. So many different ways of making money. And this case we are not talking about some unknow companies or someone that wants to through the money out of the window. These are serious companies that track every dollar they spend. Congratulations!

    • OVGuide is now auctioning the top spot on its video guide listing on eBay. Starting bid is $3,000. The winning bid is expected to get over 500K clicks over a 30 day period.

    • I say it is a gross overspending for advertisement but good for them for thinking of it.

    • This is really a nice post Vidio Rocketboom’s…..
      for such nice blogging I appreciate it .

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    • Thanks a lot blogger for such a nice and Rocketboom selling their ads,and to making money.This is a really great idea

    • Very interesting! Online video is much bigger now than it was in 2007. I wonder what a competitive rate would be nowadays? This is something we hope to find out at… http://www.OnlineVideoDirectory.com. Thanks for this great idea!

    • I’ve never heard of RocketBoom, but if they got such a good response on eBay, then obviously the bidders feel that they were bidding the correct amount. It does sound a little steep though!

    • Wow, this was really a big eBay auction! It would have made a great post on my weird ebay auctions site. Sorry I missed it.

    • Well, even in 2010 this success story seems amazing and online video market is just continuing to grow!!!

    • I’ve never heard of RocketBoom but I agree that the online video market in 2010 is still going strong.

    • Most of the time companies spend crazy amounts just to get what they want….

    • Thanks for this, I am a long time ebay user and use it to auction off my old junk, I recent bought a new
      ebay template and it has increased my sales!

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