Revision3 videoblogger Martin Sargent began the closing keynote at Ad:tech — also a live taping of his talk show Internet Superstar — with a video tour through the conference floor. The best part was when Sargent walked over to a booth. "So you're Smiley Media?" he asked. "That's us." Sargent: "What the fuckk are you so happy about?" The Daily Show's Rob Corddry couldn't have done it better. It was a good moment for Web TV, made especially sweet by the fact that hundreds of ad buyers — Revision3's prospective clients, many of them — were looking on from the audience. Too bad that was the keynote's last watchable moment.
Sargent's interview with Ask a Ninja cocreator Kent Nichols went well until the Ninja himself joined the show via a video feed that didn't really work. "I can't even understand what he's saying," Nichols told the crowd after an inaudible Ninja monologue went flat. Another technical difficulty: cutting between the Ninja and the stage on screen, the audience got a nice look at the other open windows running on the computer running the show's A/V board.
Sargent's whole schtick is running his show as an amateur hour; he pretended to be fired from his last show, Infected. But how could Ad:tech's audience, hardly Sargent's Web-savvy, insidery target, know this? When Revision3 cofounder Kevin Rose took the stage as a guest, the lines between schtick and snafu continued to blur. Rose used to host a cable show on a now-defunct channel called TechTV. Sargent asked him if he'd ever want to go back to traditional media. Rose said no, of course, and explained that he preferred Internet TV to cable because its less structured and pre-planned.
Advertisers, though, kind of like a bit of structure. Never was it more clear why TV producers so carefully manage air time than when guest Tiki Bar TV creator Jeff MacPherson came on stage and told a five-minute story about not meeting Steve Jobs. Not meeting Steve Jobs? Could have been told in 30 seconds.
As the live taping wound down, Wine Library TV's Gary Vaynerchuk came on. And he almost saved Web television for the whole bunch, drawing cheers from the assembled ad buyers and sellers with a typical I-did-it-you-can-do-it-too rant. Sargent, ignoring the live audience, cut Vaynerchuk off and suddenly it seemed like Vaynerchuk didn't belong on stage. True. Vaynerchuk's video intro featured clips from guest appearances on shows hosted by people known by their first names — Conan and Ellen. Unlike online video, Vaynerchuk has made it to prime time.