At SXSWi, Lindsay Campbell talks about the logic of Moblogic
The Web video star recently made the jump from Wallstrip, which was acquired by CBS Interactive, to a full-fledged new CBS online show. CNET News.com caught up with her in Austin to hear more.
AUSTIN, Texas--Lindsay Campbell rose to fame as the perky, witty hostess of finance video blog Wallstrip, made headlines when the show was , and made even more headlines when she passed anchor duties on to new host Julie Alexandria so that she could take the helm of Moblogic.tv, a new video blog about news and finance.
Moblogic premiered on Friday, in conjunction with the South by Southwest Interactive Festival here. I took a few minutes to talk with Campbell about her new show, whether she gets recognized on the street, Brangelina (read on, you'll get it), and if we might be seeing Moblogic in taxicabs any time soon.
Your new show, Moblogic, just launched. How has the response to the first episode been?
Lindsay Campbell: I've been here at the South by Southwest conference and interviewing people, just on the main floor while they're checking in, so I've been a little bit removed from my computer, which I think is a good thing. I'd probably be obsessively reading the comments, et cetera. But we have had an overwhelmingly friendly response just from fans of Wallstrip that have decided that they're going to see what we're up to next.
We've also had some exciting news, which is that we were planning on launching without an advertiser so that we could get the content out there, build our viewer base, and this morning there was a clamor for sponsorship. So we actually got a sponsorship deal now that's through the end of our first month, and we'll see how it goes.
And who's the sponsorship deal with?
Campbell: GM (General Motors), actually their Saturn brand...they had been thinking about it, they saw the content, and they decided to advertise. Which has been good for us, we're trying to validate what we're doing: content created exclusively for the Internet within a large network that creates for a lot of other types of media. So it's good when we get advertising. We don't need it but it's good when we get it.
How often are random people recognizing you now?
Campbell: You know what's funny is that we've gone to a couple of conferences, and it's been the only place that I really get recognized because it's a self-selecting group of people. Here, people seem to recognize my face but not know why I'm carrying the orange (Moblogic) microphone instead of the green (Wallstrip) one. And then I have to tell them, "Oh, yeah, I used to do Wallstrip." Associating yourself with a new brand, it's trying in the beginning, but I'm getting used to it.
How's Wallstrip doing without you?
Campbell: It's really doing well, in fact, numbers have gone up. (Laughs.) I'm OK with that...I like to joke that the numbers have gone up exclusively because I left because there were people holding back on watching because I was there, but I think that in addition to proclivities, whatever you like to watch in a host, Julie's doing a really good job. The quality of the show hasn't fallen off, in my opinion.
But another thing that's happened is that we've gotten a lot of features on the front of YouTube, which of course generates views, and we also have really enabled our archives. Our page views count whether it's today's show or whether it's 30 days ago's show, so they're watching one Wallstrip and then maybe watching four others, and that really builds our aggregate use for the month. Our page views for this month are crazy, and January and February were also really good. And that's good, because we were trying to prove that we could launch a new brand and not lose our first brand in the process.
Are the rumors true that you were desperate to leave Wallstrip because you hate reporting on finance?
Campbell: Is that really a rumor? (Laughs.) You know what's funny is I never pretended to like finance. That was one of the angles of our show, is that I'm a real person that you can touch and feel, and I have my own ideas, and I'm hosting a finance show, and I'll talk about stocks because I can explore that too, but it's not what I live and breathe. On the one hand, we never tried to present me as loving stocks. On the other hand, I actually ended up really enjoying what I was doing. I had no impetus to leave other than wanting to try a new challenge. That's really funny though.
Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, has talked recently about Moblogic as a new addition to "the Wallstrip family." So are we going to see more members of the Wallstrip family now too?
Campbell: We're like Angelina and Brad, and everyone knows if we're going to have more babies!
Yeah, but would they be Shilohs or Maddoxes? You know, produced in-house or acquired?
Campbell: That's actually a great metaphor for the situation. It takes quite a bit of energy to launch a new daily show, so I'd tell you if we had another one we're going to launch next month. We're looking at, you know, within the next nine months, so within a true human gestational period to create a new show. And I'm not going to rule out acquisitions, or maybe partnerships is a better way to put it.
But the reason that Wallstrip was acquired, despite all the rumors on that front, really was that (CBS Interactive) saw people doing online video that was compelling about a subject that was a niche, and they wanted us to do it for other things. That's part of what Moblogic is. Moblogic is news and politics, subjects that are really near and dear to mine and (Wallstrip co-creators) Adam (Elend)'s and Jeff (Marks)'s hearts, and our entire crew is really fired up about doing that kind of content. And if something presents itself as a really great opportunity in another vertical and we have the resources to do it, that fits part and parcel into what CBS brought us on to do.
How have things been different since the acquisition?
Campbell: Really, not that different. They acquired us, and gave us a great amount of resources, whatever we needed to keep producing the show the way that we had with a lot of respect to the way that they liked how we'd been doing things. We kept our own studio space, and pretty much the same level of supervision.
They don't come into the studio and tell us what to do. They'll give us comments from the lawyers to make sure that we're being legal, but they let us do our own thing and explore and really try to figure out the next level of web video. Because once you have a daily show that people are watching, it's all about innovate, innovate, innovate. That's what we tried to do with the site for Moblogic, is really innovate how interactive it is. We said that Wallstrip is interactive, but was it really interactive? That's going to be the next thing for us in both shows, really make it powerfully interactive.
So how are you building community and encouraging participation?
Campbell: We'll absolutely have a viewer-generated content section, and different ways to link to it, and basically the philosophy of our video-creating group is to create the video and then put it where the viewer wants it, put it where they are already watching video, and they will come to you eventually and if it's content that they want to watch, make it really easy for them to find it.
We'll be everywhere. We're working on our Facebook community right now, working on our MySpace community now, and we really need to work on the Bebo-Meebo-Leebo-Wheebo communities as well. That's definitely the future of building an online video community, just being in as many places and germinating in as many places as possible, including the CBS Audience Network, which Quincy could explain better than I can.
The "girl in front of a camera, talking about stuff" has almost become a Web cliché by now. How do you hope that Moblogic will be different?
Campbell: One of the things that we'd like to move beyond is just being a Web talking head, like a Web counterpart to the TV talking heads. So a lot of the talking on the show is going to be done by people that we meet all over the country, and eventually hopefully in other countries, about the topics that we're talking about. I'm not an expert, I'm just expert at talking to people, and that's how the stories are going to get formed.
Then the next part of the adventure is having our stories linked together with other stories in our archives so you can watch the swell of public opinion as it ebbs and flows throughout time on a certain topic or on related topics. We're working on conceptually trying to come up with what are the major themes in news, and then connecting them all really intelligently in our archives...Any show that comes into the field right now has to have more depth. You have to be able to reach into it and get more information out of it because you could just read a blog post and get the information there. The man-on-the-street element, the travel element, not just reporting from one city--that's going to be kind of new for the Web.
Do you have any fun trips on the books?
Campbell: I'm down for whatever travel we're going to do, because that's been a dream of mine forever, just to have a job that involves travel. That's the height of fashion...The two exciting trips that we have on the books right now that are booked are both (political) conventions, in August and September, in Denver and Minneapolis for the elections. And that is like, stop-your-heart exciting for me. I think the towns themselves are going to be a little crazy, but we're going to try to capture some of that at-the-convention energy that you want to feel because there's really important news being made, and which I feel tends to get filtered out when it's presented by someone who's polished. So that's going to be an amazing experience, and every day I lobby for a new location.
What are some of your favorite Web shows right now?
Campbell: I spend a lot of my time capturing bits and pieces of Web video, and then sort of curate it myself, because a lot of my energy is spent in shooting every day. I think Epic Fu is an amazing show. I wish that they updated more frequently, but that's the nature of having to do a highly produced show like that. That's the kind of stuff that I like. Produce it like it's for television, and then trick me into thinking that I'm watching television.
What do you think of Quarterlife?
Campbell: I think that Quarterlife (the scripted Web drama that made the jump to NBC, only to promptly get canceled, though it lives on online) is just poorly executed. I'm not that into the story, I haven't seen enough of it to say whether it's a good story or whether it's good writing or not, but I really didn't find the actors that appealing. I know it hasn't died or anything, but no, that didn't do it for me.
I'll tell you the show I've been raving about: it's not created for the Web, but the way they distribute it was very Web savvy, and that's HBO's In Treatment. And that show, from the second it came on, they did it on-demand. I watched it on iTunes. It's a 30-minute show...and the show is brilliant, the acting is brilliant, and I watched it only on the Web. I watch almost everything on my laptop, unless I'm in a movie theater, and that's like, once a year. But content like that could easily be created by someone creating just for the Web, it just so happens that HBO did it really well and did it first. That's the kind of content I like. I like drama.
In Treatment is very cross-platform, because they're distributing online, which is very unusual for HBO. Could you see Moblogic potentially winding up on TV? Or like LX.TV got bought by NBC and now they show it in New York City taxis.
Campbell: I don't daydream about that, because I think that two- to three-minute content on your television ends up feeling more like a commercial, like an interstitial, and even when we were doing Wallstrip, our content isn't really light. It's lightly presented, but the content itself has some meat on its bones. I wouldn't want it to be shunted into a sort of interstitial position.
We're creating it in HD and it could easily be on your television, but I feel like the more likely way that it will go on your television is through, like, your Apple TV. If CBS decided to put it on their network, in their off-hours or where they needed content, I would welcome it. If they decided to turn it into a half-hour show, I would welcome it, but I do think it's Web-native, and by Web-native I mean that it really exists in a packaged form, two to three minutes, and it's the kind of thing that you're at work or you just want an inspiration or news, or you want to ponder a story and click on it and watch it on your computer and then it's ephemeral and it's gone after that.
See more stories in CNET News.com's coverage of SXSWi (click here).