The moment the Internet called an audible.

I like to think of the Internet as a football team. One with history, like the Packers or Cowboys. When the Internet was first established, it didn’t really have a lot of plays. Every down was a run up the middle or a pass down the sideline. Don’t get me wrong, the playbook didn’t suck. It revolutionized the game… of communications. But it was just text, and eventually email and pictures followed. But like any good football team, the Internet’s playbook grew as the team matured.

Before you know it, the Internet could kick field goals, run trick plays and even call audibles. Just picture it: The Internet is up against the defending champs, Television. Television has captured the attention of fans every single year. While the Internet has come close, the team hasn’t been able to pull off a win. But, this time might just be different. The Internet has a new play. It’s third and 11, and the Internet is down six. The quarterback comes under center and he yells, “YouTube!”

That one audible changed the entire playbook. The establishment of Youtube brought about a new era in digital media. Now, I could sit here and talk about how the first video on YouTube was really the game-changer. But it wasn’t. And no, it wasn’t the first music video posted to the site, either.

Saturday Night Live likes to call this play, “Lazy Sunday.” Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell spend almost three minutes rapping about the Chronicles of Narnia and cupcakes (which is really the only kind of rap I can get down with.) This ridiculous, pointless video racked up over 5 million views in 2005.

But as we’ve learned over the years, funny videos catch the world’s attention. “Lazy Sunday” is the first time people really embraced their newfound ability to watch videos anywhere their hearts desired (as long as there was Internet access, of course.) Now, we have a phrase for that phenomenon: it went viral.

People go to extraordinary lengths in hopes of producing a video that goes viral. Sometimes they even try to make a career out of it. Many times they fail, but sometimes, they don’t even have to try. But speaking of viral, do you know who else tries to make videos that catch the attention of the public?

Ding! Ding Ding! We have a winner!

Oh yes, advertisers want your attention, and they want it desperately. In 2007, Ray Bans created a video dubbed, “Sunglasses Catch.” At first glance, there isn’t anything special about this video. Its a minute and 37 seconds of two guys throwing sunglasses onto each other’s faces. Harmless, right? Wrong. That was the first time a company meddled in digital advertising.

Fast forward to the 2018 season, digital ads are everywhere. I can’t even imagine going to a website without seeing at least five of them. I’m an advertising minor, and in every single advertising class I’ve taken, we’ve spent at least two weeks covering digital media. “Sunglasses Catch” brought about a “lightbulb moment” for advertisers. Through web video, marketers and advertisers realized they could reach a broader audience without paying for a TV spot or print ad.  

As the Internet continues to grow and develop, its playbook is only going to get bigger. Yes, YouTube changed the game, but now the Internet has other options. YouTube forged the path for streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. The rise of digital media and web video has only begun. Television is no longer the team to beat; it’s the Internet, and personally I think it will years down the road before any other team rises to the occasion.

Like the Cowboys and Packers, the Internet is building a dynasty. One where there is unlimited potential. One where the team has only scratched the surface of its digital media capabilities. One where the Internet is going to be raising Super Bowl banners for years and years to come.

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