Diversifying Local Video: A Conversation With PixelFish

Today I had the chance to talk with Dave Brewer, bus dev director of online video production company PixelFish. The company specializes in local and national brand video advertising, but we spent most of the time talking about local.

PixelFish was founded by CEO John McIntyre, who previously founded Web hosting company Affinity Internet (acquired by Hostway last year). His goal was to take the democratization of Web site hosting and development behind Affinity and apply it to online video. Since then, the overall online video space, local in particular, has clearly followed this trend.

Video advertising, traditionally reserved for big businesses, has come within the grasp of SMBs with cheaper production technologies, online distribution, broadband penetration and killer apps such as YouTube. This has of course led to viewer expectation of video in their search experiences, advertiser demand and the acceleration in video integration by local search sites (Cox’s Kudzu was the latest example earlier this week).

Mixing It Up

PixelFish’s edge is the variety of video styles and formats it offers SMBs. This includes everything from low-cost stock footage to montage (pan & scan), to documentary style (a la TurnHere), to a classic style involving scripts and a mix of formats.

As we’ve argued, the range of businesses in the SMB marketplace makes this variety a necessity. Not only does this cater to different budgetary constraints across the market (PixelFish’s production fee ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars), but Brewer also contends that different categories tend to lean toward different video styles.

Restaurants, for example, like the documentary style for the obvious reason that a camera on-site can capture ambience and food better than stock footage. Lawyers also like it because they’re comfortable in front of the camera, and they want to instill a certain degree of trust or personality in their advertising.

The popularity of the documentary style among these categories has caused IYPs to mostly and singularly focus on vendors that specialize in it (hence TurnHere’s many IYP deals). But some categories — for lead valuation and stylistic reasons — prefer other formats.

“We worked with an exterminator whose business location was nothing but a dirty office and a garage full of insecticide cans,” said Brewer, “so we instead got creative and decided to build his ad around customer testimonials.”

Extending the Grasp

PixelFish is also diversified in its distribution plan, though there is a lot of room to grow. It currently works with a number of channels such as Google Video and Yahoo! Video. These opportunities are growing with universal search, in terms of using video as a hook to attract search engine crawlers and drive traffic to landing pages.

But with the well-known challenge of addressing a large, fragmented SMB marketplace, the company is also pushing hard to build out channel relationships. This includes IYPs, and it is close to finishing a deal with at least one undisclosed player. It also plans to work with trade groups, national chains and local chambers of commerce that can endorse its services to local members (a strategy similar to search marketing provider Market Hardware).

Distribution will round out its value proposition, which is now mostly grounded in a comprehensive production service and platform. In this way, the company is in a position similar to where TurnHere was about a year ago — with a well received video production product that hasn’t yet reached its distribution potential.

The past year has been a busy one for TurnHere, and the next could be equally busy for PixelFish from the sound of its distribution ambitions. It could also have the wind at its back in terms of growing user and advertiser demand for online video and, more importantly, IYP adoption of a more comprehensive mix of video production styles.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. anthony

    If you’re looking to attract a more local audience, then websites like Jippidy.com let you target specific cities and areas, as well as letting you upload your business video advert for free.

  2. Mr B

    If PixelFish is so successful why do they not pay their invoices for over 60 to 90 days out? The company has a lot of employees that simply don’t know what they are doing and that includes their accounting dept.

  3. Ms. A

    We’re having the same problem with payment. It’s been almost 90 days & we’ve been told the checks are in the mail. Have you received payment for any of your jobs?

  4. ER

    Yeah, we’re experiencing the same problem, with $$$$ owed. Let us know if you get paid.

  5. Steven

    Not paid for 90 days…. I’m on 6 months and never been paid. Done 2 shoots for them, both of them are online, but I’ve never been paid!

  6. Frank

    Pixelfish obviously has a big cash flow issue. They can’t seem to pay their video shooters. Some have to wait about 4 months to get paid. Very bad business. Stay away from this company.

  7. Filing Lawsuit Against Pixelfish

    They should change their name fom Pixelfish to Coldfish because they never return my
    calls. Pixelsnake owes me more than $1,000 and I’m taking them to court. I’ve delivered
    great videos for them that are now streaming from Yellowbook ads. Great work but no
    payment and no courtesy phone call. If Pixelstench or Yellowbook ever ask you to
    shoot for them, you might as well shoot yourself in the head too.

  8. Shaw Productions Las Vegas

    Pixelfish has been very slow with payments to us too (Shaw Productions Inc in Las Vegas). This is the end of March and I still have invoices for December that have not been paid. I am holding onto a tape and not going to release it until we are paid up. Maybe a class action lawsuit should be considered. I know I am tired of this nonsense.

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  10. Beware of Pixelfish

    I have also had problems with Pixelfish with late/non-payment. I have done two shoots for them and it took several months to get paid on the first job, but only after repeated efforts and emails/calls to their accounting dept. They now owe us on another job and it has been well over 3 months without payment. These are NOT big jobs. Any production company professing they are as big as they yet can’t pay their videographers a minimal fee is just suspect. If they do no respond to this final notice of payment, I’ll take them to court or turn them over to a collections agency which further hurts their credit and reputation. I know everyone is having economy crunches but it is standard practice to pay videographers upfront. I’ll certainly never shoot for them again…lesson learned.

    Note to Pixelfish..GET YOUR PAYMENT UPFRONT and pay your videographers!

  11. AM

    We’ve done a ton of shoots for Pixelfish and right from the beginning they were 3 months out in paying. They said that their payments would be 30-45 days once they got their accounts receivable in order. We’re still waiting… We too had to constantly email to find out when we would be receiving our next payment. That seems to be the only way to make sure you’ll get paid.
    These have been easy shoots so we thought easy money. Well… when they don’t pay, make you pay for shipping & who knows what else in the future you start to wonder why do we keep shooting for them.

    Is this the reputation you want for your company?

  12. filing a lawsuit against pixelfish

    I have had the same problem with payment. John McIntyre is a liar and a thief. They have plenty of money and they refuse to pay me. Pixelfish is NOT going through financial hard times. They just do not want to pay their employees. After more than a year, I finally got my first paycheck from them for $200 (out of the $1150 they owe me). I have personally spoken with John McIntyre on the phone. I have the results of that phone call (and other email correspondence) on my website: thehumanjib.com.

    I am filing a complaint with the better business bureau and filing a suit against them with the County of Los Angeles. If you would like to contact me about filing the same complaint, please contact me.

    Mike Brown
    830.660.3600
    mike@mikebrownmedia.com

  13. filing a lawsuit against pixelfish

    I have had the same problem with payment. John McIntyre is a liar and a thief. They have plenty of money and they refuse to pay me. Pixelfish is NOT going through financial hard times. They just do not want to pay their employees. After more than a year, I finally got my first paycheck from them for $200 (out of the $1150 they owe me). I have personally spoken with John McIntyre on the phone. I have the results of that phone call (and other email correspondence) on my website: http://www.thehumanjib.com/pixelfish

    I am filing a complaint with the better business bureau and filing a suit against them with the County of Los Angeles. If you would like to contact me about filing the same complaint, please contact me.

    Mike Brown
    830.660.3600
    mike@mikebrownmedia.com

  14. mike brown

    I made a few posts on this site back in november.

    i just received a check from pixelfish today for the remainder of my outstanding balance ($950). it may have taken them over 2 years to pay me, but they have paid me in full.
    I spoke with cheryl a few days ago. she made a point to say that pixelfish is paying me because they now have the money, and not because of the anti-pixelfish website i built. regardless of the reason, i’ve decided since they pay me in full, to remove the website.

    i hope you all get paid soon (if you haven’t already). all i can say is don’t give up!

  15. Annyce

    We finally got the final payment of $200 after a year of constantly emailing Cheryl: caken@pixelfish.com Operations Manager and John McIntyre CEO jmcintyre@pixelfish.com. Unfortunately in order to receive payment you need to constantly send an email to inquire about the date the payment will be sent out. Be persistent and you will get paid.

  16. Lefty

    Try the dotcom CheapTVSpots if your want to get paid right away. They pay freelancers within 2 weeks of delivery. Be aware that they only accept first quality work, though. No shortcuts. Cheap TV Spots has a sharp eye and over 150 international awards to prove it. They offer a very traditional agency company culture and creative freedom without the thick-fingered techie arrogance that many Internet-focused companies exhibit. Freelance to full-time is the way in.

  17. Jeff

    So I decided to do a little Google search about this company Pixel Fish and this is what I found. I am a smaller company that depends on getting paid within a month’s time to make ends meat. I found out about net 60 days that they say is their turn around time. And I have a confirmation # from the actual Accounting/Office Manager but I don’t know if this means anything. My email address is jeffhigbee@gmail.com. If anyone can let me know how to receive payment faster.

  18. alex

    YES! CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT!!!

    I too have waited months for payment, even after the “nice” ex-producer turned hiring manager admitted to me they had illegally changed the contract I have from 30days to 90days.

    Total fuckups, lets make them PAY!

    Does anyone know any good class action lawyers?

    Thanks

  19. RR

    Not worth shooting for them. Still waiting on a check, it’s been 2 months already. I called and emailed with no response. The very least they can do is not avoid communication. No one likes working for people with poor communication.

  20. Alex Ezorsky

    So, I recently attempted to file a class action lawsiut. While they said my case was strong, this particular firm did not think that the potential compensation would be worth the legal fees. So, I encourage EVERYONE who has had trouble with this company, to:

    A. Tell every video producer you know to watch out for them and not work for them, now matter how much they offer (because it may never come)

    B. Take them to small claims court if they still owe you money

    C. Always have them or any other company sign YOUR contract for EVERY shoot, as this is how they are attempting to get away with it now.

    D. Spread the word! Its not defamation of character if its a fact. We need to make this as big as it is.

    Other suggestions happily taken

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