I want my . . . YouTube? Well, that’s been the clarion call of video on the Web, much to MTV’s chagrin, I’m sure. MTV has been quite good about jumping on the Web video bandwagon, but surprisingly poor at translating their natural appeal to the core Web video consumer demographic. What gives? Doesn’t every 20 something naturally type MTV.com into his or her browser with little or no prompting? Apparently not.

I think the answer has to do with the social networking aspects of the Web. MTV is cool to watch after school, but it’s much cooler to have a MySpace or FaceBook page. Or maybe even cooler to have a YouTube page. These Web sites double as virtual communities, drawing hordes of 16-25 year olds, but not as a block demographic. Rather, these kids form individual communities, based on common interests, backgrounds, translation of real-world groups, and probably some random chance. MTV has mass appeal; social Web sites attract masses through individual appeal. It seems to me the later model has much greater power and stickiness.

MTV certainly seems to recognize the danger to their core business model. Their response? To splinter into 20 something sites to appeal to 20 year olds. Check out this article in AdWeek.

It seems MTV wants to target more granular demographic units, as diverse as surfer dudes and lesbians. Good idea? I’m not too sure. For one, they’re giving up on the notion of creating a portal site, which dilutes their traffic. For another, some of their micro-sites are transient. Sorry, but Laguna Beach will soon fade from the public consciousness. For sure, they gain in stickiness and higher rates for more targeted advertising. They loose by still not plugging into the social networking phenomenon.

Will they succeed? I think the answer is complicated. Yes, some of these sites will attract an audience. They may even turn a net profit on all this work. But maybe they should take the criticism of their cable channels to heart on the Web: they don’t show many music videos any longer. If they can find their core competency and return to their roots on the Web, they can quickly find an audience, and soon have Microsoft courting them to save the Zune by making MTV their music store.

A more intriguing notion is the hyper-Moby concept. What the heck do I mean by this? Well, Moby launched his latest CD by releasing a bunch of home-made, low budget videos on YouTube. Free, funky Moby tunes dominated YouTube for a week or so. It was a lot of fun. Why not find this synergy between consumer video and professional musicians on a broader basis? Offer up a creative commons license for up-and-coming musicians to link them to video makers to produce music videos. Then maybe you can have consumers vote on their favorite music videos, which would get included on an MTV Web and television show each week. Now that’d be hip and cool.