In the world of video marketing, statistics and data are consistently touted as the most important metrics to consider when determining the success of a branded content campaign. But sometimes it’s important to pause for a moment and remember that stats aren’t everything, even in this technology-driven world. Data points are all well and good, but it’s the quality and often intangible social impact of the corresponding video content that matters.
So for this next installment of our “Day in the Life Of” series, we sat down with one of the most impactful Facebook publishers around, ATTN:. Defining itself as an “issues-driven media company,” ATTN: works with brands and companies to create engaging, custom content across a variety of media platforms to help set them up as thought leaders on important issues. Here’s what Taryn Crouthers, Head of Brand Partnerships at ATTN:, had to say about the company’s branded content strategy and how it’s helped ATTN: rank as the #1 publisher on Facebook in terms of 30-day average views:
Working on Brand Deals Every Day
Tubular Insights: How did you get your position at ATTN:?
Taryn Crouthers: I owe my position at ATTN: to the powers of social media, which upon reflection seems extremely fitting. I had worked in ad sales and brand partnerships for years, but was content in my current role. One day last winter, I happened to be scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw a post from an old friend about raising a Series B investment round. We had not connected in a few years, so I wrote him a quick note to say congratulations. Our conversation quickly turned from a social catch-up into a serious job prospect, and the rest is history.
TI: What is the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk?
TC: The first thing that I do each morning is check vitals and give notes across all of our outstanding Brand Partnership projects. This can range from helping with a negotiation, to adding creative suggestions on an RFP (request for proposal) response, to watching a rough cut of a video in production. Since ATTN: is headquartered in LA and I sit in NY, my mornings are usually the quietest time of the day. This is also when I get to watch all of the incredible work the ATTN: video and production team has brought to life from the night before.
TI: What does an average day look like for you after this, step-by-step or process-by-process?
TC: My favorite thing about my role at ATTN: is my involvement in so many different parts of the business. The Brand Partnerships team is responsible for sales, branded creative strategy and account management, so those are my main areas of focus each day.
7:30 – 8:30 am – Commuting time
With the social media space and ad sales industry constantly changing, I use my morning commute to read the trades and catch up on the daily news. I always start with ATTN: editorial content, and then dig into a variety of other great publishers in the space. I also look at trending topics across social media, as those provide incredible insight into the most relevant issues each day.
8:30 – 10:30 – Coffee and breakfast meetings
On the sales side, our team is continuously discussing how ATTN: can help brand partners align with issues that matter. I use most mornings to meet with clients, agencies and other players in this space. I believe that good ideas will come from anywhere, and it’s extremely important to surround yourself with diverse schools of thought.
10:30 – 12:30 – Internal Team Meetings and Work Sessions with East Coast
Although ATTN: is based in LA, the Brand Partnerships team is spread across the country, so I use my mornings at the office to work alongside our East Coast sales and creative strategy teams. We spend a significant percentage of our time talking about how to improve our offerings, and reviewing both our successes and our shortcomings.
12:30 – 3:30 – More Client Meetings and Work Sessions with West Coast
Early afternoon is when the day starts to race by. My afternoons are often back to back, with a mix of meetings with the ATTN: teams based in LA like Insights, Audience Development, Video and Production, and external clients. These sessions cover every part of our business, from discussing the Facebook algorithm, to honing our revenue forecast, to learning about a new social engagement tool. I can honestly say that I learn many new things everyday, and I am constantly amazed by how quickly this space is evolving.
3:30 – 7:30 – Connecting the Dots
Since the Brand Partnerships team relies on so many different departments, my afternoons are best summed up by “connecting the dots” between departments. This time consists of a series of stand-up meetings, Google Hangouts, chats and face-times to ensure that each team member across the country has what they need to get their job done.
7:30 – 8:30 – Reflection
My commute home and evenings are spent thinking about ATTN: big-picture strategy, staffing, and re-grouping with other team leads. Since I am the only department head in NYC, this is my time to catch up with the senior leadership and to reflect on the day.
Creating Impactful, Successful Branded Content
TI: What tools do you use to manage your brand partnerships team, as well as your clients’ projects?
TC: Since ATTN: does not sell pre-roll or display ads, all of our brand partnerships projects are bespoke, custom content. We build everything from scratch in-house, which means that project management and organizational tools are an incredibly important aspect of our business. We rely on Trello as a project management tool for all creative strategy and production and SalesForce as a CRM for pipeline management. We have integrated Slack (a chat system) into the fabric of our culture, and Shared Google Docs ensure that information is freely available across teams.
TI: How do you use Tubular’s software to grow ATTN:’s brand overall?
TC: Our Brand Partnerships team relies heavily on Tubular metrics, especially the V30 average views per video calculation. Tubular’s software allows our sales team to illustrate how our video content is leading the industry, despite being new to market. Although ATTN: does not publish the most content on social, our videos are the most engaging at the per-video level, which is what really matters for brands. In fact, ATTN: has ranked #1 as the top-performing social publisher on Facebook in V30 for the past 5 months (October ‘16 – February ‘17).
TI: What’s your biggest challenge in working with brands to create custom content?
TC: Since social branded content is in its infancy, one of the largest challenges is helping brands to understand why custom content matters. Most of the industry is still using traditional benchmarks like CPMs or CPVs for measurement with publishers, but these metrics do not capture the true purpose of branded content. The best social custom content provides a “halo effect” that increases brand affinity, perception, consideration and purchase intent, and empowers an audience to share that content with their personal network. At ATTN:, all of our views are organic (we do not boost any of our editorial or custom content) so we are uniquely challenged to create impactful content that aligns with a brand’s mission and is optimized for shares.
TI: Why do you think ATTN: has been so successful in terms of online/viral video content?
TC: Our mission at ATTN: is to tell stories that are worth your attention. Many of these stories are centered around passion points across parenting, social justice, education, the environment, and “adulting” issues. We use conversational language to create a cogent argument around each issue. This unique approach results in content that is concise, extremely shareable, and authentic.
In terms of success, I believe that our content is successful because it taps into our audience’s values. Issue-based content creates an emotional connection and a reason to share that is far more powerful than traditional news or entertainment. And for partners, this approach allows brands to create a more meaningful connection with consumers.