Think about this for a moment: Cisco estimates that by 2021, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will stem from video content, which will be viewed at a rate of a million minutes per second. Those numbers don’t even mention the amount of data this video will produce. So as the video market grows, how are brands supposed to handle the data in digital video to stand out from the throng of other content creators? How can companies use analytics effectively to develop a winning digital video strategy?
On July 25, Tubular hosted a panel at BuzzFeed headquarters in New York to address these exact questions. Expert panelists included Allison Stern, Co-Founder and CMO of Tubular Labs; Tommy Wesely, VP of Branded Content at BuzzFeed; Fred Graver, SVP of Original and Social Content at Discovery; Ian Edgar, Senior Director of Creative Strategy at Condé Nast; and Karen Vega, Senior Director of Social Media Branded Content at Viacom Velocity. Based on their discussion, here are ten key takeaways for video showrunners looking for practical insights on how to incorporate data into their brand’s strategic and creative development processes.
#1 Finding whitespace is hard, but when done with the right insights and data, it can lead to great video successes.
Growing your brand with niched or personalized content, or reaching out to new audiences related to your current media, is made possible with quality insights. For example, a few useful data points can help brands figure out what other topics their TV audiences like, and generate content based on that topic to pull in those adjacent audiences (like how Discovery knew its Animal Planet viewers also like Dr. Phil, so they were able to create new content with a guy yelling about animals).
#2 Digital audiences just aren’t the same as TV audiences
As such, it’s vital your brand make sure you create separate content strategies for the two, in addition to developing content unique to each platform. You don’t want to repurpose content from TV directly for social, because what audiences want to watch on their phones isn’t the same as what they like on TV. They want shorter, 2-5 minute clips still related to your TV properties, so you can ask yourself questions such as “What would a TLC wedding show look like on Snapchat?” to start the creation process for social.
#3 Don’t be afraid to let go of traditional methods and ways of doing things.
Trying a new format or social platform might not be what you’re used to, but it could result in great strides in your digital video efforts. Your TV shows won’t look the same on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, for example, and that’s actually quite good, because it presents individual opportunities to grow those properties online vs. just in a linear setting.
#4 Experimentation is not a dirty word.
If anything, thoughtful experimentation helps you discover new audiences and types of content you might never have encountered before. Additionally, failures teach you what doesn’t work for your brand and helps you better understand what your audience wants to see. Simply put, experimentation has a unique way of providing answers and new opportunities which can help your video efforts bloom.
#5 Not all engagement is equal.
Some types of audience feedback, even the negative kind, are more useful for measuring and improving your content than other forms of engagement. Detractors provide feedback that’s invaluable for improvement, much in the same way a paragraphs-long comment tells you the viewer was moved. And for some brands, getting a viewer to move to a new platform without losing their interest is a highly successful form of engagement.
#6 The data in digital video exists to build your own metrics for success and to see what’s “good” for you.
Quantitative insights are just a baseline platform from which to draw your own conclusions about what works best for your particular brand. Many digital and TV brands look for specific signals to figure out what was successful for them, all while starting to set up their own internal KPI goals. Remember, digital video is incredibly young compared to other industries, so don’t feel you must conform to others’ goals if developing a new one will boost your brand’s success.
#7 Audience’s tastes will inherently impact content performance.
No matter how well you think your content will do, your audience’s preferences will ultimately show you what they care about. Your goal is to determine how to identify content that is not only worthwhile but meets their tastes. If you can take your data-based insights and push to create content that’s both highly shareable and highly worthwhile, you’ll be nearer to the sweet spot of successful digital video.
#8 Branded content is here to stay, but it’s how you use it/tell the stories that matter.
Audiences are often open to the branded content experience as long as it’s done in an authentic way. You have to ask yourself if you’re telling a good story, evoking emotions and experiences, and giving value to the audience; you also can’t risk breaking the bond with them, so good branded content will keep that bond and — if anything — strengthen it.
#9 Get your creative and data teams on the same page.
They may seem like two completely different groups, but their symbiosis can make the difference between digital video success and failure. Your creative and analytics/measurement teams should constantly be in conversation and find a common language they can both speak about the content that needs to be created.
#10 Always, always ask “why?”
Without knowing why content performed well, you run the risk of creating content which doesn’t actually resonate with your audience (who are probably smarter than you realize, too). When something is shared a lot, you need to ask yourself why that is; learning to respect and interpret your audience’s decisions means you’re on the road to content success.
Huge thanks to all of our esteemed panelists, and especially to BuzzFeed for welcoming us as event hosts.