Brave Bison is a digital media force to be reckoned with. Based in the UK, the viral entertainment giant owns at least 20 different social channels covering a variety of industries, including not just viral content, but also sports clips and career-centered entertainment.
Last year, Brave Bison claimed the 7th most-watched media property in the world in the 3rd annual Tubular VideoAces Awards. This was a standout accomplishment for the company considering it hadn’t even placed in the year prior.
We had a chat with Chief Revenue Officer, Simon George, about how the media company launched itself so quickly into the spotlight. Read on for his insights and strategy!
Tubular: What was Brave Bison’s primary goal for 2018 when it came to video, and how do you define success?
Simon George: Our overall focus was to create video content that our audience would love.
Viral TRND, our flagship brand, continued to gain traction throughout the year, so our goal became continual growth of the property.
We quickly identified an opportunity to super-serve audiences who were demanding content that was both purpose-driven and relatable. As such, we launched two new channels: Mutha, a new sustainable lifestyle brand, and Perk, a millennial-focused careers brand.
Gaining enough views to land on Tubular’s Leaderboards turned into a top metric of success for us in 2018. After we brought all of our channels under the Brave Bison brand, we really started seeing traction for our business. For us, the ability to claim a ranking became a huge conversation starter with advertisers. From then on, every month we were on tenterhooks, waiting to see where we were on the Leaderboards.
T: How does data and video intelligence help drive your success?
SG: We believe that viewers vote with their eyes; if the content is good, people will watch it. So we are always focused on determining what is (or isn’t) working from a numbers and data perspective, paying particular attention to who is watching, and engaging with, our content.
Our insights and data team spend all day, every day with Tubular’s software, so I know it’s a huge part of our business and success. Our sales team spends hours on it when they’re working on briefs, creatives, and audience breakdowns.
T: What does winning a Tubular VideoAces Award mean to you? What do you attribute the win to?
SG: It’s massive for the business, especially one of our size. We only have 50 employees globally between the UK and Singapore, so to be ranked alongside some of the biggest businesses in the world, like Comcast and Disney, is a real honor and privilege.
We can attribute our VideoAces win to two main factors: our team and our social roots.
Our team is small, lean, and performance-driven. We’re very integrated across our content creation and insight teams, and every individual brings their expertise to the table. It’s been a winning combination so far!
Our major differentiator is that we’ve been social from the beginning. We’ve developed an ability to adapt, and even thrive under ever-changing algorithm adjustments on social video platforms. The result was a significant increase in views across our portfolio, which was key to not just winning a VideoAces award, but also to increasing our advertising revenue 42% in 2018.
T: What were some business-critical decisions you made that were tied to these outcomes?
SG: Traditionally, we were more of a YouTube business. While we still have a large network there, Facebook was the big decision-maker of 2018. The data was telling us most of our views came from that platform. So in addition to the emphasis we put on Viral TRND towards the end of last year, we also grew our Facebook team internally.
T: What was your biggest lesson or take away from 2018? If you could change one thing you did, what would that be?
SG: Initially, we were too concerned about making premium content. We were so worried about creating content that we deemed editorially spot-on that we took too much time in the creation process.
However, we finally realized we could create premium-style videos and still be “on the button” in terms of social-first content. This change not only improved our turnaround times, but helped us invest in teams who could keep track of social trends and, in turn, start setting trends of their own.
T: What are the unique challenges for video in 2019?
SG: The biggest challenge for Brave Bison this year is to keep our momentum going, or in other words, realizing growth opportunities. It’s easy when you’re a challenger to keep pushing and pushing, but it’s difficult to stay at the top along with the big media giants. We’ll have to overcome a number of challenges, including staying ahead of trends and looking to commercialize our content beyond simply Facebook ad revenue.
T: What needs to change in video in 2019? Which are you most excited about?
SG: There’s a stigma attached to viral content or content that may not be as high-end as premium series, for example. But we think brands are missing an opportunity there. Young people are engaged with this content and watching it on a daily basis; brands could really tap into that time. These brands could partner with publishers like us to create unique, bespoke content to sit on viral channels rather than just creating for ad breaks.
We’re also putting efforts into brand safety. We monitor all the content that goes onto our channels to make sure it’s compliant and safe across all social platforms. This is where creating content with purpose comes in. For example, Mutha celebrates people living normal lives in a sustainably-conscious way; we partnered with the United Nations to start that channel, which ensures our content not only entertains but informs. We feel we have that responsibility in 2019 and beyond.