Everyone has something they geek out over, and for the audiences at The Enthusiast Network (TEN), that topic is anything to do with the automobile and action sports industries. The media brand routinely pulls in over three billion monthly video views from more than 160 million fans across all its platforms. In fact, TEN is the #1 auto-related video content brand in the United States by every metric we measure here at Tubular.
How has TEN, which says it’s “powered by passions,” tapped into its audience’s deep love of cars and action sports to create such a thriving media brand? We spoke to Jonathan Anastas, Chief Marketing Officer at TEN, to find out exactly how the network approaches its video strategy and why it’s so successful.
What Running a Popular Auto Network Looks Like
Tubular Insights: How did you get your CMO position at TEN? What was your previous experience in online video?
Jonathan Anastas: My most recent experience was all in video game marketing, a category that relies heavily on digital video. In fact, today gaming is the number two category on YouTube, behind only music, and one might argue Twitch was built by video game content. Prior to my role as CMO of the Enthusiast Network, I ran all things digital globally at Activision, including our online video strategy. We were early investors in the space.
During my tenure, Call of Duty’s YouTube channel was named the #7 brand channel across all brands, not just gaming, and we became the number one console gaming channel. Several years in a row, we held multiple “top trailer” spots. These video wins aligned with the game’s rise to a $10 billion dollar franchise. At TEN, I’m now tasked with growing not just the #1 auto channel in the US, but also growing our SVOD product, Motor Trend OnDemand. Basically, I’m still using innovative digital video content to sell things to guys under 50.
TI: What does an average day look like for you after this, step-by-step or process-by-process?
JA: One of my favorite things about a career in marketing is there is no such thing as an “average day.” Today, we are focused on how we’re going to market the expansion of Motor Trend OnDemand onto Chromecast, as well as figure our the best way to market the Pirelli Challenge racing series. Another day, I’m working on how to announce the 2017 Dew Tour, where 25,000 action sports fans will converge on Long Beach. As someone who loves the migration of content across platforms, it’s amazing to work with Google and Facebook and Amazon as their businesses – and ours – change.
TI: What drives your video marketing strategy?
JA: This is going to sound a little old-school, but it’s a combination of maximizing reach and engagement at the same time. Increasingly, there is a layer of platform strategy and content windowing: who gets what, when, why and for how long. And, all of this has to be tempered with ROI. How can we create the most value for our brands, for our clients, for our partners and – most importantly – for the viewer?
How TEN Understands and Reaches Its Audience
TI: How do you know who your audience is at TEN? Do you use any tools on a regular basis to determine this?
JA: I’m a huge believer in data, always have been. Of course, in video, it starts with Tubular. From there, we layer in first-party data of our own, platform partner data, and other syndicated tools like Spredfast and Adobe. Our audience is shifting rapidly, as our consumption changes over time. The TEN social audience is under 30, our YouTube audience is just over 30. Largely male.
TI: How do you find influencers or sponsors to work with?
JA: Sponsors get that their dollars need to shift into digital video and social. Sponsors get that they cannot “post and pray” when making content. Thus, our combination of original content and audience is the best solution. It helps that our audience of enthusiasts are worth 2X to 6X more than the average viewer, depending on category, and the ROI is there.
In terms of influencers, adjacency to credibility and leadership matters. A guy like Magnus Walker shows up to our Motor Trend Awards because the brand has trust with him. Ryan Sheckler participates in the Dew Tour for the same reason. TEN’s media brands are the leaders in their space from a credibility standpoint. They are often the “bibles” of their respective categories.
TI: How does TEN’s digital video strategy tie in to its live offerings?
JA: Our video strategy, our live event strategy, our social strategy, and our marketing work together in an “accelerator” of sorts, where each makes an individual contribution to the overall brand or event.
How might that look in the real world? Take Roadkill as an example. We sell and market bundles of Motor Trend OnDemand along with the magazine and events. The events serve as both a celebration of the content itself, and also a venue to create more content. Video for Facebook LIVE, the SVOD service, YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix is all windowed. Social posts (often with video) feed content back to the fans, creating more interest in the brand and the talent.
Or, think about the Dew Tour. An event of 25,000 action sports fans creates the backdrop for a livestream that then becomes shorter video pieces and even broadcast windows on NBC. Costs of the event become cost offsets for content creation. Sponsors can touch fans live and via video. Brands grow within these ecosystems.
TI: Why do you think TEN succeeds in terms of online video?
JA: Again, it’s great content plus audience aggregation. It’s credible content published by credible trusted brands. And we deliver value. Value to the viewer. Value to the client. Value to the platform. Facebook and Amazon and YouTube see how all content performs, and they let us know we’re in the top quartile by all their measures.