The Video Everywhere Strategy Is Going to Belong to Premium Content

Every day there are new announcements from content providers investing heavily in original series distributed across major social platforms with a limited emphasis on their owned and operated properties.

A panel of experts moderated by Operative CEO Lorne Brown came together at the 2018 VideoNuze Online Video Ad Summit on June 12th in New York City to discuss the pros and cons of distributed content versus owning the distribution, and how content providers are seeking to monetize their video everywhere strategy.

NBCUniversal EVP Digital Sales and Strategy Trevor Fellows and Newsy CEO Blake Sabatinelli kicked off the discussion by highlighting the need for brand safety. Fellows remarked that brand-safety was the filter through which all this content was going to be looked at by potential advertisers. “Many clients haven’t necessarily recognized [that] the world is going to belong to premium content, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.  

WHOSAY CMO Paul Kontonis added that brand-safe, premium content is being produced by an “upper tier of social” influencers, who are consistent producers of high-quality content and have built an audience. “They’re becoming media properties themselves.”

 Kontonis, Sabatinelli, Fellows and Brown at VideoNuze 2018

Kontonis, Sabatinelli, Fellows and Brown at VideoNuze 2018

Brown then steered the panel to the business aspect of the content provider and distributor equation. “I think the partnership side is really important,” said Sabatinelli. “We’re really looking for distributors that aren’t just partners but who fit the profile and are either a disruptor on the space or can deliver a big audience. It’s about finding that right strategic fit for us.”

“It’s the spirit of the deal that’s very important here,” added Fellows, explaining that one must go into these kinds of deals with a sense of both the high-level inner workings as well as the executional level. “We have different deals with Snap, BuzzFeed and now Apple and we approach them differently. There has to be a strategic reason why you’re there.”

“It’s all about performance,” said Sabatinelli. “If you don’t produce compelling content, you will go out of business.” All panelists agreed that content production be caveated with cost-effectively. “It’s not gonna make a lot of sense to invest in a studio unless you get a huge upfront from a company like Facebook or Snap to produce a show,” added Sabatinelli.

The right brand partner is crucial when it comes to the effectiveness of advertisements. “If you look at the top 20 most popular videos on Facebook, there’s no brand recall,” said Sabatinelli. “It’s a brand impression but they have no idea what they’re being associated with.” He added that a “strong and enduring brand” was always a plus.

Finding the right brand partner for your content can make all the difference in the world, said Kontonis. “If you’re looking to close a deal with a distributor and you got the right talent then you can do all kinds of deals.” Kontonis went on to explain those deals can range from licensing to revenue sharing to co-selling advertising inventory.

Brown moved onto multi-channel distribution. “We’re beginning to understand what’s the benefit for an advertiser to have the be the same content on different platforms,” Fellows said, adding that “the numbers are really stark” when it comes with recall and brand-sentiment. The rest of the panel agreed on the effectiveness of multi-platform distribution. “You have to stop worrying about reaching the same people over and over again and making sure you’re reiterating your brand and who you are,” said Sabatinelli.  

Kontonis brought up data to support multi-channel distribution by citing a SumAll study from 2016 in which the average audience overlap for a single brand across social and owned platforms including email was estimated to be 2%. “If someone follows you on Facebook, they may only know you on Facebook,” he said. Kontonis added that, similarly, many content companies have seen an average audience migration from YouTube to other platforms  of 3-5%. “So, if someone has 10 million subscribers on YouTube they may move 3% of that into other platforms. Think of each platform as its own.”

Viacom’s acquisition of WHOSAY back in January was a turning point in the history of influencer marketing, casting brand-safe, premium branded content beyond social and into linear television and OTT, WHOSAY CMO Paul Kontonis said during the panel.

As part of that acquisition, WHOSAY announced a new approach to influence marketing said Kontonis, adding that the combination of advertising inventory with authentic creative is a winning one. “Now we have a scalable solution to distribute talent-driven creative through the social handles of the talent and then run in linear, OTT and owned and operated advertising inventory. You get the best of both worlds by cutting through the clutter and get the advertising inventory that you want.”

Photo header credit: Gian Cescon