VidCon Panel: Should Brands Make Videos?
This past week, the Unreel team was at Vidcon meeting with major creators, networks and brands, exploring how we can help them with OTT distribution. During the event we attended several round-tables and keynotes, all focusing on a unique aspect of the rapidly expanding digital video industry. One of these discussions stuck out as the most insightful and forward thinking. Its title; Should Brands Make their Own Content?
Obviously, that sort of question at Vidcon is rhetorical in nature. The panel featured the content executives for Fandango, Dollar Shave club, Portal A and Mattel, who all opened with an unequivocal yes; brands should make their own content. Of course no one was in attendance for that anti-climactic conclusion. The actual focus of the dialogue was to understand how brands should go about making and distributing videos. Videos that engage their target market, expand their brand, and even possibly break through as a new source of substantial revenue for their respective company.
Deliberating the best means for brands to create content were Eileen Rivera of Fandango, Zack Bloom of Portal A, Josh Schoellmeyer of MEL, the content arm of Dollar Shave Club, and Isaac Quiroga of Mattel. The group warned that for brands, taking on a legitimate content strategy was difficult, failed to present any kind of short term gain, offered unmeasurable and on occasion dubious long term returns, and is absolutely necessary to compete in today’s climate. The challenge may be immense, but the payoff is unrivaled; a community of loyal for life fans. To engage with your customers and nurture a relationship to that point results in an ROI marketers salivate over. In order to accomplish creating that community requires two things; engaging content and appropriate distribution methods.
The adage ‘Engaging content’ is carelessly thrown around at Vidcon, with most possessing little understanding of its actually meaning. Fortunately the panel was eager to share their refined definition of quality content for brands. Engagement for brands is a challenge to measure, because it goes beyond views, likes and even comments. The engagement brands care about is winning hearts and minds, ultimately driving a sale. To reach that end goal, you have to do something that is a bit counterintuitive – produce content that serves your target market without selling them a thing. Entertain them, inform them, design narratives and formats that serve your users, but never sells them. Would the content be able to stand on its own if it was not produced by a brand? According to Josh Schoellmeyer of MEL, only after years of engaging your audience can you work in light marketing and sales information without spooking your fans away forever. For MEL, the name of the game is volume, constantly experimenting on a daily basis with videos. If you hit 60% of the time, you are doing an outstanding job.
The next component of the content equation for brands is distribution. The group’s consensus was to focus on one platform that fit your brand well and would reach the greatest number of your target users. Fitting the brand means a platform’s users match your target market, has limited restrictions, and posses a reputation aligned with your company’s goals and image. When asked which brand is killing the content space, the first name to receive nomination from every speaker was Red Bull TV. The reason? Red Bull TV not only does a terrific job with creating content that serves its fan base, but they also have owned and operated OTT apps. By owning the apps their content is distributed on, they need not worry about finding an external platform that is appropriate for their brand, they have created their own.
In creating their own platform, Red Bull TV has captured the Holy Grail for brand videos. They have been full heartedly embraced by their target market as a lifestyle brand synonymous with extreme living. They are reaching their fans on their own terms on their own apps, without a concern for the restrictions and reputation of other platforms. Lastly, they are able to start monetizing, or promoting themselves within their platform however they would like, sans some outrageous rev share or restrictions. Red Bull has created a community passionate about their brand for life. A community that took years to nurture that will now be customers for decades.