Lots of Small, But Interested Audiences. What’s A Brand To Do?

With both YouTube and Hulu investing large sums in original serial content, there’s a sizable opportunity for brand integration, brand-sponsored content and an opportunity for content companies to be born and built.

In Los Angeles today, the production community is well aware of the potential in video, but it’s not like the hits are rolling off the fingers of screenwriters from Pasadena to Long Beach. Be that as it may, one content developer, Alphabird, claims that viewers of viral videos, web series, and branded entertainment are 250% more likely to be engaged than when watching traditional television programming.

Here’s an Alphabird production for Moen in 2009:

This thin slice of remodeling life is far from =250 times as compelling as the TV versions I sometimes watch on cable, but I understand that a user who seeks out short form, serial content on the Web is going to pay attention for a few minutes, before heading back to chat with their Facebook friends.

How to get viewers to become fans of online content is another question. Suzie Reider, head of industry development at YouTube, said, “Companies like American Express can’t keep running television commercials because the consumers they’re trying to reach are online, streaming content off Hulu and Nextflix, and downloading the last season episodes from Amazon.com.”

I think the reality is even more complex. The people we’re all trying to reach are indeed online, but they’re also watching a ton of TV, reading books, magazines and newspapers, going to concerts, sushi bars and backyard barbecues, all while juggling work and family obligations. So, let’s admit that “engagement,” which is difficult to earn amid the chaos of modern life, is far from enough. Brands needs engagement at scale.

Take the video above, over a three-year stretch it has been viewed 5915 times on YouTube. Some of these viewers were no doubt deeply engaged, and now prefer Moen to other brand, but brand managers want to see some zeroes behind these kind of figures. Which brings us back to advertising and the massive opportunity for ad agencies to manage their clients’ content ideation and production needs, along with the traditional outreach marketing they’re already doing, so it all comes bundled together in an integrated package, and one touchpoint encourages the next.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.