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Monetising video: commercialising content in a world of video overload

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By Kaye Blum

Held at the KPMG Auditorium (Sydney) in August, this panel session from the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) proposed to address the issue of how to make money from video and whether people will actually pay for content.

Presenting industry insights were Matt Moran from the Platform, Nick Love from Shine 360°, Angus Stevens from Southern Cross Austereo, Georgie Powell from YouTube, Sue Carter from Tigerspike, Will McKinnon from SBS, and event chair Scott Bradley Pearce from ArgentDigital. Following are my key highlights from the session.

Adapting to storytelling across platforms

Shine 360° Managing Director Nick Love started out making content for TV but now focuses on storytelling for multiple screens. He presented a case study for The Voice, for which they managed the social media in-house last season. “We used it to tell stories, not just cross-sell,” he explained.

They scripted for three platforms: TV, Facebook and Twitter. Plotting story across the three screens, they used the right channel choices with the right voices. “It takes design,” he said, adding that they worked on it for six months before going to air to ensure it was an integrated part of production.

They had to re-design the production supply chain and publishing workflow. “Without metadata you are lost… We couldn’t find any tools so we built our own,” he claimed,  “MDM, adding, adapting and building metadata from content creation to distribution.”

In terms of monetizing, Shine 360° are not in the ad selling business, so they partnered with M9. On top of pre-roll and mid-roll ads, they made money through sponsored integration, with Ford sponsoring the live stream. They also integrated e-commerce with music sales and episodes on iTunes.

Love emphasised the importance of social media and data, and noted that Season 1 had 67% desktop traffic, while Season 2 saw an increase in mobile traffic. “It’s just the beginning – our storytelling hasn’t changed, it’s just introducing different screens.”

Monetising with YouTube

Georgie Powell, Content Partner Manager at YouTube, highlighted some vital company stats:

  • Youtube is the world’s largest video platform and the second biggest search engine in world.
  • Content owners can take 100% if they sell above the rate card.
  • 90% of views of Australian content is from outside Australia, impacting import/export and rights.
  • One in three YouTube views are on mobile devices.

YouTube’s demographic is Gen C – the curators, creators, connectors and communities of content. They like to upload and share, 91% sleep with their smartphone by the bed, they have an active social media presence.

“We need to think differently about how we program and create content for this type of audience”, Powell said. “We need to engage WITH, rather than program AT them.”

She explained one of the ways for content creators to make money from YouTube content is with Content ID. This enables rights owners to upload content and turn it into a reference file that shows who has ripped your content by scanning for matching videos, which you can monetise. Freemantle Media have Content ID and saw 20x growth in monetisation.

She covered the YouTube business models: ad supported, paid channels and transactional. Paid channels are already available in Australia.

Multi channel networks (MCNs), she claimed, are the next generation of broadcasters. There has been a huge investment in this field in the last six months overseas, but we are behind here in Australia (about three years).

A new model for production houses

Angus Stevens, Creative Director at Southern Cross Austereo, was previously a film/TV director and provided some great insights to the changing industry for production houses.

“There’s still money to be made, but you have to use a different model than what you’d use for TV,” he said. Crews and producers need to think this way as well. It’s not about making pretty pictures, it’s about how it will reach the audience. And this means different budgets.

“You have to put the old [production] model away”, he claimed, “You’re judged on distribution and scale.” He talked about innovation in execution and the need to be nimble to be profitable. Consider how can you use the medium to engage. “You can’t shoe-horn TVC values into a small platform.”

Co-incidentally I had recently done some initial consulting for a start-up run by traditional TVC directors and producers and had made the recommendation that a different model was needed for their purely digital product, but they insisted on maintaining a traditional TVC production house model. I chose not to proceed with these clients. Hearing Stevens dispelled any doubts I may have had about my decision.

Stevens also discussed client needs versus audience wants, describing content marketing as those who want to hang out around the campfire. With branded content, those guys bring their own guitar, music, etc. to control the environment. The client wants their music to be played at the campfire. Be clear about the difference between the two, he advised.

For content marketing, fish where the fish are, he said. Find where your audience is and go to them. Be honest (“Gen Y can smell bullshit a mile away so don’t bullshit”, he later added). Consumers don’t have loyalty.

“Creativity is hard to make and hard to sell and hard to measure, so you need to be in it for the long haul,” Stevens claimed. The online environment is quick, fast. “Do you want high impact, fast turn-around or a genuine engagement with the content?”

He showed a quote from an ADMA Report June 2013 to emphasise the point: “Creative brand campaigns take longer to deliver business success – after 6 months – compared to short term… but ultimately creativity wins out.”

Stephens took us through some great case studies, including The Friskies awards for best cat video of 2013; Vice (“the content is so good on Vice that brands want to be associated with it); and TAC Victoria’s roadtripforever.com campaign integrating social media.

Great stuff.

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