In Part 1 of our interview with Touchstorm's Alison Provost and Jeff Martin and KBS+P's Jonah Bloom, we talked a lot about what these two companies want to achieve for brands through editorial video content. In the second part of the interview, we talk a lot about search, and the importance of discovering trending or popular topics to aid brands in becoming more visible when they create video. This part of the interview was particularly eye-opening, since some of the things we associate with YouTube success isn't necessarily something that can be used for other video platforms.
How Do Video Views Tie into Measurements of Success?
ReelSEO: View count and virality has become kind of controversial. Is there a certain amount of views that you look for? Would you consider it a failure if a video only gets 300 views?
Alison Provost: Oh yeah! I quote this stat at OMMA and we're actually in the midst of doing a massive study. We're breaking down how many views just about every major brand that does videos has. We're doing it by category and age of video and that sort of thing. But a big overriding conclusion is that the vast minority of videos ever break a half a million views.
A lot of times you hear about these big view counts, you don't realize how first of all how rare it is for that happen. But second of all, how many of them were generated by paid media, or that other little pesky creature which is the auto-play feature. So when something runs below the fold on auto-play with the sound off you can run up millions of views but it doesn't mean that you actually reached anybody. So the first thing is, what is the quality of the view, and with us we refuse to let things run on auto-play. You've got to click to play, it's got to be center of the page. And now we're talking about a fair count. And if we don't do 2-5 million views in a year, even for a category that isn't massively popular in terms of search, we're pretty dissatisfied.
Jonah Bloom: The key point there is it's about the quality of the view, right? So, you could have a video that was only seen by 300 people and if it was the 300 most influential people that you really wanted to reach--we do have a client, what they're trying to do is influence the political realm, and if they have 300 people but those 300 people were all in DC and were all influential they would be very happy about it.
I think a lot of it is about being able to track who and how they engage. Again, it comes down to that outcome. But yeah, we certainly have examples--I'll admit, we've failed, I just hope that we've learned from those failures. And I'd also really encourage brands, again, to look at the quality of the views.
What Effect Does Paid Video Promotion Have in Organic Search?
ReelSEO: Do paid views make you more visible in search? I know the views aren't quality, but maybe you get more quality eyeballs after that? Is that what people are thinking?
Jeff Martin: If we're talking about a video that is just out there in the wild and not confining to a specific place, you could say that, indirectly, yes, any exposure a video gets [can help]...for example on a third party website, on a publisher's site, there are chances for sharing. There are always chances, obviously, for a view, obviously for engagement, obviously for conversion...but outside of that there's also the possibility of that video being shared. So they had a problem, had a question, were seeking information in some fashion, the video met that need and impressed them that they feel that they need to share with their friends or family with either Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, or someone may blog about it. So I would say promotion, like other kinds of discovery means can definitely lead to views and engagement conversion outside of page views.
Alison: How do you buy a view these days? What is the brand's option or the agency's option? One is that they just buy regular display advertising, rich media, and flash players running in that 300x250 box. That's probably the cheapest way to do it, and you can put some sharing features on that and maybe that helps it become more well known, but I don't think it helps it in search.
The second way to buy it is buy YouTube's promoted video program and that will help in search. If a brand, if the video's searchable--a lot of what brands buy promoted video for is the crazy viral video. What Jonah and Touchstorm are talking about primarily are editorial videos. We're convincing brands that just because you're funny and interesting and try to make something hilarious doesn't mean that people are ever going to watch it. And by the way, if they do, it doesn't really become searchable. People search for information, not entertainment. They find entertainment.
Jeff: When it comes to promoted video on YouTube, unlike traditional Google where paid and organic are not under the same roof...on YouTube, paid and organic is under the same roof. That is, as far as YouTube is concerned, a view is a view. They don't care how you got the view. A view is a view and everything that you gained from that view, the view itself, and the engagement, it all counts. So because it all counts, it means that that can increase the performance of the video inside of search results. So absolutely, that definitely can have an impact.
How Does Social Engagement Affect Search for Editorial Video?
ReelSEO: So does activity around a video help in search? Comments, likes, etc.?
Jeff: Not in search. I asked YouTube point blank that question and there was also a Google search engineer in the room also, and the Google search engineer confirmed at that point in time that, "We're not looking at those kinds of engagement scores." So if someone "likes" a video, yes we're on YouTube and we could access that data, and that data is not typically available across all video sharing sites. So it's not a metric of data that universally exists all over the place. Wherever a video exists, those reported forms of engagement don't always exist.
Jonah: Right, albeit that kind of social layer is becoming increasingly more important. If a number of people connected to you by your social broth are viewing a certain thing it is that much more likely to show up in your results now...
ReelSEO: I was under the impression lots of activity around a video helped in search. But now I'm getting a different idea.
Jeff: Well, it depends on the kind of activity. You can like a video on YouTube, but you can also like something on Facebook. Those are not the same things. One's proprietary to a specific site. For example, I can go to MeFeedia now, and they have a like button. But does that really mean anything to a search engine, even if they reported that, "Hey, 5 people on the MeFeedia site liked this video?" Because that type of engagement metric isn't reported universally, and maybe it's not used or understood in the same way across all different kinds of properties.
When you're talking more mainstream sharing: Twitter, Facebook, those types of sharings, can manipulate personal search results, depending on how many people you know who can influence the rankings, the search results that you actually see. So a mainstream social sharing, those types of sharing activities, do have an impact on search on a personalized level.
Distribution vs Social Engagement for Search Visibility
Alison: I think something that might help with this dilemma is changing the perspective: YouTube was the center of the world for so long and it was sort of the gold standard of "If I could post it on YouTube and it could take off on YouTube and through Google search, I'll be a winner." And now, especially for editorial content, and not entertaining content...we know from ComScore that YouTube is about half the views in the world and the other half come from all over the web.
And for us in the editorial content space, it's really important to make sure that when somebody goes to Photography.com to learn how to take pictures that the photography content is there. And if they go to iVillage as a woman to think about beauty that the beauty content's there. It's really about making sure that every little blogger and every major site up to The Weather Channel, where we have content, is all featuring content that we're putting out there and that we hold our YouTube viewership, which, sometimes we're successful with and sometimes we're not, to less than 50% of our total views.
So when you start thinking about what that does for search, that helps in a different kind of way, because Google obviously, one of their factors is Trust Rank in their algorithm. And big sites like CNN or iVillage have really high Trust Rank. So although videos can tend to compete with themselves a little bit, the higher the Trust Rank and the more you have your videos on those high trust sites, that helps search, just the distribution alone, not the social likes factors but the way that you distributed the videos and where they live.
ReelSEO: In this video, Alison Provost, Jonah Bloom, Poptent's Neil Perry, and Chris Schreiber of Sharethrough talk at OMMA about branded content and the various ups and downs of the form. This is a must-see for brands looking to get into video content:
How Can Brands Build Trust Through Editorial Video?
ReelSEO: You talked a lot about brands and journalistic integrity at OMMA. How do brands build trust through video?
Jonah: What I would say is that, to the consumer, it's finding something useful. That's the key part of the evaluation. So I think that we have to respect the fact that consumers today are very capable of sniffing out someone who's trying to sell to them, trying to spin them, giving them a point of view that they're not comfortable with or don't agree with, doesn't agree with their sets of values.
So I think to a huge degree, while you can definitely buy a number of eyeballs, getting people to actually engage with something is greatly about being of some kind of value to them. And I think that engagement, the value they place on it, really is in many ways an evaluation or judgment of editorial value. You could be coming from a site with massive editorial impact, but if no one thinks it's of any use, it's a bit of a tree falling in the woods. So I think that these days, I'm not sure that the source is important as the fact that the consumer is receiving some sort of value to it and I think that we have to put some faith in their ability to evaluate it from that point of view.
Alison: I'm going to give a different kind of example. I mentioned Prilosec before, and I'm going to use them again. They knew, probably more than we do, about how regulated they were, and they decided to come at it from a category approach. A heartburn medicine approach as opposed to a Prilosec approach. Which we knew, "Well, that sounds great for journalistic integrity." But we also thought quietly to ourselves, "Why do they want to sell the whole category?"
And really what it was, we learned this, there are three different kinds of heartburn, and there are three different kinds of heartburn medicine. And therefore, a great way to approach it with journalistic integrity is to say, "If you have this kind of heartburn, then the kind of medicine you need is this. Look at the label, it ought to say this and this. But if you have this kind, Prilosec is the one."
Again, without selling they were teaching. By promoting the category overall, they're likely to have more efficacy, more success with their drug because they're getting people who have that problem using their drug so they're going to have better results with their drug. So a lot of times, something lends itself to just teaching about the category and then that helps the brand, then it's incumbent, it's filled with journalistic integrity to do it that way.
Jonah: Really what I want people to be aware of is this category and this sort of thing is available to them. And in my experience it really is one of the most underused approaches out there and something I'm advocating all the time with brands is, "Let's make consumers aware that this thing exists rather than worrying too much about us versus the other guys."
Success Stories in Editorial Branded Video Content Marketing
ReelSEO: Do you have any particular success stories you'd like to share?
Alison: From the perspective of our initial test case, (thank you Doug Moore at General Mills) it was Betty Crocker cakes, and doing videos for Princess Cakes and Castle Cakes.
Again, which our Search Revelator told us a Castle Cake would outperform a Dinosaur Cake, but a Dinosaur Cake would far outperform a Train Cake, and so on.
We put those videos out and I think they now have close to 100 million views [ReelSEO Note: That's not based on YouTube-only views. Most of the views come from Howdini and Betty Crocker's own site]. That's a lot of views for a click-to-play, consumer-chooses-it, scenario. Huge, huge popularity. And now we have others.
Jonah says it depends upon the client's goals...and we did something for Pantene where they didn't have a goal for massive reach. It was really trend-oriented, like how to get Taylor Swift's curls, and how to get Kim Kardashian's boho braids and that sort of thing. And yet those videos, in their own right, without much pushing just took off and did incredibly well.
Jonah: We talk a lot about American Express and some of the work we do with their Merchant Services Division that I think have been very successful in engaging merchants and I think you learn a lot from American Express because those guys are absolutely devoted to adding value to the consumer.
And I think if you come from that place in your mind, the brand, you're more likely to be successful than if you come from a place of, "Hey, we desperately want to sell another hundred thousand units this year," or "We want these merchants to think of us a certain way," and because they don't approach it like that, because they do approach it from a point of view of "How do we really add value?"
It enables agencies like us, and there are dozens of us working for that particular brand and it enables us to be more successful with the owned and earned media approaches that we take on their behalf.
Once again we'd like to thank Alison, Jeff, and Jonah for taking time to talk to us. And once again we'd like to thank Paul Pettas at Kwittken + Company for his help with this article.