Portal A is one of the most well-established digital content companies in the space, with a focus on both original and branded content. Since launching its first original show in 2005, the Portal A team has grown to a staff of 50 with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
As part of its mission, Portal A connects brand partners to next-generation audiences by creating breakthrough content, featuring a new wave of emerging talent. The company has produced hundreds of campaigns and series – from original shows starring top celebrities to music videos, comedy shorts, documentaries, branded content campaigns, and much more, engaging audiences across YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and other digital platforms.
When working with brands (including Google, Clorox, Lenovo, Amazon, HBO, Universal Pictures, and more), the Portal A team knows that creating work that will break through to the target audience, reflect the talent’s voice, and deliver on a brand’s expectations requires an immense amount of planning, driven by data, strategic insights, and fantastic creative.
To better understand how this studio creates high-impact work for their brand partners, we dove into the thinking behind three recent campaigns. We’ll discover how Portal A:
- Identifies the right creators, a process that requires knowing who is on the rise (via its Lenovo campaign)
- Understands which creative and strategy tactics will break through an increasingly noisy space (as seen in the Glad campaign)
- Validates effectiveness, results, and ensures KPIs are met (like in the Brita partnership)
Portal A’s success developing and launching campaigns for Lenovo, Glad, and Brita demonstrates how a data-driven approach, combined with best-in-class creativity, can lead to highly effective content that gets consumers to tune in and pay attention.
See why Portal A was named Video Agency of the Year and Content Agency of the Year by Digiday in 2019 and 2018, respectively, and read these success stories below.
Jedi Challenges with Lenovo
Lenovo approached Portal A with the goal of creating a video campaign for Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, an augmented reality experience that lets players fight like Jedi (lightsabers and all). Specifically, Lenovo wanted to work with YouTube creators whose audiences were predominantly 13-24-year-old males, and who would be interested in the gameplay and could create authentic content featuring the product.
By using Tubular’s Creator Intelligence product, Portal A created a Talent Index that looked at creator channel growth rate over 30 days, audience demographic breakdown, audience sentiment around prior branded content, and other key metrics (including their own qualitative assessment of their content).
Using this framework, Portal A identified a list of creators who had strong channels on an upward trajectory, appealed to the audience Lenovo wanted to speak to, and provided a safe, welcoming place for brand messaging to live.
From there, Portal A used Tubular’s “Audience Also Watches” feature to identify two creators whose fan bases shared affinities and would be most likely to click through to watch both creators’ videos. The studio knew this approach would promote lean-forward viewing, longer watch time, and make the messaging significantly more effective.
“Viewers who choose to watch multiple pieces of content are truly engaged. You’ve showed them content they enjoy initially, provided them with the option to watch more, and they reward you with more watch time and attention. Knowing which creators will hold viewers’ attention across multiple videos is an opportunity to win big with binge viewership.”
– Matthew Ward, Director of Strategy at Portal A
Each creator faced off with a competitor to highlight the new features of the game and showcase the incredible excitement of becoming a real-life Jedi, all while seeing who would be the high scorer and who would have to take a bath in blue milk (yes, you read that right). With a cameo in each other’s videos, the campaign became a connected series.
Overall, the content produced by Portal A included 13 total videos across platforms like YouTube and Twitter, generating more than 4M organic views and 100K social engagements. More than 250K viewers directly clicked through to watch both videos, and the average ‘like’ ratio of the videos was 97%, speaking to how much the branded content resonated with the audience.
Upside-Down Kitchen with Glad Press’n Seal
In the case of Glad, Portal A took up the challenge of making an everyday product — Glad Press’n Seal — stand out from the competition on YouTube.
The creative for the campaign was born from a deep understanding of what is popular on the platform, driven by Tubular data and trend insights. Tubular’s video intelligence tool allowed Portal A to single out content categories, and organize them by performance to identify what types of content were trending on the platform, and what trends could align with the product. Specifically, Portal A discovered that cooking videos with a prank or unexpected twist were surging in popularity which quickly served as creative inspiration for the campaign.
On the creator side, Glad was looking for a creator who could go beyond cooking, and would be up for something a bit outside of the box to break through to 25-40-year-olds who might not be the most hardcore kitchen enthusiasts, but who would likely buy the product.
By using Tubular to review potential creators, Portal A and Glad found the perfect talent in Hannah Hart, a highly entertaining creator who initially rose to popularity for her satirical takes on Food Network content.
Hart’s cross-platform presence, her audience hitting the target demo, her high name recognition, and her unique spin on the typical “kitchen” video, ensured that she could expand the campaign’s reach and be the face of an outside-of-the-box (or in this case, upside down) story.
For this campaign, the team flipped the traditional food advertisement on its head, literally. The entire video was shot in an upside-down kitchen, where Hannah attempted to make a burrito hanging from the ceiling. Glad Press’n Seal successfully fought gravity, neatly holding all the ingredients in place.
The results speak for themselves. Not only did the effort drive overall awareness for the Glad product – with 30% lift in brand awareness – but it also demonstrated the efficacy of the product to viewers in a memorable way. The campaign yielded 29 unique pieces of content with over 4M organic views and a 97% positive comment sentiment.
The video outperformed Hannah’s average video viewership by 45%, the video was her highest-performing brand integration, and the engagement rate on the content was 4.8x larger than the YouTube platform average, according to Tubular data.
These results are a testament to the importance of aligning a big idea with the right creator to create must-see content that YouTube audiences are hungry for. As further proof, the project was recognized for Best Branded Content at the 2018 Streamy Awards.
New Year, New Me with Brita
Reliable metrics that measure the efficacy of a campaign are invaluable — it gives brand partners confidence in their investment, and provides a benchmark for future efforts.
Brita approached Portal A with the goal of launching a campaign that could live across a variety of social platforms, targeting urban millennials (18-34) who currently buy bottled water. The timing of launch — just after New Years in 2018 — allowed Portal A to rally around a relatable insight: we all make resolutions, but rarely are they all kept.
Within this framework, Portal A developed a concept for the new Brita Stream around the notion of self-improvement (specifically, drinking water without bottled water waste). The effort starred NBA superstar Stephen Curry (a Brita spokesperson) and YouTube sensation Rudy Mancuso.
The resulting campaign, dubbed “New Year, New Me,” featured an epic music video launched on Rudy’s channel, with a variety of cross-platform video content launching across Stephen, Rudy, and Brita’s channels to extend the story and reach of the effort.
The “New Year, New Me” campaign sent shockwaves across the internet, resulting in the #3 trending video on YouTube, an organic Twitter moment, coverage in over 50+ premium news stories, and over 5M YouTube views in the first week alone. And a song you’ll never be able to get out of your head.
The campaign demonstrated all the right elements – recognizable talent with wide-reaching audiences, a music video format and concept that would capture attention, and an intelligent, multi-platform distribution strategy. But even once you have all those pieces in place, one of the most challenging parts is measuring and proving its impact – which requires the right tools.
Beyond the uploads from Brita, Stephen Curry, and Rudy Mancuso, Portal A used keyword searches and social engagement metrics in Tubular to sift through the vast amount of content on each platform and capture the impact of all the ancillary, user-generated content created and reuploaded around the campaign.
This included reaction videos, re-uploads, re-shares, news coverage, other influencers posting, and more. Ultimately, the video was re-uploaded or re-purposed by 30 unique influential social channels and accounts, resulting in an additional 4M views.
Overall, the campaign saw 17.3M total organic views, 1.8M unique total social engagements, and 67M total social reach across all content. Thanks to Tubular’s measurement solution, Portal A was able to show that this campaign was not just following digital trends, it was setting the conversation online.
Being able to measure the total extended reach of a campaign like this one is essential to proving its overall value. When a campaign goes beyond just the planned branded content, and becomes a true cultural moment online, it is crucial that you have the comprehensive metrics and data to be able to tell the full story of its impact.
The Art and Science of Branded Content
These case studies demonstrate how content and creative expertise, combined with Tubular’s unique data sets, can drive incredibly strong results for brands who want to create impactful campaigns on YouTube.
In branded content, creativity is incomplete without metrics, data, and insights to support the idea; the reverse is equally true. When you’re able to bring these forces together – the art and science of branded content – you have the winning formula.