Wooing advertisers and brands is a Spartan undertaking in today’s digital video climate. Stellar sales skills aren’t enough. To make headway, media sellers must also convince buyers of the value of online video, their audiences, and their reach.
UK’s Social Chain Media is working creatively to meet this challenge by leveraging the power of data. In a recent Tubular webinar, Christian Grobel, Managing Director of Social Chain Media, discussed just what it takes to prove ROI with confidence.
Founded in 2014, Social Chain has secured partnerships with the world’s most cutting-edge brands from Skybet and Amazon, to Apple Music, Logitech, and Coca-Cola. Their growth continues to balloon this year, having just acquired five more revenue-charged social media brands.
Social Chain boasts a multi-pronged monetization and sponsored content strategy that focuses on:
- thinking beyond video – optimizing the link between video and e-commerce
- trumpeting their audience profiles – delivering brands niche Millenial and Gen Z audiences across their 43 targeted content channels
- going where the growth is – exploring long-form content, technology, and expansion into non-English speaking markets
Want to rake in more ad dollars? Read on for more on the Social Chain way.
The 411 on Social Chain Media
Social Chain Media “connects people by their passions,” said Grobel. Each of the company’s videos sparks comedy or outrage, perfectly primed to catch fire on social with young audiences.
The performance data speaks for itself.
- Social Chain garnered 132 million unique video viewers last July on social (a record!).
- The publisher has 80 million followers on social and recently surpassed 1 million subscribers on TikTok.
- Social Chain has 43 dedicated content channels in sports, gaming, food, and fitness that reach millions of Millennial and Gen Z audiences monthly.
- Its channels, including Student Problems, GameByte, Music Life, and Girl Life, tallied a combined 1.4 billion total video views and 33M engagements across platforms in the last 90 days.
Social Chain has multiple divisions, including an agency and a media publishing house. The agency is where the social strategies for brands emerge. The team partners with and develops influencers to create stellar branded content.
There’s also a large publishing arm with 43 channels. This content is often sponsored and monetized by brands as well. This leaves two routes for fruitful brand partnerships.
“The power of video has been extreme. Products have sold out. Brands have been very happy creating video content in a very trusted and authentic environment,” said Grobel.
Yet they, and anyone operating in this space, must make constant plays to prove their worth. The online video ad market remains slim as buyers throw more ad spends at time-tested linear TV.
About 52% of advertisers report they are buying both digital and TV ads, according to a FreeWheel Video Marketing Report. So full convergence isn’t yet widespread. After all, that leaves 48% waiting to make the full leap.
However, the young audiences that advertisers covet most are crazy for online video. Gen Z alone spends almost the same amount of time per day watching content online as they are offline content, according to a GlobalWebIndex report.
So, what we’re seeing now is an inflection point. Digital is overtaking linear in terms of viewership, audience, and reach, but there’s an imbalance when it comes to the dollars behind it.
With branded or sponsored content, the stakes rise. Media teams are charged with both: delivering thunderclap content and demonstrating to brand partners some tangible return on their investment.
That said, branded and sponsored videos are just the icing in the Social Chain universe. The company identifies as an “integrated entertainment company with social at its heart,” said Grobel. “Video sits at the heart of the awareness portion of our work as we strive to build communities.”
The digital arm executes experiences from food festivals to original video series pegged to major gaming events like the Sky Bet tournament. They also stage activations, like their recent parade of plus-sized influencers in lingerie on New York City streets to promote womenswear brand Simply Bee.
Media sellers looking to stay competitive long-term may need to reframe their video content as a communications arm rather than the main money generator. Developing brand pitches that go beyond video to incorporate a live element from a pop-up shop to a festival activation is a start. This adds another point of connection between brands and audiences.
If You Build It, Brands Will Come
“Optimizing the link between video and e-commerce is big in brand relationships,” said Grobel.
Social Chain Media is essentially creating its own way to deliver ROI to brands. How? By building the video-commerce infrastructure itself!
This past month, Social Chain launched a proprietary livestream Facebook shopping software. Soon, U.S. video audiences will be able to buy products seamlessly during a live video activation. This model has seen great success in China’s online commerce space.
In this case, Social Chain saw an opening in the Western market and dove right in. The takeaway here is if you need something, maybe it’s best to build it yourself.
Media companies need not start this big. The opportunities to combine editorial opportunities with licensing opportunities in the commerce space are endless. PopSugar (recently acquired by Group Nine Media) developed its own beauty product line, from face scrub to lip balm. What better way to show brands that your videos can sell products than by sharing your own sales numbers?
And consider BuzzFeed’s Tasty. The cooking platform recently partnered with Walmart to make more than 4,000 Tasty videos shoppable. Read more on Tasty’s monetization efforts here.
The key here is to a) not rely solely on video revenue to keep your business afloat and b) clarify the specific pathways between your video and point of purchase.
How To Promise Brands the Audiences They Want
Fifty percent of content consumed by Gen Z on YouTube and Facebook is on influencer channels, 48% is on media companies, like Social Chain, and only 2% are on brand channels for minutes watched, according to Tubular data.
Clearly, if brands want to reach younger audiences, it is essential to activate with media companies and influencers, or by buying branded content in these places.
Grobel explained this is all too clear with gamers, who are highly intolerant of ads. Over 60% of gamers use an ad blocker, according to internal Social Chain research reported on by Tubular Insights. “So that makes social video a very key way to reach them online,” Grobel said.
Social Chain Media has a direct access point to 6M highly-engaged gamer audiences via its GameByte channel, which consistently tops Tubular’s leaderboards. The channel is flooded with gems like this cow completing a skyscraper parkour course. Moo-smerizing.
Brands that partner with Social Chain are able to embed ads into content that audiences can relate to. This content matches the trusted aesthetic on the social channel, thereby getting past a gamer’s infamous blinders. One such example is Frontier Developments’ Planet Zoo overview/teaser video with GameByte.
Media sellers hook ad dollars when they can present their social content or channel as a true access point to a specific demographic. The more niche you can get the better.
To assess their demographic and audience footprint, Social Chain Media uses Tubular Labs, which shows GameByte has a 91% male audience, the vast majority of which are 18-24. This particular audience also has a high affinity for such channels as College Humor and UNILAD Tech, which showcases tech innovations and hacks. In moments, we’ve constructed a simple audience profile.
GameByte viewers are a great fit, for example, for tech brands looking to market a hip new gadget to young male viewers. And those same tech brands may fare well with a satirical trial video or comedic use case to truly appeal to this audience.
Media sellers savvy to their data can confidently approach buyers. They are armed with insights that really differentiate their content. All it takes is a little data digging to get an edge over everyone else.
Brands Want To Build Trust, Can You Deliver?
Brands working with Social Chain Media come with different requests, ranging from awareness to performance measurements like downloads.
But one unifying ask prevails. Brands come “for our trusted, authentic voice,” said Grobel. “It’s that authenticity and trust that sets (video) apart from more generic forms of advertising like paid and programmatic.”
Digital publishers deliver this via the strong communities, and super fans, they magnetize to their social feeds.
“Having a social video that lives in a trusted community should be a key part of advertising campaigns that live on digital,” Grobel said. “The key is to create an environment where your media company’s affiliation with the brand counts for something. That said, choose your advertisers and brand collaborators wisely.”
So, how do you actually prove you’ve done your job? How do you tell if a brand’s voice is more trusted amongst your viewership?
Social Chain has an in-house data division that looks at audience likes, trends, and reactions to advertising. “We survey our own audiences to find the effectiveness of advertising,” said Grobel. That’s the kind of data media sellers can provide to Social Chain’s clients.
The use of surveys to understand digital audiences is ripe for excavation this year, especially amid reports of Chrome’s intention to do away with third-party cookies. In short: get on this.
We Need a Single Currency Across Social Media Dealers
“Millennials and Gen Z are 55% more likely to be on social media for up to 3-4 hours a day. And 1 million 18-34 year olds in the UK use social media more than 10 hours a day, far more than television,” said Grobel.
Still these stats aren’t enough for brands and advertisers to go all-in on online video. “To have some kind of currency across social media videos would be invaluable,” said Grobel.
The video data is there. The trick is agreeing on what metrics best demonstrate ROI.
Social Chain Media has joined Tubular Labs’s Global Video Measurement Alliance (GVMA), with a mission to create a modern measurement standard that a whole industry can confidently transact on. Other members include Discovery, Buzzfeed, Mattel, Viacom, and Vice.
This measurement standard will help advertisers gauge if spending a lot of money on a platform will ensure they reach their intended audiences. This can give a better sense of reach (much like GRPs in TV media buys). And if all brands and companies can get on board and develop a trusted currency, that’s going to help everybody.
Social Chain Media’s Next Steps
Keeping up on the latest industry moves is critical. Still, in this everchanging online video space, most of us are running and staying in the same place. Social Chain, however, has hopped off the treadmill, thanks to improvisation and willingness to try new things.
In 2019, Social Chain saw a 64% rise in the number of video views for its long-form content, said Grobel. This has inspired more investment efforts into high-quality content across platforms.
Another trend that isn’t going anywhere is the pivot to international video markets, specifically in the LATAM and APAC region. For those taking this course, here are some insights to maximize your efforts.
Social Chain Media sellers, in particular, are exploring non-English speaking markets across Europe (Spain, etc.) and Asia. The company needs to make sure “the economics are there to create content that audiences will love,” Grobel said.
Tubular Labs’s data wholeheartedly vindicates a move to non-English markets. Spanish language content alone is a great growth market. Whether it be Spain or LATAM, which is home to the third-biggest increase in viewership of YouTube videos from the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019.
Read more here: Latin America Is the Next Video Frontier
Takeaway: Differentiate Yourself with Data, The Rest Will Follow
Video performance data can help your company confidently answer these critical questions:
- Who is my primary audience?
- What else are they watching?
- What type of products or pastimes do they like?
- What is the specific buying power of this demographic?
- What brands are eager to target this demographic?
These insights not only help you boost engagements and audience affinity, but they can also help you create a customized data story for brands. Unlocking the power in your data can help your company develop, from transforming your business practices and bolstering your pitching, to giving your business that much-desired edge.
Want more nuggets of wisdom you can use for branded deals?