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Pixability: How Brands Can Create Online Video That Gets Shared

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At the recent Streaming Media East conference, we sat down with Jamison Tilsner, a strategic accounts lead for YouTube marketing specialist Pixability, to learn how companies can succeed with branded entertainment. First off, Tilsner offered a definition of what branded entertainment is, and what it means for online video.

"Branded entertainment, I think, is sort of a catch-all term that refers to any time a brand engages in the process of developing content," Tilsner said. "It could be a brand's own YouTube channel; it could be brand's integration with an existing TV show or TV channel. We're focused on the types of content that brands can create to engage with other audiences on YouTube in an organic way. So, creating the content that the core audience on YouTube really wants to see and wants to engage with."

Creating that kind of video doesn't have to cost a fortune. Informational videos are in demand with customers, and companies usually have strong information resources in-house. Put those experts on-camera and let them answer customer questions that will provide info and move prospective buyers down the sales funnel.

"I think it's about authenticity at the end of the day. You know, brands have a lot of expertise in-house, and it's expertise that consumers want to be able to consume in a way that's organic, right?" Tilsner said. "Just sharing information, providing insight into any particular topic space, and being open about what's being provided is really the way to capture the hearts and minds of the community on YouTube."

For more on creating branded online videos, watch the full video interview below.


Troy Dreier: Hi, this is Troy Dreier, senior associate editor for streamingmedia.com and onlinevideo.net coming to you Almost Live from Streaming Media East 2014 in New York City. We’re having conversations with people in the know, and I am joined today with Jamison Tilsner who is in business development at Pixability. Welcome.

Jamison Tilsner: Thanks for having me.

Troy Dreier: Tell people what Pixability is, what you guys do.

Jamison Tilsner: Sure. Pixability is a software built on top of YouTube’s API, layers on data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and it helps brands optimize their presence, everything from video SEO to targeted paid media on YouTube.

Troy Dreier: And you guys just a hosted a-- co-hosted a fantastic event in New York City, with YouTube, all about generating- generating ideas for brands and how they could use YouTube more effectively.

Jamison Tilsner: Exactly.

Troy Dreier: Yeah, you guys are doing some fantastic work. Let’s talk today about branded entertainment.

Jamison Tilsner: Sure.

Troy Dreier: I think it’s a really exciting area. Tell people what it is.

Jamison Tilsner: Branded entertainment, I think, is sort of a catch-all term that refers to any time a brand engages in the process of developing content. So it could be a brand’s owned YouTube channel, it could be brand integration within existing TV show or TV channel. We’re focused on the types of content that brands can create to engage with their audiences on YouTube in an organic way. So creating the content that a core audience on YouTube really wants to see, and wants to engage with.

Troy Dreier: I mean, this is an area that I was kind of suspicious of when I first heard about it. You think about product placement on TV and in movies, but on- on YouTube, and elsewhere online, I mean, brands are creating some of the most interesting video, and they don’t- they don’t splash their logos all over it, it’s not- it’s not off-putting, and it’s- it’s stuff that you really want to share. What is the secret of creating videos that people will want to watch, and then share with their friends?

Jamison Tilsner: I think it’s about authenticity, at the end of the day. Brands have a lot of expertise in-house, and it’s expertise that- that consumers want to be able to consume in a way that’s organic, right? So just sharing information, providing insight into any particular topic space, and being open about what- what’s being provided, is- is really the way to sort of capture the hearts and minds of the community on YouTube.

Troy Dreier: Share with me some of your favorite branded videos on YouTube, or maybe ones that you’ve worked on, in particular. What- what company-created videos have you- have you loved?

Jamison Tilsner: That’s interesting. Well, one of my favorites of all time is Speed Stick’s integration within Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns on Funny or Die. Just a brilliant integration within the content, using the- the brand in- in a funny way that’s really endemic to the content itself. But I-- really, while that’s a- a well-known and really expertly done integration of a brand, there’s so many examples of brands that are just engaging with their- with their audiences in a very organic way. Just providing information, for instance, about how to perform certain functions with- with key products. And I think those are the areas, the ones that don’t necessarily come to mind right away, but where they’re building this community and pri- providing real value to their audiences up front.

Troy Dreier: Right, right. I mean, the- the how-to ones aren’t real splashy, like the Dove sketches, but they get- they get huge hits. People go to YouTube to find out how to do things, and brands are giving those answers.

Jamison Tilsner: Right. So people go to YouTube for how-to content, for when they’re in con-- the con- consideration phase of a purchase, so connecting to them when they’re in that mindset is really key to building brand content.

Troy Dreier: Tell me-- YouTube is so vast, and we’re always getting new numbers of just how many videos are being uploaded every single second. How do brands stand out? How do they get viewers to pay attention, or even know they’re there?

Jamison Tilsner: The trick is to look at all of the various tools available on YouTube. So, for one thing, create the right content. Look at what the- the key creators around a particular topic space are developing on YouTube. What are the lengths of content that are resonating with the audiences around those topics? Ensuring that videos are properly tagged with titles, descriptions, and tags. Over-- in most cases, over 25 percent of video views in a particular topic space will be driven by search and suggested videos on YouTube. The way to ensure that you’re relevant within those algorithms is to optimize tags, titles, and descriptions. And then look at paid me-- a paid media strategy that’s going to speak to your specific interests that-- whether that’s driving engagement on your channel, driving purchases on a website, building awareness, there’s- there’s lots of ways to manage the existing content on YouTube to drive different brand goals. Engaging with the key influencers on YouTube can really drive engagement of a brand’s presence.

Troy Dreier: I’m glad you mentioned paid media. When you buy views on YouTube, what are you buying, and who’s seeing it?

Jamison Tilsner: You’re buying the opportunity to appear in front of a particular audience, and in our case, when we’re selling TrueView placements, the advertiser is only paying for a view that actually is completed. So 30 seconds or- or-- to completion of- of the spot. And it’s being viewed by an audience that’s relevant to any particular topic space, be that yogurt, or car parts, or streaming media devices.

Troy Dreier: Now, you’re doing this for a 30 second spot that airs as a pre-roll?

Jamison Tilsner: Not necessarily 30 seconds, it could be longer than 30 seconds, it could be shorter. And one of the things that we’ll do with Pixability is- is test various different creatives to understand which is most effective in a given placement. So depending-- again, depending upon the goals of the particular campaign, a different creative might work in certain instances, and- and another might work better in others.

Troy Dreier: Now how does a TrueView ad, a pre-roll, increase sharing for a video? If someone watches it, even if they watches it all the way-- watch all the way through, they’re really going for the other video, the one they were trying to watch. Are they going to share that pre-roll ad?

Jamison Tilsner: So the pre-roll ad itself isn’t going to be sharable.

Troy Dreier: Uh-huh.

Jamison Tilsner: But what it will likely do is drive viewership on the brand’s owned channel.

Troy Dreier: Okay.

Jamison Tilsner: In that case, there are tools to further engage audiences and ensure that, if sharing is your goal, the videos will be shared.

Troy Dreier: How important is it to get viewers to subscribe to a brand’s channel?

Jamison Tilsner: Again, it really depends on- on the goals of a particular advertiser.

Troy Dreier: On the goals?

Jamison Tilsner: If I’m looking to engage consumers over a long period of time and keep them returning to my channel for new pieces of information and advice, I think subscriptions would be a- a really important indicator of success. If I’m just looking to drive a purchase on a- on another website, maybe subscribers aren’t something that I want to focus on immediately.

Troy Dreier: Okay. Very good. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Jamison.

Jamison Tilsner: Thank you.

Troy Dreier: This is Troy Dreier coming to you from Streaming Media East, Almost Live. 

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