Within a year of its launch in 2015, Blab, the live video chat platform, grew to nearly 4 million users who spent an average time-on-site of 65 minutes per day watching video. This explosive user growth and astronomical average time-spent metric was yet another clear indicator from both the consumer side and the brand side that digital video is still a massive growth industry. Then overnight, earlier this month, Blab went out of business.
Turns out, that it is really tough, said founder Shaan Puri. "It killed Meerkat, and Periscope & [Facebook] Live are feeling the pain right now," he wrote in a post-mortem blog post on Medium. To that we can all agree. Then he said something else that caught my eye: "User churn was a problem ... only about 10% of Blab’s user base visited regularly."
I suspect that this was largely due to the fact that since videos were "live" no one thought that they might get a second or third viewing or find out if someone they watched and liked had any other past videos that might be just as entertaining. And these are problems not limited to live streaming sites, but to every publisher that hosts video in hope of capturing lucrative video advertising.
Users have been conditioned to think that the only vast library of discoverable video is on YouTube. Yet most publishers have a substantial repository of videos that with the right technology can be promoted with previews, empowering (and encouraging) users to watch lots of videos, not just the first one. There is AI-based technology that can recognize individuals based on their past viewing interests and serve them up new videos with even more accuracy than when Netflix or Amazon Prime make a recommendation. This results in more video views, more video ads consumed and a better user experience. It also results in users coming back on a regular basis, helping to eradicate that churn that helped bring down Blab.
Now that you are poised to better monetize your video assets with more and more views from an increasingly loyal audience, what is next? Knowing what kind of advertising works best for both your audience and your marketers. For example, the pre-roll ad is out and the future of premium publisher-hosted video advertising is all about branded and sponsored content. Brands today understand the importance of connecting with their audience in the way they are most comfortable — through engaging story driven content. Just like showing viewers the right video content is vital to building site loyalty, brands today need to do the same as they attempt to create the same audience affinity/loyalty in their products and services.
Branded content is the intersection of content creation and brand messaging. By creating and distributing content in conjunction with a publisher, brands are able to message, connect and engage with their audience at growing scale.
As digital advertising spend continues to increase, publishers must find new ways to compete with the size and scale of Facebook and Google, branded content provides that opportunity. By not only creating brand specific content messaging but distributing that content alongside premium editorial content brands enable themselves to connect when users are most engaged and comfortable — with their favorite programming.
Richie Hyden is cofounder and COO of IRIS.TV. He specializes in video monetization, distribution and optimization.