There’s a 4-letter word that’s transforming the way content is produced and consumed: Data.
From journalism, to documentary filmmaking, to the programming strategies of VOD platforms, being able to synthesize statistics helps creators make smart decisions about what type of content to produce and how to roll it out.
For independent video creators and digital startups who have access to thorough web-video analytics, the payoff can be huge, says Rob Gabel, CEO of Tubular Labs.
Gabel (pictured), a former Machinima and Netflix marketing exec who leads a team of about 25 people at Tubular’s Mountain View offices, co-founded the company in 2012 with Allison Stern and has since raised $14 million from investors that include FirstMark Capital, Canaan Partners, and Lerer Ventures, among others.
While working at Machinima, he says the team faced several big questions that he felt could be answered with better statistics about their own channels or those of the MCN’s competitors, such as: “What kind of content should I create? How do I move audiences from one place to another? How do I spend my promotional dollars most effectively? How do I arrange influencers to promote content for myself or my brand? How do I pitch myself in sales presentations?”
As a result, Tubular was envisioned as a suite that would provide market data to help programmers make decisions based on statistical information about their shows, their audience, or their competitors. The company’s business model includes an enterprise offering for MCNs in which they pay between $1,000 and $10,000 per month for analytics software. Gabel says all of the major MCNs are clients.
But Tubular also offers a free product for independent creators. One of the functions of the tool, currently used by about 3,000 people, is to alert creators when their video has received mentions from other influencers on social media. This can lead to collaborations between vloggers or producers who have common interests and an affinity for each other.
Although Tubular does not physically connect companies with influencers, their customers can use the software to discover up-and-coming channels or creators that could be a suitable partner to work with. For instance, about a year ago HGTV was looking for DIY vloggers to help launch its first YouTube channel, HGTV Handmade.
“We looked at the content that HGTV was making, we looked at the content that female, 13-to-24-year-olds on YouTube liked the most and then we found the overlap. It’s not home remodeling, it’s not interior design — it is DIY vlogging,” Gabel says about the importance of honing in on a sepcific category. Tubular Labs gave HGTV a list of 40 emerging, up-and-coming, fast-growing but mid-size creators, from which it ultimately picked 5 of them to contribute to the channel.
The channel has been incredibly successful, going from 0 to more than 115,000 subscribers in just 9 months. It’s dramatically outperforming the original HGTV channel on YouTube, which is made up entirely of professional TV content and has fewer than 50,000 subscribers.
When it comes to programming, stats can show which headlines or topics resonate with viewers.
Most creators know that piggybacking on trends is a great way to increase views. But it isn’t possible to expect to recreate the viral success of a “Let it Go” cover, or bake Minion cupcakes every day. “A lot of content opportunity really is playing moneyball,” Gabel says, adding that tactical decisions can be made around content packaging and rollout to increase engagement and grow audience with every video.
For instance, people know that videos with “How To…” or “Top 10” in the title perform better than those that don’t, but do they know by how much?
“On average, Top 10 videos perform 6 to 8 times better than non-Top 10 videos, and it doesn’t matter the genre,” Gabel says.
Ultimately, Tubular aims to provide support in an often overlooked area of marketing by making sure creators’ content gets seen by their target audience.
“People spend so much energy and effort getting the talent, writing the script, shooting the video, editing the video. I think that historically the amount of time and energy spent on marketing the video hasn’t been in line with all those other areas around creating it,” he says.