DEFY Media’s Nichole Becker, vice president of research, and Zach Smith, senior vice president of branded content, discuss DEFY Media s 2015 Acumen Report: Constant Content. The report explores the role of social media in content discovery and how thumbstoppers are crucial to getting youths attention, with a deep-dive into the thematic elements that appeal to youth. The phenomenon of YouTube celebrities and their role influencing youths content choices is also explored. The discussion is moderated by Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein.
“There is a lot of aggravation in the industry right now as the TV business is under a lot of pressure. Companies like DEFY are doing some amazing things with programming for a younger demographic.,” said Wallenstein. He asked what DEFY Media was looking to do with this study.
Becker led off with a short video showing millennials talking about how they consume videos these days. “YouTube is like one of the biggest things,” said one teen. “it’s a real sea-change,” Wallenstein said. The facts and figures DEFY found backed this up. “Something that really came out strongly in this study was this notion of offline,” said Becker. “we asked them what they do when they’re offline, and they gave us this blank look. There is no offline. Their whole day is online, their whole night is online. It’s a completely different mindset, and even the notion of a video is completely different. They are defining things completely differently than even a 25-year-old is.”
“Who knows what the real limits are on how much content they are willing and able to watch in a day ” asked Smith. The amount of video is heading over 12 hours per week, on average, for YouTube and social media. “They’re telling us they’re not watching it live, they’re not even DVRing it, they’re going to Netflix or YouTube and binge-watching it,” said Becker.
“What gets those thumbs stopping ” asked Wallenstein. “What made you stop Through discussion, there were a few things,” said Becker. “If a lot of people liked it, it might be good. Or it was sent by someone I liked or someone I respect, like online celebrities. They don’t view them as someone outside, they see them as one of them.” Becker also noted that things that happened to someone they knew or something that could have happened in their life was really important for teens to watch.
Wallenstein noted that a survey they did showed a new breed of celebrities coming up, cannibalizing the existing celebrities. YouTubers are relatable as well as aspirational, Variety’s survey showed. “While there were characteristics that both YouTubers and traditional celeverities shared, the area where YouTubers won out is the notion of relatability,” said Becker. “People trust them. I t really speaks to the influence they have over people, and it’s not to be underestimated.”
“Today audiences are craving relatability and authenticity,” noted Smith. “It’s about being honest and open with your audience. Celebrities might be dealing with those same things, but they aren’t as open about sharing them.”
Creating effective digital content can be a tricky business, but it can be done with the right initiative. To get further insight on it, we sat down with Defy Media s vice president of research, Nichole Becker, right before her panel today at the [a]list daily Video Summit.
What do you think is a key factor when it comes to effectively building digital content for brands?
One of the things that s really important these days is understanding the perspective of youth, and that they are not necessarily seeing a static ad anymore. Video s so important for them. So part of building a brand is really being in that millennial space and making sure your brand is well represented. Not that traditional advertising is not useful, but you really need to have that as a major part of your advertising strategy.
Do you believe it s more personality driven, would you say?
Yes, something we ve been working with is that personalities are so strong with youth and our research shows that they really identify with them, they find them very relatable, and that can really help a brand. It can make a partnership with a YouTuber or one of those similar personalities . It really helps give a face to the brand, relatability, and that s something that a brand can t get from just having a logo or advertisement.
What trends have grown the most with digital content over the past few years Or does it really depend on what s provided in terms of programming?
I really think it depends on what they provide with programming, and what audience they re targeting. At Defy Media, we have different audiences that are served, the only thing that really unifies them is their youth. You have large female segments that are really very interested in how-to videos and the beauty aspects and what s going on in Hollywood with celebrities, clothing all that traditional area. But then you also have, say like, Smosh, or what you could call goofy videos or more of an entertainment thing that appeals to both genders. It really depends on the audience that you re reaching out to, to talk to.
In terms of mobile broadcasting, do you think more people could find the means to create digital content Or do more of the traditional channels we ve come to know apply?
The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about mobile is Vine, and several people have built up their brand and personality through it. But if you look at the content , it s not necessarily where they ve created a skit or doing some sort of how-to. It s more about showing themselves. Something we re exploring with one of our brands, Screen Junkies, is they have a program called Movie Fights, where they have panels that talk about movies. We talk to fans about, Would you like to have that live so that they can participate And the only way that fans said they could do that is if it was on mobile, to have it be where they are, because having to sit down and be scheduled, that really doesn t work for them. So mobile could definitely work as a content creation platform as long as it keeps its mobileness , so to speak. As long as it doesn t become a time slot that people have to be in kind of thing.
YouTube has always been the go-to channel for many creators of content, but Facebook has become quite the competitor as of late. Do you feel it can open similar doors to those that create content, or do you feel that YouTube is still the strongest?
I think YouTube is still the strongest. One thing that s happened with YouTube is that certain brands have created a parent brand like Smosh and created a lot of channels around it that people are exposed to and could go, and those channels could gain an audience. So whatever show is gonna run after, say, Modern Family, it ll get some viewership, because people are watching it. Right now, the way Facebook is set up, it s rather difficult to get that sort of ecosystem going, and people may not be as easily to create that following or success. A lot of YouTubers have these huge followings already on social media. They already, in essence, have their videos there. I think YouTube is still going to be all to them.
Where do you see creative content going over the next few years? More personal talents Trends?
I think we will still see YouTube talent. Our research, from what we ve found, s that with youth, they re identifying with personality, that person who s like they re like me or they say the things that I think . Older people are like, How can you sit and watch a video of somebody playing video games And it s like, it s not about watching video games, it s that person. There s still room for personality where a person can put him or her out there and be palatable to an audience. In terms of what that person creates is secondary, it s really the personality behind it.