Jen Perri is currently the Senior Director of Partnership Development & Multi-platform strategy of the Univision Creator Network. She leads the charge in cross platform integration of influencers and brands within Univision. Perri helped launch the Univision Creator Network, the leading U.S. Hispanic-focused multi-channel network on YouTube.
Prior to her role at Univision, Perri held strategy and development positions at Seventeen Magazine Network, Collective Digital Studios (now Studio 71) and co-founded BigFrame. She also was a producer and production manager for Vanguard on Current TV, which won the first Emmy award for Best Interactive Television Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards.
VideoInk: What has been the biggest challenge in growing UCN since its launch in 2015?
Jennifer Perri: The MCN landscape has evolved quite a bit over the past several years and because of that there was some hesitancy among talent early on because they had felt burned by some networks. That said, we are very proud of our ability to build an incredibly strong community of influencers. We have been selective in who we work with and the result is that those in our network have extracted a lot of value from their UCN experience. The fact that most of our partners have chosen to extend their relationships with us, and in some cases have referred others to join UCN, is a testament to the kind of network we have worked to build.
Our goal is to invest in the community. We want to help young, diverse creators grow by providing best in class services to those in our UCN family. By being a part of Univision, we are able to provide our influencers with access to industry experts and unique opportunities to expand their audiences and brands across Univision’s platforms — including TV, digital, radio, tentpole programming and live music and sports events.
Over the past two years, what have been two trends you’ve seen emerge in the digital industry? And how have you responded?
Two trends we have seen emerge are demand for premium video series and the need for branded content that really breakthrough.
Distributors like YouTube Red and Verizon GO 90 have a big demand for influencer driven premium content, which creates a great opportunity for us to work with some of our top talent like Eric “SUPEReeeGO” Ochoa who we have a development deal with — Eric has over 3.1 million subscribers and 500 million views and is one of the most popular Latino YouTubers. We are developing and pitching content together. We see our influencer talent as the next generation of storytellers and we are continuing to invest in them.
We know that marketers are looking for more ways to truly engage with consumers beyond just traditional methods, which is why we are seeing more brands come to us for 360 campaigns that include a mix of media placement, branded content and influencer marketing. By leveraging our influencers in campaigns brands are able to create a more authentic connection to the audience.
We are also very cognizant of the fact that influencers struggle with finding the right balance between advocating for a brand while not feeling like they are doing an infomercial. We have a dedicated team working with creators and brands to ensure that the influencer’s content is organic and also stays true to brand’s messaging. That balance is critical to campaigns being effective.
The MCN model has shifted quite a lot. As one brand that was later to the game, how have you shifted the network to fit today’s state of business / influencer economy?
I believe it was to our advantage to start a bit later. We learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work by seeing what other groups did first. From day one our goal wasn’t necessarily to get to a billion views, but to find new ways to add value to our core business and to invest in rising talent that we saw in the community. Over the past two years we have achieved that — with about 200 influencers we have the #1 network for Hispanic influencers in the U.S. and we have exceeded all of our projected revenue goals thanks to the amazing sales force we have within Univision.
And one of the differentiating factors that we have is that we are a start-up within a larger media company — and we are able to tap into that scale. For example, we have been able to integrate many of our influencer campaigns into Univision’s large tentpole content initiatives across television, digital, and social in an authentic and meaningful ways for advertising partners. It also allows us to utilize our influencers to help attract more younger viewers to our networks. So it has been a win-win-win for the advertiser, the influencer, and our core business.
We’ve seen a lot of the publishers in video heavily embrace Snapchat, how are you approaching emerging platforms and working with your talent to help them grow audience in those places?
We know that people are consuming more content across more platforms than ever before so we are always looking at how we can potentially leverage emerging platforms as we evolve and diversify our strategy. That said, YouTube is still at the center when we are developing a strategy for a brand partner. As a platform, we know our audience is spending a significant amount of time there and it allows us to monetize more seamlessly at this point through both branded content and media sales.
Where emerging platforms like Musical.ly and Snapchat are critical is in the process of identifying the next generation of emerging stars. We monitor these platforms regularly as we look for fresh Latino talent to develop. We recently signed the Martinez Twins who are a teen sensation and have taken the internet by storm.
On what platform is your content experiencing the most engagement, and why do you think that is?
In terms of engaged video views, we feel that YouTube is the stronger platform for our influencers and our audience. Video is increasingly important, especially when it comes to reaching Hispanics as Hispanics consume video at a higher rate than non-Hispanics.
YouTube has long been a home for digital native content and it is the platform where our influencer content gets the most engagement because that is where most of our audience is. YouTube is the home of influencers and while now you see more diverse content players on the platforms including A-list celebrities, premium content producers and publishers, the DNA of the platform is still connected to the influencers and their fans who go on the platform expecting to connect and engage with their favorite YouTuber.