Thai Randolph (pictured) is the SVP of Marketing for comedy-focused streaming service Laugh Out Loud (LOL). In addition to leading brand strategy, audience development, ad sales, brand partnerships, new digital monetization strategies and revenue streams, Randolph is responsible for spearheading LOL’s content distribution initiatives, including its streaming service and multi-platform network.
Prior to joining Laugh Out Loud, Randolph was a member of Facebook’s Global Marketing Solution’s team where she managed strategic partnerships and digital transformation initiatives with some of the most innovative marketing and technology agencies in the US.
In this week’s “5 Questions” Thai discusses what she sees as the most important metrics when trying to drive membership to the platform. The industry veteran also touches on three of the biggest challenges the comedy-focused streaming service is expected to face in 2018.
VideoInk: Digital Comedy Networks (like Jash and Funny or Die) have been in a constant struggle to stay afloat. We recently saw NBC’s dedicated comedy app, Seeso, call it quits after a short run. From a marketing perspective, what separates Laugh Out Loud from these platforms and what is being done to make sure LOL doesn’t follow the same path?
Thai Randolph: We try not to compare ourselves to other platforms because we want to focus on our own unique strengths and advantages.
Laugh Out Loud benefits from the expertise of both Kevin Hart and Lionsgate. We have the world’s biggest comedian, a proven entrepreneur with a knack for marketing who has amassed over 100 million fans, along with Lionsgate’s expertise as a global powerhouse producing and distributing premium content for a broad array of platforms. This enables us to be laser focused on super-serving our fans with relevant, multicultural content.
What are the most important metrics you’re looking at on a monthly/quarterly basis when trying to drive membership to the platform? And why are these metrics the most important?
We’re a new brand focused on establishing relevance, reach and a relationship with our audience. We’re constantly gauging consumption and engagement of our content across platforms. Our digital/mobile-first positioning means we’re in a constant feedback loop with our audience.
Our app was installed more than 500,000 times in the first 30 days of launch, but we’re also looking at website visitors, social fans/followers, and video views across our ecosystem – including creation of content for partner platforms like Facebook and YouTube. We want to reach and resonate with our audience wherever they are.
What are three hacks that LOL is using to generate viewership?
- Make it funny – really funny! For all the tools, tricks, partnerships, etc. that digital video publishers or streaming services employ, the content has to be really good to break through and resonate.
- Think “mobile-first.” With more than 90% of our content consumed on mobile, we’re programming for feeds and phones. We have to think about how we package and merchandise content for these environments. In stand-up it’s all about storytelling, but when we’re distributing clips of our content across social, we get straight to the punchline because we only have a few seconds to capture attention in a feed.
- Leverage our network. We’re fortunate to be in business with some amazing comedic voices who also happen to be very influential online. In our first four months we’ve amassed more than 5MM+ fans/followers across social. That reach is amplified when we share content across our broader network of creators boasting hundreds of millions of fans & followers.
What are the strongest channels for you to convert audiences and how do you determine the content you produce to become marketing itself?
Every promotional and distribution channel across the digital ecosystem has its advantages. We employ a social programming strategy we call “promotainment.” Even if we’re driving back to our owned and operated platforms (the site and the app), we want to make sure every piece of content has true, standalone entertainment value.
Also, the viewing consumption habits differ across the space. For instance, we see significantly longer view durations on YouTube and experience higher engagement/virality on Facebook. Our approach has been to learn and take advantage of individual platform strengths, because we know our audience is consuming content across all of them.
What are the three biggest challenges you see in LOL’s near future?
1. Making People Laugh – Ask any stand-up comedian and they’ll tell you how subjective comedy is. Because our reason to exist is to make the world laugh together, we’re always going to push ourselves to create really great, really funny content. Our audience lets us know when we’ve hit or missed the mark — it’s an ongoing relationship.
2. Prioritizing Opportunities – It’s a great time to be a content creator because there are so many new platforms to program for and interesting ways to engage. The challenge is prioritizing those opportunities – as with the content, we let our audience guide us. We see where and how they’re spending their time and look to program for places where we can have the most customer impact and ROI.
3. Keeping Up with Kevin – He literally works around the clock and is always pushing to do more, play more and find the next big opportunity. We’re all just trying to keep up with him 🙂