Kate Robinson (pictured) is the Senior Vice President of Content Distribution & Partnerships at Bustle Digital Group, the parent company of premier women’s publications Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily and The Zoe Report. Collectively, Bustle Digital Group publications reach over 80 million unique readers a month.
At Bustle Digital Group, Kate leads content distribution and strategic partnerships across all of the group’s brands. Additionally, Kate’s team is responsible for editorial video strategy and branded video development. Previously, she was Vice President of Business Development at Viacom, charged with accelerating partnerships to evolve Viacom’s social, digital and mobile arenas, supported by its data-driven Ad Sales solutions.
This week we caught up with Robinson to discuss Bustle’s content strategy and how the company measures success on social video.
VideoInk: How important is video in Bustle’s overall content strategy? And why?
Video is important to Bustle Digital Group’s (BDG) business and we’re facing it head-on it by taking a data-driven approach on what is created and resonates with our audience. Right now, BDG will focus on franchises that compliment our editorial content, with flexible formats that allow us to incorporate advertising partners. In addition, we’ll be focusing on partnerships with other media companies, bringing the BDG content expertise into collaborative productions.
When creating video content across social platforms, how do you make sure that the investment is worth the return? It seems many publishers have had trouble doing this.
For BDG social accounts, we have scale. For many, monetizing short-form videos solely through pre/mid-rolls won’t justify development of high volumes of content. Instead, we are focusing on less volume with high quality – creating series that drive audience engagement, which forms more opportunity with advertisers as well. From exclusive IG Stories like Beauty Call or co-developed collaborations with traditional media, BDG’s expertise and audience knowledge makes video creation on social a viable model.
Its become a trend for digital publishers to launch their own OTT offering. One look at any OTT TV service and you’re likely to see a channel from Tastemade, Popsugar, and The Young Turks. How do you view this trend? Can every publisher benefit from a channel/ OTT App?
Bustle launched its own OTT channels across Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV last year, so we’ve been in that space for a while, though we look at it more as a learning and branding exercise at this time. OTT isn’t going to drive meaningful consumption for a digital brand like ours – yet. We’re optimistic on these platforms’ future and I do see us competing alongside more traditional TV channels, but discovery is still an issue. Once a service UX truly leverages content metadata for viewer recommendations and a Bustle show is frequently surfaced next to a cable series, then there is real potential. Until then, people will continue to go into Netflix and Prime because of the aggregated experience and other apps get buried.
How do you define if a piece of social video content is successful? If you launch a new series on Facebook watch or Youtube and it has a relatively low number of views, but incredible engagement in the comment section, would you consider continuing to build off of it? Why?
To define success, it really depends on the purpose of the video and goals. We launched a series called Doula Diaries on Watch that was incredibly successful – defining success for the series as one with extremely high viewer engagement. Knowing this series was so effective with a dedicated audience, we will be launching a second season to continue that dialogue. In a purely editorial instance, engagement is driving our investment. However, in instances where the purpose of the video is marketing or branded content, it’s both views and engagement. We want to show it reached scale, but two seconds of a view isn’t proving that we can connect on an emotional level – so we aim to reach our audience with engagement and we do it well. It’s always a good metric to pass back to our partners to show that viewers naturally felt connected to the content we created with them.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge ahead for publishers pushing into online video in 2018 and beyond?
Publishers must be selective about what they are producing – gone are the days of high volumes of video. We have already begun to recognize the need to produce with purpose and clearly define what the economics of that is. As publishers develop strong brand voices, they will add value from a distribution model and be in a better position versus those that aren’t able to drive organic connection to their audience. As consumption continues to span across platforms (online, social, OTT, etc.), measurement will also be even more of a factor in understanding what constitutes a successful view.