"We talk a lot about creative, but the key is the data," Guy Oranim, CEO of First Media, told TheWrap
Top-down cooking videos, those quick tutorials recorded with an overhead camera, have become the bread and butter of First Media's food brand So Yummy.
Despite competing with food giants Tastemade, Food Network, and Buzzfeed's Tasty -- all which have significantly larger followings across social platforms -- So Yummy's top-down videos consistently outpace its competitors.
Join WrapPRO for Exclusive Content,
Full Video Access, Premium Events, and More!
On Facebook, where a majority of the viewing for these verticals take place, So Yummy averages 16 million views a video, according to Tubular Labs, which averages the number of views a creator receives on videos in the last 30 days. Buzzfeed's Tasty is in a distant second place, with 2.7 million views and Food Network logs 755,000 views a video while Tastemade gets 225,000. Meanwhile on YouTube, So Yummy's video posts average around 1 million more views than its competitor's videos.
What's the secret sauce?
Launched in 2016, shortly after Buzzfeed's Tasty made the first splash into the top-down cooking pool, So Yummy premiered its own version of the cooking videos with a focus on quality over quantity.
Where Food Network posts 600 videos a month across its social channels and Tasty posts around 400 on Facebook alone (which include a mix of top-down and other videos), So Yummy pushes out around 6-10 videos a month on its Facebook page and around 60 across all of its social channels.
The downside to this quality over quantity approach means that the company's monthly view count on Facebook (168 million views in June) is low in comparison to both Tasty (1.4 billion) and Food Network (448 million).
For So Yummy, it is the quality of the video that's most important.
"That's what drives our strategy," said Guy Oranim, CEO of First Media, the multi-platform company that runs So Yummy. The foundation of that strategy is data, he said.
"We talk a lot about creative, but the key is the data," Oranim told TheWrap.
While past video performance and traditional seasonal recipes play a factor, there are thousands of other parameters beyond recipes that the company measures and compares in order to see what brings in the most attention.
How background color contrasts with the food matters, as does the speed of the hands that make the food and the cleanliness of the tabletop where the food is being made. So Yummy has tested them all. The winning results are then shared with the creative department, which work in-house with the data analysis team.
"The fact that I know [the data] doesn't mean anything. The creative department needs to know them to implement them," said Oranim, who noted that the two departments communicate multiple times a week.
Oranim said while these parameters (color, speed, and cleanliness) may sound trivial, they are an important factor in standing out from the competition. Other brands, for example, will hyperlapse (speed up) videos, which can give the movements a hectic and rushed feel, Oranim said. So Yummy, on the other hand, uses stop-motion to cut out the unnecessary bits of the process and then speeds up the video. As a result, the viewer isn't seeing the hands repetitively going in and out of the frame. They are just seeing them place down the food or ingredients.
Also key, Oranim said, is a clean table top and So Yummy's intentional use of low-tech cooking equipment in its videos. Rather than using tools specialized for cooking or food design, So Yummy uses common household items. Oranim compares two similar videos on decorating pie crust -- one from So Yummy and the other from Food Network -- as an example of how So Yummy's videos differ.
In the two videos, a pair of hands is seen cutting and decorating a pie. The So Yummy video starts with a shot of a clean tabletop before a set of hands come in to lay down a flat piece of dough with a rolling pin. They then place a small square plate over the dough to trace out a design before using a puzzle piece to imprint small designs across the dough. The Food Network video starts with the dough spread across a table covered with flour. While flour helps keep the dough from sticking to the surface of the table, Oranim says the visual aspect of a dirty background can come off as unattractive. A set of hands then comes into frame to cut the pie using a pie cutting tool, which can come off as irrelevant to the viewer, says Oranim.
"They're using this specific accessory, an accessory that [the viewer might not] have. First thing is that this is irrelevant for [them] because they don't have it," he said. "And the other thing is now I'm thinking, 'What's the big deal? I'm not surprised by the fact that If you have a special crust cutter you can cut crust effectively. Have I had it I could do it"
Oranim credits these small differences to the strong performance of the video, which attracted 53 million views after its first 30 days on Facebook while Food Network's generated 2.6 million, according to Tubular Labs. He also says these small tweaks are key to strong engagement. Currently, So Yummy's video has more than 1 million reactions and 29,000 comments. Food Network's has 8,900 reactions and 800 comments, according to public metrics on Facebook.
Oranim points out similar differences between So Yummy's videos and videos from other competitors, which he says resulted in similar differences in performance. For example, a caramel decoration video from Tastemade brought in 2.3 million views 30 days after being posted; whereas, a similar video from So Yummy brought in 99 million. So Yummy also made a video on how to make small chocolate bowls out of ice cubes, which garnered 66.6 million views and 2.1 million reactions on Facebook. A near-identical video from Tasty attracted just 20.4 million views and 341,000 reactions.
On YouTube, So Yummy's videos are just as dominant. The company's YouTube page has a total of 1.6 billion views for 254 videos, while Food Network has 150 million views for 2679 videos and Tastemade has 133 million views for 1838 videos. Tasty, which has 3 billion views across 3140 videos, remains So Yummy's greatest competitor.
"In terms of daily trends it looks like both Tasty and So Yummy are following the same trends up and down over the past couple years, though Tasty seems to generally be higher," says Social Blade CEO Jason Urgo, who compared the viewing/subscriber data of the two vertical's YouTube pages. "Diving past those numbers it becomes a little more cloudy. It appears that Tasty gets less views per video then So Yummy."
Urgo noted that at the end of the day, So Yummy's higher average view count might not matter if Tasty is winning in overall views.
However, because a good portion of So Yummy's business comes from sponsored videos, Oranim says he's not worried about the overall view count.
"Walmart or Sony or Breyers, all of which are our clients, they don't care how many views I have in general. They don't care how many friends I have, in general. The only thing that they care about is how many views and how much positive engagement I can deliver to the specific videos that they do with [So Yummy]." he said. "And so they're looking at the individual videos because they want to be able to estimate how many views we can generate for them."
Two recent videos that Walmart partnered with So Yummy on currently have 14 and 16 million views and have been shared more than 100,000 times. Sony's sponsored video, "When Food Meets Music," currently has more than 13 million views and 61,000 shares.