Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking Online Video Shots on the Net...Targeting Men

Here are notes and thoughts on the male focused presentations from the IAB Canada Video Day conference in Toronto last month.

There were two presentations that dealt with male audiences and while most of the rules of creating engaging content apply to all demographics, there are some properties that have a clear advantage when brands are looking to reach men.

These discussions showed how Molson Canadian and the US Army deployed online videos to reach their targets and engage them in fresh new content.

Branded Content - The Future of Online Video

David U.K., Managing Director, Worldwide of Heavy.com presented a neatly packaged perspective on the power of video and how it has evolved to become a high impact media vehicle.

Heavy.com is a leading online entertainment brand for men. The Heavy Men’s Network is a distribution network reaching more than 45MM men worldwide through music, urban lifestyle, gaming and comedy. The company has been working with brands to create branded content and has done some interesting experimentation in video production.

U.K. stated that brands are a part of the modern fabric of society and have as much legitimacy as consumers to create and share content. He also shared his opinion on the shift in advertising roles from the interruptive model towards less interruptive formats such as video commercials, sponsorship and branded content which help consumers access new content.

Based on the premise that we have the tools and we have the critical mass, the current environment is perfect for the creation and distribution of branded content. U.K. argues that consumers are creating content in unprecedented numbers and that brands that have far more resources at their disposal, should to the same.

"Consumers expect to see and are happy to share it if the content is good" says U.K. So it's clear that creating branded content to be distributed across the global social media platforms, vertical publishers and the web is an effective way to engage this new breed of open mindedness and sharing mentality.

U.K. presented the Molson Canadian Code as an example of engaging content that speaks to the core standards of today’s media consumption – the time people make for humour, brevity and entertainment that can be easily shared.

Molson Canadian Code recently won the MEC Global “People’s Choice Award”

Men Like Custom Content Too: NHL.com Brings The US Army's Core Values to Life With Their "Hockey's Finest" Integration

Larry Gelfand, SVP Media Sales at NHL presented the league’s approach to video integration and showed the tremendous growth in video consumption on the site.

Quick NHL Stats:
  • 54 million fans in North America
  • 13.5 monthly unique visitors to NHL.com
  • In Canada almost 50% of the country are NHL fans (14.2 million)
  • The #1 sports property in Canada
  • Over 5 million unique visitors per month on the NHL.com Network

When the NHL launched video on their site, there were seven channels with aggregated videos from the league and its 30 clubs. All programming featured on the site was original, exclusive and all-access.

NHL has invested in their functionality by:
  • Built in flash for optimal consumer experience
  • Embedded in-page player
  • Extensive, searchable Video archive
The NHL broadband platform has been extended across all 30 team sites providing advertisers a seamless way to reach hockey fans across the entire NHL network – nationally and regionally.

Total video “starts” on the site – including live streams have increased 50% year over year.

82% of fans who started a Video, watched at least 50% of that Video

61% of people who watched a Video, finished watching the Video

Gelfand presented an example of customized content that (clearly) targets males using NHL.com content.

NHL.com is currently producing an original broadband series (12 features) exclusively for the U.S. Army. The show spotlights U.S. born players and teams who best embody the Army attributes, as it relates to hockey. The featured players will be from amongst those playing in the NBC Game of the Week on Sundays at 3PM ET.

While there were no details on the results, it was clear that the NHL had made a significant investment in customizing their content for the purposes of producing media properties that were once removed from their core focus. On YouTube, the videos are averaging over 5,000 views each, add the home site and other distribution channels, and the U.S. Army appears to be reaching its audience in an engaging way.

Here’s an example featuring Chris Chelios:

Aligning sports with the military…it’s like peanut butter and chocolate I guess…

Notes & Observations:

It’s interesting to see how brands are working out diversification strategies and expanding on their existing content to create new opportunities.

The Canadian Code plays heavily off the trendy quest for Canadians to identify their cultural fibre while working the male camaraderie angle to gain consensus on general life issues. It's simple and that's why it works.

One-dimensional sponsorships of the past relied on multi-media exposure for added effectiveness (PR, rink boards, TV mentions etc.). Now, the sponsorships have morphed into synergistic new productions.

For men, based on the success stories I've seen - Beer, Sports & Chicks – in any order… work.

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