Viacom says that closely monitoring granular social media data helps it quickly adjust the content -- storyline, cast, and other elements -- of its online branded entertainment TV series for its AwesomenessTV platform.
One brand in particular -- apparel marketer Hollister -- has witnessed strong results.
Three years ago, Harley Block, working at AwesomenessTV, now senior vp of brand partnerships and sales at Viacom, says the Hollister brand was falling out of favor: “Hollister never had an awareness problem, they had an affinity problem.”
Then owned by NBCUniversal (Viacom bought Awesomeness a year ago), AwesomenessTV pushed branded entertainment efforts on its YouTube channels, which included closely monitoring comments from viewers and then making adjustments to the content
For Hollister, its YouTube channels launched shows “Carpe Challenge: Miami presented by Hollister” and then “The Carpe Life, presented by Hollister” -- two fast-paced reality TV-like competition featuring young millennials, in which real kids were cast.
Last year’s “Carpe” series had 12 episodes, each eight to 12 minutes long. “It is considered long-form,” says Block, describing the content.
Viacom declined to talk about financial terms of the deal with Hollister.
One key goal, although difficult, was to determine what Hollister's young consumer base wanted and what their reactions were. Historically, Viacom's Block says “it is a very difficult thing to measure when it comes content marketing.”
After three episodes, Viacom had Nielsen doing custom studies to determine the purchase intent for Hollister products. Based upon these results, it made content adjustments in the back half of the partnership.
“The digital production is pretty fluid -- it's not a scripted drama, said Viacom's Block. From deployment to analysis, these studies can be completed in roughly three weeks.” In the past, data such as this could take several months to analyze.
Data from the studies, Block says, “affords the opportunity to adjust the storyline, talent and actual creative output as a result.” In addition, while Block says Nielsen surveys have been used in the past, the depth of metrics is now richer. This includes “vanity metrics,” where views demonstrate popularity and interest -- sentiment analysis by way of monitoring engagements (comments, likes, shares).
The result is that branded entertainment for these shows is not heavy-handed.
Michael Scheiner, senior vp of marketing for Hollister, says “everyone is dressed in Hollister [including the host and influencers]. But that is it.” He adds: “95% of the comments are positive.” This comes from “not by pushing the brand, but just having the content consumed.”
Scheiner says "we are creating content that is super relevant to them."
Hollister has seen substantial gains from this analysis and approach. Over the last two seasons, some 21 million have viewed the two series -- amassing 85 million minutes of content. Purchase intent rose by double digits percentages, and word association with the shows are strong, says Scheiner.
Going forward -- starting this month -- Viacom’s Awesomeness is working series with Kraft’s Lunchable’s brand --- its first ever branded entertainment partnership for original series on Nickelodeon on YouTube. The show will feature Nickelodeon talent, written by Nickelodeon writers and will live across Nick's social media platforms.