Why Honda Stage Has Failed (so far) on YouTube

honda-stage

This article is a repost and was originally published for Canada Media Fund’s Trends blog. It can be found here

Last June, Honda launched with much fanfare a multi-million dollar content plan for YouTube. The company declared it was pulling back from its TV ad spending to focus on a dedicated YouTube channel. The Honda Stage channel was announced along with a $50 million total budget to feature musical content from top music artists. It’s not clear how much of that amount was to be invested in content vs. the marketing campaign leading up to the launch.

We are now early September, and the Honda Stage channel has struggled to get any real traction with its videos (less than 100,000 views in total). Honda has chosen to keep the number of channel subscribers secret.

Here is a rundown of the reasons why the channel isn’t doing so well as well as some suggestions and best practices on how to grow a YouTube audience.

Reason #1: Lack of content (for the first 10 weeks)

As of mid August, Honda Stage had uploaded a total of 8 videos with most less than two minutes long and one lasting only 16 seconds. This added up to less than 10 minutes of content on the channel for over 2 months. They’ve since uploaded more long-form content bringing the total to 23 videos.

Compare this to the 3 top brands on YouTube who continuously upload content all year long. In the first week of August alone Red Bull uploaded 19 videos (5 on August 7 alone), GoPro published 9 videos and Vevo 15 videos.

Reason #2: Heavy-handed branding

A viewer coming along would be unclear if this channel is about music or a Honda commercial. Although it’s clear that Honda has created this promotion to tie into its brand, the branding is too heavy-handed.

All of the Honda Stage videos have “Honda” or “Honda Civic” in their titles. If Honda wants to reach an affluent audience in a crowded music space, it will need to focus on the artists.

Honda is leaning on musical acts with large spotlights by putting a big branded umbrella over them, thus preventing fans from finding the content. Most views come from search and YouTube recommended videos, so focusing on popular artists rather than constantly putting the brand forward would drive more views.

Reason #3: Lack of engagement

This is a common problem; many brands post content but do not engage with their audience. Posting content is only half of the job; creators—whether they are brands or individuals—need to listen and interact with their audience, and ideally iterate their content based on the feedback they receive. Brands see social platforms through the same lens as traditional advertising methods. But one of the things that makes YouTube so powerful is that it’s a two-way medium.

Honda Stage suffers from a lack of audience engagement with respect to both its content and the channel. So far, only YouTube profiles belonging to Honda dealers have engaged with the content, but Honda Stage has yet to reply or engage with any fan or viewer.

Reason #4: Lack of consistency

Consistency goes hand-in-hand with engagement. Every popular YouTuber understands the importance of clearly identifying the type of content viewers will get from a channel and when it will arrive.

Honda Stage posts erratically, and there is no indication as to when new content will be uploaded. Even though YouTube is a on-demand “pull” medium (as opposed to a “push” medium like TV), viewers still want to know at what frequency new content will be posted and what it will consist of.

Reason #5: Not going all in

Honda has approached content on YouTube in an old school marketing campaign sort of way: new channel, new website, promotional tour lasting about a month or two without a sign of a clear long-term commitment.

Once again, Red Bull and GoPro as well as Chevrolet are shining examples of going all in and commitment to content. All have ongoing upload schedules and robust content libraries that continue to be indexed in searches.

In addition, for its Honda Stage initiative, Honda created a separate channel from its already established brand channel with a robust 125,000 subscribers. This makes it easier to drop once the campaign is over.

There are more but these are the most obvious of Honda’s stumbles. Now here is where Honda should focus to help grow the channel and build a dedicated and engaged audience.

Actionable tips for better branded content on YouTube

 

Read “The YouTube Playbook”

YouTube has created both an excellent Creator Playbook as well as a Creator Playbook for Brands. Creators developing any kind of content for YouTube should read both. They are excellent primers and provide easy-to-follow and common-sense advice.

It’s a YouTubers’ world, so learn to collaborate

Almost all YouTube ‘millionaires’ (meaning channels with more than one million subscribers) have hundreds of videos with multiple years of experience. Brands making their début on YouTube should find ways to collaborate with them to learn how to build a dedicated audience. Successful YouTubers know that collaboration is a key to growing an audience.

For example, two Honda Civic Tour artists have a significant YouTube presence:

  • Portugal. The Man has 60,000 subscribers and a total of 22 million views
  • American Authors has 174,000 subscribers and a total of 40 million views

 

An easy way to collaborate would be to have both artists release videos on their channels to announce and promote the Honda Stage channel and Honda Stage should return the favour by, for example, producing a video portrait of each of them or offering them a filmed jam session in high-end studios.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint…

Neither GoPro nor Red Bull are overnight success stories. Both have been at it for over 5 years. Building a dedicated audience on YouTube takes time, a lot of content and hard work.

The ad press often focuses on “YouTuber millionaires” without much talk of the hard work and dedication involved in growing those kinds of numbers. It’s OK to start slow as long as your committed to the long haul.

Honda Stage’s YouTube channel isn’t a failure because the true test is the test of time. What will Honda Stage look like in one or five years from now? Hopefully, they’ll stay devoted and use some of these baseline tactics to sustain their growth.

What is a YouTube Multi-Channel Network – MCN 101

YouTube Channel Networks

This article was originally written for Canada Media Fund’s blog. It can be found here

HOW DO MCNS WORK?

On YouTube, multi-channel networks (or MCNs) are organizations set up to manage multiple video content creators, primarily YouTubers and YouTube channels.

There’s a certain similarity to digital advertising display networks that represent websites and sell banner advertising. The difference resides in the fact that MCNs often participate and work with channels to help create and improve their content; they are also actively involved in the development of channels within their network.

MCNs work directly with YouTube and are given access to a content management system (CMS)—a system that enables a MCN to manage multiple partner channels and, in a case by case basis, they are given tools to implement Content ID. Content ID is a tool that allows copyright owners to identify and manage their content on YouTube. Every video that is uploaded is scanned against reference files that content owners have uploaded into the CMS. If a match is found, YouTube takes action in accordance with the rules or instructions that the content owner programmed in Content ID.

When a channel joins a MCN, some additional tools within the channel dashboard are unlocked to optimize and claim content. Networks offer various types of support such as production and editing tools, funding, monetization assistance, cross-promotion with other channels as well as digital rights management.

In addition to the abovementioned services, MCNs can provide other advantages like production support and training as well as studio spaces complete with cameras, sets, wardrobes and green screens. They can provide creators with channel growth strategies, website support and the opportunity to collaborate with other YouTubers within the network.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MCNS?

MCN rankings can differ depending on the metric used: number of channel partners, number of monthly views or revenues. The largest MCN in terms of views is Maker Studios, with over 4,5 billion monthly views across thousands of channels. AwesomenessTV has the largest number of channels, i.e., more than 86,000. (Source: Multi-Channel Networks, a white paper by Vast Media for MIPTV)

mcn-rankings

 

 

Some of the older and most well-known MCNs are Machinima and Revision3. More recently, we’ve been increasingly hearing about Maker Studios and AwesomenessTV, which were both acquired by major Hollywood studios (Disney and DreamWorks Animation respectively).

Strictly speaking, there is nothing new about studios buying MCNs (in 2012, Discovery Channel bought Revision3). However, with DreamWorks’ and Disney’s recent acquisitions, it has become clear that Hollywood has taken notice of YouTube’s talent and sizeable audience.

Canada is also in the MCN game with Vancouver-based BroadbandTV, WatchMoJoBlue Ant Media and Boat Rocker Studios with over 1,2 billion views monthly and representing over 12,000 channels. Although MCNs are fewer in number in Canada, they operate in much the same way as their American counterparts.

HOW DO MCNS RECRUIT TALENT?

MCNs recruit creators and channels through various ways. It can be just as simple as making a “cold call”, i.e., networks employ dozens of full time recruiters whose sole job is to comb through thousands of channels and send direct generic messages. Other recruitment tactics include targeted marketing campaigns as well as incentives with existing partners that take the form of commissions paid on every channel they help bring in via links hosted on their own channels.

Most of the major YouTube channels are part of MCNs, with a few exceptions that tend to hire agents to help them grow their brand.

HOW DO MCNS GENERATE REVENUE?

Content monetization on YouTube can be very confusing for creators since the CPM fluctuates constantly with demand and seasonality. CPM stands for Cost Per Mille (also referred to as cost per thousand), which is the amount of money generated per 1,000 impressions (ad views). For example, if your channel gets an average CPM of $5 and you generate 1,000,000 ad views, you will earn $5,000.

To help with this, networks offer creators deals by which they guarantee them a flat CPM rate based on video and banner ads that appear with the content. Some networks offer slightly higher fixed CPMs to channel partners; that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the channel and contract term.

When a channel is part of a MCN, it relinquishes part of its revenue to the network. Payout is often as simple as the network taking a percentage from the channel’s revenue—anywhere between 1% and 50% depending on agreements and the MCN’s involvement.

Another example of a revenue stream is the facilitation of content integration the network; the latter works directly with brands and marketing agencies. For example, ASAPScience created videos for the CBC during the 2014 Olympic Games.

MCNs also partner with smaller video platforms or websites and enter into licensing agreements with them to redistribute their content.

Content ID can also provide significant revenue for content owners with large libraries. A MCN has the ability to use YouTube’s Content ID system to generate revenue from videos it owns but that are uploaded by other YouTube users. For example, Just for Laughs Gags has just over 3,000 prank clips on its YouTube channel but claims and monetizes over 100,000 videos uploaded by users.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR MCNS?

Until last year, the largest MCNs were basically considered as tech start-ups. This perception changed after the abovementioned major acquisitions, changing the way the screen-based industry sees MCNs, i.e., as media companies with high growth potential.

The number of MCNs will likely increase and MCNs will specialize vertically—such as fashion (StyleHaul), music (Vevo) and food (MiTú). It wouldn’t be surprising to see TV, film, music or print media majors join the MCN bandwagon.

The Mickey Mouse Club era seems to be over. Kids are now spending more and more time on YouTube, and they idolize YouTubers. Hollywood (and “traditional” entertainment in general) is now turning to online video in search of new ways to engage with younger audiences.

 

The Digital Media Addict’s Readling List – April 5th, 2014

Multi Screen At Home

Online Content and Video:

Girl Talk & Freeway  “Tolerated” Music Video by Maker Studios is Girl Talk‘s first ever video which is significant  itself but what caught my eye was that it’s produced by recently Disney acquired Maker Studios. Might not be the first but its the first that’s come to my attention. YouTube has become the go to place for music so it only make sence that artists us YouTube studios and talent to produce artists videos. Watch out Vevo!

With Disney Buying Maker do all Big Media Companites Need to up their YouTube Game?  by Dorothy Pomerantz on Forbes.com

Yep… sort of like Temple Street building Boat Rocker (shameless plug!)

MTV Chief Builds Video Network for the SnapChat Generation by Tim Peterson on AdAge.com 

Astronauts Wanted’s mission to tell stories via multiple touch points using the connected teen’s digital behaviour as different touch points for an overarching storyline. Now that’s digital storytelling!

The Web and Online Marketing: 

The Future of Advertising: Here’s what to expect by  on CNBC

Mobile and location are “the shit” in digital marketing. We’ve only been told that “The Year of Mobile” is here for last 10 years now. Also predicting consumer behaviour is borderline creepy.

How Canadians are Using the Internet Differently. by Susan Krashinsky on The Globe and Mail  

Following the same theme, mobile is taking over. Canada has a higher percentage of smart phone penetration yet investments in marketing on mobile platforms lags continuing the trend of Canadian marketers and brands playing it safe.

How Nielsen’s OCR Will Impact Digital Video Advertising by Chris Smith on MediaPost

Ever since I’ve been in digital media I’ve been annoyed by antiquated media measurement metrics forced into digital and not vice versa. Funny how nobody imposes digital metrics on TV, Out of Home and Radio.

Calm Down, Facebook is Not Screwing You by Michael Lazerow on Re/code 

The bashing of Facebook got old quick and I’ll fully admit to getting on that bandwagon. In hindsight the failure is on us as marketers and brands for taking the easy route by choosing to build castles on someone else’s sandbox and losing focus on the end goal.

Research:

TV Content Drives Multiplatform Viewing - Vubiquity Research Report

TV still the number one source for video watching but other platforms are gaining ground, especially with the under 35 crowd. The audience wants to consume content via multiple platforms and is willing to pay for it.

Older Adults and Technology UsePew Research Center 

Long report that basically says that the older population is adopting broadband, the web and technology into their lives with the more educated, affluent taking the lead. I’m already seeing older vloggers appearing on the scene!

What I’m Reading and Watching Today – April 4, 2014

Here’s a list of articles I’ve read and a few web videos I think you should check out – April 4, 2014

Europe in 8 Bits – Documentary Trailer from Javier Polo

EUROPE IN 8 BITS is a 2013 documentary exploring the world of chip music, a new musical trend that is growing exponentially throughout Europe. Available on Vimeo on Demand.

More than 70 Million People Watch eSports Worldwide by Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau on ongamer.com

Tales from Millennials’ Sexual Revolution by Alex Morris on RollingStone

Millennials spend 48% More Time Watching Online Video than the Average Internet User by Amh Gensenhues on Marketing Land.