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Q&A with 5by CEO Greg Isenberg for Upcoming Cynopsis Digital Video Forum

in Industry Trends, Spotlight

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The online video space is ever-evolving leaving content creators, distributors and advertisers to experiment with maximizing the value of digital investments. With about 50 million people in the U.S. now watching video on their mobile phones it’s important to gain insight into the rapidly growing mobile video market, and better understand current trends, how and why content goes viral, and its rising presence in the media.

Every minute there are 100 hours of video added to YouTube alone, making it increasingly difficult for video content to break through the clutter. In preparation for the Cynopsis Digital Video Forum in San Francisco on August 6, we’ve asked Greg Isenberg, Founder and CEO of video discovery app 5by, to weigh in on his area of expertise – the online video industry.

Q&A with 5by CEO Greg Isenberg

If you controlled what the top results for a Google search on “the best digital content today”, what would you list?

I think it depends on the type of content you’re looking for. For real-time news, it’s Twitter. For what you’re friends are up to, Facebook. For the best photos, Instagram. For the web’s best videos, 5by. For finding the most interesting web pages, StumbleUpon.

What do you think brands/networks are getting right when it comes to social media and video? What do you think needs work?

The brands that really understand the DNA of a medium, and know how to speak to that audience, do well. I used to help run an agency that did social strategy for Fortune 500 companies. The message from CMOs was generally “we need to be on Pinterest or Vine or Twitter or Facebook,” or whatever was hot at the time. The truth is, you don’t need to be everywhere but it is important to be a few places where your community and content thrive. Then if you consistently speak to that community with regular shareable content, you’ll be golden.

I’m particularly bullish on YouTube and online video because historically speaking, video has been the best way for brands to tell a story. Nothing is more powerful than a video. YouTube now reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. One in three millennials watch online video instead of traditional broadcast TV. The reach is definitely there now. Social is still the Wild West so it’s a very exciting time for brands who recognize that and capitalize on the opportunity to reach millions of people really quickly.

Digital video advertising is expected to hit $6 billion this year – what is one major problem you see still challenging this medium when it comes to the bottom line?

We often forget how nascent the online video industry is. It began in 2005, which is a mere 9 years ago. We haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to monetizing online video and I expect there to be a lot more interactive video ad models in the future. For example, if you’re watching a video on YouTube of Michelle Phan (a popular Youtube celebrity) why shouldn’t you be able to you hover over her sweater and purchase right from YouTube? Innovation in video ad and analytics products will help brands better monetize over the next few years.

Is it really all about the views? Why do you think as an industry we are obsessed with that metric more than any other? Where do you see the measurement of a video’s success evolving into next?

It’s natural that the very top of the funnel metric (i.e.: views) is what people care about. The same goes for other mediums like websites (unique clicks) or mobile apps (installs). However, what brands should really care about is the bottom line. How many customers did you attract from this video ad or this Vine campaign? That’s what’s ultimately most important – the rest of the metrics are vanity metrics. I think YouTube and other video platforms will move beyond views to more bottom of the funnel engagement tracking as they beef up their analytics platform.

Some creators hope for a future where content can stand on its own (with little to no advertising or brand support). What are your thoughts on the recent brand and content integration boom, and do you see it as the last business model for digital video?

There will never be a future where content can stand on its own without some push, unless the creator has a massive subscriber base. It’s not like Field of Dreams mentality where “if you build it, [they] will come.” There has to be an amplification or distribution method.

The recent brand and content integration boom is a natural progression of online video as brands try to get as much exposure as possible. It’s not the last business model for digital video because it’s just the beginning. Going forward, we’ll start to see a lot of native video ad products. Many big brands come to 5by to place their videos and get exposure, and that model is only going to become more and more prevalent.

What industry innovator would you love to take a selfie with, and why?

Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder of Instagram. I like what they are doing with video and I think Facebook/Instagram like other big companies like Yahoo/Twitter are betting big on video.

Anything else you want to say about your panel specifically, or about the industry as a whole?

I’m looking forward to talking about the future of online video and sharing some actionable tips of how to leverage this really exciting and lucrative space.


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