Learn From Netflix: Why “Orange is the New Black” Totally Works

A colleague of mine has been buzzing about her latest gig for the past few months now.

Her email announcement that she landed a role on a new series created by the one-and-only-one, Jenji Kohan was super exciting both for her career and for me (yay! I’m officially one slice of Kevin Bacon away from Jenji Kohan herself).

The second part of that announcement was that the series was being produced and self-distributed by Netflix to exclusively be available on – Netflix; this part of the news was interesting, somewhat perplexing and I wondered if my friend would have a job after she wrapped shooting.

Now, however, we see that Orange is television and narrative storytelling history in the making.

A Fast Lesson in Distributing Original Programming

We’ve seen some Netflix original programming done before and quite well I might add.  House of Cards, was the content provider’s first original series and the revival of Arrested Development, which originally aired on FOX for three seasons, was a move to capitalize on an established fandom.  Orange is the New Black, although greatly different from these two programs, is the combined result of what made both House and Development work.

The reported budget on House of Cards was around 100 Million, according to this Forbes.com article. The network used analytics of subscriber activity to know that their customers would indeed check out a Kevin Spacey starring political drama produced by David Fincher. This number crunching and market research is nothing new for Hollywood; Q-Star ratings have been a mysterious method of evaluating blockbusters for sometime now. Netflix, however, had one thing working in their favor – they could deliver the content right to the viewer verses blockbuster which still functions under the “if you build it they will come” theater distribution model.

So, Netflix spent the dollars, set out to produce something that was for sure going to be streamed and delivered something stellar. I mean how could something touched by David Fincher that birthed performances between Spacey and Robin Wright not be wonderful? Seriously.

With House, Netflix established themselves as a distribution platform that could work for original programming and not just a platform where audiences are watching outdated content that may or may not be new to them. There was just one thing that Netflix had to ask themselves: how long would it take for Netflix to gain more subscribers from their original programming?

Which led to them asking the smarter question: how could they obtain an untapped audience without breaking the bank on marketing dollars?

Easy answer here folks. Find a series that has a large fandom that is currently not being fulfilled. Enter: Arrested Development, Season 4.

Arrested is a show that drives transmedia fandom. The cult following that ensued from the three seasons on FOX made Arrested a true “social” series with fans discussing its’ past and future on blogs, making up stories for characters and in some instances posing as the characters themselves.

There was no question that the fans of Arrested would chatter and cheer over the announcement of a 4th season on Netflix. (That’s kind of the whole point beyond “fandom” they live in the same world that the Bluth family does). The distribution channel reportedly grew its subscriber base by 600,000 when they announced the revival.  A good number but arguably not enough; but that was OK because Netflix executed the alley-oop just right, what was coming next in the world of original programming for them was the slam dunk. .

And then, Jenji Kohan parted the red sea and released all episodes of a first and original season at once…. 

This is a move that Netflix has made before – all episodes, all at once. There is been a lot of debate over whether or not this model works or hurts. I think that the correct answer leaves us in too much of a gray area but there are certain instances in which releasing all the episodes at once “works.”

Orange is the New Black is one of those instances and here’s why:

1. Jenji Kohan is most known for her ground-breaking, critically acclaimed series WEEDS. I definitely signed up for Showtime just to watch it and I definitely cancelled my subscription after the series finale. But if I need my fix I can still watch the series on Netflix..

Yes, Netflix has been able to analyze the analytics over who was watching WEEDS; a show with a female anti-hereo protagonist, that was watched by not only women but men as well.

2. It is funny yet has its truthful moments, this is provided because Orange’s cast of characters live within a very, very specific world. That world is the prison system. It is one that you and I don’t live in but one that when we enter into “fandom-land” translate into transmedia-like properties, for example: “Red’s Cookbook”, an online Orange themed store called the “commissary,” beauty tips from Laverne, stretch of the day with Yoga Jones, Catch the Chicken Facebook game, etc. you get my point. (BTW if you are a representative of the Netflix marketing team you can reach me at amydepaola [at] mac [doc] com, should you want to develop my ideas.)

3. A show in a female prison and therefore a 90% female cast is something to talk about.

How many of us have peered inside a women’s prison before? Not many. The majority of content out there that focuses on the prison system is focused on men. Mean men. Dramatic men. There is SO much to talk about here. We are seeing content we’ve never seen before. Releasing all the episodes at the same time has had the complete opposite effect. Ever since the series aired its’ hashtags and reactions from viewers have been crowding my newsfeed, on Facebook and on Twitter. I argued just the other day with a friend of mine that that was absolutely genius. Having the content there all at once allows fans to reach the point of obsessive, they, we are ultra-consumed by the show’s content.

It is a different kind of social chatter that is occurring when the series is available all at once to viewers. Unlike the social chatter that I see crowd my newsfeed on a Tuesday night before the new Sons of Anarchy. This chatter is not only an announcement that “I can’t wait for it to come on” or “yay, it airs tonight” or “can’t wait to have a glass of vino and watch it tonight,” the conversation is about the content within the program:

“Did she really see the chicken” appeared in my newsfeed.

“Did Bennett sleep with her mother?!?!” Also appeared in my newsfeed.

Why? Because we are ultra-consumed with something when we are given the opportunity to experience it all at once. That is how you tap into audiences imaginations, by inviting them 100% into the world. (See: Walt Disney and the Magic Kingdom).

What Happens Next?

Rumor had it, way back when, that Orange was going to be produced by Netflix but was possibly going to be sold off to a more established original programming network for distribution.

Lucky for Netflix that did not happen. In fact the series has been greenlit for a second season and another excited email popped up in my e-mail earlier this week announcing the start of production on season 2.

Orange is the New Black not only set the standard for Netflix but is going to change the landscape of original programming – and possibly episodic narrative programming as we know it.

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Stay tuned from more insights on Netflix from ZoomTilt’s Community Manager, Amy DePaola and follow her on Twitter.

Online Video Advertising Market to Double in Four Years

This morning, a new report fresh off the presses from e-marketer indicates blistering growth in online video advertising over the next 5 years. Driven by a proliferation of ad networks, demand-side-platforms and scalable, social video production solution-providers, e-marketer sees online video ad spending nearly doubling in only four years from $4.14 billion dollars in 2013 to $8.04 billion by 2016, a 25% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). With the online video advertising industry’s market size and revenue pool set to double over the next five years, the digital video space is also expected to mature to achieve more standardization in video ad format, a larger shift to cost-per-action ad pricing and a rise in native branding on publisher sites.

Digital Video Advertising Growth Chart

Meanwhile, TV and digital video advertising revenue pools continue to blur and converge, as multi-platform and multi-screen video advertising is increasingly become an integrated norm. “We’re pretty much approaching all of our major broadcast partnerships in concert with our digital programs,” says David Matathia, director of marketing communications at Hyundai Motor America. “When we’re working with network partners, it’s now rare to see a standalone TV or a standalone digital deal. It’s almost become standard practice to package digital and broadcast together.”

With digital marketers more than ever looking to social video as a key tool to convey rich, sharable brand experiences, e-marketers projections hardly come as a surprise. However, according to e-marketer and Credit Suisse, this growth will be accompanied by stable-to-rising CPMs for marketers (as well as higher RPMs to content creators) on networks like YouTube and mid-tier blog and media placement sites.

US Online Video CPM, by Inventory Tier, 2010-2017

Digital Video Ad CPMs

Source: Credit Suisse, e-marketer. Excludes mobile display ad impressions.

Although the report doesn’t touch on social video and branded entertainment advertising, growth in that sub-class is also expected to be strong, driven by the reality that consumers increasingly have (1) more freedom over how, when and where they consume video (and by extension, to skip or ignore ads), (2) more devices to navigate between, (3) more social media activity informing their online identity and (4) less patience for content that isn’t contextually relevant, entertaining and/or informative.

Overall, with marketers, agencies and media companies set to double spending on online video in only a few short years, the future certainly looks bright for standardization, consolidation, innovation and maturity in the digital video advertising space. Let’s hope the quality of the ad content keeps up (or, better yet, improves) with the big expected boost in spending.

An Exclusive Preview of ZoomTilt’s Upcoming Video Testing Analytics App

Video

We are proud to show you the first video demonstration of our video testing analytics app! Now you can know exactly what your audience thinks of your videos.

To learn how to get early access when the software goes live, drop us a line here: http://www.zoomtilt.com/analytics

10 Reasons No One Watches Your Brand’s Videos

Business Man Game of Thrones Meme

Content-loving customers had better take note, because you just leap-frogged blogging and slide deck-styling all the way making a video for your brand. “Video? Isn’t that the future of marketing and like 60% of all internet traffic?” You’re damn right it is, and now your content marketing prowess is on full display to all your customers and social media followers, not to mention a billion monthly YouTube users. WIN. That’s right internet – we’re uploaded, we’re discoverable and we’re in the game with a titanic 88 views in week one. And people, 88 views is just the beginning, because by week two we’ll be making waves with triple digit viewership, am I right?

It saddens me to say that in ZoomTilt’s line of work, I seem to have this exact same conversation on a weekly basis:

Brand: We want a viral video. None of our videos are getting good viewership and we’re spending a lot of time and money on them.

Me: Well, what kind of videos are you making right now?

Brand: Pretty much all documentary-style testimonial interviews and really slick, artsy, color-corrected videos of beautiful, waif-ish people walking down dim hallways showcasing our product.

Me: Would you consider experimenting and cross-testing different types of video creative? Maybe something more relevant to your target demo that’s funny, or edgy, or surprising? Perhaps with memorable, strongly-defined characters? We can define success metrics and perform deep data-gathering and predictive A/B testing on each one.

Brand: Oh no, no, no. We could never do that. Characters? We’re not GEICO, we don’t have a Gecko… the brand IS the personality. Besides, we can’t be a funny brand or an edgy brand, we’re an elegant, sophisticated, reliable, precision-engineered brand whose experience must translate like a haiku told upon the shore of a placid lake. So what can we do like that that’s going to go pretty viral..?

Stop. Video marketers, 95% of you need to re-think your approach right now, because that one competitor who gets it is smoking your PR and inbound marketing efforts. So let’s cut the small talk and get you started with our field-guide of key video marketing pitfalls to avoid. If you’re making videos for your brand and no one is watching them, here are the ten (10) reasons why:

1. You don’t really know your audience. Knowing who your audience is (say age 35+ working mothers) isn’t the same as knowing their media consumption habits and what content resonates with them – you need to understand both.

Let’s start with a typical customer video from a mainstream, mom-oriented consumer brand:

Ok, darling and highly likable Mom? Check. Solid brand that knows how to do fun video creative? Check (*ahem* Old Spice Guy *ahem*). Video that will inspire anyone to share your message or watch more? Complete miss. Don’t get us wrong, there are great opportunities out there in user-generated content, but why would a mom watch dozens of nearly identical informational testimonials for the same product? And why does Pampers, a globally-recognized diaper brand, feel the need to flood its YouTube channel and crowd out its more premium content with so many different iterations of the same bland, product credibility-builder video that doesn’t create informational or emotional value for their customers? Why would a diaper-buyer watch multiple minutes of this type of video content rather than simply executing a 15 second Google search to quickly skim a credible blog review on the same product? Your customers’ time, convenience and content consumption autonomy are highly relevant to your digital content strategy – respect them.

Now let’s take a look at some of their professional creative:

Strong start here too – who doesn’t love cute, happy babies with bed-head? But ouch, only 6 likes and 3 dislike? What gives?

Well, to summarize the entire campaign message: “if your baby pees or poops itself and doesn’t get changed, it won’t be happy (or have great, disheveled hair) like these happy babies.” What’s new, insightful or interesting about that message, one that more or less restates the same biological principle mothers have known for decades, if not centuries? Sorry Pampers, we already know your diapers are probably a little bit better (and a little bit more expensive) than some of the other brands sitting next to you on the shelf, your single layer of additional protection isn’t boosting brand lift or getting anyone to retweet this.

Want to know who gets motherhood? Fiat gets motherhood:



2. Your content doesn’t create value.

A lot of marketers think successful branded video content needs to have professional, $10,000-per-minute-and-up production quality. It doesn’t. Nor does it even necessarily have to be funny or shocking, although that usually helps. But one thing your content MUST accomplish is value creation for the viewer, which can be either informational value, emotional value or both, like these:



3. Your content generates a low-valence emotional response.

72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so if you make something average it will get skipped and ignored. If you create something on the far end of the spectrum that generates high viewer emotional arousal, audiences will engage with and share your video.

Right (creative) way to make a marketing video for your pizza business:

Wrong (traditional, uncreative) way to make a marketing video for your pizza business:


4. Your video content doesn’t have hooks early and often.

Again, when you create content, your content is competing for attention against an ocean of entertaining video, great music and informative blog articles. You don’t need to perform an epic jump from space like RedBull, but be sure to hook viewers’ attention early and often to avoid drop-off and defection to other content. Nice job Pepsi:


5. Your content has no story arc.

Both of these videos feature heavy men’s business apparel product placements. Which do you think had the better digital campaign return on investment (ROI) and repeat viewer engagement because viewers wanted to know what happens next?

Story:

No story:


6. No one found your great video.

Unfortunately, successful video content marketing isn’t just creating great content, then putting it up on your YouTube page, blog and facebook feed and moving on to the next thing. Videos live and die by discovery, and you need to get a broad audience (and, for that matter, the right audience) looking at your work. I wrote a pretty comprehensive introductory explainer to getting more views on your video here on Quora. Check it out and feel free to leave comments or feedback if it was helpful or you disagree with any of my core points. Whatever you do, don’t make the same mistakes as Cybergeddon.

7. You didn’t test your video(s).

Traditional video content marketing – particularly branded entertainment – can be high-reward, but also moderate risk. Even with significant investment in seeding and paid media, big branded content efforts can crash and burn because the creators missed their audience or couldn’t quite pull it together on execution. At ZoomTilt, our branded entertainment media buying process is closely-integrated with video A/B-testing, so that not only do advertisers get to compare multiple creative variations based on the same brief or campaign objective, but they can also make data-driven predictions about targeted audience engagement and content virality prior to committing their full production spend. Test your videos, don’t just pull the trigger on a $300,000 media buy because your 24 year old intern down the hall who wears skinny jeans thinks they’re epic.

8. You’re not amplifying or complementing the conversation.

During prime time, up to 60% of the conversation happening on Twitter can be related to TV. Yes, successful TV shows can create global hashtags in real time. While digital isn’t at that scale and more fragmented, it’s also not as ephemeral here-and-gone as a TV ad, and that’s a big opportunity for marketers to capitalize on. Create companion content, connect your videos to product promotions or product launches, integrate hashtags and then measure it all. Entertaining storytelling is a huge catalyst for social media activity and engagement, so don’t silo your videos from your overall social media marketing efforts.

9. You’re missing the long tail.

Just like search engine optimization (SEO), strategically targeting the long tail (and long tail keywords in your video title, text description and metadata) can pay off big, particularly when your video has little relevant competition but really strikes a chord with a spirited niche. Get it right, and next thing you know your content gets picked up on Mashable and your sales go through the roof. Just ask the OraBrush guys:


10. You’re the 1,000th brand to hop on a content-competitive trend.

Don’t go head-to-head on replica content with Fortune 500 marketing giants (unless you yourself are a Fortune 500 marketing giant) if you can’t bring something really new, fresh and novel to the table:

This wins (#JeffGordonisonFire):

This doesn’t (#sorryHubspot):


The difference a little creativity and the scale of your audience reach [a solid celebrity cameo that doesn’t bust your budget usually doesn’t hurt either] collectively make on the success of your content cannot be understated.

Now let’s go out there and make successful branded videos people love.

6 Important Innovations in Video Spotted at 2013 CES

CES 2013

Every year the CES conference showcases new technologies and campaigns from the biggest names in technology. Video, TV and transmedia integration were high on everyone’s minds this year, spanning two-screen advertising to smart TVS to cloud-driven video recording.  With thousands of attendees, three expo halls (plus tents and a few food trucks), the CES was, at times, overwhelming, so we’ve broken down a selection of important media innovation developments from this major tech gathering as part of ZoomTilt’s 2013 CES recap:

1. Cisco: Videoscape Unity
Videoscape Unity is a new and expanded video services delivery platform which will allow companies to provide a synchronized multiscreen video experiences. It will also provide unified search, discovery, and viewing functions to allow consumers to watch premium live and on-demand content on any (service provider managed or unmanaged) connected device regardless of location.

2. Audible Magic: Content Recognition
Audible Magic will bring an advanced television advertising solutions including interactive and addressable advertising across smart televisions, set-top boxes and second screen devices. This will provide an interactive advertising solution which will use the company’s SmartID ACR technology to identify ads in real-time watched by users and will then display supplemental, promotional and additional informational options.

3. Google TV: 3rd Generation Streamers
In its race to reverse second-screen the TV into the “new monitor,” Google TV debuted its latest generation streaming device, the ASUS Qube with Google TV media streamer, alongside OEM partner Marvell.  The team watched a few ZoomTilt web series episodes at the Marvell both, and, needless to say, Google TV’s new boxes are hands-down the most convenient and enjoyable way to watch ZoomTilt shows in big-screen HD.

4. Accedo: TV Everywhere
Accedo’s T.V.E Solution will provide an integrated solution, which connects content distribution and management platforms with attractive Pay TV applications on any connected device. Additionally, social networking integration through TVE app will allow for an enhanced user experience.

5. YuMe: Click-to-Ngage
The Click-to-Ngage icon located on an advertisement will allow users to see more information and options from that brand.  Although it remains to be seen if this type of feature will catch on (clearly the quality of the content alongside it will be of critical importance), YuMe’s approach is clearly looking to combines the big screen, couch-based TV viewing experience with the interactivity and measurability of online video.

6. AT&T Enters Online Video Streaming Fray
A telecom heavyweight is wading into the streaming TV space? It would certainly seem so.  The phone company’s upcoming U-Verse television service will start offering an online video streaming service called “U-Verse Screen Pack” for an $5 a month, available to U-Verse television subscribers.  The bundled offering appears likely to offer a content library similar to Netflix at a slightly lower price point, although it remains to be seen if AT&T intends to win customers based on a differentiated experience (and/or content), or simply hopes to entice its existing telecom subscriber base to pick up streamed TV at a slight discount.

See anything else new and noteworthy at the 2013 CES? If so drop us a note in the comments section.

A Quick Guide to the New YouTube Redesign for Those Who Still Haven’t Caught Up Yet

In December, YouTube launched a new redesign which focuses on channels and subscriptions, while tightening its integration with Google+. The reviews from the platforms lovers and marketers have been mixed. It nixed a lot of features that daily users loved but channel managers like the shift towards higher engagement. We’ve listed a few of the major changes and ways to optimize your YouTube channel with them.

  • Avatar Importance: The image you choose for your channel is now appearing whenever you leave a comment, in the sidebar when your channel is showing, on channel recommendations and more.
  • Descriptions Can Make or Break It: While channel descriptions can be quite long, only the first 45 characters will show up alongside your avatar and channel title, so make sure its impactful and keyword-optimized.
  • ZoomTilt TV on YouTubeMake sure to include your keywords in your channel description so that your channel will come up in viewer search results.  Be sure they are in your tags as well. Additionally, video descriptions should be inserted before any external website links, as they will increase the likelihood on a viewer clicking on it to watch.
  • Features Removed: There are noticeable elements that have been removed including “view count”, “relevance” and the “sort by” option.
  • Links: Make sure to link your Facebook & Twitter accounts to YouTube through account sharing settings and get these to be displayed on your channel sidebar. Additionally, the new design allows you to put multiple links on the sidebar. To optimize this feature include as many links as you want and you can link to a specific section of your website using this.
  • Learn About the Featured Tab: If you enable the Featured tab on your channel page make sure to use it wisely. Make sure your avatar and playlists correctly represents its. Also, if you have multiple channels, you can display them using Network or Everything template from Edit Channel option.

In short, make sure you get familiar with this new design quickly to make sure you channel is up to date and ready for viewers.  For more information, refer to YouTube’s recently published best practices guide.