Video Now: Mashable
Matt Silverman: I think of our video team as a start-up within a larger start-up/mid-sized company, a more mature company. But we're very scrappy and we’re trying to produce a lot, and produce strategically, so that we're not wasting our resources on content that won’t build audience for us in the future. Our ethos as a media company is shareable content. You know, we're so good at social media.Our team is good at social media; our content is good on social media.
Evan Engel: One of the things we realized is that we couldn’t just take our articles and make them into videos.That’s kind of bland. That’s not how the medium works. We realized that we kind of had to produce content, shareable content. Which for us, it meant producing entertaining videos; things that people want to share on Facebook, things they want to send each other, send to their moms, and all of that kinds of stuff.
Matt Silverman: Right now, I'm not focused on doing a ton of journalism on YouTube. Scripted, fun entertainment, comedy, tech. Then I also like to do funny memes, characters, things like that.
Bianca Consunji: So we'd have stuff like "10 Things You Didn't Know About Starbucks" and that would get more than 100,000 views. But we’d also do things like, "This is the Creator of Humans of New York." That would do half a million for us. The best way to get more views is to get people to react to it. It’s something that they could either relate to, something that they feel is important that they should share with their friends. And I think that’s really the direction of video right now; it’s about social sharing.
Matt Silverman: That’s why we're focusing on YouTube. So the downside of YouTube is that AdSense, which is the monetization of YouTube, is crap. It’s not a solution for medium-sized media companies like us because you'll never win that race. There’s too much overhead. Our goal is to reach that network status, which is 1.6 million monetizable views per month, on a consistent basis.
Evan Engel: If I put X number of dollars into a text project, I know exactly how many posts I’m going to get. I know exactly how long they're going to take. Whereas video, you can pay a guy like me, or Bianca, or any of our interns, and throw them out there for two or three days, and you're not going to get content back for another week.
Bianca Consunji: So if we're doing something like 3D Gun Printing, that's going to take weeks. Or when we did the profile of Humans of New York, that took one hour to shoot, a couple of days to edit, and that did really well for us. So, it's hard to say how much time we can dedicate, but as long as we turn out at least one video a week, we should be fine, as long as that video performs well.
Matt Silverman: We used to go by minutes and type and what type works, and then we started doing stuff that was outside of the box, and it would do very, very well. And it broke all the rules of length and content type. And when Evan showed me 3D Guns, I'm like, "Seven minutes, eight minutes- it’s really long. It's kind of a dry topic. Here we go." It's hundreds of thousands of views now, which is a great return on a piece of content that we invested a lot of resources in.
Bianca Consunji: We’re trying to work on videos that will give us at least 20 thousand views. Anything less than that, with our limited resources, just isn't worth it anymore. If, let's say, 100 thousand people will watch a cute viral video featuring a Muppet and a cat, maybe 20 thousand will watch the video that we did on 3D gun printing.
Evan Engel: Maybe we just have to change our expectations. Maybe what we used to think was a news organization isn't what a news organization will be in the future. But maybe that doesn't mean that we can't get news anymore. Maybe we can still tell hard stories. Maybe we can still be investigative and do something about Grumpy Cat? I don't know.
So, right now we're shooting a sketch for our trivia show, 5Facts. So we are going to shoot a sketch involving one of our office dogs, and I think he's playing a dog Forrest Gump, if I remember correctly.
Evan Engel: To an extent, we can predict what get shared. But it’s tough, because we produce a lot more entertainment stuff and a lot more comedy stuff than we do hard news stuff.
Bianca Consunji: We do these fun, shareable videos to subsidize the journalism that we want to do. So, it means building a bigger audience, basically getting the views that we want to get that 1.6 million number.
Matt Silverman: This is how journalism has been paid for forever. The fun, entertainment, you know, gossip columns or whatever, that stuff is the candy that hopefully leads people to the vegetables in the newspaper. And we can all continue to do real and good journalism. It’s basically subsidizing it. I think with the Web, those two things are less and less disparate of like, "Sports section, world section, they cannot touch. Or comics, they cannot touch." We're figuring that out, how to blend those two things as best as possible.