Epoxy’s CEO Prefers Product Placements To Pre-roll

JuanBruceGoogle’s pitch to brands is that YouTube is a great place to increase brand lift and drive sales, not just impressions.

If YouTube star Bethany Mota talks about Tide-To-Go, its impact is like a friend’s social media recommendation, which is why Google is gunning for these direct-sold sponsorships to be part of its own sales process.

Similar to product placements on television shows and in movies – brand integrations in online video can influence a purchase.

“The influence of a [brand product] integration is very different than a pre-roll, which tries to raise awareness for the most part,” said Juan Bruce, CEO of Epoxy, a platform that connects YouTube creators and multichannel video networks with brands. “An integration can have a very definite impact on people’s preference to buy and how this product fits into their lives.

“Often when you try to look at CPM equivalents for a brand deal, it’ll ultimately be higher-value because there’s this deeper meaning being delivered for the audience.”

Brand goals influence which video platform a company will select to integrate a product. If a brand wants to reach consumers while they’re actively searching for video, they will typically look to YouTube. Conversely, if they’re more in discovery mode or sharing video, that’s more likely to happen on Facebook. 

Juan Bruce spoke with AdExchanger further about the impact of brand sponsorships at consumer platform companies.

AdExchanger: What is Epoxy?

JUAN BRUCE: We build software that allows creators on a daily basis to log in and publish out to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and understand who in their audience is influential. We give them analytics which help them understand when to publish, how to tag, what content works best. Because a lot of these video creators are part of networks, we’re able to give them visibility into platforms other than YouTube.

YouTube is the only platform that has a log in or off for multichannel networks to pull data. When they’re operating on Facebook, Twitter and all these other networks, they don’t have that similar kind of relationship, so they use our tool to package up brand deals that are multiplatform.

But you originated with YouTube?

We saw web video growing up and the origin of Epoxy was trying to understand what were these YouTube creators doing that was allowing them to blow up and become stars very quickly with very little production budgets, and why the studios and production companies around Hollywood were not finding the same success, although they were very experienced. At Team Downey (Robert Downey Jr.’s investment fund, where Bruce served as head of digital) we did a big research project out of all these video creators and YouTubers and it immediately jumped out to us that there was this whole community-building side to what they did that went well beyond the video content aspect.

How do you structure deals with brands?

If a company comes along with an RFP, a network can look at our data and figure out “there is a strong YouTuber who sits here, a strong Instagrammer, a strong Twitter or Vine person,” and can create a proposal for how to work with this brand. When it comes time to execute, both the network and creator can understand how the campaign is laid out. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have noticed there are massive amounts of video hosted on YouTube being shared out and consumed on their platforms, so they’ve started to build native video solutions to meet the demand.

Is monetization part of what you do?

The stats around pre-roll and CPMs are very visible, but the interesting thing we’ve seen over the last six to nine months is the number of brand integration deals being structured for all of these MCNs. It’s hard to track publicly, because an RFP comes in and they make a deal behind the scenes and it’s not always visible.

When YouTube changed its policy on brand deals, that was a clue and validated all of the numbers we saw on our data pulls. Brand integrations are unquestionably important.

How have video metrics shifted most?

As this industry matures, we’ll see people stop being obsessed with the view, because the length of a view isn’t always indicative of a video’s value. We’ll see creators whose meme or Vine clip (extracted from) a 10-minute video actually has more cultural impact and fan engagement than the actual video.

It’s early on in the days of Facebook, and I think they’ll get more sophisticated metrics about what constitutes a view, but I don’t think you can ever consider these platforms as exactly the same. Comparing Facebook to YouTube to Twitter is not like comparing ABC to NBC to CBS, because all those channels have the same interface and defining contexts.

How so?

The way you approach YouTube is mostly search-related. The way you approach Facebook is through Facebook’s graph, where there are preferences around what you’re following and what your friends are following, and you just expect to discover things. On Facebook, if you publish a video and people start commenting, those comments populate friends’ feeds, whereas on YouTube those comments stick with the content itself. Theoretically, if you had less views on Facebook, but you had an equal number of comments and all those comments travelled, what’s more valuable?

Will consolidation among YouTube networks continue, e.g., Disney/Maker, RTL Group/StyleHaul?

I think so. The mode of operation is so different than traditional entertainment where you’re polishing and perfecting content and then throwing it over a wall for very select distribution. In a lot of ways, they’re not only buying access to channels and consumers, but audience interaction. The traditional entertainment companies don’t necessarily have the people or infrastructure to manage this. This is why you’re seeing these acquisitions.


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