Live video is picking up steam, but because it takes extra resources to produce – and monetization is still nascent – it can be a tough tradeoff for premium publishers.
Yet, with more consumer platforms, such as Facebook Live, testing new monetization tactics like mid-roll ads in live video, publishers are experimenting more aggressively with live across their owned-and-operated and distributed properties.
This Old House, a multiplatform media company with tie-ins to a popular PBS television program for DIY home improvement enthusiasts, is doubling down on its live offering using JW Player.
Although the home improvement publisher already has a first-movers’ advantage from a decade’s worth of premium video content from its TV program, it also wanted to drive up engagement with members of its paid loyalty program, This Old House Insider.
“We’re starting to use live video as an added incentive for our most loyal fans, who already get access to a complete archive of every show we’ve ever produced,” said Michael Gutkowski, chief digital officer for This Old House Ventures.
To increase engagement, This Old House began hosting live events with personalities from its TV show, many of whom also have loyal fan followings across social media. Early results show live video participants and premium subscribers are consuming 10 times more video than nonparticipants, the company said.
“It’s a great way for the guys on our television programs to connect one on one with our consumers, answer questions and get direct feedback from the guys on TV,” Gutkowski said.
This Old House charges an annual subscription fee for Insider club membership and monetizes through pre-roll ads on traditional desktop or video on-demand content.
But because live video promises new perks for publishers, such as real-time interaction with viewers, the company sees a lot of potential for future monetization.
“As we build out new brand extensions targeting millennial DIY users, as well as home technology users, I think the live events will play a key role in building out branded content and new native advertising products,” Gutkowski said.
Although This Old House now uses live video as a value-add, rather than monetizing it, the publisher is collecting valuable data points around viewer usage that will lay the groundwork for revenue further down the road.
After Time Inc. sold This Old House back to its original owners about a year ago, it had to build a new tech stack virtually from scratch. It began by onboarding a new data management platform, using Nielsen's DMP.
“Since we have thousands and thousands of video assets, we’re using DMP data to help us sequence content in front of users so we can retarget them with episodic series of content and information,” Gutkowski said.
Contractors, DIYers and home buyers and sellers are a lucrative segment for advertisers, “so we’re absolutely tagging live users and our broader video consumers [using JW Player] and feeding that information as a first-party source back into our DMP,” he said.
Until now, live events have been smaller and invitation only, which makes it easier for the publisher to control, but once it ramps up live video, the publisher will collect even more data, Gutkowski added.
One benefit of using an independent video player is This Old House’s ability to tag and export its data across all of its video platforms.
Although live video may not be big moneymaking mechanism for publishers like This Old House just yet, Bill Day, COO of JW Player, said the format is starting to emerge as a viable acquisition channel into publishers’ deeper video on-demand libraries and the like.
“Our view is a lot more consumption will occur in VOD because of viewer consumption [and time-shifting] but live video is dual-purpose,” Day said. “It’s acquisition because it elevates your brand, and it provides an additional tool to build out your content library.”