StyleHaul CEO: Video Reach And Engagement Are Not Created Equal

StephanieThere’s a world of difference between achieving mass reach and engagement in multiplatform video.

Just ask Stephanie Horbaczewski, CEO of the fashion and beauty multichannel video network (MCN) StyleHaul.

StyleHaul was among the first YouTube MCNs to join larger companies (Maker/Disney, Fullscreen/AT&T and Chernin Group, Collective/ProSieben) when German broadcast giant RTL Group purchased a majority stake in 2014.

Like a number of MCNs that reached newfound fame on YouTube by partnering with popular beauty vloggers, StyleHaul has since expanded off-platform.

In the past year, it has partnered with Amazon and Go90, Verizon’s new mobile video service for millennials, to develop video shorts and original series.

But, according to Horbaczewski, StyleHaul’s expansion is deliberate.

“There’s a huge difference between mass-distributed video across a platform where there’s no engagement and someone liking, sharing and favoriting your content,” she added.

StyleHaul has 279 million subscribers across 6,000 creator channels in 65 countries. In December, 7.8 million unique viewers on desktop watched videos 88.8 million times on StyleHaul’s YouTube channel, according to comScore.

That figure didn’t factor in mobile views, so the numbers could be significantly higher. StyleHaul estimates it gets close to 2 billion video views per month now across its whole network. 

“We’re very focused on engagement, which is a big shift for the ecosystem,” said Horbaczewski. “I came from retail, so ROI was a language we spoke really well, but when you look back at our early discussions with brands, you’d hear, ‘She [a StyleHaul creator] looks like our brand, let’s partner,’ but now we have an eight-person BI team and data is a much bigger part of the conversation.”

At StyleHaul’s NewFront last May, it launched new ways for brands to identify high-indexing audiences across its network of creators.

In some cases, StyleHaul helps the advertiser segment audiences by category – beauty or fashion, for instance – and monitor brand conversation across multiple platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter when a creator campaign is running.

StyleHaul then gives brands insights on what drove performance lift – whether a specific product, promotion or conversation.

The network created other activations, like the scripted original series, “Vanity,” with cosmetics brand sponsor Maybelline.

After episodes of “Vanity” aired on YouTube, creators in StyleHaul’s network featured how-to videos on obtaining looks from the show and promoted them across their social channels. As a result, it generated more than 100 million views on that native content.

At a time when brands are demanding more than just vanity metrics, StyleHaul is confident digital video can help move the needle on sales in similar ways as broadcast television.

“We helped a drugstore cosmetics brand sell out of a new product launch in two weeks and delivered 50% new customer acquisition for an ecommerce retailer during the holidays,” Horbaczewski said. “We’ve had creators feature certain styles from a certain retailer, and by the end of the day those featured styles were sold out and the non-featured styles were not.”

StyleHaul’s partnership with Amazon gives it an even greater testing bed for connecting commerce with digital video by creating a clearer path to ROI for brand partners.

Within the online retailer’s Video Shorts section, “StyleHaul Presents” features influential vloggers in the beauty and fashion category who recommend products or styles shoppers can click and buy right on Amazon.

Within product pages, those videos also show up as “Related Video Shorts,” so there is some cross-pollination. Amazon runs 15- and 30-second pre-roll ads before some of the videos for additional monetization, and in some cases content partners take a split.

Weighing the impact of product videos on Amazon or YouTube – particularly if sales are the advertiser’s desired outcome – goes back to a publisher’s core value proposition.

“Google was not where people were going to shop and five years later, nothing’s changed,” Horbaczewski said. “Even though the technology and pixelation is there, customer behavior isn’t. We still don’t want to go there and be ‘pushed’ a product. You don’t mind as much on Amazon because it’s natural. It’s a shopping platform. You still have that discovery process as a user.”


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