How El Dodo’s Facebook and YouTube strategy led to profitability in three years

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The Dodo is expanding its digital presence to reach its Spanish-speaking audience.

The channel, called El Dodo, originally launched in 2018 exclusively built on YouTube and Facebook as an experimental way to establish a revenue stream that would enable self-sustained growth, said YuJung Kim, president of The Dodo. From there, El Dodo would expand to other platforms and make original content.

For three years, El Dodo relied primarily on pre- and mid-roll ads on Facebook and YouTube to achieve this profitability, Kim said, without providing exact growth figures. The annual growth rate for this business is 119% year over year, according to the company, which did not provide CPM rates.

“For the advertising business, scale is king. So we knew that we had to have some kind of stopgap measure before building a scale to be able to attract advertising partners [to the] El Dodo channel,” Kim said.

In June, El Dodo claimed it earned 800 million views between Facebook and YouTube, citing internal figures. According to Tubular Labs, however, El Dodo garnered 188 million views on Facebook and 37 million on YouTube for a total of about 225 million views that month.

That month, Tubular Labs also ranked The Dodo as the 20th most viewed creator in the world across all social media platforms, aside from Instagram, which the data analyst no longer analyzes.

All of El Dodo’s content is originally from The Dodo with written translations and captions of the audio interviews. All of the Spanish translations are written in a conversational tone by El Dodo editors in keeping with other coverage areas, according to Nicole Hendrickson, vp of social at The Dodo.

While the translation strategy works well for a media company that does not have the resources to build an entire bureau in another country — which has not always been the most successful strategy for other digital publishers, like BuzzFeed — there are cultural nuances that get looked over by redubbing the content that was initially created for a different audience, said Nick Cicero, vp of strategy at streaming and social intelligence company Conviva.

The Dodo has also recorded some interviews in Spanish as well as in English. El Dodo also collaborates with Spanish-speaking followers and influencers to tell their stories on Facebook Stories or in the community pages.

In the fall, however, El Dodo will release its first Spanish series as an extension of its English-language series called “Faith Restored.” It will be distributed on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok and will cover animal rescues, a topic that Hendrickson said gets a lot of views from the target audience already.

El Dodo has a five-person team that started with a platform manager and later added a community manager and three video editors and producers. While the plan is to continue growing the team, Kim said that El Dodo’s staff will remain based in the U.S. and will work on cultivating partnerships in other countries in Central and South America with shelters and content creators. As Kim’s team grows, it will train colleagues on content that resonates.

El Dodo is starting to experiment on new platforms as well, including TikTok where it currently has under 1,000 followers, with a goal of reaching an audience like The Dodo’s 1.4 million followers. Content on both channels is personality and character-driven, crucial for platform growth, said Cicero.

What’s even more crucial for growing a new foreign language brand on TikTok and other social media platforms is having on-screen talent and behind-the-camera creators who understand the audience that they’re making this content for, Cicero added.

The focus for the next growth phase will remain on digital video and content production, but Kim said she expects the other revenue lines that The Dodo has honed over the past seven years — book licensing, OTT extensions, events, and even a pet insurance licensing deal — will eventually be applied to El Dodo in due time as well.  Kim did not say how much money these individual revenue channels brought in. 

“El Dodo is The Dodo, just a year or two behind,” said Kim.

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