U.K. social video publishers look beyond ad revenue

Social video publishers in the U.K. are getting more serious about non-advertising revenue.

Take, for instance, Facebook food video channel Twisted. Last November, Jungle Creations, the parent company of Twisted, launched Twisted London, a food-delivery service hosted on its own Facebook page that delivers meals within a two-mile radius in London. Twisted London’s Facebook page hosts recipe videos of meals, which users can watch and then order for themselves. Twisted London is on track to bring in £1 million ($1.3 million) this year, said Jungle Creations CEO Jamie Bolding, during the Digiday Video Summit Europe in Amsterdam.

Last year, Jungle Creations also sold a Twisted cookbook, which sold 30,000 copies in what Bolding called a “trial run.” With the next cookbook, he expects to sell 200,000 copies. And it’s not just with Twisted: Jungle Creations sold 7,800 desktop punching bags based on a viral video created for its VT brand (formerly Viral Thread), Bolding said.

Commerce and other forms of consumer-related revenue are a big area of focus for Jungle Creations, as the company looks to become less reliant on advertising — and specifically, branded content, Bolding said.

A lot of this also has to do with Facebook, where branded and sponsored videos are still the biggest moneymaker for most publishers (especially in Europe, where Facebook’s mid-roll ads are still testing with a smaller number of publishers, and where Facebook Watch hasn’t launched yet.) And with Facebook choking off video reach in the news feed — Jungle Creations’ monthly video views on Facebook dropped from 3.7 billion views across all of its properties in February to 2.2 billion views in April, according to Tubular Labs — other forms of revenue become even more important.

“How do we turn more of our video views into an actual business? The value exchange is very different in the traditional model with pre-roll and display, where you have your audience, you create valuable content, then you place ads around that content, which can fund more content,” said Bolding. “In the branded content model, you have to make enough of a margin to make sure you can make more unbranded editorial content.”

That’s tough on Facebook, where most of the views don’t go monetized, Bolding later said. This is why the company is looking into other areas, including restaurant deliveries and pop-up shops, events, merchandising, and paywalls — anything seems to be on the table, really.

Other U.K. social video publishers also spoke about the importance of building out non-advertising revenue streams. Kyra TV, which has grown an audience on YouTube off of three successful long-form shows, said it’s also exploring everything from licensing programming to content buyers and distributors to pop-up shops, live events and even products ranging from clothing to makeup.

“It’s easy to be unfocused at times,” said Kyra TV founder Devran Karaca from the Digiday Video Summit Europe stage. “We initially focused on growing ad revenue and integrating brands into our shows.”

But now, Kyra TV is exploring how to fully take advantage of the show brands it has created. “PAQ,” which airs weekly on YouTube, has an average watch time of 14 minutes per episode on 20-minute episodes, Karaca said. That provided a lot more opportunities for sponsorships and brand integrations, but it also demonstrates a loyalty among the audience — Kyra TV’s three shows have an average 70 percent retention rate on YouTube, Karaca said — which the publisher can use to drive viewers toward other products and services.

“We’ve dabbled in experiences in the past. We created a pop-up event on Instagram and have 500 kids queuing outside,” said Karaca. “If you create an obsessive fan base, they become easy to sell to. We’ve been helping brands sell to them. We should be selling our own products to them.”

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