Want to reach more of the online video audience? Have a 360-degree, multiplatform strategy

Samantha Bookman, FierceOnlineVideo

Last week, I took a closer look at the burgeoning Hispanic online video market and asked whether programmers and advertisers were really reaching this segment. The Hispanic demographic in the United States is overwhelmingly young and has increasing discretionary income--and therefore is a prime target for any company looking to expand its bottom line.

But it's not clear that advertisers and online video providers have really solved this puzzle. That is happening for two reasons: Hispanic content online, while abundant, is decentralized and diverse; and viewer behavior among Hispanics is quite different from other demographic groups.

Horowitz Research analyst Adriana Waterston said that over-the-top video has helped fill in the content gaps left by cable and satellite providers, but finding it can be a challenge.

"There's a lot of content available. It's not necessarily organized, (or) delivered via a neat little package of Hispanic themed content--although there are new players that are starting to offer that," she said. "That's why Google is so popular among Hispanics. They're more likely to use YouTube to stream content than anything else."

While conducting research for one study, Waterston said that one respondent told Horowitz that cable didn't offer enough content in Spanish for her children. "She really wants them to watch more Spanish-language content but there isn't a whole lot in Spanish available for kids." Going online, the respondent was able to find kid-friendly, Spanish-language content very easily.

MiTu, a Hispanic-focused multichannel network, is one of those newer players providing Hispanic content. Charlie Echeverry, MiTu's chief revenue officer, told me in a recent interview that many companies hoping to reach this demographic "have neglected a principal issue. Consumers are first and foremost active socially and mobile-ly."

Companies that develop content or advertising for the Hispanic audience and don't pay attention to the platforms used by this demographic are at a disadvantage from the start. "It's like you have a great menu but open your restaurant in the desert," he said.

MiTu, which launched just over two years ago, has become more agile in how it develops content for an audience that is extremely social media-oriented. Video on Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is consumed and shared differently that it is on YouTube or Twitter, Echeverry explained. And those differences make it challenging to define "short form" video--which can vary in length from a few seconds to under 30 minutes, depending on the platform--and create appropriate content.

"Each of these platforms has a distinct format and mindset. … We want to create the right approach for that particular platform at that particular moment, and not just come up with an asset that is two minutes long and try to cram into everywhere where these people are," he said.

MiTu, which has about 55 million subscribers and recently completed an oversubscribed, $15 million Series B funding round, is employing its top creators in its multiplatform-focused content strategy.

"We did a campaign for a brand in Q4 where we got about 20 of our best influencers, put them all in the same house and had them basically celebrate the holidays the way that they would do it. They created all kinds of content, not just the stuff for YouTube that we were helping them produce, but they also created Vines and Instagrams and Facebook posts and all kinds of stuff," Echeverry said.

Starting with a strategy that saw content rapidly placed on multiple platforms was much more economical than trying to "retrofit" a video into other platforms in post-production, he said. "From the inception, which is really important, we really view whatever the idea for the content is as having to live in these different places, including our up-and-coming (owned and operated platform)."

Horowitz' Waterston feels that companies have to do more than just start from a multiplatform angle. "I do know that really nowadays it is a 360-degree strategy. And this is not just in the Hispanic space but in general," she said.

The industry is in the midst of trying to figure out the connections that exist for users between linear television, digital video, mobile video, and the multidevice OTT ecosystem.

"Every network programmer and media company is going about this in a different way," she said. "But there's this understanding that we need to leverage digital to drive viewers to the linear experience, and we need to leverage linear to drive people to the digital experience and of course all the other platforms as well."

Could employing a 360-degree strategy to reach Hispanics help companies figure out the bigger puzzle of reaching the overall U.S. online video audience? It's difficult to say right now--as Waterston points out, there is no standard cross-platform measurement tool to determine how well content and advertising efforts are doing. But improving reach to one of the market's most varied online audiences could be well worth the challenge.--Sam