Audience Engagement Guest Columns
4 mins read

How Publishers Can Succeed In The Social Video Space

It’s widely recognised that younger audiences are spending far less time with traditional media in favour of digital media – and specifically social –  which continues to dominate throughout the media landscape.

For publishers, the time is ripe to adapt to suit their audiences’ new habits. By capitalising on the latest consumption trends, publishers can reclaim declining readerships, find new audiences, and tap into new revenue streams.

The term ‘pivot to video’ has firmly embedded itself over the past year and for good reason – the sight, sound and motion of video is one of the most successful ways to engage audiences and to grow reach. Historically publishers have tended to limit video content to their own sites, and in doing so, have missed out on a huge opportunity and untapped revenue streams.

In 2018, however, publishers are increasingly embracing social platforms – a strategy which often involves publishing premium video. But doing so at scale, across multiple platforms and most importantly – sustainably – isn’t easy to achieve.


Digital-first companies are the proof of concept

Despite its opportunities, social video is not without its challenges. For many publishers, their eagerness to invest in video is quickly dampened by the cost implications, but you need to look at the positives. Social video offers a wealth of new data to learn about your audience and gain insight into their interests and viewing habits, in real-time. This insight can be used to improve content strategy, accelerate audience growth and ultimately generate revenue.

Publishers can learn a lot from ‘digital-first’ media companies in this space, for example the likes of Jungle Creations, UNILAD and LADbible. These media companies operate in a fast, agile, and innovative way, constantly experimenting with social video whilst producing quality bespoke content.

UNILAD and LADbible in particular serve a similar audience to the now out-of-print ‘lads mags’ brands Zoo and FHM. Where those magazines struggled in the face of wider online competition, these brands have gone from strength to strength by combining a mix of entertaining, informative and largely video-based editorial. Critically, while some of the content is highly viral reposts, other assets are bespoke creations with high production values.

This space is also the home of reactive content – producing timely videos around topics that viewers are interested in. This type of video allows for a higher level of creativity, whilst allowing the publisher to gain valuable feedback from the target audience (and this need not be expensive.)

Some publishers have jumped on the social video bandwagon early. The Sun, in particular, has invested heavily in building out its video resource, doubling its video team to 25 in the first half of 2018 and increasing the amount of original content it produces. The fact that the paper has increased its video views by 60%, while actually decreasing the volume of videos it puts out, speaks to the importance of creating content specifically for an audience.

Creating video that impacts the bottom line

Not only does creating bespoke content hand editorial control back to the publisher, it also gives them an opportunity to think creatively about the content’s purpose. Certainly, video has the potential to engage and drive traffic back to the publisher’s own site, but it’s also an opportunity to generate revenue. One way to do this is to tap into the multi-million pound branded content market.

For brands looking to sponsor branded video content, traditional publishers remain a big draw. According to Tubular Labs data, mainstream publishers still gain more views than their online-only competitors. For example in a recent campaign for Gillette, at the time of writing, The Sun Football had generated 5.6m more views than the nearest online-only competitor, Bleacher Report. In its branded content – Facebook-based video campaign with The Sun Football – Gillette gained 15k comments, 20k shares and 114k likes, over 60k more than Bleacher Report.

Whilst publisher brands are powerful in terms of audience trust, often built over decades, social video view and engagement stats are proof that no publisher can afford to exist in isolation. The Sun, like others working with social video, are fishing where the fish are. As Tubular Labs data demonstrates, Facebook is a key platform for driving reach and building audiences through video – a smart strategy for any publisher seeking to stay relevant. Whether it’s reaching wider audiences or seeking out new revenue streams, it’s time publishers gave social video the thumbs up.

Denis Crushell is VP of EMEA at Tubular Labs.




Tubular Labs is the leading the leading global video measurement and analytics platform. They track over 4 billion videos and 400 million consumers across digital platforms such as YouTube and Facebook and work with publishers in the UK on monitoring and growing their online video presence.