News UK, parent company of The Sun and The Times of London, is making video pay through branded content, and it’s finding these videos are some of its best performing.
Take News UK’s most recent branded-content video campaign for the Movember Foundation, a men’s health charity, which the publisher said was its most popular branded-content campaign to date. The goals for the campaign, which asks men to grow mustaches during November, were to increase awareness, funding to the charity and the number of people signing up to grow their facial hair. A video team from News UK of six people worked for a month to create 12 videos that varied in tone, ranging from emotional real-life stories to more lighthearted comedy sketches and footage from celebrities, like pop star Peter Andre and reality TV personality Mario Falcone.
One documentary-style video for the campaign, featuring a mother explaining when she heard her son killed himself, has been viewed 3.4 million times on The Sun’s Facebook page, shared nearly 36,000 times and has 819 comments. For comparison, The Sun’s videos get 311,000 views per video on average, according to Tubular Labs. Emotional videos, particularly those related to social causes, tend to get lots of shares on social media.
The publisher wouldn’t provide figures, but the campaign has delivered on all three goals, according to the Movember Foundation. “The videos let us reach a wider audience,” said Helena Jennison, director of U.K. marketing at the Movember Foundation, “but more importantly, they have provided a vehicle to share the stories of the many men and women affected by the issues we fund.”
The success of the campaign, which was a joint partnership with Sky and also featured print and audio, is partially due to the creative control that News UK had over the content of the videos, said Derek Brown, head of video at News UK. “The more the client trusts you, the more successful it will be,” he said. For instance, the publisher knows videos featuring Falcone tend to do well with The Sun’s audience.
The News UK video team was created 18 months ago and has since grown to 45 people, including creative writers, editors, motion graphics designers and producers, reflecting the growing demand for video content from brands, said Brown, adding that every branded-content brief has a video element.
The News UK video team creates video content for The Sun, The Times of London and The Sunday Times, plus the news brands’ supplements, like Style, The Sunday Times’ fashion and lifestyle brand.
Brands pay for roughly 30 percent of the video Brown’s team creates; the remaining video is created to grow audiences and encourage brands to run content campaigns with News UK. “Our belief is that at some point, the platforms will pay us for content,” said Brown.
The majority of the video views occur on The Sun’s Facebook pages. News UK previously said The Sun has about 20 different Facebook pages, like Football and Showbiz. The Sun had 26 million monthly views on Facebook in September, twice as many as it had in July, according to Tubular Labs. Some of these videos are aggregated and licensed video clips from The Sun’s news desks.
Now, News UK’s focus for branded content video is on growing verticals aimed at distinctive audiences, like News UK’s fantasy football brand, Dream Team; and The Sun’s Sunday magazine geared toward women, Fabulous. The goal is to amass more repeat clients so the team isn’t pitching for every bit of business.
“The most challenging part is getting brands and agencies to loosen up,” said Brown, “understanding that the most effective results come from editorially minded people creating content without ramming the brand down someone’s throat.”
Image courtesy of News UK via Facebook