Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg on Socially Intelligent Video

Social intelligence is more than contextual awareness. It includes an understanding of the impact of various media, by context and audience. Social intelligence has a direct relevance to your brand’s bottom line, as a recent study by Sharethrough and Vizu revealed. Consumers, shown branded videos that respected context and incorporated detailed metrics around audience affinity to certain types of content showed a 110% lift in purchase intent.


Sharethrough provides brands with a scalable approach to distributing video content, optimizing viewership and promoting shared engagement. In 2010, the company saw its revenues more than triple as advertisers shifted more of their budgets towards social strategies and made increasingly large media buys to support social video campaigns.  Sharethrough’s co-founder and CEO Dan Greenberg spoke with DIGIDAY: DATA about the growth in the category and how advertisers are using new metrics to measure the success of their programs.


Q: Social video is a relatively new phenomenon – how has it come of age over the past year?

2010 was a big year for social video.  Viewership of brand video content and investment in brand video production and distribution have all increased exponentially from a year ago. As Visible Measures
noted, social video ad campaigns generated more than 2.7 billion views in 2010, up from 820 million in 2009… and on the distribution side, over the course of 2010, our company saw brands invest an average of 250 percent more in social video media buys than they did one year ago.

A big part of social video’s rise is the fact that there are now repeatable, scalable and transparent approaches to distributing brand video content.  Brands recognized that a “post and pray” strategy with YouTube was not a real business strategy, so they are increasingly investing in social video distribution to guarantee audiences and increase sharing of their video content.

2011 will be the year that social video campaigns break out of experimental advertising budgets and really become a core brand marketing strategy. It’s going to be fun to watch (pun intended).

Q. What are some new social metrics advertisers are using for video?

We’re seeing a number of new video advertising metrics emerging – the first is the concept of “shared views.”  Advertisers are starting to make a distinction between video views that come from media and advertising strategies, and those that result from videos being shared.  Both are important.  The goal should be to find the sites, videos, audiences, or media partners that most efficiently turn paid media into shared views.

Another new metric is the “sharethrough” rate – this is the rate at which video content is being shared. The goal is to find the places or people most likely to share so that you can maximize the sharethrough rate.

Tracking these social metrics provides advertisers with more information to allow them to calculate an “eCPV” or ‘Effective Cost Per View,’ tracking earned views along with paid media to calculate true Cost Per View.  The goal with this is to be able to give credit to paid media plans that drive shared engagement.

As the ability to track social metrics evolves further, media plans will also evolve to incorporate more of these social interactions into their budgets. This is similar to the process that we saw in earlier days of online advertising when we saw media buys go from mostly buying CPM impressions to Cost-per-Click (CPC) and then to Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA) pricing models.

Q: What are some of the benefits of incorporating social metrics into a video distribution strategy?

The first is audience insight.  Understanding who’s sharing your video content gives you insights into where your content is resonating and allows you to shift your strategy accordingly.  At the same time, knowing who is not sharing your content is just as valuable!

Another key benefit is campaign optimization.  Tracking social video activity in real-time during a campaign lets you make adjustments to your distribution strategy and double down on what’s working.

Finally, all of this data just makes social video advertising more predictable and transparent.  Brands can feel confident that they are driving views and see the impact of their spend on shared engagement.

4. Where do you see the industry going over the next year?

I think we’re going to see significant innovation around new ad experiences.  Consumers have developed pretty advanced abilities to ignore “ads”, and brands have stepped up with content-driven,
longer-form video entertainment… so the final piece is making the ad experience as organic as possible to the content experience of the sites that they run on.

We’re also going to see advertisers continue to mature in their thinking (and buying) around earned media through social video analytics.  Our data shows that a shared video view holds much higher
average levels of viewership and engagement, so the question is not if, but how to make social endorsement and shared views part of the media buy.

Q: Is social video poised to become a basic component of brand strategy?

With social video advertising, we have an opportunity to transform digital advertising to be both more creative and effective. As we have seen with the hugely successful campaigns by Old Spice, Levi’s, Lego and others, truly creative brand videos have an unprecedented ability to build massive audiences and impact culture. The best part is that these phenomena are repeatable. Viral campaign success is not an accident, it just requires having the right pieces in place – original, creative content and equally creative distribution and analytics capabilities.


Learn more about Sharethrough here.

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