During the holidays I watched in awe as the ladies in my family scrambled into a frantic huddle around the TV to watch what seemed like something epic. I mean, based on the excitement, whatever was going to air was gonna be great.

It was 7:30pm (didn’t I know the importance of 7:30pm?) The new Downton Abbey was on! Ahhhh! The Christmas special! Ahhhh!


I’m not sure if it’s Maggie Smith’s sassy attitude, but the show clearly holds a secret – and as marketers, we should be totally jealous of what TV has done.

What’s TV got That Your Brand Doesn’t?

Maggie won't subscribeWhether it’s Netflix’s House of Cards or HBO’s Game of Thrones, today’s popular networks have built core content assets that have folks flocking to the next instalment in dedicated droves.

Some networks provide content on demand, and there’s no denying the ritual and culture they’ve created. Even in the age of PVRs, people still want to see season finales or binge-watch their favourite shows as soon as they’re released.

So how can you replicate this effect as a marketer?

Build Audience Expectation

While you might think a huge viral hit is your goal on YouTube, you should really focus on releasing consistent video content frequently to build relationships over time. 

If someone sees you have content on YouTube, but there’s no obvious schedule or pattern to your releases, they probably won’t subscribe because there’s no promise of new. You need to develop this ‘promise of new’ to gain subscribers you can market to, and this is where regular episodic content or a branded video series can help.

How to Uphold the Promise of New

In a webinar we hosted with digital media guru Guy Gal, he shared some great advice about creating frequent video releases.

Guy notes that when most companies outsource a series of videos, the logical and cost-effective process seems to shoot ten to twenty videos all at once. This is good if your set of products or communications won’t change for years and you need the videos right away. However, if you want to have a conversation with your audience and engage them (the whole point of episodic content) it’s important to have a production process that roles.

At Guy’s company Joyus, they shoot their popular fashion videos two weeks before they’re scheduled to air meaning content is as fresh as possible when it hits the market.

This flexible production model is the most important thing to keeping episodic content fresh because videos can acknowledge current events, react to news, make news, react to engagement, feedback or questions.

“You don’t have to implement a massive effort to start,” says Guy, “you can take your time (maybe a series of three to five branded episodes on a designated theme). You can learn week-to-week and apply the feedback you get; especially after analyzing your video’s analytics”.

Use Video Data to Plan Future Content

video marketing analyticsWith a video marketing platform in place you can analyze how people are interacting with your videos quantitatively with drop off rates and other detailed metrics. The benefit of working on a flexible, week-to-week schedule with an in house video producer is that you can modify your videos each week and improve their performance versus doing everything at the start where you don’t have the luxury to change anything that isn’t working.

For example, if you notice that more than 50% of your audience drops off after the first 15 seconds of your video, there’s a strong chance that your series’ introduction just wasn’t compelling (or even just too long). If you notice that the audience skips parts with a weird looking dude, or repeats parts that were especially funny, you’ll know to avoid casting that particular person in important scenes and which jokes are resinating.

Overall, strong video analysis can really help you plan for content based on what your audience likes and dislikes. Data can eliminate guessing and keep your content relevant.

Some Inspiration From top Brands

Major companies have created episodic videos before, including HP Austrailia with their series “Make IT Happen”, Red Bull and their Decades series on surfing, BMW with an action series of short films, and Pepsi Max with their film-quality content from Kyrie Irving who surprises fans on a neighbourhood basketball court disguised as an elderly man.

Also worth noting is Intel and Toshiba’s recent partnership to create “The Beauty Inside” branded content campaign which won the Cannes Cyber Grand Prix and Film Grand Prix. The selection committee loved this campaign, and jury leader Scott Donaton urged other brands to take note. He insists marketers should not it treat branded content as a “side tactic” anymore but put it “at the heart of everything they do”.

Here’s part one of the series to inspire you:

The main takeaway here is that although you don’t have to create a complex video series, you can gain more subscribers and loyal brand advocates with frequent, consistent video releases and the promise of new instead of banking on that elusive viral video hit.

What About Your Content?

Have you created a series? Have one in mind? If you’ve subscribed to regular content from a great brand, let us know why it keeps you hooked and what you enjoyed about our campaign examples!

Jennifer Pepper