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The MatPat Interview, Part 1: Prepping for the Holidays

Want to make an impression this holiday season? Matthew Patrick [1] is uniquely qualified to give video marketing advice to brands. Better known as MatPat, he’s the creator and host of three successful YouTube channels, with a combined 15 million subscribers, and he currently stars in the YouTube Red Series MatPat’s Game Lab. In 2015, MatPat took his YouTube learnings and created a consulting service called Theorist where he helps brands excel in online video marketing.

Matthew Patrick, aka MatPatMatPat is the rare person who knows video marketing from both the creative side and the brand side, and he was happy to share some tips with OnlineVideo.net about how brands can create a perfect video marketing plan to attract holiday shoppers. This is the first of a two-part MatPat interview.

First off, what should video marketers be thinking as they plan a holiday video marketing campaign [2]?

MatPat: When it comes down to planning out any sort of campaign, especially when it comes to video, the first and most common mistake that we see brands making when they’re launching these video campaigns is not matching the type of content they’re producing for the platform that it’s going to function best on. At this point, there are so many different types of video platforms available where you can post content, but the actual communities and viewership behaviors across those different platforms are vastly different. YouTube functions much more as a long form watch experience, it’s one where people are starting to consume it more and more like TV. They’re coming on for more binge watch sessions, whereas Facebook is a much shorter-form watch experience. The watch sessions are happening among the news feed, and so you’re kind of cycling through things very quickly. Making an impression within the first couple of seconds is going to be essential. I think that applies to the holiday season, but also in general.

When it comes time to actually come out with a program around, specifically, the holidays, one of the best tools that any advertiser can use is Google Trends. This is a tool that we speak about with all of our consulting clients. It’s one that we use in our day-to-day video publications. Google Trends is a free tool available by Google. Basically, it allows any sort of brand or advertiser or content creator—it tells you exactly when search results are starting to pick up around certain search phrases. A lot of people, if they’re doing their Halloween campaigns or things like that, they base their video publications and their upload schedules around when they expect, or assume from past experience, search results are going to start picking up—when audience interest is going to start picking up around those search terms. Google Trends will actually show you that in a lot of those cases, searches for things like “Halloween” or “Christmas,” “gift ideas” or things like that, are actually happening around a week or two earlier than most advertisers and most clients that we work with expect. 

By going into Google Trends, searching for specific holiday-related search terms, or one’s that the advertiser is specifically looking to target, they are able to more precisely time the launch of their campaign, or the meat of their campaign, around when it’s going to best align with the rising tide of search results, as opposed to guesstimating based on past data or past experience. You start to see yearly trends in those sorts of rises and falls.

Those are definitely aspects of it. Another key feature, I think, is that brands definitely tends to miss out on—or in our experience with our consulting clients, one of the things that they frequently underestimate—is the value of actually engaging in real conversations with people, and creating content that is actually not just a commercial. I think the buzzwords around content marketing and content creation have been definitely talked about a lot in the industry, but what that actually means is something that I think a lot of advertisers still miss. Finding niche communities and creating content that specifically speaks to them and their interests in an organic way, with a light level of branding, is going to do a world more than creating a general marketing asset that is going to be run widely across a large ad spend. You actually see a much higher return on your investment if you are specifically crafting your content to speak to specific interest categories and targeting those ads against those specific viewership communities.

Long gone are the days of, “Let’s create one general commercial asset that’s going to be generally appealing to everyone.” If you want to see a true return on the content that you’re creating, figuring out who your audience is and what’s going to speak to them about the product that you’re promoting for this holiday season is going to yield the greatest return.

How can marketers break through and appeal to holiday shoppers?

MatPat: When it comes to specifically the holiday season, it goes down to knowing the right audience and targeting your ad unit or your content unit against the other types of things that they’re watching. Let’s use YouTube as a really strong example here. YouTube both as a content publishing platform as well as an ad targeting tool, you can really precisely hone your content to run against the specific videos and the specific channels, and in front of the eyeballs that are going to be most attuned to watching it.

A good case study of this would be, “I have a video game that I’m looking to launch for the holiday season, we want this to be the biggest game of this Christmas.” It’s essential for you to understand what are the top YouTube creators that are creating content of that specific video game genre, and then from there you don’t necessarily have to partner with that influencer, but what sort of keywords are they using in their titles and descriptions and in their key tags which you can see by looking at the source code of their videos; what sort of techniques that they’re using in their video’s thumbnails: imagery, colors, text, things like that, in order to make your video that is meant to appeal to those audiences more likely to show up in their suggested and searched feed, and get a lot of organic traffic. If you are doing a targeted ad buy, use in your key word targeting the names of those channels that you’re looking to run your ads against. People are searching very heavily for those specific YouTube channels, and you can, as a keyword, target those specific named channels, and you’re able to still get that key demographic that you’re looking for, that viewership, but you’re able to do it at a cheaper rate because you’re not actually paying for the premium space in between. You’re instead buying keywords that are less competitive at ad auctions.

That’s an easy way to make sure that you’re targeting the right people while still keeping your ad spends at an efficient rate. That holds true for video games, toys, beauty, fashion products, across the board. Knowing, hey, these are the targets for this piece of content; what other pieces of content are they watching on platforms like YouTube? And then using the keywords there that are going to be left. Because everyone in this day and age is searching for “back to school,” or, in this case, “Christmas” or “Halloween costumes.” There are actually cheaper ways that you can still hit your target audience without having to engage with those more competitive search terms. That’s usually by figuring out the channels that you’re working with, what audience—what channels those audiences are watching, and then buying your ad slice against those channel names, rather than those more generic search terms. Not only are you going to get a cheaper ad spend as a result, but you’re also going to get a more targeted ad spend and get in front of the eyeballs that are going to be most attuned to your product.

For more advice from MatPat, read part two of this series [3].