How Alloy's New Original YouTube Channels Cracked Into the Top 20

'Every Bit' of Promotional Muscle Was Used to Inform Audience, Says Digital Exec

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When Alloy Digital created its five YouTube Original Channels, it didn't stray too far from its winning formula.

Shut Up! Cartoons, for example, is 14th on our latest weekly ranking of YouTube Original Channels with 2.29 million views of five new videos. The channel was an offshoot of Alloy's already-established and very popular Smosh. While Shut Up! Cartoons' views for new videos slipped 3% from the prior week, it retains an impressive subscriber base: more than 600,000 subscribers just since April.

And the entertainment news channel Clevver News came in 15th with 2.04 million views for 27 newly uploaded videos -- up an impressive 42% from the week before. It's a spin-off of Alloy's Clevver TV with a slightly different target .

"Clevver TV is much more female teen oriented," said Michael Palmer, co-founder and executive producer of Clevver Media. "So there is crossover with a Clevver News, which is also female oriented, but we're definitely going after an older demographic. Of course, Robert Pattinson is Robert Pattinson, and everybody loves to talk about Robert Pattinson."

Alloy Digital acquired Clevver Media in June of this year and Smosh in July 2011. With those channels and its many others, the company's digital network attracts more than 90 million consumers each month, according to ComScore. Alloy Digital's other official Original Channels are the Spanish language Clevver TeVe, Clevver Style and The Chopra Well.

We asked Mr. Palmer and Barry Blumberg, Smosh president and Alloy digital exec VP, to talk about the Original Channels and how Alloy Digital's network has helped their growth. Our interview has been lightly edited.

Advertising Age: Clevver News has seen some significant growth over the past few weeks. Why is that ? Is it content or marketing?

Shut Up! Cartoons
Shut Up! Cartoons

Michael Palmer: I think it's a little bit of everything. Clevver has been on YouTube for four years now and YouTube is part of our core business. When we set out to create these YouTube Original Channels, I think we had a pretty good sense of what it was going to take to see big growth and making it all work together. As far as why it's growing, I think our team is really great at providing users and viewers with content that 's relevant to them. They stay on top of the latest trends, the latest trending topics and news stories. And I think we've really hit a stride with that channel as far as knowing what our users like and giving it to them when they want it.

Ad Age : Shut Up! Cartoons has a huge subscriber base in only a couple of months. How did you grow that base?

Barry Blumberg: We are dealing with a parent channel that has over 5 million subscribers. Smosh has a very, very dedicated subscriber base that consumes our content, not only on YouTube, but also on our website and on our social platforms. So there is a deep relationship with the audience. We used every bit of our available muscle to inform this audience that we were launching into this new space. Ultimately, we had to deliver in that space.

We launched with some shows that were successful. Two were incredibly loved and one was hated, but sometimes having something that is absolutely reviled is a good thing because people were watching it; 500,000 to 700,000 views per episode of "Pubertina" even though they were hating it in the comments. So we launched with some strong shows, some of them were serialized and some were one-off episodes. We've continued to deliver and continued with subscriber growth.

Ad Age : Alloy Digital is a large network. How do you use your different properties to drive viewers to these YouTube Originals Channels?

Mr. Blumberg: We're really just getting started in terms of how we work with Clevver and some of the other Alloy brands. Clevver, before the acquisition by Alloy, and Smosh, before and during the acquisition, has always done a good job of moving people back and forth and allowing people to become aware of content that 's interesting to them based on creating content around certain affinities.

So we try when we launch a set of cartoons, as it relates to Smosh, our research and our anecdotal information told us that animation was something that was interesting to the audience that was watching Smosh and so it was a natural offshoot for us. And I think, similarly, when Clevver went to YouTube to talk about Original Channels this wasn't Clevver saying "we want to get into the crafting space" it was Clevver saying "we are already doing a lot of entertainment news and entertainment content." Something that is a little more newsy and a little more straightforward is a natural off-shoot. Similarly with Clevver Style, there is a natural affinity and we found that the style is something that the audience was very interested in and that style did very well on Clevver TV.

And then TeVe was just that we were really missing out. Smosh had launched a Spanish-speaking channel called "El Smosh." Clevver did a much better job with it because all we did was dub our existing videos in to Spanish. but with Clevver we thought we should bring in hosts that are relatable for a Hispanic audience and create the content that we already know can be successful.

Ad Age : How do you market these Original Channels?

Clevver News
Clevver News

Mr. Blumberg: With respect to Shut Up! Cartoons, we used every available avenue that we could in order to support the launch. While we set up separate Facebook pages for Shut Up! Cartoons and for each of the individual shows, it was also top of mind on Smosh's Facebook page, which has 1.8 million likes. So you're hitting 500,000 people every time you put something out on that Facebook page.

We also devoted a lot of our promotional real estate to the launch. Whether that was ad units available to us on our YouTube channels or our website. We also created some dedicated videos that would run on the Smosh main channel and on the second Smosh channel showcasing the content and encouraging subscription to Shut Up! Cartoons.

Mr. Palmer: And we took the same approach with Clevver. Clevver produces a lot of content every day, so what we tried to do was integrate hosts from the new channels into our existing shows, so we could cross promote .

So we might be doing a show where the girls are talking about some entertainment story and we have one of our hosts from Clevver News in there with them talking about it and of course at the end we promo the new channel, to push audience over to the new channel. So there is definitely a lot of moving audiences around and I think that 's something that Alloy does very well.

Ad Age : What makes an engaging YouTube video?

Mr. Blumberg: Depends on who your audience is .

Ad Age : On Shut Up! Cartoons, for example.

Mr. Blumberg: Well it has to be funny, professionally executed, and it's got to feel like the audiences' perspective. I think that lies across all of the content that we produce at Alloy in the video space.

There's a certain amount of respect to the audience that it's not just some kid talking into a camera who doesn't appreciate that the audience is spending their currency, which is clicks and time, in order to engage with you. And so you have to give back.

There are a lot of people in the world who attempt to do what Clevver does on Clevver TeVe and Clevver Style and Clevver TV, but they don't have professional hosts, they don't have content that 's well written and well delivered. They don't have the resources that have the ancillary materials, whether that 's photos or exclusive clips that go to the people out there that are making the effort. So it's respect for the audience that we give back to them with the production quality and execution.

Mr. Palmer: And I think in regards to that , Smosh has done this probably better than anyone on YouTube, it's building a relationship with your audience. I think we've all done a good job, but I look at Smosh and I think they're number one at it. You really engage and build that relationship. Whether it's our hosts actually answering real viewers comments and writing back to them on YouTube, or actually posting on Facebook and sharing.

Like Barry said, respecting the viewer. You're building a relationship and this is a long-term deal here. Building that rapport where the user feels so comfortable that they almost feel like you're one of their friends. And I think for the most part that 's the case. You can't just talk at people, you need to build a relationship and I think we've done a really good job and Smosh is a prime example of how that works.

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