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One Vision: RedPill's Liam Corrigan shares the secrets of successful social video

In a rejection of the ‘360 degree’ marketing agency model, RedPill has achieved 40 per cent year-on-year growth since its inception by focusing exclusively on the production and distribution of social video...

“When we started out, 30 hours of video were being uploaded to YouTube every minute,” says Liam Corrigan, creative director of RedPill, as he explains why, when he co-founded the agency in 2009, the strategy was to focus exclusively on social video.

“Today, it’s more than 300 hours per minute and growing. We always wanted to be a new breed of agency, taking a human approach to creating and seeding original video content.” 

Corrigan believes that, while there are many agencies out there capable of producing “lovely looking video content”, poor distribution can lead many social video campaigns to underperform. He adds that his agency’s grasp of the interplay between the production and the subsequent seeding strategy of social video is an important differentiator for RedPill.

“Our USP is to look at video through both a creative and a strategic lens. The seeding strategy can have a real influence on the production and vice versa. Only by planning both elements together in the strategy phase will brands end up creating something truly relevant to the target audience and sharable. From a client perspective, it’s more coherent having one agency plan, produce and seed the content. It makes us solely accountable and unequivocally dedicated to the quality of the content and the results.”

Today, RedPill partners with global marketing agencies and brands directly as video specialists covering strategy, production, social and seeding from its stylish offices in Shoreditch – a far cry from its humble origins.

“We launched the business in the midst of an economic recession from a pretty crummy, mouse-ridden flat in Brixton, with literally two pounds of investment – one pound from each shareholder!  Back then it was about securing as much work as fast as possible, so we had to take some pretty dirty jobs. These days, we get to be more selective about who we want to work with. In the last 12 months alone we’ve had the privilege of working with brands including Coca-Cola and Bacardi as well as important charities like World Hepatitis Alliance.”

The Long and the Short of it

With online video ads being blocked, skipped and ignored in significant quantities, Corrigan believes many brands need to re-examine their approach urgently. “Brands sticking their TV spot on YouTube and putting some cash behind it for the sake of glamour views doesn’t fly anymore. Audiences don’t want their online viewing experience hijacked by another invasive ad. To truly connect with their audience, brands must become original content producers, not advertisers. The online success of the likes of RedBull and GoPro illustrates just how effective and powerful this model can be.

“Data, technology and programmatic efficiencies offer a significant step forward for the ad industry, but we shouldn’t forget art in all of this; all the algorithms in the world aren’t going to deliver content as good as a kid driving a Volvo truck.”

Corrigan cites RedPill’s recent campaign for campaigns for Bacardi’s rum brands as an example of his agency’s approach in action. “We created 37 pieces of content over a nine-month period. Each asset was tailored to the platform of release, A/B tested and then supported with a bespoke seeding strategy. Seeding a 15-second InstaVid requires a different strategy to distributing a three minute YouTube asset. Our overarching strategy resulted in over 10m certified views, 600,000 engagements and an average ‘play to end’ of 87 per cent, which is impressive when you consider some of the films were over three minutes long.

“Advertisers should always remember, though, that views are often simply an indicator of how big your marketing budget is, whereas time spent with the brand and engagement is much more meaningful. These are the terms we think in, which even today seems surprisingly rare given how important viewability should be for brands.”

Corrigan notes the trend towards “shorter and shorter” content and vertical video, driven by the rise of platforms such as Vine and Snapchat, but adds: “I think we’ll also see more brands backing longer-form storytelling. We work with so many talented content producers who create dramas, comedies and documentaries and win sizable online audiences. There’s no reason why all brands can’t associate themselves with that sort of talent.”

Asked to provide one key takeaway for brands hoping to master social video, Corrigan offers: “Rather than thinking of campaigns in terms of single video pieces, view them as multi-channel, multi-asset initiatives, with a consistent narrative conveyed in the best way for each platform.” 

In 2016, RedPill’s talent includes “more than 50 creatives, strategists and production specialists, and 20,000 publishers worldwide” and earlier this month, Jon Williams, the man who led the record-breaking ‘Evian Roller Babies’ campaign, joined the agency as its new strategy director.

With plans for the next 24 months including raising capital to fund international expansion, it seems RedPill’s focus on social video is sharper than ever.

Independently founded in 2009, RedPill is dedicated exclusively to social video, covering social strategy, creative, video production, post production, organic seeding and programmatic advertising. RedPill utilises proprietary technology to seed, track and measure client campaigns. Existing clients include Bacardi, Coca-Cola and Starcom. For more information visit redpill.co

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