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Beyond YouTube – why The Ellen Show is an online trailblazer

Ellen promoting ellentube

Ellen promoting ellentube

Guest post by Iddo Shai, Director, Product Marketing, News & Entertainment at Kaltura.

Ellen DeGeneres is a social media whirlwind. The chat show host’s daytime TV show averages three million viewers.

But this number is overshadowed by the show’s 34 million Twitter followers and 3 billion video views on YouTube. That’s a lot of eyeballs, whichever way you count an audience.

With such an engaged fan base, the obvious next step for Ellen, and the producers of the show, was to look beyond the YouTube experience with a social video space that allows Ellen to connect more deeply with her audience. As a result, last week Ellen launched ellentube – a website and a slick mobile app.

Ellentube gives fans a way to view the show’s highlights and additional clips of cute kittens, as well as making it easy for fans to upload their own home videos. It is organised around video playlists, such as celebrity scares, cats, kids, funny, incredible and trending.

At first blush, the key benefits are that the show can nurture a community for advertising purposes and secure access to user-generated content. This content can then be incorporated in the TV show based on its popularity on ellentube.

But the advantages are more substantial. A social video platform also gives brands and celebrities the ability to act as curator and moderate the content, as well as providing a focus group to test new content and consult with fans. The huge sums spent on advertising focus groups seem a tad old-fashioned when a platform such as ellentube provides instant audience feedback and insight into the latest trends.

One of the latest phrases on marketers’ lips is brand safety. ellentube has an editorial team behind the scenes making sure that only videos that meet the site’s standards are published. In this way, Ellen is providing a safe space where any member of the family can be comfortable browsing and participating without coming across the Web’s undesirable content and comments.

Brand safety is also key to attracting sponsors who want to ensure their advertising appears next to appropriate content. But perhaps the most compelling argument for a brand to offer its own social video site is the ability to keep creative control.

The stumbling block used to be that the technology was too complex for many people to countenance. But now there are tools that make the creation and running of a social video and companion mobile application easy.

The ellentube application is currently one of the most downloaded applications on the US iTunes store and many thousands of videos have been uploaded. The beauty of the mobile application is that it is easy for fans to manage their videos and review content in ways that are almost impossible with YouTube.

Not so long ago executives in the TV industry didn’t value the potential of the second screen and there were constant gripes about how a web entity could damage ratings. We now have evidence that the reality is very different.

The Ellen Show will increase its audience ratings when videos on ellentube go viral without having to split revenues with Google. And when new fans visit a social video community, they can spend hours browsing videos, presenting the show with a new way to engage with its viewers and offer tickets, premium content and other merchandise, should they wish in the future. You can’t ask for your fans’ email addresses on YouTube but you can with your own video community.

By choosing a social video platform with full customisation to match The Ellen Show’s look and feel, HTML5 video support for a choice of mobile platforms and flexible advertising models, The Ellen Show is wrestling power back from YouTube, owning the data and the relationship with the viewer.

But these same benefits also apply to enterprises and educational institutions (who have a large number of users) who want to create, upload, share, search, browse, and watch live and on demand videos, video presentations, screencasts, and other rich media content.

In the past, single administrators or small teams within an organisation would publish to a large audience. Now we are seeing the democratisation of media creation with many contributors, moderators and viewers in a multitude of channels.

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