Webstars Improve Ad Engagement

caitlin0161Would you trust your online advertising budget to a bunch of ‘home made’ webstars?

Would you trust them more if they had generated over 776 million video views for clients ranging from Coke to Fox Broadcasting?

Walter Sabo hopes you will.

Walter is CEO of Hitviews, an upstart marketplace that wants to take online advertising to its next level.

His premise is simple. Find the right video ‘stars’ who have already learned how to really engage viewers – and connect them with the right advertisers to sell products.

Walter saw a business opportunity when he noticed how poorly a lot of ‘paid’ videos were doing online. (A ‘paid’ video is one where a performer is paid to produce and include information about a company within their video/show).

He says, “Paid videos weren’t doing that well – a couple hundred to a few thousand views each. I noticed that even big companies like Samsung were getting about 5,000 views. So, I started looking for videos that were getting a lot of hits and I noticed that some ‘amateurs’ were getting up to 5 million hits per video.

At the same time, I was reading articles saying that some companies had stopped making online videos because they couldn’t get any views – and, I noticed that keyword advertising is getting less than .05% click through among those under 25 and only 1.2% among 25-54’s. That’s when the light bulb went off.”

He started Hitviews, raising money from a group of investors including Bob Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax and Gary Slaight, former owner of Canada’s Standard Broadcasting. Gary was a champion of the project from the start – convinced that webstars are a key to online advertising.

Walter quickly identified the top online video ‘stars’ from over 35 sites, finding those who enjoyed marketing and advertising products within their videos, and who had a clear idea of how to engage viewers.

He says, “Every medium creates its own stars. The web has created a new type of star – those who use video and marketing as extensions of themselves. If you channel this new type of starpower, you have the basis for real engagement.

A webstar is like a star in any other medium – they have studied their craft and know how to draw a crowd. They have fans who follow them, asking to be notified each time they post a new video. Most important, these stars know how to entertain and engage online.”

And, that engagement is critical to success. Every hour, 15,000 new videos are added to YouTube. To cut through, Walter knows you have got to have something special.

That’s why he tapped Australian teenager, Caitlin Hill , known online as thehill88, as Chief Creative Officer. She is a true webstar with over 22,000,000 lifetime views. Her job is to identify and recruit the right stars and match them with the right brands. And, it seems to have paid off.

Fox Broadcasting selected Hitviews to help launch 2 important shows – Fringe and Lie to Me. Hitviews generated over 4,600,000 video views over a 3 month period along with lots of online buzz. They also hit the target audience – average age 25, 60% male.

Hitviews is on to something. They are on their way to 1 billion video views among just their top 12 stars. Yet, they are mostly off the radar of traditional ad agencies and advertisers.

You can check out some of their successful videos on the Hitviews site to see how ‘webstars’ use their unique personal styles to grab viewers and engage them with the brand.

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