If you look at what is happening with the upper echelon of social media content creators — influencers if you will — they’re beginning to seize opportunities to return to the older mediums. Vikrant Mathur is facilitating that return. His company Future Today partners with high-volume YouTubers and content creators to build branded apps for distribution along channels most people consume on their home televisions as opposed to mobile devices or computers. 

Think about all the apps you probably haven’t heard of on your SmartTV, Apple TV or Roku. Those apps often include ESPN, National Geographic, Netflix and content channels mainstream consumers are familiar with. But they also include apps like the custom one for Lego. Or one called Kabillion. And a food one called The Food Channel. 

Future Today has just launched new apps for these distribution networks for Pink Fong – the South Korean education channel most known for the Baby Shark song. The’ve also added a channel for YouTubers Nastya, Gabby and Alex and Ruby and Bonnie. The last one—Ruby and Bonnie—is two little girls to post videos with their cats. So these are individual content creator channels, not big media companies.

Think about that for a moment from the perspective of an influencer. They can get big enough on YouTube to launch a custom channel that appears on Roku, Apple TV or on SmartTVs all over the world? Think about it from a brand perspective. The influencers you partner with could be available in hundreds of millions of households for those incidents of longer viewing consumption, as well as on the shorter, snackable content platforms online. 

Or, like Lego, what if your brand can build its own content platform that is big enough to have that kind of direct to consumer penetration!

Vikrant and I chatted about the mechanics of it all, the opportunity and challenges for content creators and for brands and how branded content channels are a powerful mechanism to take influence to a different level —- ironically via the good, old, trusty television.

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Julius.

If you’ve read my book, you know I’ve depended on Julius for influencer discovery and campaign management for some time now. When I’m looking for the right influencer for my clients, Julius allows me to search across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs and more. When I click into an influencer’s profile, I can see their audience demographics, what other networks they have reach through and quickly scan their recent posts to decide if they’re a right influencer for my brand. All the pieces of campaign management are there, too. Julius allows you to reach out, document contracts, share and approve influencer content and, of course, measure the ROI of each campaign, influencer or post. You owe it to your brand or agency to do a demo of Julius today. Go to jason.online/julius and request one. That’s jason.online/julius.

Winfluence Transcript – Vikrant Mathur – Future Today

Jason Falls
Hello again friends thanks for listening to Winfluence – The Influence Marketing Podcast. It’s funny how cyclical things are. Social media and thus what we call influencer marketing today emerged from consumers running away from traditional media channels. They wanted less noisy places to connect with like minded people and perhaps find content that was more dialed in to their interests. Television, newspapers, magazines and radio have changed radically since the internet emerged. Consumer behavior and how they interact with those mediums has as well. But if you look at what is happening with the upper echelon of social media content creators influencers if you will, they’re beginning to seize opportunities to return to the older mediums.

Jason Falls
Vikrant Mathur is facilitating that return. His company Future Today partners with high volume YouTubers and content creators to build branded apps for distribution along channels most people consume on their home televisions as opposed to mobile devices or computers. Think about all the apps you probably haven’t heard of on your smart TV, Apple TV or Roku. Those apps often include ESPN, National Geographic, Netflix and content channels mainstream consumers are familiar with. But they also include apps like the custom one for Lego, or one called Kabillion, and a food one called The Food Channel as opposed to the Food Network. Future today has just launched new apps for these distribution networks for Pink Fong, the South Korean education channel, most known for the Baby Shark Song. They’ve also added a channel for YouTubers, Nastya, Gabby and Alex, and Ruby and Bonnie. The last one Ruby and Bonnie is two little girls who post videos with their cats. So these are individual content creators, not big media companies.

Jason Falls
Think about that for a moment from the perspective of an influencer. They can get big enough on YouTube to launch a custom channel that appears on Roku, Apple TV or on smart TVs all over the world. Think about that, from a brand perspective. The influencers you partner with could be available in hundreds of millions of households for those incidents of longer viewing consumption, as well as on the shorter snackable content platforms online. Or like Lego, what if your brand can build its own content platform that is big enough to have that kind of direct to consumer penetration.

Jason Falls
Vikrant and Ichatted about the mechanics of it all the opportunity and challenges for content creators and for brands and how branded content channels are a powerful mechanism to take influence to a different level. Ironically, via the good old trusty television.

Jason Falls
This episode of influence the podcast is sponsored by Julius. If you’ve read my book you know I’ve depended upon Julius for influencer discovery and campaign management for some time now. When I’m looking for the right influencer for my clients, Julius allows me to search across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitch Twitter, Pinterest, blogs and more. When I click into an influencers profile, I can see their audience demographics, what other networks they have reached through and quickly scan their recent posts to decide if they’re a right influencer for my brand. All the pieces of campaign management are there too. Julius allows you to reach out document contracts, share and approve influencer content and of course measure the ROI of each campaign influencer or post. You owe it to your brand or agency to do a demo of Julius today. Go to jason.online/julius and request one that’s jason.online/julius.

Jason Falls
Bringing influencer content into millions of homes across the globe through branded content channels. Vikrant Mathur of Future Today is next on Winfluence.

Jason Falls
So before we get into the new thing that Future Today has going on Vikrant, I wonder if you can help me understand a little bit more about the universe of streaming video. I log on to my smart TV and there are four or five dozen channels. Apple TV has four or five dozen more channels, some of them I know like ESPN, CBS and all the networks that have channels of course, there’s Hulu and Netflix and such are there as well. But past that level, I’m seeing what are essentially I believe, self contained apps that are their own TV networks, but I’ve never heard of them and I can’t imagine where they get viewers. How big of a world is this universe you live in and do people actually watch all those channels I’ve never heard of?

Vikrant Mathur
That’s a that’s a good question. There’s a number of different apps that you can go in and access to these platforms if you go to. Roku is an example outside of you know the so called CBS, Fox … three alphabet networks. There’s perhaps about 5000 apps right, so there’s a lot of content for you, for consumers to to discover and consume and to your question about if anybody’s watching it, I think the answer is a resounding yes. Because if you look at you know to be Incluido and Silvo and Crackle and and Plax and you know there’s a number of i would say perhaps you know about 10 to 15 services where if you you know put together all the numbers in terms of monthly active uniques you’re probably hitting 100 million number pretty quickly, right? So so there’s a lot of consumption that’s happening on these three ad supported apps and we’ve been in the business for about 10 years and we’ve been growing pretty much every year roughly about 100 100 plus percent right. So there’s a lot of consumption that’s happening on these platforms.

Jason Falls
Okay, okay I believe you. Now am I correct in understanding my understanding of Future Today and what you do you create those channels perhaps the ones i’ve never heard of, but is that right or do you fit in the landscape in some other way?

Vikrant Mathur
Yeah … No absolutely. So there’s two sides to our business there’s the technology and platforms where the platform that we’ve built which essentially enables any content producer media company to put up their content on either desktop mobile or streaming platforms. We license the platform and we work with content on their content by essentially enabling them to launch their own branded apps and channels and that’s a big big part of what we do. But then in addition we also our customer to that client common service where we use the same platform to enable and run our owned and operated apps and channels as well. So on the platform across all these different devices we have roughly about 700 apps that we manage many of which are for our partners … content partners and then a number of these apps are owned and operated brands such as Happy Gates and the Good Space. You have an app called False. I’m in the in the movies and television space started with Thai food and the food and lifestyle vertical. So a number of these apps are owned and operated in France and then there’s a bit of third parties that provide the platform.

Jason Falls
So, to restate that for the influencers out there listening, you can take someone who has a you can take someone who has a YouTube channel and widen their distribution through an ad supported channel that appears on smart TVs, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and the like that that sum it up?

Vikrant Mathur
Yeah absolutely.

Jason Falls
And then, and then for advertisers obviously you can get them in front of these very loyal and captive audiences by having their messages support those influencer channels is that how the ad side works?

Vikrant Mathur
Yeah absolutely. So, from an advertising perspective our goal is to be able to provide meaningful scale to advertisers and help them connect with the audience’s that they’re trying to reach in a seamless, in a seamless way but be able to do that at scale right so as an example if we’re working with let’s say 50 different influencers in the in the cooking food space as an example. If we go to an advertiser the value proposition is for us to be able to present audiences that are across all of these different channels or services opposed to having to strike deals with each one of these 50 content producers separately and manage the prices.

Jason Falls
So, and thank you for spelling that out for me because i like to spell it out for dummies because I am one, so it helps me understand it. Now, you’re launching new channels with popular YouTubers now. So, I know Pink Fong, the kids education channel probably best known for Baby Shark — it has about 45 million subscribers on YouTube. That’s about how many people watch the Super Bowl, so yeah you can you could argue they can have their own branded app and these connected devices and streaming services. To be fair, in the influence marketing world though they’re a South Korean educational TV production company, not necessarily a singular influencer … in that you know, kind of a common understanding of that word, at least in the world that I typically live in. But you also have Ruby and Bonnie, who are two sisters who do fun videos playing with their cat. They have 5 million subscribers on YouTube, not too shabby. But you’re launching branded channels with them, too. I guess I should have you tell us what you’re launching with them. And I think a couple of other creators. And then I want to ask some more details about the setup. So tell us about what you’re launching.

Vikrant Mathur
Yeah, sure. So you mentioned things, like you said, the theme, the theme is the Baby Shark Song. We are launching another channel when this video girl … six year old last year, who has her own YouTube channel, and she’s got 65 plus million subscribers, perhaps even more. Now, it’s been a week or so since I checked last. And I think that the general kind of theme behind all of these partnerships is, you know, whether it be family vertical, or you know, cooking or any other verticals for that matter. The general theme is, if you look at the shift in consumption, and especially with, you know, a lot of us now being home, to me as the form factor is our chosen form factor for consuming content, right for an extended period. So phones or tablets are great. But if you’re in the living room, and you want to watch content for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, you just naturally gravitate towards the television and use that to consume content. Now in the past, we’ve, you know, we’ve consumed content through a cable pipe that’s coming in through a satellite dish that we have. But increasingly now what’s happening is consumers are just, you know, connecting the TVs to the internet, whether it be through an inbuilt Wi Fi card to a smart TV, or whether it be through an external device, such as Roku, or Amazon Fire. And they’re streaming the content that they wanted to consume, really, at any time, right. So the days of kind of traditional viewing, appointment viewing, as we call it, I think are long gone.

Vikrant Mathur
And even more so in the kid space where kids are just so naturally impulsive that they whatever they want, they want it now. And you do as at Netflix have spoiled them even even more in terms of the content needs and demands, right. So the general kind of theme for all of our partnerships is one to enable and facilitate a wider distribution for all of our content partners. But then to more importantly, get them in front of the consumers, where consumers are spending the time, right. And right now it’s in front of the television and Wi Fi increasingly, so going forward, it’s going to be it’s going to be the television, right, you will call about the depth of television, or talk about the depth of television, but you know, television is, is well and good. And it’s growing, I would say even more than ever before. The reports were 90% of all video consumed is consumed in terms of watching content. And so TV is not going anywhere, just the way in which we consume television is changing, right. And so for these content partners, and you know, all the others that we work with, it’s the opportunity to be in front of the user, and really engaging with them through, I would say on in an environment that is, you know, conducive to longer session, longer watch duration. And so as a result, they’re spending more time, consumers are spending more time with your brand, as opposed to you know, just watching a clip for five minutes and going away. And you know, you hope to do come back the next time you upload another piece of video next week or what have you.

Jason Falls
So Ruby and Bonnie have about 5 million subscribers. As I mentioned their videos pull in 200 to 300,000 views in the first couple of weeks. They do have over a two that are over 100 million views so they’re legit. What do you estimate their additional exposure will be once you have a new channel or app up and running? How many more eyeballs will be on these two little girls in their content? When future today has the train running for them?

Vikrant Mathur
Yeah, so if you look at the just the, you know the footprint of these devices that we’re going to be launching on we expect to have you know all of them available. Apple in about roughly about 100 million households across Amazon, find that Roku, Comcast XFINITY, Sparks, we work with all the major quantities, manufacturers. So. So that’s really you know, the number of devices where they would have their own app, kids and families can go go to the kids and families section, find them, download their app and start watching content. I think the main kind of main thing that surprises a lot of our content partners, when they come onto the platform, it’s just the engagement that they see that the users compared to, you know, perhaps another digital platform that they may be distributed on content. Right. So in terms of engagement, we see, you know, across our board, and this, obviously variables, and I’m kind of giving you numbers, you know, we see roughly about two and a half to three hours of average session times when, when somebody logs into one of our apps, right, and that really is, you know, it takes a lot of our content partners back when they when when they see the numbers, because you know, usually they used to, you know, having a two minute, three minute five minute average session time, even if you’ve created a long compilation, or you’ve created a 40-50 minute episode. A lot of people just because they might be consuming the content on desktop, or because they’re on their mobile phones, the context of that experience is not consistent. It’s not conducive to a longer session times and deeper engagement, right. And that’s really where we see a lot of a lot of adoption, I would say, and a lot of excitement from our content partners, because now they’re able to really, you know, for the users that they’re reaching, and for the folks who are consuming this content, they’re able to establish such a deep loyalty with the brand, that that would be very hard to do and another environment, where everything is just a click away.

Jason Falls
What do you look for in a content creator to know or a YouTube channel to know if they’re a good prospect to build a branded platform for?

Vikrant Mathur
So there’s a few things we you know, we’ve been doing this for about 10 years now. And we’ve experimented with, you know, just about every category that you can think of category in terms of content, we’ve launched channels for. And what we’ve seen work the best on on streaming television is, you know, in concept, what has always worked on television, right, which is entertaining. So one of the things that we’ve seen be very, very successful in terms of its own branded app is content that is created with a focus to entertain the user, as opposed to inform the user, right. And when I say form, I’m not talking about news I’m talking about, you know how to kind of videos, right, because there’s a lot of that on platforms like YouTube. And so what we’ve seen is, irrespective of the category, I think this applies across the board, what we’ve seen is that if the content is entertaining, right, when you would turn on the TV, and just back and mindless watch, that tends to get a lot more viewership, as opposed to you know, how to cook chicken marsala, or how to change the tire on my, you know, Mazda, you know, what have you? Because that content is more of a lean-in type of setup, and, and should I value that content when needed, but I may not need it all the time, right? Whereas I need to be entertained pretty much all the time. So So that was one thing, which is, you know, just entertainment versus instruction. The other thing was, obviously, the bigger the brand, whether it be in kind of the traditional television space, or whether it be you know, in the digital space, it’s much easier for us to help drive viewership and almost to a brand or a piece of content that people know or recognize, you know, from others. So that’s why when we look at some of the partners that we have, you know, the bigger the partner, the better and the more easy it is for us to be able to promote them and drive you drive eyeballs towards them content, because people just generally, you know, know the content, they understand it, they know what they’re gonna get, if they go into that app. As opposed to perhaps the channels that nobody’s heard of and and so you know it just means that additional so so i would say those are the two main things in terms of what we what we look at which is you know just the quality of the content and you know whether it was produced for television whether it was produced for entertainment. You know as opposed to kind of video so to speak and then you know how how engaged is the audience with this particular brand at this particular influencer outside of the streaming television ecosystem because it’s much easier for us to promote them and build an audience for them.

Jason Falls
Very good. So most of these content creators i think i would imagine come from YouTube is there any risk that you know this distribution could hurt their youtube audience for that youtube might not like the fact their content is going elsewhere?

Vikrant Mathur
No actually you know to the contrary we have a number of content partners who as you can imagine we’ve been doing this for 10 plus years now we have a number of content partners who signed up with us for years five years ago when even in the union ecosystem we were relatively speaking smaller. And what we’ve seen is that they’ve grown both with us as well as right so again i think from a content owners perspective what they should realize is that you know as consumers we expect to consume content on any device that’s in front of us at any time and you know to any service that’s available a platform or device that’s right. So as a content owner what i encourage all of our content partners to do and seek the broadest distribution possible so that they can be found and discovered you know on as many services across as many devices as possible, right? So if you know if if i’m in the bus stop and i have 10 minutes to kill I’ll open up my phone and i’ll go to you know a specific YouTube channel and consume content but the moment i step into my house and you know i have a 60 inch television in front of me i may not want to continue that experience. I want to switch onto the big screen right and so that’s really what we see happen is people are essentially leveraging you know using these form factors based on what is just most convenient, right? Depending on again the context of consumption experience and they’re switching from one form factor to the other so just because you know you you’re launching an app on streaming television doesn’t mean that you will cannibalize your service. On the contrary we would be seen as there’s cross pollination where sometimes we will discover you know an Amazon Fire and sometimes discover you on YouTube and then having a presence on both of those platforms essentially enables you to you know hold their attention and enables you to really increase your retention rates because now you can be found across multiple platforms across all these contexts and so people are more likely to consume your content now irrespective of in what devices they’re using.

Jason Falls
Vikrant, where can people learn more about Future Today if they want to either advertise on these very specific niche apps or channels or if they’re an aspiring YouTuber or content creator and want to partner with you?

Vikrant Mathur
Yeah so they can go to our website FutureTodayInc — I-N-C.com. There’s a contact form there there’s an address there they can reach out to us. They could find us through LinkedIn. Obviously, all of us are on LinkedIn so they can reach out to me personally or anybody on our team to explore additional opportunities.

Jason Falls
Amazing stuff Vikrant. Thanks for helping grow influencers beyond the social media channels. I hope lots more wind up finding that level of success.

Vikrant Mathur
Thank you, Jason.

Transcribed by otter.ai

The Winfluence theme music is “One More Look” featuring Jacquire King and Stephan Sharp by The K Club found on Facebook Sound Collection.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

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