VIDEO MARKETING VALUE

Breaking Down YouTube Video Categories And Formats With Matt Gielen

Breaking Down YouTube Video Categories And Formats With Matt Gielen

 
 
00:00 / 00:24:16
 
1X

YouTube Categories And Formats With Matt Gielen

Matt Gielen of Little Monster Media breaks down YouTube video categories and formats and talks about his new Tubefilter article, “The Taxonomy Of YouTube Videos (And How You Can Develop Original Content That Works).”

GUEST: Matt Gielen of Little Monster Media | Tubefilter Articles | LinkedIn

HOST AND CO-PRODUCER: Dane Golden of HEY.com | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube

SPONSORS: This episode is brought to you by our affiliate partners, including: TubeBuddy, VidIQMorningFameRev.com, and other products and services we recommend. Thanks for your support!

CO-PRODUCER: Jason Perrier of Phizzy Studios

TRANSCRIPT

Dane Golden:
It’s time for HEY.com. This is the podcast where we give you video content marketing tips to help you get your customers coming back to your videos again and again. My name is Dane Golden from HEY.com, and today we have Matt Gielen of Little Monster Media. Welcome, Matt.

Matt Gielen:
Hello. Thank you for having me.

Dane Golden:
Now, Matt, thank you for being on. Yeah. Now, people know you from Reversing the YouTube Algorithm and other writings you’ve written about on Two Filter and other places, and you’ve spoke about it at VidCon and VidSummit. Is that right?

Matt Gielen:
That is correct, except it’s Reverse Engineering the YouTube Algorithm. I would not want to reverse the algorithm as a whole.

Dane Golden:
Good point. Reverse engineering. One word can mean so much.

Matt Gielen:
Right.

Dane Golden:
Now, Matt Gielen, how do you spell your last name? Because, I swear, I’ve gotten this question from like three people.

Matt Gielen:
Really?

Dane Golden:
No one knows. No one knows.

Matt Gielen:
No one knows how to pronounce it. You’ve always pronounced it correctly, but the spelling is G-I-E-L-E-N.

Dane Golden:
Okay, so people looking you up, G-I-E-L-E-N, Matt Gielen.

Matt Gielen:
Hopefully none of your listeners have to look me up, they already know me. But, you know.

Dane Golden:
Maybe we’ve gotten the one new listener. Matt, you did something different this year at VidCon. You talked about your research into defining YouTube formats, and what are the other components that work with these formats to make a successful video and a successful YouTube channel. And I wanted to ask you to talk about that a little bit today, if that’s okay with you.

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, sure. So, it really started out as a method of trying to develop content. So for our own property that we own and manage, and then for client stuff, I would find myself sitting in rooms with a bunch of very creative people, and just not feeling like we were getting anywhere. Where, you know, people would scratch their heads and they’d pitch things that maybe would work on TV or had been done to death, or were just slight variations on what we were already doing. And for many years, I was like there’s got to be a better way to do this other than kind of sitting around a table and going “Who’s got something smart?”

Matt Gielen:
So maybe about three years ago, it kind of dawned on me that if you stripped away some of the surface level stuff, you could see very repeatable formats in a vast majority of YouTube content, and so I began looking around for some sort of resource on this. Like okay, tell me about all the different formats that are out there that people like to watch, that people make content in, and there just really wasn’t anything.

Dane Golden:
Yeah, and you’re not the first person to have a problem of knowing what to put on a channel, or what variation and mix of content. This is a problem everyone has.

Matt Gielen:
I would hope. If I’m the only one, I’m probably in the wrong industry. So I went off, it was like yeah, no, no, we got it. And it’s a problem on my end.

Dane Golden:
So what did you find?

Matt Gielen:
So what I thought was like, if you really boiled things down, there was basically eight very specific formats that really encapsulated most, if not all, of the content being distributed onto YouTube. Especially for like the independent creator. Now, there’s definitely room for argument with these, and someone actually asked me the other day, “Are you open to feedback on things that you write?”

Dane Golden:
No.

Matt Gielen:
What I said was, on the stuff I write about the algorithm, I’m open to feedback solely if it’s data based. Not like a database, but based in data. Then what I said in regards to the taxonomy of digital content, which is … I’m calling this method of development or this method of understanding content, I’m completely open, because I think it’s all very subjective. I’m just the only one, as far as I know, that’s really taken a stab at it. And so, I love discussing this stuff, I love to hear people’s thoughts on it.

Matt Gielen:
Because there’s really kind of two reasons why I do these papers and put it out there. The first is because I want to read it, and if no one else is going to write it, I might as well write it, so I know what it is. Because so much of my thought process gets clarified in the writing process.

Matt Gielen:
And then two, because it would be really, really helpful to creators and to media companies and stuff I enjoy watching. And if they’re making better stuff, stuff that feels more original and being more successful, that’s helpful to everyone. That’s helpful to the industry as a whole.

Dane Golden:
And it’s helpful to brands, too, that are trying to come up with content as well. Those are what I usually work with.

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, exactly. Especially brands that are kind of rooted in the more traditional marketing areas, like making TV commercials and that sort of thing, where you know, you can run commercials on YouTube and that’s great. Branded content, brand integration, sponsor content, and that’s all well and good, but pretty much every brand has to be a media brand in the future. If you think of media brands as brands that create audio/visual content, because that’s what people want to engage with. They don’t really … They want to engage with YouTube commercials.

Matt Gielen:
And you look at some of the most successful marketing campaigns in digital, it’s all content based. Like you look at some of the viral videos, like Gillette did, where the guy caught the baseball before it hit the reporter, or David Beckham kicking a soccer ball into a trashcan 50 yards away, or the Dove campaigns, or Red Bull, or Old Spice, or any of these companies. It’s all around content, not necessarily commercials.

Dane Golden:
And how many formats did you find?

Matt Gielen:
So, I think there’s basically eight.

Dane Golden:
What are they?

Matt Gielen:
I think they’re a listicle, an explainer video, a commentary video, interview, music video, challenges, reaction and narrative. I think those are really kind of the eight central formats on top of which types of videos are built.

Dane Golden:
Okay, well we went through those really fast. Let’s do them again slow. Listicle, explainer, what else?

Matt Gielen:
Commentary, interview, music video, challenges, reaction and narrative. So listicle would be a Top 10. An explainer video would be how to build a chair. Commentary video would be you know, my trip to Disneyland, where someone talks about the time they had at Disneyland, and whether they liked it or not.

Dane Golden:
A vlog.

Matt Gielen:
Yes. I try not to say vlog when saying commentary.

Dane Golden:
You don’t like that term?

Matt Gielen:
Well, I think a vlog is a combination format and style. I don’t think it’s … I think it’s a perfectly good example of a commentary, but I think that can move it to like vlog/commentary, and then you’re kind of starting to mess up with the formats, where I think it’s a bit cleaner without saying vlog, but whatever.

Matt Gielen:
The interview, you know, a subject is asked questions. A music video, primary purpose of the video is for the … Listening to a song. Challenges, these could be physical challenges like the cinnamon challenge. Reaction video, you know, a bunch of kids sit around a computer and react to it. And then like a narrative, that’s anything that’s like a fictionalized video. So, anything that has narrative elements to it.

Dane Golden:
Yeah. So yeah, I’ve never heard anyone really break them down, all the … YouTube, you hear this in … I think you went to film school, right?

Matt Gielen:
I did. I studied film in undergrad at Columbia.

Dane Golden:
Yeah. So they’ll talk about these at film school, certainly. And then you talked about, a lot about …

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, that’s actually where a lot of the impetus for this came from. When I went to school, you know, I would read things like Story by McKee, and the Writer’s Journey and a similar book, that would break down films into a system of understanding, and no one has really done that in digital video, as far as I could find. And I think that’s a big problem.

Matt Gielen:
I think that’s a big problem because until that begins to happen, our industry will always be looked at as a quote unquote amateurish industry. Until there is like real, scholarly analysis of what we’re doing as an art form independent from film and TV, I think we’ll be held back or looked down upon by the greater industry.

Dane Golden:
Yeah, and you sort of skipped over that fast, but the book you’re talking about is Story, by Robert McKee, which is the bible for many people, screenwriters and others, and he teaches … I guess he still teaches this seminars, and also, he was a mythical version of him was the star of a movie called Adaptation, which was really great.

Matt Gielen:
That may be one of the best movies of that decade, and I say that knowing that that’s the one with Nick Cage, right?

Dane Golden:
Yeah, yeah, where he …

Matt Gielen:
He’s a flower thing, right?

Dane Golden:
He was obsessed with having no format, but then he kept being drawn back to format. So it’s a sort of storyteller’s inner problem, inner conflict.

Matt Gielen:
Gotcha. There was a really interesting community episode about that same thing. Community does such a great job of being like self-referential in that way. Is that like, if you’re a TV and film industry person, that show can really resonate with you.

Dane Golden:
Yeah, yeah. Like that one guy, he would always know the TV meme, who’d go “Wait, is this a bottle episode?”

Matt Gielen:
Abed.

Dane Golden:
Abed, right, right, right, right. That was a great show. So you also, you added another layer. So once you had the format, you added a whole bunch of other things to help understand what the degree of success was. What were these other elements?

Matt Gielen:
Not so much degree of success as like elements in a video, that could be dissected and understood and categorized. So, kind of the first one is style. We should say like the vast majority of quote unquote online video content is done single camera, direct at camera. Now, that can be single camera handheld, that could be single camera stationary, it can be a mix, but the vast majority of it is done direct at camera.

Matt Gielen:
And I didn’t spend a lot of time on styles, because the main tool of creation of content, the camera, is over 100 years old. And the terminology around how to use a camera and what things look like and how to define that has been largely defined already.

Dane Golden:
So, yeah. People know what those are. And then there was topic. So, how did you describe that. I mean, just self-evident?

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, topic is one of the more self-evident ones, and again, I didn’t spend a lot of time on that either, because it’s like what are you talking about? It’s always like right there. But there are some other things … There was one other area that I’m super interested in, in regard to the taxonomy, which is personality.

Matt Gielen:
So, there’s never been a major media company without characters or personalities at the forefront, or built upon characters or personality. And there’s definitely a lot written about character archetype and definitely a lot written about personality archetype, but never in the vein of personalities as talent in online video. And so everyone knows like the hero, the villain, the wise old man archetypes that you see in film and TV, but in online video, that doesn’t always translate.

Matt Gielen:
And the way I think about it is more along the lines of like the roles that people would play in like friendship circles, or the way friendship circles are depicted in movies and TV. Because that is my basis for understanding reality, apparently. So like, it would be things like the hot nerd, the old guy who hangs out with the younger guys, no one really knows why he’s still there, but they don’t mind him and he’s not creepy. Or, the jock, or the class clown, or you know, the uber-geek, whatever it is. But are more, I think, better explained by that kind of setup as opposed to the typical TV and film archetype.

Dane Golden:
And then there was a couple of other elements. Creativity and Optimization.

Matt Gielen:
So, creativity and optimization are like layers that go across each one of these sections. Like, basically what I was trying to do was a classification model for digital video content. And the first element would be like what vertical are you in? So that would be like automotive, fashion and beauty, animals, whatever it is. And then your format and then your style, and then the length of the video, and then the personality and then the topic.

Matt Gielen:
And these are in no way meant to be like levels of importance, it’s just how things would flow. So like if you’re in the automotive vertical, there are certain formats that work better in that vertical. So that comes after vertical. Your format is oftentimes going to influence or dictate the style of filming that you do. That will influence the length, and then the personality can be a product of that. Like you might want one personality for a 10 minute video that wouldn’t be as good as for a one minute video.

Matt Gielen:
Or if it’s a listicle format, direct to camera, that’s going to be 20 minutes, that might dictate having a different personality than something that’s like short and punchy, or is hand held, direct to camera out in the field, that kind of thing. And then the final kind of element to that classification model would be like the topic. What are you talking about in that specific individual video that day?

Dane Golden:
Matt, here at HEY.com, we encourage brands to do a lot of how to tutorials, not just about their own products, but about their expertise in their industry, that people may want to search for. How to learn how to do something to do their jobs better or live their lives better, and we call it video content marketing, just same as content marketing, except for video, and that falls under your explainer category. And what should brands think about when they’re planning how to or tutorial videos?

Matt Gielen:
Very good question. First and foremost, you always want to think about your audience. Who’s going to be watching this, why are they going to be watching it, when are they going to be watching it? Because that can really help inform what the creative is.

Matt Gielen:
The next biggest thing to think about is who do they want to watch? Basically, what personality do you want on camera, and be very clear about that up front. Because it might not always be just the target consumer. Like if the target consumer is the default go to for who you want to see onscreen, because they would identify that person. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but there might be opportunities to do something that feels a little fresh and unique and different by casting differently.

Dane Golden:
I don’t understand.

Matt Gielen:
So if you cast your target consumer as personality, that’s probably 100% perfectly fine.

Dane Golden:
So someone that looks and behaves like your target customer, essentially. Someone, if I am targeting 40 year old men, put a 40 year old man on there that has the same interests as my customers.

Matt Gielen:
Exactly. If you look at like Dos Equis commercials, with the most interesting man in the world, it’s an aspirational casting, not a like, we only want the most interesting people in the world drinking Dos Equis.

Dane Golden:
Okay. But definitely a character or individual, or just regular old person that would definitely interest your user group.

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, absolutely. And in some instances, you might not even need to have someone actually on camera. We’re seeing a lot of content that was originally purposed for Facebook being repurposed for YouTube and doing exceedingly well there for a host of reasons, but one of the reasons why it’s doing well has nothing to do with the host, because there is none. It’s just the vast majority of content, especially if you’re doing it well …

Matt Gielen:
Actually, how to is one area where you can definitely get away without even having a host.

Dane Golden:
One of the challenges for brands when they have hosts, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but I recommend generally that they should, is that employees change, and they leave over time, and then you have some videos that are really helpful, and that person is no longer there. And somehow, there’s some sort of conflict in allegiance when that person has left for the competitor, or some other career. And maybe these off camera type of approaches might work better in some cases.

Matt Gielen:
Yeah. That could definitely be one of the value adds of not being reliant on talent. That said, my old boss, Mr. Fred Seibert, used to [crosstalk 00:19:24]

Dane Golden:
Famous Fred.

Matt Gielen:
Famous Fred. … Say, you need to use the MTV VJ model, which was basically they had a whole bunch of different people, so that they were never too reliant on any one of them. But then again, you could say why do the Tonight Show if there’s a potential that host might leave at some point? You have to believe that your brand and the content that you’re going to be making has value beyond just the person in it.

Matt Gielen:
But to your other point, yes, it can be valuable to not be reliant on an individual for audience.

Dane Golden:
But if Fred Seibert says have several people, maybe you have three videos a week, and three different people in your company. You know, one person’s on Monday, one person’s on Wednesday, one person’s on Friday every week, they all become trained, and if one person leaves, you swap in another person. Because your employees should be trained on how to do videos.

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, I agree.

Dane Golden:
Okay.

Matt Gielen:
And there is one more thing, which is from like a format perspective. Pretty much anyone can do the basic formats. Anyone can do a basic explainer, how-to video, and chances are, if you’re a brand looking to make how to explainer type content, there’s probably 20 to 100 videos already uploaded for any topic you can think of. Maybe not necessarily around your specific product, but certainly similar stuff.

Matt Gielen:
And so like part of the key to standing out within a vertical is what we refer to as hybrid formats, where you could marry an explainer video to a listicle. So, 10 ways to use this tool, right, would be a combination explainer/listicle video. Or something that just makes it feel a little bit different and unique from what’s already out there.

Dane Golden:
Fantastic. This has been really helpful, Matt. Thank you.

Matt Gielen:
Thank you for having me.

Dane Golden:
Now, will this be published somewhere at some point, or how can people find out more?

Matt Gielen:
At some point it will definitely be on Tube Filter. After VidCon I went on vacation for a week, and we came back and it was July 4th week, and then we went on vacation again for a week, so I’m still sorting through all that. And lots of running to companies and a whole host of other things. Eventually it will be written and distributed. I just can’t guarantee when exactly that will be.

Dane Golden:
And how can people find out more about you and Reverse Engineering the YouTube Algorithm.

Matt Gielen:
Well, if you go to Tube Filter and just search for my name, which we all know how to spell now.

Dane Golden:
G-I-E-L-E-N.

Matt Gielen:
You know, anytime I hear like an inflection like that, I think back to the Howard Stern movie, where he goes W-N-B-C. But yeah, G-I-E-L-E-N. You can find my writings, you can follow me on Twitter, but I highly recommend that you do not follow me on Twitter, unless you are extremely liberal and progressive, because I talk way more about politics than I do about YouTube on my Twitter. And then you can go to LittleMonsterMediaCo.com if you’d like to get in touch about building your audience on YouTube.

Dane Golden:
And follow you on LinkedIn, like I do.

Matt Gielen:
Yeah, you can definitely follow me on LinkedIn. I am non-discriminatory in who I accept connections from on LinkedIn.

Dane Golden:
That’s true, because you’re my friend on LinkedIn.

Matt Gielen:
Exactly.

Dane Golden:
So, my name is Dane Golden, and I want to thank you for listening today. W-N-B-C. HEY.com is about helping you get your customers coming back to your videos again and again. How do you do this? By sharing your expertise. Because when you share your expertise in a way that helps your customers live their lives better or do their jobs better, you’ll earn their loyalty and their trust and their business.

Dane Golden:
Thanks to our special guest, Matt Gielen. Please subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app and on YouTube and wherever you watch social video, and please friend me on LinkedIn. Until next week, here’s to helping you help your customers through video.

Tags:

Get the HEY.com
Video Content Marketing Newsletter

Thanks!

Something went wrong.