Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Online Video Conversations: Steven Horn, Metacafe - Part 1: Metacafe's Editorial Voice Drives Consumption of Online Video

I recently sat down with Steven Horn, vice president of programming for Metacafe, to talk about how he is defining Metacafe’s distinctive editorial voice to drive the consumption of online video, specifically around exclusive, premium short-from content. Horn has more than 15 years in digital media, and lives and breaths entertainment content everyday. He loves to connect audiences with the right content for them. He joined Metacafe earlier this year and was named Vice President of Programming in August 2010. Prior to Metacafe, Horn served as director of programming and content at VUDU. He also previously served as vice president of editorial at Fox Interactive Media, where he led editorial programs for: Rotten Tomatoes, MySpace and In this role, he developed deep connections with Hollywood studios and television production companies which has says helps give Metacafe an edge on acquiring and programming premium content.

According to Horn, his editors make better programmers than machine driven algorithms, because editors know what readers want. That's the big differentiator, he says, between an editor and a search engine or algorithm:
"To us, it comes down to this very simple philosophy... being an editor is a bit of an art form. There's nuance in programming."
Horn believes that there's a certain craft to programming and that Metacafe's approach provides greater value to consumers and to content creators. He and his team all deep ties into Hollywood as writers, editors and programmers. He says their style is a bit of a throwback to the old school newspaper bullpen style. He and his team get together every day, exchange ideas, build packages around entertainment properties, find creative and fun ways to involve advertisers, and create deeply integrated content experiences with the movies, games and other intellectual properties. Editors can also pick up the phone and call a studio for an exclusive that can appear on Metacafe days before other sites, or only on Metacafe. This, Horn says, gives the site emotion and the human element.

Horn challenged his team with Metacafe’s recent Shocktober Showcase initiative to see if the editorial model works, by producing 30 content exclusives – one in movies and one in video games – every day throughout the month of October. Horn says that Metacafe is setting a new standard in online video by bringing an entire month of daily exclusives and originals, but he acknowledges:
"It's been a big challenge, 30 exclusives in 30 days, we just sort of woke up one day and said, 'That is going to be intense,' but we really wanted to push ourselves and prove out this editorial model."
The most recent statistics has proven that this model works.  The Shocktober Showcase exclusives garnered a total of 2 million views as of the last few days of the campaign, which is trending with success shown in the first couple weeks of Shocktober. The top 5 movie exclusives + the top 5 video game exclusives collectively drove nearly 1.5 million views over the course of the month. Active Facebook and Twitter users (fans/followers who participated in the Shocktober content, such as like, share, comment, retweet) increased by nearly 20% month over month.

Horn says that Metacafe has built up trust with the studios to take care of their content and provide the best audience and context.
"What Hollywood cares about and what any premium content creator cares about is what happens to their video. Do they want their video next to an American Idol reject, or a  couple of cute kitties hanging out? Most likely they want their video next to other premium content."
Horn says that the combination of the editors voice and their relationships with studio help create those "deep content experiences."
"We're telling the story with video. We're getting this piece of premium content, we're putting context to it, not only with what we follow with that content, but what we package it, how we get it out to our audience and our own voice bubbles into that content as well."
Horn is also excited by the conversation that is happening within Metacafe's social media networks, on Facebook and Twitter, and how the editorial voice has extended into those channels. Metacafe movies has over 60,000 Facebook fans and the quality of conversation around the content is much richer with having editors engaged in the conversation.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Online Video Conversation with Steven Horn about Metacafe's focus on premium and how Metacafe's recent acquisition of and how this deal advances Metacafe’s strategic vision delivering value to their audience of 18 to 34-year-old entertainment influencers and for the brand advertisers who market to them.

About Metacafe – Entertainment That Connects
Metacafe® is the first entertainment destination solely dedicated to showcasing the best videos from the world of Movies, Video Games, Sports, Music and TV. We are the trusted source that keeps millions of viewers plugged into their entertainment passions every day, and we connect marquee brand advertisers with their target consumers via close association with the most popular entertainment content on the web.  Metacafe attracts more than 10 million unique monthly U.S. viewers .  The privately held company is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Tel Aviv.  For more information – and millions of entertaining videos – visit Media Contact: Suzi Owens for Metacafe:, 415-856-5125