NEW YORK — Who knew a video about the “proper poop pose” could go viral?
The content creators at WebMD didn’t — but they came up with the idea during a daily editorial meeting and decided to go for it anyway. The result: a hilarious yet informative clip that performed well across all the health information website’s platforms.
Though WebMD (which launched in 1996) has been quietly making videos for the last decade, the company has spent the last year ramping up its digital video presence. ”Should you sit or squat to poop?” is just one of the many videos WebMD has seen success with.
Now the company is gearing up to showcase its content to top advertisers and press at the annual NewFronts, featuring 37 major digital publishers (ranging from The New York Times toPlayboy to… Mashable).
WebMD is in the process of launching 15 new video franchises, Mashable has exclusively learned. It will unveil some of these at its presentation next Thursday.
This includes everything from short, “snackable” social-friendly how-tos and explainers to more news and personality-driven features.
“We really decided since we were investing in video in those categories, it was time to showcase that side of WebMD particularly to marketers,” Kristin Hammam, WebMD Editor-in-Chief, told Mashable.
It’s a smart move: Marketers are spending roughly $10 million on digital video, up 85% from 2014, according to The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which helps plan NewFronts.
The IAB surveyed 360 marketing and media professionals for its third annual Video Ad Spend study. About 72% said they will take from their TV funds to increase spending on digital video ads.
This year, the health information platform is among six companies making their NewFronts debuts. But will advertisers be attracted to WebMD’s brand? NewFronts organizers seem to think so.
“Amidst the health and wellness boom, WebMD emerged not just as an authoritative word for a diagnosis, but also a reputable hub for healthy living,” Michael E. Kassan, Chairman & CEO of MediaLink, told Mashable in an email statement.
“Given their reach and engagement, their quality lifestyle content and their investment in video, WebMD’s poised to make a big splash for advertisers interested in health and wellness.”
WebMD has certainly upped its game. The company’s decision to partake in NewFronts came after the successful launch of WebMD’s first series the “Future of Health,” with Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts.
The five-part series — which highlighted cutting-edge medical advancements — marked WebMD’s foray into premium digital video programming, with the aim of attracting and engaging current and newWebMD consumer audiences.
Robin will be at NewFronts helping promote WebMD. She will also travel with the platform to Cannes next month for the Lions Health Festival to discuss the issue of trust (with corporations, politicians, and the media).
WebMD declined to disclose viewership numbers. It instead pointed to its 76 million unique users per month, noting roughly half of that audience coming to the site for lifestyle content.
Its YouTube channel has just under 5,000 subscribers and about 1 million views total. But the company said its mobile video views are up160% year-over-year. Facebook has also seen huge growth.
The company’s goal is to make videos as entertaining as they are informative, like short TV shows.
The editorial team creating the videos believe laughter is actually one of the best medicines, which is why a lot of the videos are lighthearted. Some of the series’ hosts even have backgrounds in improv comedy.
The company has two state-of-the-art studios, one in New York City and one in Atlanta.
There are currently 1,700 people who work at WebMD across its three divisions, including the consumer-faced website WebMD.com. Of those employees, about 120 are creating editorial content.
Early on, WebMD enlisted experts in the digital video space — including Roberts’ production company — to help create fun videos.
IKA Collective, whose credits include producing digital original content, promos and commercials for brands like Showtime, FOX and Nat Geo Wild, was one of the first to partner up with the platform.
“We’ve seen over the years that the best and the biggest brands are increasingly becoming a lot like studios,” IKA founder and directorIan Karr told Mashable. “The technology in the marketplace exists for them to be able to create entertaining content and give people more reasons to connect with them. I think that’s a really big reason why you’re seeing brands like WebMD as part of NewFronts.”
Still, it’s not an easy transition for WebMd. Many still critique the platform for not being completely trustworthy. Most recently, Vox.com published an article titled “The truth about WebMD, a hypochondriac’s nightmare and Big Pharma’s dream.”
However, Hammam maintains that WebMD always sticks to the facts. The company has a medical review board made up of about 150 physicians who have various specialties.
Hammam said WebMD is planning on expanding its video unit this year by growing the in-house video team and investing in a new video player.
“We are working on just making video much more prominent across our site,” she said. ”There’s no shortage of material, and it’s been exciting for me and my team to bring these topics to life.”