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Social Media Portal interview with Jay Miletsky from MyPod Studios

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 07 March 2013

Social Media Portal interview with Jay Miletsky from MyPod Studios

Profiled interview with Jay Miletsky founder and CEO of video online video directory service MyPod

MyPod Studios logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name, and what do you do there at MyPod Studios?

Jay Miletsky (JM): My name is Jay Miletsky and I’m the founder and CEO.  My primary role as CEO is to establish the vision and strategy for growth, and build the necessary teams to see those strategies through to success.

SMP: What were you doing before you set up MyPod Studio?

JM: Prior to MyPod, I was the founder and CEO of PFS Marketwyse (later rebranded to Mango! Marketing) – a full service advertising, marketing and PR agency that built brand and marketing strategies for national and global brands. This included brands such as Hershey’s, JVC, the NBA, Washington Mutual and others. 

SMP: Briefly, tell us about MyPod Studios (for those that don’t know), what is it and what does it do?

JM: MyPod Studios is an online video network that features a variety of content ranging from entertainment and sports to cooking, health and how-to.  The main difference is that we’re a gated community – we don’t allow people to just take a video and upload it to our site.  We review everything that’s part of our network before it is included, and we actively remove content that isn’t being viewed often enough or drawing a large enough audience. 

SMP: What’s the story behind the name?

JM: I wish I had a good story!  I need to make one up… the pages on MyPod only house videos by a single content provider, and we decided to call each page a “Pod,” so, MyPod just seemed to make sense. 

SMP: How have you raised funding so far and how will you do so in the future?

JM: We were recently featured in an article in Crain’s New York for being part of a growing trend that is bucking the system and rejecting VC money.  We raised (by design) less that $1M from an incubator and a private investor.  We’ve been approached by VCs over the past year, but I’d have a hard time seeing us going down that route – we’re able to grow without it. 

SMP: How does MyPod Studio generate revenue?

JM: Right now, we generate our revenue through selling online advertising.  While that will always be a part of our revenue mix, we’re planning to create more revenue streams this year, most notably through the production and distribution of branded entertainment.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

JM: We have numerous categories that each reach a different target demographic, but overall, we tend to skew a bit more female, with an average age between 24 – 40.  It’s pretty much in line with the online video audience in general.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to MyPod Studios and how do you do it now?

JM: We’re a marketing-driven site and most likely always will be.  We generate a lot of traffic through online PPC ads, as well as social media and PR outreach, although a large percentage of our audience is directed to our network from our content providers. We tend to incentivize them well, and pay them more than they can make on other online networks, so they work hard to point their audiences in our direction. 

SMP: How do you ensure the videos are professionally created?

JM: We have an outside panel of screeners who work off of a point system that we’ve created, who help us determine what content providers can showcase their videos on MyPod Studios, and which ones can’t.  We don’t, however, look for “quality” as a rule… while “quality” is great, we look more for “watchability.”  For example, look at a movie like “The Iron Lady” with Meryl Streep.  Beautifully produced – no question about it – but after about half an hour you want to gouge your eyes out with something sharp because it’s just so boring.  That’s not what we want.  I’d rather have something not as well produced, but interesting to watch. 

SMP: Why is a gated model appealing to advertisers – and how does it work for MyPod Studios?

JM: The appeal of the gated model is because when it comes to online video, we’re very often just monetizing boredom.  People watch videos online, very often, to kill time – not necessarily because they want to watch something specific.  They do, however, want to watch something worth watching. 

Go to YouTube and look for a video on a subject, and you’ll have to watch a dozen awful videos before finding one that’s worthwhile. With a gated community, audiences might not know what they want to watch, but there’s a confidence that whatever they come across will likely be worth their time.  There’s value there to advertisers, because they’re monetizing more worthwhile content. 

Photograph of Jay Miletsky founder and CEO of video online video directory service MyPod StudiosSMP: Can you talk about the state of online video advertising (what works, how it should be measured, how to provide value for consumers and brands, etc)?

JM: It’s clearly growing – more people are watching and more marketers and content producers are jumping in.  The problem is in the monetization.  Pre-rolls are still the standard, and they get in the way of the viewing experience.  Measurement is almost strictly by click-through, which doesn’t capture the branding benefits of online ads.  The industry will improve considerably when we can figure out how to provide value to the marketers while simultaneously getting out of the viewers way.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for the state of the online video industry over the next 12 to 18-months?

JM replies with:

1. We’ll see a shake-out of online video networks, as the ones that haven’t turned a profit (or come anywhere close) suddenly find it more difficult to get VC money to keep their sites up and running.

2. With the shake-out leaving fewer viable networks, we’ll see the quality of online videos improve, and the weeding out process of poor videos increase. 

3. There will be more online ads in the marketplace, as higher taxes force companies to slash marketing budgets, and marketing directors steer their dollars to online advertising rather than TV, which is more costly.

4. Branded content will become a bigger focus, as marketing directors start to realize that where viewers won’t watch a 30 second commercial, they will watch a three minute piece that’s sponsored by a brand and provides real value. 

5. Marketing directors will also start to realize that standard 30-second pre-rolls that are simply reformatted versions of their TV commercials don’t work as well.  As they take online video more seriously, they’ll take better advantage of the medium, creating shorter and more interactive spots.

SMP: Why do you think the number of online video ads will surge in over the next 12 to 18-monhs?

JM: That actually comes down to politics.  Whatever you think of Obama, there’s no question that he wants to increase taxes.  On top of that, companies still aren’t really sure about how much extra Obamacare will cost them, the capital gains tax rate has increased, and every few months there’s a new budget impasse – this creates a lot of uncertainty. 

That means that brands will slash budgets, starting with marketing (they always start with marketing).  With fewer dollars to spend, an ongoing need to increase brand exposure, and higher rates for TV spots, marketing directors will start to rely more on online advertising as a less expensive alternative to TV campaigns.

SMP: What are your thoughts on YouTube’s site design?

JM: I think it’s silly.  Maybe silly’s not the right word…I think “lazy” and “boring” are more appropriate.  It’s the design of a company that has maybe become a little too comfortable with their front-runner status. 

SMP: Do you think that YouTube trying emulating the TV environment is a mistake (do you think it will be about consumers and businesses will take to what they're looking for) and why?

JM: Print doesn’t try to be radio.  Radio doesn’t try to be outdoor.  So why does online video have to try and be TV?  I get what YouTube is doing and why: they have a sea of videos, and it’s not possible to monetize a 40 second video of a cat getting stuck in a box with a 30 second pre-roll, at least not without pissing a lot of people off.  So they try to create “premium” channels where they can consolidate their ads.  The problem is, nobody cares.  People will watch a premium piece, and then go right back to Charlie Bit My Finger.  YouTube is a victim of its own branding – they’re the king of amateur videography, and I can’t see them changing that brand image to include being the go-to place for premium content. 

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far (in regards to MyPod Studios)?

JM: Ha – I’d say the entire first quarter of each year is one long low moment. Ads are a bit more scarce, and in a business where we can track our spend and revenue daily (or even hourly), watching the numbers can be pretty nerve-wracking during the first few months of the year.  

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far (in regards to MyPod Studios)?

JM: The day (yes, we can pinpoint the exact day) that we became profitable was pretty exciting.  But we’ve recently began to create some pretty exciting innovations in terms of our custom player and our site design, as well as some potential partnerships – none of which have been released or announced yet.  Seeing these things come together over the last few weeks have marked some of the best times I’ve had at MyPod. 

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities?

JM: A year ago, this was simple: we just had to build the site better and make sure the revenue was flowing.  Today, though, we have multiple sites, higher profile advertisers and content providers, and more aggressive revenue projections. 

Our biggest challenges right now are making MyPod into a more recognizable brand name – not just for online video, but also as a resource for information (for the audience), and a resource for exposure (for the marketers).  Our biggest opportunities lie in the potential for us to create and syndicate our own video content, and provide marketers with additional value through the creation, production and distribution of branded content. 

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media / networks and what impact may this have upon video sites?

JM: I’m really not sure. It’ll be interesting to see if Vine takes off, and if so, how that impacts online video.  Other than that, I see social media becoming less of a buzzword topic and more of a marketing standard in terms of reaching audiences and driving traffic. 

SMP: What was the most challenging part of building on the brands presence in digital environments (including social media)?

JM: It’s always tough to build an audience through social media.  These days, people won’t just follow or “like” you simply because you ask them to – you have to earn it. And they’re always wary of sharing content that comes from a brand. So our biggest challenge with social media has been to attract people and drive them back to our site while simultaneously providing them with real value that they don’t feel is intrusive. 

SMP: What are your top five social media tips, including for MyPod Studios video users?

JM replies with

1. Decide which social media sites you want to focus on – it takes time to manage these networks, so limit yourself to the ones that make sense for your brand.

2. Don’t rely on your page or profile alone.  Get your word out on other profiles as well.  For example, comment often on other well-read blogs, rather than just post to your own; leave posts on large public Facebook fan Pages that target your audience, and not just your own page.  Go where the people are – don’t wait for them to come to you.

3. Be creative – find ways to write posts or leave updates that will get people talking and spark conversation.

4. Talk back – don’t be afraid to respond to people’s comments.  Be part of the conversation.

5. Read, listen and follow the analytics.  If you pay attention to what people are saying, and what topics are popular at the time, you’ll be in a better position to attract interest through timely social media updates.  And by checking out your social media analytics, you’ll know what’s working, what’s not, and be able to mould your campaigns to be more effective over time. 

SMP: Best way to contact you and MyPod Studios?

jmiletsky @

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

JM: I don’t eat breakfast often, but I had sushi for lunch.  If Manhattan does one thing well, it’s sushi!

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

JM: It might seem trite, but a few days ago, I got on the bus going home after a pretty tiring day, and was really looking forward to sleeping all the way home.  But as the doors closed, I saw that there was one person – an older lady, who had to stand because all the seats were taken.  So I got up and gave her my seat, and stood for the hour ride back.  Like I said, not that big a deal, but she was happier, so that made it worth it.

SMP: If you weren’t running or working on MyPod Studios what would you be doing?

JM: If you asked me last year, I’d have said travelling, or writing a new book.  But today, I’d have to say just hanging out with my daughter, Bria, who was born 9 months ago.

SMP: What was the best video that you seen on MyPod Studio and why?

JM: There was this one truly awful video we had on in our early days.  It was a gaming review site, where this college-aged kid sat in his basement, playing video games, and talking to a plastic sword that he outfitted with a rubber nose and eyeglasses.  It was painful on a lot of levels, but it was almost impossible to stop watching. 

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

JM: Paris will always be among my favourite cities, and I miss going there, but I’ve recently fallen in love with Scottsdale, Arizona, and have gone there on my last few vacations. 

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

JM: Say hello to everyone, sit down and check my e-mail. 

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

JM: Is there anyone who wouldn’t choose to fly?  What better superpower could there be than that?

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