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How One Man Did the Impossible: Make Ad-Tech Jargon Fun

By Brian O'Connor January 5th, 2016

The sales team at LiveIntent, an ad-tech marketing company based out of New York City, had a problem. On sales pitches, they noticed that prospects were consistently glazed over in boredom. Why? Because of esoteric ad-tech terms like header bidding, IAB L.E.A.N., and walled gardens.

“Ad-tech is a super nerdy community. They want to speak their own language and it makes them feel smarter,” said Nick Dujnic, LiveIntent’s director of demand generation. “So they teach themselves to speak Klingon, a language that’s a mystery, and nobody’s willing to ask questions as to what they mean.”

“I basically said to them that I want to do something that’s non-promotional and has no real impact on sales, and I want to do this every week. And I want a budget for it. They saw it as a bit of a gamble.”

As the person tasked with creating top-of-funnel content, Dujnic came up with a solution: create a video series about topics marketers would find interesting that used satire to de-mystify the jargon. Sort of like The Soup meets SportsCenter.

The brainstorm was easy, but getting buy-in from the executives posed its own challenges. “Marketing was behind me on it, but the C-suite thought otherwise,” Dujnic said. “I basically said to them that I want to do something that’s non-promotional and has no real impact on sales, and I want to do this every week. And I want a budget for it. They saw it as a bit of a gamble.”

CEO Matt Keiser and the rest of the C-Suite came back with two important questions: “Is producing a video every week a feasible goal?” and, of course, “What’s it going to cost?”

To make his case, Dujnic offered to shoot a pilot for no money at all.

Luckily, he found a colleague with an interest in video editing and an SLR camera. They commandeered a white wall in the office and opened the curtains to flood the room with as much natural light as possible. They studied articles and headlines from Ad Exchange, Digiday, and other trades publications, and Dujnic inserted some jokes and pop culture references to make the analysis more engaging. It took them an hour to whip up a script for a three-minute video. And as two other employees grabbed photo and video assets, they shot and edited the first episode of LiveIntentional in early 2014.

When presenting the pilot to the C-Suite, Dujnic outlined his vision for the series. He told them that for a minimal investment, LiveIntent would have a piece of content with a unique voice that could build trust with the community.

“I told them this will be beneficial in the long run even if the impact on sales isn’t immediate.”

Again, the C-Suite asked Dujnic if he believed he could do it on a weekly basis while still completing his full-time job. Dujnic, who has a background in theater, said sure. With three other people collaborating, he could create each episode in six hours per week. The brass agreed, tentatively, depending on how it was received.

That was in the spring of 2014. Two years and 11,000 subscribers later, the series is still going strong. Viewers spend, on average, two more minutes of attention time watching LiveIntentional episodes than they do on any other blog post on the site. And bounce rates for the episodes are 41 percent lower than the rest of the content on the company’s website.

As for the the production process, Dujnic and his small team have mostly stuck to the script. They still operate with a lean multimedia budget—although they did upgrade their equipment with a green screen and a new teleprompter. The biggest change is that Dujnic now focuses on only one topic, instead of three, to go more in-depth.

And while the company hasn’t directly tied the web series to revenue yet, the sales team reports back that prospects love bringing up LiveIntentional on their own. Now, salespeople request videos on certain topics.

“The sales team will say to us, ‘Can you do a video on lookalike targeting?'” Dujnic explained. “And then when we make a video about it, they have something to share with their prospects.”

And how does the CEO feel about the series two years after it launched? “Oh, he’s really excited,” Dujnic said, “He now pitches us ideas for it.”

Brian O’Connor is a co-founder of Mr. Finn Content Works, a NY-based agency that helps businesses find customers through content.

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