Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor on Their New ‘Brand Creator Fund’ That Teams Creators with Advertisers [INTERVIEW]


Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor has unveiled the video-sharing site’s latest efforts to woo advertisers and content creators: It’s called Brand Creator Fund, and while it’s designed to bring more ad revenue to Vimeo, viewers won’t be barraged by pre-roll ads. Instead, brands will work with the best creative minds from Vimeo to develop and create advertising content that will be featured prominently on the site.

The first partnership under the Brand Creator Fund is with Lincoln Motor Company, which has already used Vimeo for its year-long “Hello, Again” campaign re-launching the luxury automotive brand.

NMR caught up with Trainor to hear what he had to say about Vimeo’s latest partnership with advertisers and content creators as well as the long-term goals that he has for the video-sharing site.

What’s Brand Creator Fund about?

Kerry Trainor: It’s a new way for brands to collaborate with Vimeo and members of the Vimeo community to create innovative content and distribute that content on Vimeo. Vimeo has always set out to be the high-quality video-sharing platform for generally a more creative user base. It goes all the way back to Vimeo’s founding; Vimeo was actually the first to offer full HD streaming, and it became a de facto platform of choice for higher-quality creators which has resulted in a very unique catalog of content. What typifies the Vimeo experience is we have advertising — we work with a lot of brands — but it’s at a much lower impact than what you might typically find on other platforms, and while we’ve always had a lot of interest from brands, we’ve always been reluctant to offer anything like pre-roll or something else that would damage the user experience. So what we’re introducing here with the Brand Creator Fund is a way for brands to utilize the Vimeo platform’s unique audience environment that makes Vimeo particularly special, and its community of creators and our 100 million users a month.

How does the Brand Creator Fund work?

The way it works is that a brand comes to work with us and then we partner with either a handful of creators — in the case of Lincoln that they’re working with four filmmakers — or a call for content creation. We help them curate the filmmakers to work with, and they fund the creation of content by those creators on Vimeo and then we distribute that content on the Vimeo platform. In the case of Lincoln, the partnership is part of their “Hello Again” campaign that they’re relaunching the brand. We created four pieces around the theme of creativity and design. Each of the creators are making around a 10-minute piece of film. In addition to that, they’re making a film that show the behind-the-scenes of making that piece of content. It also becomes this sort of film on the creative process. We’ll be bringing that on the Vimeo platform over the course of several weeks. It kind of connects the brand to the creator. The creators are receiving tens of thousands of dollars in commissions to make this work. Then when we bring that work back to the Vimeo platform, we can accentuate and celebrate the fact that this is content created by a brand with support and collaboration from Vimeo community members. That would lead to it being much more well-received and instead of pacing up interrupted ad units in front of content, we’re putting the community and the brands to create more types of content. We’re really excited for the Brand Creator Fund. It’s the logical next step for Vimeo in offering innovative ad solutions that let advertisers participate in our platform in the same way creators do.

How do you make sure that people are paying attention to these brands and content creators with this new program?

The content that we’re making with Lincoln will be available on a dedicated channel for Lincoln and the “Hello Again” campaign through Vimeo. It will be available through search, our recommended videos and potentially featured in our staff picks. Those are the channels in which the content will be available in addition to the channel destination. Also, this content is also embeddable on any site on the web. It’s exactly the right question, and certainly the advantage of commoditized, uninterrupted media is that you can push it to viewers in much greater scale and quantity. We’re out to create different types of content here, and we do have channels that are discoverable and promotable with users. It’s not meant to compete directly with the sort of blunt, carpet-bombing approach of a 15-second spot. This is meant to open up for brands the ability to create content that may be longer-form that tells the deeper story of their brand and is ultimately available through other channels. We do see, in subsequent phases of development, we’ll be able to talk a lot more of distribution channels and networks for this content. Step one is to show the world content that we have available.

How does this project fit in with your overall vision of Vimeo?

This is a really exciting step forward for us, certainly on the brand collaboration side, and that facet of our business is one of three that Vimeo has an exciting opportunity to build out. The first in the core of Vimeo is selling subscriptions of upgraded versions of our tools. Vimeo really grew up as a tool set for creators to upload, store, share HD-quality content across the internet. That business, through our basic, plus and pro subscriptions packages, is growing very nicely for us and we’re going to continue investing in that. The second phase of our business, which we announced at SXSW in March, is a video-on-demand platform, which comes with our pro subscription package and empowers creators to charge for their video content and have viewers pay them directly. That platform’s been live for more than a month, and we’re very excited with the initial results we’ve seen, not only in terms of growth in our subscriber business — because of more filmmakers being gravitated to the platform because they can actually earn revenue — but because of the initial viewer response. We think this is a promising area of direct-to-fan paid video from creators. Third, our opportunity around free viewers, and that’s along the lines of how the Brand Creator Fund moves forward. How do we generate the right kind of ads for Vimeo and also agree to our commitment to having a lower ad load and a clean and high quality environment for viewing? The Brand Creative Fund is a step forward around our media business and our free usage and pairs nicely with growing business around our subscriber products and the video-on-demand products.

What would you say is your best accomplishment as CEO at Vimeo?

What I’m most excited about is the video-on-demand. I think Vimeo as a platform on the whole has really proven to the world that I think there’s an entire universe of high-quality content on the internet that may not surface as readily on other platforms. With the release of video on demand, I think it’s really a critical closing of that loop of empowering filmmakers not only to share their content but to actually earn some revenue. The way that we see the content catalog on that offering, in this very early stage shaping up, we think it’s going to be a meaningful part of our offering.

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