Paul Greenberg: Q&A Session

Q&A Session: Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg Q&A Session is happening on December 16th 2020 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST)

Paul Greenberg is an experienced video, content, and technology leader, a three-time CEO, President, and General Manager. He is CEO of Butter Works, a full-service digital video firm providing video strategy, AI-driven data analysis, full creative and production services, and distribution. Butter Works counts among its clients Google, Netflix, Verizon, Viacom, P&G, Discovery, History Channel, CBS, and many others. Greenberg has proven success in this field: during his recent role as EVP/GM at A+E Networks, he oversaw the creation of the #1 show on Facebook (50 million views/episode), the #2 show on Snapchat (80 million views), multiple hit shows on YouTube (70 million views), and many successful branded content advertising campaigns, while growing A+E’s overall digital video audience by hundreds of millions of views. Simultaneously, he ran FYI, one of A+E’s cable networks. Similarly, as CEO of CollegeHumor, he grew traffic by billions of views to make the company the #7 YouTube channel while tripling revenue, and as CEO of Nylon, he grew revenue 150% and digital audience 15x year-over-year. 

Prior, Greenberg was President of SFX, the largest global dance music company, where he closed multi- million-dollar deals with MasterCard, Heineken, Avis/Budget, and MTV. As CEO of CollegeHumor, he oversaw three websites, a long-form TV development division and a film production division, and before that, as President, Digital of Time Inc. Lifestyle Group, he was responsible for 10 digital properties, which achieved 50% year-over-year audience growth. 

In 2009, Greenberg was named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 50 Digital Power” executives while serving as Executive Vice President and General Manager of TV Guide Digital. During his tenure, Greenberg tripled revenue and grew audience 5x. 

Prior to joining TV Guide, Greenberg served as Senior Vice President, Global Business Development and Partner Relations at MediaNet, a top digital music provider. Greenberg was previously Vice President, Business Operations at MTV Networks’ He began his career as a sports announcer at 1010 WINS in NYC. 

He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School.

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Paul Greenberg – Transcript

Q&A Session with Paul Greenberg @ Butter Works

December 16th, 2020

Hey, everyone. Thanks for having me. I’m currently CEO of Butter Works, a full-service digital video firm providing AI-driven data analysis, full creative and production services, and distribution. Among our clients are Google, Netflix, Verizon, Viacom, P&G, Discovery, History Channel, CBS, and others. Previously I was CEO of CollegeHumor, CEO of Nylon, head of a cable network and the digital video studio at A+E Networks, and head of digital at Time Inc. and at TV Guide. I also used to work at MTV, and I started my career as a sportscaster in New York.

Why the name Butter Works?

I wanted something familiar and comfortable. It was just going to be “Butter,” but then I was able to register the domain, and I thought, yes Butter works.

I don’t suppose you have a need to “rank” but in general what is your take on the value of TLD vs .works ?

I haven’t had a problem with .works. SEO is good

Hi Paul- nice to meet you! In your opinion, what are the biggest trends coming to video marketing in 2021?

From a marketing standpoint, where do you see video going to in future? Also, welcome and thank you for taking the time to do this Q &A.

Hi, Taylor and Amber. Similar question — I think video will continue to evolve towards user-generated content. TikTok has made editing so easy and powerful that I think they and Snap have a huge opportunity to produce professional-looking content easily.

Hello Paul, happy to see you here, I wonder that what would you think about Youtube SEO, these days. Do you think that they favor some channels for some types of queries? If they do, which metrics and dimensions do they use?

I think the usual principles of SEO apply. Great metadata and thumbnails — making sure captions are strong — publishing frequently.

Hi Paul!! Thank you for being here. What would someone do to get into YouTube marketing and content creation? And what’s the most important part of video creation?

Thanks!  We look at all metadata (engagement, views, etc.) as well as comments, rankings, etc. and we use Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision (two forms of AI) to figure out where the opportunities are for topics, platforms, influencers, etc.

What are things that people in senior management doing/not doing that prevents them from moving higher up in a company?

Often I think that only following your own agenda can hurt you. It can work for a while but ultimately you need to build consensus and teams so that you have a broad range of support. You can’t just be a yes-person, but you also need to understand how what you’re doing fits into the whole picture.

Hi, Paul! Thanks for taking the time for us!
I know college humor has a TikTok account, and I was wondering how many people take care of it and what age they have (more or less)? Also how do you see the TikTok reach and growth compared to the other distribution channels

CollegeHumor unfortunately recently cut their staff back a lot, so I don’t know if they have anyone on it full time, but I think it’s important to have at least one full-time person managing it, following trends, checking metrics, reaching out to other creators, etc. TT reach has been amazing — very impressive and they have built a great platform.

Hey Paul,
I’m willing to know your opinion on TikTok and the influence it might have on 2021 marketing strategies

TT is very influential, and I think their editing tools are terrific. They will continue to drive user-generated content production into next year and beyond. Everyone should have a TT marketing strategy, BUT it has to be authentic and really work for the platform. It’s got to fit the audience.

Thanks for answering our questions! As someone who’s had such a successful career, if you were going to go back in time to speak to your 20 year old self, what advice would you give?

2 things: 1. Remember that companies are not made of buildings or computers or technology or content but of people. You have to focus on making true connections and building your network authentically. 2. Be patient with yourself and get to know yourself. Really work on understanding who you are, what you need, and what you want to do.

What does an integrated marketing strategy involving influencers looks like? Oftentimes marketing teams just get influencers to promote their stuff, but fail to go further than that, failing to synergize

Agreed. It’s not just hiring the person with the most followers. You have to look carefully at the kind of content that individual influencers have been successful with. That could be a cross-section of topics, platforms, length, etc. We use our AI to find those matches.

Can you go deeper on why length matters?

Our AI has shown that different lengths work better with different topics, even on the same platform. So if you’re an animal publisher on YouTube, content you create about animal births might be optimized for the audience at 5 minutes, where exotic animal content might work better at 10 minutes. It really does matter.

Hi! What advice would you give to people who are still new to the marketing field? Is it best to learn inbound marketing or jump into specific courses? I work in social media space for my work as a Communication Manager.

I think it’s important to understand the business holistically and then focus on what you’re passionate about. Really work to find out how marketing fits into the general strategy, and then you can learn more specifics, either through courses, talking to as many people as possible, or by taking roles in the organization so you can learn.

What marketing strategy has really helped grow the profits of your company in a drastic, not incremental, way?

Once per quarter, we publish a free, deep AI analysis of a relevant topic (this year, we did quarantine/pandemic content, political memes, and recently the NFL), which we send to all clients and many others. We also try to get as much press around it as possible. By showing people what we do instead of just telling them, it really brings it home for them.

Which marketing strategies have proven to be the most effective for e-commerce?

Giveaways are always helpful. People love free stuff. Then you can collect contact info and stay in touch with potential customers. Also using data to target appropriate audiences will specific calls-to-action is helpful.

With more data, comes more parsing of signals among the noise. How has it misled your team before? And what can you teach us on that?

Yes. We have tried not to blindly follow the data but to take it as far as possible before we use human intervention and sense to answer questions and separate signal from noise. We’re not always perfect, but the combo of machine + person is working pretty well.

Hey Paul, thanks for the Q+A! What video marketing trends+strategies do you believe in most for businesses in the 2020s+, and how do they differ from the 2010s? Personalization, CTAs, webinars, VOD content, something else?

I think more content that is “professional UGC” like TikTok and Snap will continue to grow in importance. People like seeing stories told in authentic ways, so that will be critical for marketers to harness those methods in way that connects to audiences.

Hi, it looks like it’s been a full decade since the last time you weren’t either a president or CEO of a company. A lot of people in this group are strong enough to build/harness demand on their own, but might not have the ability to create something worth buying (or don’t have the capital to begin a business) and thus many of us are working for companies instead of starting them. How did you break the CEO threshold and what’s your advice to people who are looking at ways to start companies (if they even should)?

I’m thrilled that I had the chance to work my way up in different companies because it gave me the chance to learn many areas of business. I worked in sales, operations, M&A, content, and others, so that when I had an opportunity to take on a senior leadership role, I felt comfortable that I knew enough about those different departments to oversee them. For example, I’ve never been an engineer, but I know how to code a bit, and I’ve spent a lot of time talking to engineering teams understanding their priorities and how they work so that when I took over the team, I was (hopefully) able to add value without micromanaging. I think starting your own business is a very personal decision — it’s tough and all the responsibility is on your shoulders. I would recommend people spend some time at big companies building their networks and learning about business before going off on their own so they have a good foundation.

I’m curious as to how Covid has affected  Butter Works. What lessons has the last year taught you and what challenges have you had to face, if any? 

It made doing business development (which used to be a lot of face-to-face) much tougher. I had to learn how to network over videoconference and continue to meet new people. We definitely suffered as some clients had to pull out because they were having financial problems. We’re on a much better foot now. I think we’ve learned how to be fully remote if necessary.

If you were hiring right now, where would you look for talent and what would be the most important attribute you would look for? — Thank you for doing this!

I think it depends what kind of role you’re looking for. If it were for a senior leadership role, I might tap my network. If it were a data science role, I might look at graduates of some of the bootcamps. I would also look at LinkedIn closely to find the right people. Key attributes are someone who is willing not only to work hard but also to contribute in areas that may not officially be their job but they know it’s important to get things done. I also try to find people who don’t say, “that can’t be done” until they’ve exhausted all options. I want people who will work hard to find creative solutions to problems. And we have a very strict “no assholes” policy at Butter Works.

Hi! Thanks for taking the time. Been reading through the questions and your responses. I guess i’ve gone against your advice a little as I have started my own digital marketing agency. Although I did spend 18 months at one of the largest private digital marketing agencies in the US so I know the ins and outs of the business model. I have acquired 2 clients in my first two months but these were both from my very limited personal network (I’m English, and only moved to US 2 years ago). Where would you suggest I focus my efforts on client acquisition / lead gen. I feel confident in my ability to close leads once we reach the discovery call or audit stage. But hadn’t fully considered the lead gen / cold outreach strategy before going it alone. Any insight / past experience here?

It’s definitely challenging (one thing working at a big company will get you is a good network). I would look for the small business networks that have sprung up during Covid, like Upstream, Clubhouse, or Lunchclub. Those are good ways to meet people more serendipitously. Also I would ask friends to make recommendations for you. It’s hard to use ads since you’re B2B, so it’s mostly on you and your efforts.

Hi, appreciate your time. You’ve mentioned production quality with regard to TikTok & Snap editing functionality. I’m under the mindset that digital/mobile/social video operates under its own set of rules, aesthetics and expectations, and that this is the reason why something like Quibi did not work. What are your thoughts on this because advertising-wise, Fortune 500 brands  are spending the same money on video that used to run on national ad networks and now runs on platforms where you can skip or scroll past?

I agree with you that it has its own aesthetics and rules, and the key is to meet your audience where they are in a way that is platform-appropriate. Quibi basically tried to shove network TV onto your phone (without even sharing mechanisms, among many other oversights) and therefore didn’t consider how people were consuming content on those platforms. Another important option is branded content, where you as an advertiser are not running adjacent to the content as a 6-second ad but are integrated into it. If it’s produced properly (big IF), that can be extremely effective.

Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak with us! How do you think older/more established brands that don’t scream “fun/youth” can attract a younger audience without alienating their older audience?

It’s tricky. You can’t be everything to everyone. If you have an older audience, you may have to figure out how they are operating on digital platforms so you can connect with them there. I think to reach a whole new demographic, you may need to create content specifically for that new audience that is an offshoot of your original content but is fundamentally different and tailored to the audience you’re trying to reach. Then maybe over time you can fuse the two carefully.


Thanks very much, everyone!

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