UNILAD, the online video publisher, has a certain reputation. It’s one that comes from a slightly laddish background which creates funny, shocking and sometimes offensive viral video.

They have been incredibly successful at this. For the past three years, the team has built an audience that can be measured in the billions every month. Along with LADbible, they have been lauded as the top viral video publishers on social media.

Their considerable triumphs are based on a series of factors;

  • Knowing their audience. They know exactly who they are targeting and what type of content they want. This is something that is ingrained in their culture. The team has a perfect knowledge of who is watching their videos and why.
  • Understanding their platforms. This is essential, UNILAD, above all publishers, knows what content suits which platforms. They spend a great deal of time and effort re-versioning material. They understand the durations, text style, images and audio that perfectly fit Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or Instagram.
  • A forensic knowledge of distribution. The experts at UNILAD have turned distribution into an art form. They can reach exactly who they want, where and when. This has been done through experimentation and developing a deep insight into the psychology of how and why people share video on social media.
  • Their videos tell great stories. Above all this is key. They tell stories that people want to engage with. In many ways they have invented a new style of digital storytelling which perfectly suits the audience, the medium and the platforms.

So it is with great interest that we notice, UNILAD has begun to take a new tack. For the past six months they have been producing first-class long form documentaries.

The latest video in the ‘Dark Side of Britain’ series focuses on the ‘Spice’ drug crisis hitting the streets of Manchester.

It is a moving, powerful and beautifully crafted film. It is far from one of their most popular videos – with fewer than a million views so far. What it is however, is a concerted attempt by an online publisher to gain traction, by creating genuinely significant content.

UNILAD is working incredibly hard to change its image from the superficial to the serious. We should be taking notice of this because it hints to a transformation in the quality threshold of online video. It is evolving from quick hit instant gratification to longer form quality engagement.

One thing UNILAD recognises so well, are the different metrics that measure success. Far too much attention is often given to pure numbers – when a deeper, more engaging interaction, but with fewer people, can make a far greater impact.

For the past few months, this is something we have also been working very hard on. The art of understanding the analytics of video, when it’s important and how to take advantage of it, is essential in the digital landscape of late 2018.

Different formats of video appeal to the audience in different ways and for different reasons. The real trick is being able to work out what works and for whom.

There are two important lessons to learn from this move. Firstly UNILAD should be taken very seriously indeed. They are successful for a reason.

The second is, whatever the format of video – quality storytelling is always at the heart of everything they do.