I Want My MMTV

For most of us, the video aggregation site Youtube is an invaluable resource for watching sports highlights, checking out music videos, fixing a leaky faucet or, more recently, watching an angry father shoot his daughter's laptop. But as more companies leverage online video as a marketing tool, we've seen a growing number of postings related to private equity and the middle market. In January, we launched a new video series on themiddlemarket.com, featuring interviews with high-profile dealmakers.

The trend isn't surprising when you consider recent statistics about online video. ComScore Inc., the digital analytics firm, reports that 181 million U.S. web users watched almost 37 billion content videos in March, and video ads eclipsed 8 billion for the first time ever. And it's not just teens or adult slackers who are watching them: A study released in March from Doremus and the Financial Times said that 76 percent of surveyed senior executives watch online videos, and 71% view webcasts.

The middle market PE firm The Riverside Co. has had a Youtube channel since 2009 and has uploaded 35 videos, with its most recent one posted in March of this year. Last I checked, there were only 30 subscribers to the channel and 34,154 views over a three-year period, so there's no danger of Riverside eclipsing Keyboard Cat. But when I typed "the Riverside Co." into Youtube's search box, the first video that came up was a Riverside-produced promotional video that featured seven of its executives and three portfolio company CEOs talking about what the firm brings to the table.

The four-minute video, entitled "The Riverside Company: Operating Expertise," had just 1,167 views, but if even one of the viewers was an investment bank or target company that ended up working with the firm, that's a win. It's also worth pointing out that videos help your search engine optimization, in part because videos tend to increase the time spent on your web site, leading to a lower bounce rate. Google likes this.

The risk of not participating in this trend may seem low, based on the wrong assumption that people don't go to Youtube for serious content. But on May 2, when I searched on the term 'private equity' I found a video from Robert Reich entitled "How Did Mitt Romney Get So Obscenely Rich?" Like much of the content around Romney and private equity, the piece slams private equity and had 126,000 views as of that date. On the flip side, the Private Equity Growth Council recently launched a web site, www.privateequityatwork.com, with videos highlighting how PE firms ultimately help companies.

Perhaps this all sounds great, but you don't have the internal bandwidth to produce one of these videos. SourceMedia, the publisher of Mergers & Acquisitions, has a full-service, state-of-the-art studio at our New York offices with videographers that capture and produce high-definition content. Our crews also go off-site, and most recently, we shot a number of interviews at ACG InterGrowth 2012, which you can view on our home page and on www.themiddlemarket.com/video. (One of the interviews was with Riverside chief operating officer Pam Hendrickson, who graces our cover this month.)

Whatever your position on video, the numbers are only going to keep growing, as is the number of financial services companies using our studio. Even a quick, two-minute spot talking about your strengths, or about a topic you're familiar with, goes a long way toward your brand and your SEO.

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