Daphne Kwon is the chief executive officer of Expo TV, a free-to-join community where consumers post “videoopinions” about products and services they acquired. Daphne studied at Harvard Business School and was a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, senior analyst at The Walt Disney Company, and CFO at Oxygen network, among other positions. In this interview she talks about Expo TV’s unique view on user-generated content and how it affects or can affect content marketing for brands and retailers.
Sramana Mitra: Daphne, let’s start with some background about yourself as well as Expo. What have you been up to until now and what is Expo?
Daphne Kwon: I come from a media background. I worked for Disney and ABC Network for a while. My first entrepreneurial venture was Oxygen Media – a women’s cable network – in 1998. I left with my boss at the time to help start it up. I was there for about eight years. I didn’t realize I was entrepreneurial until then.
Oxygen was becoming profitable and started to be more of a traditional cable network. That was getting boring for me, and I wanted to start up something new. Then I started Expo together with my husband. He was in venture capital. To me, that was a good marriage of my industry expertise and his institutional knowledge. What we saw was that video at the time – YouTube hadn’t started yet when we started Expo in 2004, and Facebook was not even alive – was not being used by brands at all. It was focused on TV commercials. That was all that brands were doing at the time. We decided that there was a better way. I am personally in love with video as a story-telling mechanism. I thought brands and products could do a so much of better job than what they were doing in 30 seconds. We set out to solve that problem for brands, getting them better video and telling their stories better to inform consumers. That was the genesis of Expo. We launched it in 2004 and went digital in 2005.
SM: It has been a few years since you have been in business. What kinds of customers have you settled in on?
DK: You didn’t assume that we knew exactly what we were going after – and that is right, we didn’t. We did not find our sea legs on the real revenue model until 2008. That is when we first launched with some major brands. We launched with two Procter & Gamble brands and with LG Electronics. What we found was that it was really the brands that were willing to invest to get video created. They cared about what was being created and the way it was being said, and they wanted to get involved. We thus created our business model around brands. Working with the brands is our main revenue stream.
SM: Let’s take three of your clients and double click down into what you are doing for them.
DK: One of the things we are doing is working with brands to generate video. EXPO works with brands to generate video from consumers. All of our videos are user-generated and consumer videos. We are trying to create authentic product information – product stories, demonstrations on how to use products and instructional videos, how to think about buying a product, whether or not you should buy it, who it would be good for, etc. Then we try getting those videos everywhere people may be looking for product information.
We work with Kimberly-Clark on Huggies [diapers]. They have a vibrant YouTube channel. We work with them to find consumers who have purchased Huggies. In some cases we will find new people who want to sample a new product that might not be out yet and try to talk about their experiences on video. One of the things they have added to their channels are consumer videos we help them generate. What certain brands want to do is to get their videos out where people are looking for product information. YouTube is the number two largest search engine, even surpassing Bing and Yahoo. We are trying to answer the call that people have for information on video. That is what made the YouTube search such a large component of what people are doing every day in product research.
Another thing they do is integrate our videos on their websites. A brand like Swiffer integrated our videos onto their website – right on their product pages – so as people are doing research on the product and are actually thinking about Swiffer, if you want to see a person who is using it and what they are thinking, those videos are available there as well.