The Dodo is alive and well with 1 billion monthly video views

Looks like people really do like animal videos.

The team at The Dodo (an online publisher focused on those aforementioned animals) told me their videos were viewed 1 billion times in November. That’s an increase of more than a tenfold from January, when Dodo videos received a mere 80 million views.

The Dodo follows a “distributed” media strategy, which means that the majority of those video views aren’t happening on its website, but rather on social media — mostly Facebook. President YuJung Kim also told me that the publisher just launched on Snapchat this month, which means that there should be a healthy bump for December.

“The average across our videos was 2.6 million views,” Kim said. “So we’re not looking at a stream of memes and GIFs that get 100,000 views and then that one viral hit that gets 200 million, and that somehow gets us to 1 billion. It’s that steady efficiency per video.”

What does “steady efficiency” involve? Kim acknowledged that The Dodo has learned many of the same lessons as every other publisher on social media — things like having “a strong opening shot.” But she said it’s really been about finding animal stories that resonate with people.

“Our videos are designed to be shared,” added founder Izzie Lerer. “They have to pack a punch and, most importantly, mean something to people. Whether it’s a video of a dog having the time of his life, or an elephant orphanage, the idea is that our videos can present a way to connect with animals.”

That doesn’t mean The Dodo is above tying into current events, too. For example, it got 66 million views for this video of “Pets Who Hate Donald Trump.”

Getting views is one thing — the other challenge is making money, particularly when those video views are happening on someone else’s platform. Kim said the focus for now is on growth rather than monetization, but as business models evolve, The Dodo needs to “equip ourselves and be nimble.”

It’s also part of a larger organization now, namely Group Nine, a company formed from the recent merger of Thrillist, NowThis Media, Discovery’s digital network Seeker and The Dodo. (At the time of the merger in October, Group Nine said it was getting 3.5 billion video views across all its properties.) The Dodo still operates as a separate brand, but Lerer said that as a result of the deal, the team is now planning to create Dodo content for TV.