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Get to Know First Media: Q&A with CEO Guy Oranim

With Blossom, So Yummy, and Blusher, you’ve found tremendous success on Facebook, but that’s not where the First Media Story begins. Can you help map First Media’s trajectory from its “BabyFirst TV” origins to winding up with one of the most viewed FB videos of all time?

Every line of business we’ve explored has been the result of incubating products from our existing brands -- our first being BabyFirst. By 2016, BabyFirst was already in 60 million U.S. homes reaching parents and children ages 0-3. It was then we noticed the moms in our community started asking us for advice. So we began testing a shift from only content curated for children to women’s content, specifically parenting-focused topics. Blossom, which is actually the most recognized character on BabyFirst, was born from that beta test and became our arts and crafts, home decor, and DIY vertical. Its videos get 39 million views, on average. Similarly, we pulled out our best food-related hacks and content to build So Yummy and to build our beauty brand, Blusher.

One of the main reasons we’re so much more successful than other TV companies is that we understood from early on that if we want this to be successful, our brand extensions have to be self-serving. So social media is not a servant to the TV network, it is its own end. Each brand is its own separate entity. Each grows separate, so we are constantly optimizing on the content, growing the team and growing the opportunities to involve brands in future videos.

Today, your Facebook presence is huge. In what ways are you leveraging Facebook to build your brands into some of the most viewed on the platform?

Facebook has been a very important partner for us. It’s where we started and it’s where we still flourish today. As we continue to build our video brands on Facebook, we are also finding ways to extend them into other lines of business from our owned and operated sites to retail and digital commerce. And our timing couldn’t have been better. When we started our video strategy, Facebook was already actively building all the tools we’d need to scale audience, to engage community, to create influential global brands. Facebook’s tools have allowed us to create true brand loyalty. That loyalty translates to our other initiatives and we love seeing that -- it means we’re doing our job, for our viewers.

Garnering as many views as you do, Facebook seems to have taken notice. Can you tell us more about your partnership to promote Portal from Facebook?

So the idea for Facebook’s Portal was to create a video that would be authentic, viral and very relevant. We were thinking very hard on what kind of situations involved parents and their children. What kind of advice could we give them that was authentic in the Blossom environment, which is about hacks. So our first insight was that we need to have real hacks that give value to the viewers and made sense for Blossom’s channel. Then we thought of how we can make the hack tie into the relationship with family members. So it came down to the angle of fathers and daughters. So we zoomed in on the idea of fathers knowing something that their daughters don’t yet. The typical Blossom video starts with the problem that is very visually appealing and showing the Portal about 10 seconds into the video and using it as a vehicle to transfer information from father to daughter. We showed the Portal a handful of times because we wanted to show the key features, like vertical and horizontal modes, but in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel like a commercial. So we thought that showing the entire family at the end would both be surprising but also authentic.

We timed it to Father’s Day, to give fathers respect and gratitude -- that is in the spirit of the holiday.

As an organization you have a keen sense of audience. What factor does storytelling play in targeting and retaining that audience?

Social media has a different set of rules on how you tell stories. In our case the beginning of the story should always be visual since Facebook does not have audio. Therefore, you need to grab the attention of the viewer with a strong visual that makes sure it’s correlated enough to the story so people don’t feel that we’re tricking them with click bait. So we really need to get to the story in less than half a second. We never start with the end of the story, because why would the viewer bother with the video? So it’s always a process. It should always flow effortlessly for it to keep people’s attention. We also have our deep insight on how long each of these stories should take in order to retain people’s attention, but not dwell on each product story. One more thing that is very important is that we want to entice engagement. Like any good story it needs to be surprising and creative. If you don’t create this “wow” moment people won’t share the video.

We’ve also intentionally kept our video output limited to 40-50 videos a month. Each producer on our team is in-house and charged with producing 1-2 quality pieces, rather than quick-turn freelance jobs that compromise quality. This means as an organization we’re always refining and optimizing those best storytelling practices.

What’s next for the First Media family of platforms?

Earlier I mentioned how we are using our presence on Facebook to open new lines of business. We’ll continue to do that for the social brands whether physical products, digital apps or new formats in entertainment. We have some interesting conversations in play with the traditional TV networks and studios. We’re also diversifying our presence across platforms. Blossom recently passed 10 million subscribers on YouTube in about a year. We’re also on Snapchat and Tik Tok where we’re also seeing impressive growth. We are fans of testing, failing fast, learning and always optimizing our efforts so as long as we see a path to profitability, any route is fair game.


Learn more about First Media this Summer at ELEVATE, the premiere retreat for brand storytellers and their partners.


About Guy Oranim

Guy Oranim co-founded and serves as chief executive officer at First Media.Since conception in 2006, First Media has expanded from a single linear cable channel -- BabyFirst -- in 60+ million U.S. TV homes to multiple social media brands and products. Under Guy’s leadership First Media has seen 259% revenue growth in three years and scaled staff by 563% to over 150 employees in 5 U.S. markets and 3 countries. It has been profitable since year one and is on pace for another year of strong growth in revenue. As CEO, Guy believes innovation doesn’t always mean reinventing the wheel but finding new and creative ways to use the wheel. He looks for ways to maximize value for clients and consumers and is the type of CEO that encourages quick iteration and risk taking as long as there is a pathway to profitability. Prior to First Media, Guy was BBDO’s EVP of strategic planning handling multiple international accounts such as Pfizer, Henkel and SONY, among others. He completed his LLB at Tel Aviv University and later became the president of a military court before pursuing a passion for marketing. He resides in Los Angeles, California.

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