YouTube Offers Advances for Scheduled Content

Content creators and currators are getting six and seven figure “advances” from Google/YouTube, reports the Wall Street Journal. YouTube allegedly is planning to schedule content starting in 2012, and topics range from fashion to sports (I’m guessing travel, cooking and “how-to” are among them).

Let’s look at how this works, and then what it means to independent creators that are not being bombarded with YouTube/Google checks.

Here’s how it would work: Howcast, a creator of instructional-videos, would collect a series around, say, planning the perfect vacation. The company gets a big ass check (advance), and nothing else until the ad revenue (from ads adjacent to the content) surpasses that big-ass advance. Then, like traditional YouTube Partners, the ad revenue is split almost 50/50 between YouTube/Google and Howcast. Howcast, which traditionally pays creators a “flat” fee (a couple hundred per episode) makes the difference. Not too shabby.

The WSJ reports that dozen “channels” are in the works, and that YouTube has requested some content for the channels within the next 60 days for a 2012 launch.

This marks a significant shift in YouTube’s evolution. YouTube, which has taken great care to call itself a “platform,” is now playing the role of a network by funding content and “slotting” it for scheduled and premium visibility.

What does this mean to independent creators?

  • Mostly it’s a shift away from independent creators, which is consistant with the past year or so.
  • However if it brings more mainstream viewers (and presumably frequent and predictable viewers), it’s another way to get your related videos seen (in “watch” pages).
  • A better approach would be to package your independent creation in the format being popularized. Even if Google/YouTube doesn’t track you down with a few hundred thousand, you’ll be ready to be dropped into this scheduled series when the bar drops.
YouTube Dials Down Spontaneity, Raises Volume of Scheduling

Online-Video Changes: Facebook Growing, Pro-Content Attracting Ad Dollars

comScore’s February data once again shows Google’s dominance in the online-video market, but Facebook is catching up. It’s now the fourth-largest online-video sharing property (see Facebook’s unofficial resource for more information). Facebook, as a sharp contrast from other sites, has short bursts of viewing (far shorter durations than other properties like YouTube, Hulu or Viacom (see BroadbandTV report).

comScore has a nice presentation that shows the “radical” growth of the medium (see download), and the total people relative to streams. It seems that the longer format of professional content (basically TV shows streamed online) is attracting a greater portion of advertising today.

Growth of streams and peeps from 2006 through 2010 (comScore)

To me, the most interesting part of this report is the acknowledgement that advertising dollars aren’t keeping up with the increase in online-video viewing. While this is probably true for the dawn of every preceding medium (radio, television, internet), it does suggest media buyers are in need of additional adjustments of the “media mix.” This requires better planning, and more creative built for the channel.

The ad budgets aren't keeping pace with online-video consumption

Because media-buying agencies (representing top brands) are more comfortable with television, it’s no surprise that Hulu is serving more ads per minute streamed. It’s familiar content and an easier format. Of course advertisers should be looking not just for “comfort” and targeting, but also “reduced clutter.”

Note that YouTube is not leader in advertising delivery (when you look at “ad views”). After Hulu, Tremor Media Video Network ranked second overall (and highest among video ad networks) with 503.7 million ad views, followed by ADAP.TV (432 million) and Microsoft sites (415 million).

What Media Buyers Need to Know About Online Video

What perfect timing. I watched this “New Media Minute” by Daisy Whitney, and  was interrupted by a Product Director who’s seething over his clueless media buyers. My client, like me, is perplexed and annoyed by the inability of most media buyers to speak succinctly to brands about two simple things: whether the media spend is, simply, “on strategy” and “on budget.”

The details are noise, and we just want to be convinced the media-buying firm is not completely clueless. Like maybe they’re buying based on efficient and high-impact opportunities and not to payback for the dinner AOL bought. I mentioned that some media buyers are the people from high school that could have chosen careers selling cars or mortgages, and generally had C averages (but to be fair, they dressed well and always knew how to tap the keg). He recounted his friend who “was probably 400 in a class of 399” and is now quite wealthy in the media space.

I really shouldn’t poop on media buyers until I walk a mile in their Manolos.

On a particularly good hair day, Daisy Whitney tells us Pepsi's putting its Superbowl coinage into creating its own BudTv.

But imagine how frustrating it is — to a marketer and video creator — to read eMarketer reports that online-video is projected to grow at a bullish 30-40% annually…. but knowing that it’s all in the hands of career buyers of print and television who like driving f’ing awareness & attitudes and CPMs and anything else you can’t connect to sales.

People, video has the great potential of driving awareness, but also trial... dare I call it a “direct response” medium that “traditional media buyers” misunderstand, fear, loathe? Media buyers are to “direct response” and sales what belly dancers are to FIFO. And even the Wall Street Journal (a publication you’ve not heard of because it requires a subscription) says snail mail is still hot.

(Oh- you’re not a “traditional media buyer” if you are reading this article, unless someone sent it to you to chastise you).

I find Daisy’s characterization of marketers and advertisers hoping to “buy not rent” audiences a bit quaint, even if it may well be accurate. How many of us wake up each morning curious to know what entertainment P&G or Kraft has cooked up for us? Seriously? Pepsi is apparently bagging the Superbowl and launching some online thing that may or may not be fabulous. It’s “the next great thing” or BudTV.com all over again. We can’t be sure, but I suspect we won’t bookmark it. It reminds me of pharmaceutical brand managers in 1999 aspiring to have their website as the “home page” of every physician. Fat chance, but sometimes time is the best teacher.

I do like the theme of marketers shifting from interruption ads to the creation of engaging content and entertainment. Yey for that! But we impatient and ADHD-driven online-video carnivores are not likely to find it without some help from PR and ad spending.

Fortunately we’re seeing some new “video” ad networks (Daisy names Yume and Scanscount) that might help media buyers go beyond prerolls. I wonder if these companies are sophisticated enough to monitor their names in social media. First company to comment below wins a free pixel.

Read this TechCrunch piece by WatchMojo’s CEO for some tips for content creators looking to snatch some of the massive online-video spending (the writer leads a company that does branded entertainment, which is about as pervasive these days as ad networks). According to WatchMojo: “Unlike articles, you can’t fool audiences as easily with videos. It’s easier to get away with a slapdash article than with a slapdash video.”

Well that’s news to me. I’ve been fooling audiences a few hundred million times.

So here are some tips for the ambitious media buyer who, at least, wants to sound smart when speaking with a brand:

  1. Acknowledge that online-video is growing, and that budget should follow the audience.
  2. Don’t spend it all on pre-rolls. We hate them as much as you.
  3. Find people who have already assembled an organic audience, and sponsor them or buy product placement. Go direct to the big ones (NextNewNetwork, Revision3) or use Hitviews, PlaceVinePoptent or Zadby to broker deals with smaller guys. Did I miss any intermediary between popular web content and marketers? Don’t be afraid to raise your hand.
  4. Partner with content providers and online media players to create webisodes that are entertaining AND engaging (with an emphasis on the former, since the latter depends on it). You’ll need a “branded entertainment company,” but be sure they have an idea of how to get the crap seen not just make it fabulous.
  5. Buy the crap out of ad inventory that are driven by search (if they’re searching for your brand, you want to be there first).
  6. Customize your content because if I see another 30-second spot as a preroll I’m going to power puke.
  7. Use rich-media ads with compelling video content and an irresistible “call to play.”
  8. Buy every Nalts InVideo ad you can from YouTube regardless of the CPM. I heard his content attracts your target buyers, and that they’re 45% more likely to engage in your ad because his videos are so bad.