Not so long ago, content on YouTube was mostly user-generated, leaving advertisers uninterested. But now things have changed dramatically. Content has been professionalized by a vast range of independent creators, who are attracting huge audiences, especially among younger viewers. This was the key context for the 2014 surge in M&A activity among multichannel networks (MCNs) like Maker Studios, Fullscreen, AwesomenessTV, etc.).
In parallel, there have been significant innovations in how to monetize YouTube content. The latest is Outrigger Media's new OpenSlate demographic data, allowing advertisers improved targeting across 250K+ YouTube channels and Nielsen-backed audience guarantees in a program called "OpenSlate Select." The demo data complements OpenSlate's traditional "SlateScore" scoring of YouTube channels based on engagement and influence.
In a demo of its Vnetic platform, Outrigger CEO Mike Henry showed me how a media planner can use OpenSlate to set the demographic parameters they're targeting, along with key topics (e.g. Cooking, Fitness, etc.). The result is a list of YouTube channels, with specific information about each, for the planner to evaluate and incorporate in their ad campaign.
Mike thinks of this as an "unwired TV network" or "custom premium marketplace" which can then be connected to demand-side sources, for programmatic ad buying. In fact, OpenSlate's biggest customers are trading desks charged with executing programmatic video ad buys on behalf of clients.
Mike explained that accessing high-quality YouTube inventory is increasingly critical because video ad inventory on traditional premium content providers (e.g. broadcast and cable TV networks' video streams) is both scarce and expensive. Importantly, it may also not reach the kind of granular, super-served audiences that particular YouTube channels now target.
OpenSlate is getting the demo data directly from the YouTube channels own YouTube Analytics. The channels are motivated to showcase their audiences to attract video ad dollars. And YouTube is motivated to create APIs to expose this data to platforms like OpenSlate to help its creators better monetize their content and make its ecosystem healthier. Since OpenSlate doesn't sell media itself, Mike sees OpenSlate as primarily a portable data layer, helping campaign planners make better decisions. OpenSlate collects a small CPM fee every time an ad is served using its data.
OpenSlate is operating at the intersection of two of the biggest trends in online video today: the explosion of high-quality YouTube content and audience reach combined with the shift to programmatic video ad buying powered by data insights. To further its mission, Outrigger also announced last week that it has closed a $5.2 million financing to broaden the number of video distribution platforms OpenSlate measures and expand globally.