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.
Independent online video production is flourishing, helped along by investments from major players like YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and others, and the enthusiasm of thousands of mom and pop creators looking to carve out a valuable niche audience. But unlike the pay-TV business, where content is supported by advertising and distributor fees, virtually all online video relies solely on advertising. Independents face the acute challenge of conveying the value of their content and audiences to media buyers who are increasingly overwhelmed by the choices in front of them.
To address this problem, this morning Outrigger Media is announcing the beta launch of OpenSlate, a marketplace for online video that uses a proprietary "SlateScore" to consistently measure the value of over 10,000 different video productions. SlateScore measures a video's reach, engagement, influence and consistency - attributes that buyers look for when assessing "premium content" - by ingesting and analyzing thousands of data points about the videos' viewer behavior.
More proof that online video is opening up new advertising and engagement possibilities beyond traditional TV, as premium travel lifestyle company Tumi - which has never run a TV ad - has opted to exclusively sponsor a new web series called "Bourdain's TV Crew." Tumi's SVP, Brand Management, Alan Krantzler told me last week that its commitment was driven by a desire to increase brand awareness among younger customers and to leverage Bourdain's large Facebook fan base to build its own.