In August, comScore and YouTube released the first ever YouTube partner report - something that finally provided a transparent look into the dedicated audiences attributed to YouTube content partners. Immediately everyone involved in the web video industry took notice. Why? Because this third-party validation of audience size is a greatstep forward in helping YouTube partners attract big media dollars.
A few things really stood out for me in this new data. One, the partners listed didn't represent individual YouTube channels. Instead, each partner's data represented a roll-up of their YouTube channels into a content network. And in some cases, these content networks represent hundreds of YouTube channels. The net effect is that now we can see the next new networks (no pun intended), and that YouTube has become the new virtual "cable provider."
These content networks are a great way to package audiences and types of content into meaningful scale for advertisers. There are few individual channels with enough scale for a large media buy. But some of these networks, each of which features high quality content for a specific audience, represent truly significant viewership. This new transparency has definitely removed a limiting factor in the transfer of media dollars from TV to digital.
There is another filter to the data that I think is even more exciting. I see holes: big content and audience holes. Not bad holes, but rather, opportunity. Though the list is not completely comprehensive (for example, the hugely popular Freddie Wong isn't listed), comScore's inaugural YouTube partner rankings reflects a good sample of the top content creators -- the top 10 includes VEVO, the ever relevant Revision3, the hyper focused Machinima, and the awesome talents of Maker Studios.
But it is the audience and content spaces in between that are vastly more striking. Some of the highest online CPMs are for moms, but there is no mom representation in the top networks. Food, health and lifestyle are also big contenders but they're not represented either. Currently YouTube may favor a younger audience, but a mom or a food network could still generate scale and be a big media buy for an advertiser
There are many great brands that could pioneer into this open frontier. For starters, there's a few that come to mind: Deca.TV* (their mom network would have authentic content and serve as an effective vehicle for pre-roll and brand integration); Healthination (if they planted their flag, they could be a powerful healthy lifestyle content network); and Maxim (advertisers would know what to expect in a men's lifestyle content network). Brands like these have a track record of high quality content and understand how to engage their audience.
Content creators, take heed: the new frontier in online video is the YouTube content network. That could include a number of things, from creating all your own original content to curating and packaging current channels. In the end, a premium, meaningful content network that a) targets a specific audience and b) gets them to engage, is the way to go. So pack your wagon and homestead -- the advertisers will follow.*Disclosure: a partner