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Upfronts / Newfronts

Digitas Unveils Tool to Find YouTube Stars Before They're Stars

A Long Tail of YouTube Stars Is Out There. But How to Find Them?

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Brands have been working with YouTube stars -- iJustine, Shay Carl, Michelle Phan and the like -- for years, but what if you could identify a not-yet star before they got big?

That's the idea behind "Emerging Talent Tracker," a new tool developed Publicis Groupe's Digitas and startup Outrigger Media, announced today at their NewFront presentation for advertisers.

Outrigger's analytics platform OpenSlate tracks 50,000 channels and 25 million videos on YouTube and assigns them a score based on their engagement with their audience, how frequently they produce new content and their influence. YouTube producers with relatively small audiences can have high scores, allowing advertisers to access the long tail of YouTube talent.

Digitas is adapting OpenSlate algorithms to identify up-and-coming stars soon after the flip on their video cameras. "Because these creators break and grow so rapidly it is important we identify them early in their life cycle and build a relationship that's lasting," said Digitas senior VP John McCarus.

One example unveiled today at Digitas' NewFront: BeautyBitten, 20-something fashion blogger Anne Di from Los Angeles, whose 50,000 views a month and 16,000 subscribers barely qualify her for YouTube "star" status, but her videos are well-produced and brand-friendly. Most importantly she's got upside; a long way to go to get to Michelle Phan, who has 3.7 million subscribers.

This kind of predictive, qualitative data isn't available from YouTube, but is designed to allow advertisers to look beyond the top producers, already well sought-after by brands, to the lesser-known, which might have a smaller but no-less-devoted an audience.

"Access to emerging talent is a powerful opportunity for brands looking to figure out where to place their bets," Mr. McCarus said.

Betting early means participating in the upside as newcomers build their audiences. "Locking in rising stars can deliver significant earned media value as well as specific credibility with a focused audience," said Outrigger Media CEO Mike Henry, in an email.

OpenSlate powers Ad Age's YouTube Original Channel Tracker, a weekly ranking of what's trending among YouTube's content investments.

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