Six months ago, Google made an unprecedented investment in content: $100 million for exclusive, original "channels" to help turn YouTube into an entertainment destination and, it hoped, a reason for brand ad dollars to migrate onto the web from TV.
Google later demonstrated its commitment to the project by throwing a glitzy "upfront" in New York where Jay-Z and Flo Rida performed and the company promised to pour another $200 million into promoting the channels. Google has also indicated that the initial $100 million is a downpayment.
As of today, 100 of these channels have launched -- from names you've heard, like SB Nation, Warner Music and Motor Trend, to names you probably haven't, like ShutUpCartoons, BlackBoxTV and YOMYOMF. No doubt some will flame out once they've run through their Google funding, but it seems likely that at least a few lasting media brands will be born on YouTube. So Ad Age has been tracking this experiment, including YouTube's early forays into finding advertisers willing to pay big dollars to become exclusive sponsors of channels and videos.
Today, we're launching our own experiment: a tool to provide our readers with a snapshot of what's working (and not working) now on the channels at adage.com/youtube. The default view ranks channels popularity of all new videos posted that week (as well as the top video). The second view ranks the channels on all-time views, a measure of what's working long-term.
It's a beta release, designed to be useful but also clickable and entertaining, a mix of TV Guide and Nielsen for the YouTube content community, fans, agencies and advertisers. Think of it as an evolution of the Viral Video Chart, which has tracked branded videos for the past three years. Over time we'd like to add new third-party data sources that reveal who's watching what, as well as the ability to take the chart with you by embedding it where you like. We expect the chart to make news. We'll cover its happenings the way we do programming changes in prime-time TV.
For Ad Age, it's about re-imagining what a business media company can be and how we cover news. We're all used to the story, blog post or video as a unit of journalism. But can it also be a tool, an app, or something useful? With your help, we'll find out.
Check it out at adage.com/youtube. Please let us know what you think and how we can make the "Tracker" more useful to you.