Digital Video NewFronts

Disney's Maker Studios Wants to Sell Ads Across All of YouTube

Video Network Will Target Ads Across YouTube Based on Its Viewer Data

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Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz opened the Disney-owned digital video network's NewFront on Tuesday.
Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz opened the Disney-owned digital video network's NewFront on Tuesday.

Most NewFronts presenters are trying to get advertisers to buy ads against their content alone. Not Maker Studios.

While Maker Studios' NewFronts pitch did include ads against the Disney-owned online video network's original content, Maker Studios is also looking to extend those buys across all of YouTube, including non-Maker channels, through a program called Select that will use Maker's audience data to target ads on YouTube.

"We're offering it as a full media opportunity. It's a complement to what Google is offering," said Maker Studios' head of sales Jason Krebs in an interview. The company is seeking upfront commitments for advertisers to access Select but pricing can vary. "There are no [pricing] ceilings or floors," he said.

To sweeten the deal, Maker Studios is also offering Nielsen's TV-like Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) to guarantee that a brand's ads reach the intended audience based on demographics.

Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi and Starcom MediaVest Group are the first agencies to sign deals with Maker Studios for Select.

Here's how Select is possible: As part of a deal with YouTube analytics firm Outrigger Media, Maker Studios will expose demographic information about viewers for individual videos from Maker Studios and its 60,000-plus creators that advertisers will be able to use to inform their YouTube media buys.

And here's how it works: An advertiser will use Outrigger Media's OpenSlate tool to create the audience the brand wants to advertise against and find the best YouTube channels that align with that audience. The advertiser will then take that channel list to Maker Studios, and Maker's sales team will then programmatically place a bid in YouTube's auctions to buy ads against those channels, be they Maker-managed channels or not.

Effectively Maker Studios is using its proprietary audience data -- based on people who watch Maker-managed videos while logged in to YouTube -- to create look-alike audiences that can scale beyond Maker Studios' own inventory.

"It's about taking what they know and extending it across all of YouTube," said Outrigger Media CEO Mike Henry. For advertisers who sign Select deals, Maker Studios will cover the fees advertisers would have paid Outrigger Media to access its analytics tool, Mr. Krebs said.

Maker Studios is buying YouTube ads against those audiences in the same way that anyone can buy targeted ads on YouTube, which is why Mr. Krebs said he is "unconcerned" with how Maker's competitors might react to their rival selling ads on their creators' channels.

Maker's original content
Maker Studios isn't just looking to become the ad sales intermediary for all of YouTube. The company is also seeking deals for its original content and announced one during its presentation on Tuesday.

Starcom MediaVest Group's LiquidThread has signed a deal to invest more than $10 million to reach Hispanic audiences around the world through a new partnership between Maker Studios and Hispanic-focused online video network MiTu that will have the companies developing original series for that audience, said LiquidThread's global head of business development and senior VP Juan Davila.

Maker Studios also announced a deal to produce original content specifically for an agency's clients. Digitas Lab will be a multimillion-dollar collaboration between Maker Studios and DigitasLBi to create content for the agency's clients that can span videos for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The content will be co-owned by Maker and DigitasLBi, Mr. Krebs said.

Here's a rundown of some of the original programs Maker Studios announced on Tuesday:

  • "The Taryn Show" will be a late-night talk show hosted by YouTube star Taryn Southern, who described it "as that weird, after-hours party at your parents' house."
  • "Party Girl" will follow self-described "birthday party princess" Lisa Schwartz as she travels around Los Angeles to host kids' birthday parties.
  • "American Woman" is a politics-adjacent documentary series that will travel the original 13 American colonies to learn about the various women that helped to create the country.
  • "Toddler Tonight" will be a parody of entertainment news shows like TMZ that focuses on toddlers instead of celebrities and is being produced by the duo behind the online video series "Conversations With My Two-Year-Old."
  • "I Am Maker" is a documentary series to air on ABC Family that will follow 10 up-and-coming YouTube stars who are given a chance to use Maker's studio and collaborate with some of its biggest stars in hopes of becoming celebrities themselves.
  • Maker Studios and ESPN's action sports competition series "The X Games" will launch a partnership this summer for action sports athletes and online video creators to collaborate on producing content.
  • Maker Studios will work with Disney's Marvel Entertainment to create original content that delves into the Marvel universe.
  • "Camp" will be a movie based on one of James Franco's short stories set in a summer camp full of millennials.
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