March 8, 2013
The landscape of the Internet is shifting — slowly but surely — from a plethora of random, unconnected pieces of content into a flourishing network of highly-organized valuable content. Of course there is also the random useless stuff too which will always be there (and multiplying exponentially). But the valuable, useful stuff — that’s still there too. And it’s becoming easier and easier to find, thanks to updated algorithms and Internet giants outsmarting the people who’d rather see the Internet become a dumping ground.
Google is the most obvious champion of cleaning up the Internet, constantly tweaking its mechanisms to make it harder for people to ‘cheat’ and use underhanded methods to have their content be seen. And Google’s very own YouTube is also trying new ways to bring valuable content to the forefront, the latest of which can be seen in its recent updates.
Late in 2012, YouTube changed its layout, with a definite slant toward channel-based browsing; its various changes made subscriptions more prominent, with the hopes that people would stick around longer on specific channels, rather than hopping from random video to random video. By boosting viewer retention and subscription rates, YouTube creators can reach a wider audience, thus securing more advertising revenue, which means they’ll have a bigger budget with which to create even more valuable videos.
The lean toward channel-based browsing means there are excellent opportunities just waiting to be snatched up by marketers. For example, a channel that draws a similar audience to the one you’re hoping to target would be the ideal advertising partner, and with viewers coming back to the channel time and again, they’d be exposed to your brand numerous times, meaning they’ll be more likely to purchase from you.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is finding the right YouTube channels to partner with in the first place. And that’s where multi-channel networks come in.
What is a Multi-Channel Network and How Do They Work?
Multi-channel networks (MCNs) are essentially middlemen between YouTube channels and advertisers. While the networks are busy arranging the marketing efforts, the video creators are left with plenty of time to do what they do best: create valuable content.
The most popular networks are powerful brands in their own right and can help increase brand awareness and advertising revenue for YouTubers by using the relationships they’ve formed with companies that are willing to put sponsorship money down for talented video creators.
MCNs are a viable business model because they take a cut of the advertising revenue they secure for content creators. It’s possible for content creators to arrange their own advertising, of course, and for some it won’t be feasible to share that money with a network. But for others it can be a valuable opportunity to increase their audience and, therefore, their advertising revenue — and to far more than they would be able to accomplish alone.
It’s a win-win-win situation if done properly: the networks want to help YouTubers succeed by building their brand and helping them make more money which, in turn, makes the networks more money, and the advertisers benefit from the consistent exposure of their products to the right audience on popular YouTube channels — all without having to do the legwork involved in finding worthwhile YouTube channels to advertise on.
What are the Benefits Offered by Multi-Channel Networks?
The beauty of MCNs is they can connect you with YouTube channels with a similar target demographic as you, meaning you’ll be able to reach a big audience that’s likely to buy your products.
Multi-channel networks are often trustworthy sources of top quality YouTube content — they are the place to go to when you wish to advertise effectively on YouTube — this will negate the hassle involved when seeking out your own advertising opportunities on the site.
There are numerous marketing opportunities available when working with MCNs:
Linear ads are those that are played in sequence with the video being viewed — either before, in the middle of or after the video plays. The most common (and most sensible, let’s be honest) linear adverts play before the video begins. Sometimes they’re interactive and allow the viewer to select which particular version of the advert they’d like to watch, meaning you’re even more likely to make a connection with the viewer.
Overlay ads are those that run at the same time as the video, taking up the bottom 20 percent of the clip or another small area of the video. If clicked on during the video, the video will be paused while the viewer is taken to the advertiser’s website. These types of adverts can be minimized or closed entirely.
Product placement is a popular and less intrusive form of advertisement, especially in comparison with the two types above, which are overt in nature. Rather than displaying an advert for the product, the product itself is actually used within the video – a type of subliminal message, in which viewers won’t necessarily realize they’re being advertised to. If your products are used by the presenters of trusted YouTube channels, the viewers of the channel are likely to believe that the product is worthwhile.
In-show sponsorships are another overt form of advertising, in which a program is ‘sponsored’ by a brand. Your brand will be mentioned and thanked by the host of the show, or your products will be featured and talked about directly, both of which are particularly beneficial when talked about by a trusted YouTube presenter.
Is Working with a Multi-Channel Network Right For You?
There are several advantages that come with advertising through a network, including the fact that the popular YouTube channels that form partnerships with MCNs often build up a following of incredibly loyal fans. These are a few of the top benefits of working with a network:
• Repeated exposure to your products by people who watch numerous videos from the same channel.
• Trusted endorsement by the YouTube channels’ presenters.
• Interactivity means viewers are more likely to engage with your advertisements (as opposed to television adverts, which are often muted or ignored by viewers).
• You won’t have to go searching for the perfect advertising opportunity, meaning your time will be free to focus on other important tasks.
And it’s not just YouTube that works with these multi-channel networks. Other entertainment providers, such as TiVo and iTunes, also work with networks to put together effective marketing campaigns, meaning you can reach an entirely different set of viewers.
Neil Davidson is the Founder of My Web Presenters, who are a leading corporate video production company. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos. They also write an online video blog with clear, practical video marketing tips.