Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Is YouTube’s Ad Pitch Working?

Last week, YouTube threw a glitzy party designed to get advertisers to move their money from TV to the giant video site. Is it working?

Capstone analyst Rory Maher thinks so. He’s been polling ad buyers and thinks they may collectively be spending 40 percent more on YouTube than they did a year ago.

He also thinks YouTube’s strategy of grouping its new channels into “genres” — like “women,” “pop culture,” etc. — and selling those as megapackages is attractive to advertisers, and that they’ve at least placed tentative commitments on all 18 packages YouTube is selling.

But those dollars aren’t going to come from TV, Maher thinks. Instead, advertisers will take money they would have spent on other Web ads and move them over to YouTube. That’s still a win for Google, but it’s not the win it really wants.

Last week’s event didn’t win everyone over. Several folks I’ve talked to — including people who are making stuff for YouTube’s channels — say they’re underwhelmed with the actual content they saw onstage at the Beacon Theater.

“It looked like Web video,” one Web video maker told me. That is, it didn’t look like the stuff the TV guys show off at their advertiser events.

Some of the stuff may get close to TV.

YouTube is brimming with pride over WIGS, a series of soapy dramas featuring actresses you’ve heard of, like Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles (News Corp., which owns this site, had a hand in putting the series together). The teaser trailer they’ve put out looks like a reasonable facsimile of Lifetime, at least to my eyes. And Machinima is planning a series based on Halo, the hit Xbox game, and the few seconds of that they showed looked pretty slick.

It’s more likely that most of the Web video YouTube produces with its channels this year really will end up looking like Web video. But if that doesn’t bother the people who watch it — and there are some 800 million people watching this stuff every month — then it shouldn’t be a problem for the ad guys, either.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald