Plenty of digital content has died after producers preached the content-first approach: “If you put it on the Internet, they will buy ads.” Now, however, at least three studios are betting that by being more focused—specifically, targeting the booming Hispanic population, with its large number of young eyeballs—they’ll attract ad dollars and flourish where others have not.
For at least one company, it’s working. A series of webisodes produced by DBG, Latinos Are One (LR1)—featuring artists who work together on a song that can then be bought on iTunes—has gotten McDonald’s as a sponsor for its first two seasons. (It’s currently in its second.)
“There’s a nuts-and-bolts [ROI], where we can talk about the number of burgers sold in that region to that audience,” said Joe Epstein, DBG’s CMO. “But there’s a softer ROI in terms of how the audience feels about the brand and its focus on them. It’s about feeling like they’re targeting me, and I’m important to them.”
Two other studios, Electus, headed by former NBCUniversal exec Ben Silverman, and Maker Studios are getting into the game by way of YouTube’s new 100-channel content push.
Electus’ Hispanic-targeted channel, NuevOn, has just announced the reality series Es…Macho Time. It stars Héctor “Macho” Camacho, a retired boxer looking for a girlfriend. Electus’ head of digital Drew Buckley said the “hockey-stick growth” of digital video and the rapid proliferation of mobile devices among young Hispanics suggests that short-form content online would be able to compete successfully with TV for the youth market. “Hopefully [advertisers] will see that it’s worth an investment to continue,” he said.
“The attention span on the Internet is really short,” added Jai Bugarin, head of Maker Studio’s YouTube channel, Tutele. “Sometimes you give something just 15 seconds and then pass on to the next one.”
While nobody involved with YouTube would speak about the ad revenue model for the new channels, in the short term there’s clearly enough money for that initial batch of content and faith in the video provider’s stratified audience.
“Advertising will be done at the level of the audience rather than at the level of the show,” predicted YouTube’s head product manager Shishir Mehrotra in The New Yorker a few weeks back. “Content is no longer proxy for an audience—we know who the audience is. We know what your preferences are, the types of shows you like to watch.”