Big YouTube Channels Join Forces to Help Drive Ads | Adweek Big YouTube Channels Join Forces to Help Drive Ads | Adweek
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Big YouTube Channels Join Forces to Help Drive Ads

Meet GOVA, the Global Online Video Association

Paul Kontonis Photo: Bryan Steffy/WIREIMAGE

The Web video world is getting its own trade organization: GOVA, the Global Online Video Association—a nonprofit group formed with the primary goal of bringing more advertisers to the medium.

At the outset, GOVA is made up exclusively of nine top “multichannel networks” (MCNs). They are Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Collective Digital Studio, Big Frame, BroadbandTV, DECA, Discovery’s Revision3, Magnet Media and MiTu Networks. Each of these companies has built its business primarily on YouTube by helping thousands of creators manage ad sales, programming, talent and content rights issues.

Online video veteran Paul Kontonis, who has helped push initiatives such as the Digital Content NewFronts, will be GOVA’s executive director. He believes that as the Web video industry evolves, it needs to get organized.

“All these companies were formerly defined by just having a bunch of channels on YouTube, and it was about aggregating views and prerolls,” he said. “Now, they’ve all become major digital media companies. They all have interest in bringing dollars and attention to the space. And they need a group like GOVA to protect their interests.”

Their interests include creating ad standards and working more closely with advertising agencies, talent shops and, of course, YouTube, said Kontonis.

It’s hard not to link GOVA’s formation to recent chatter in the MCN world about the challenges inherent in building a business on YouTube. But Maker Studios sales chief Jason Krebs said that GOVA had little to do with joining forces against Google. In fact, per sources, YouTube has been in contact with GOVA organizers since early on and views its formation as positive for the industry. GOVA hopes to also court platforms like Hulu, Amazon and Xbox.

However, the online ad world is not short on trade groups. One might ask, can’t the Interactive Advertising Bureau or the Online Publishers Association suffice? “The video world is just different,” said Krebs. “Everything from creation to consumption to how marketers should interact with users to the technology, it’s different. This is really about helping members to navigate the ecosystem. We felt it was the right time to make sure we are driving the industry forward.”

Prominent YouTuber Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers channel hadn’t yet heard of GOVA but supported its goals. “It’s a complicated world, and it’s getting more complicated,” he said. “When it comes to ads, everybody’s got different contracts for everything. You’ve had non-ad salespeople selling ads at these companies early on. So some unusual precedents get set. I’d definitely be interested in having a unified voice, particularly in talking to YouTube.”

Several companies are conspicuously absent from GOVA (which is said to have pricey dues), including Machinima, which is still looking for a CEO; as well as AOL, Yahoo and those in traditional media.

They’re coming, said Kontonis. “These companies are more than welcome to join,” he said. “You might end up seeing Defy and Weather and Endemol. A bunch have already expressed interest.”

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