Maker Studios’ New Chief Content Officer Discusses Tackling 23 Digital Video Verticals

Erin McPherson’s past career prepares her for the challenge



Who Erin McPherson

New gig Chief content officer, Maker Studios

Old gig Vp, head of video, Yahoo

Age 45

So what does the chief content officer at Maker do?

I oversee our studios, so the content we produce in-house, but also our programming strategy vis-à-vis partners, our network partners and our network talent, as well as outside third-party relationships. I work a lot on our brands and with the advertising community on strategic initiatives and branded programming.

How have your past careers prepared you for Maker?

Sometimes I don’t like to admit it, but yes, I am a lawyer! In all seriousness, it’s a great background for working in digital media because we are kind of operating without a clear road map. We are creating new deal structures and new ways of partnering every single day. At Yahoo, I was able to learn a tremendous amount at one of the biggest distributors on the Internet. It was an amazing background for teaching me almost everything, soup to nuts on how a global Web distributor works.

What trends are you noticing within the shows in development?

We’re seeing content that is inspiring, uplifting and comedic —but I’d overall describe it as positive and optimistic —really trending with the millennial audience. They’re into celebrating life, creativity and expression as opposed to mean-spiritedness.


It was announced you would split up content into 23 different vertical brands. How are you organizing that?

The real differentiator between what we do at Maker and traditional media is we’ve sourced these verticals out of existing audience demand. We’ve gone into our network of over 55,000 creators and looked at where audience is gathering. We’re able to actually curate the best of and most relevant content around those existing passion points. What is exciting is we’re able to take that and develop original programming and content with that talent and bring in talent from Hollywood. Think of us as having literally 23 cable networks that scale infinitely.

What advice do you have for content creators struggling with monetization?

Something we do here at Maker when we partner with content creators is combine art and science to ensure that they are best able to find an audience on the YouTube platform. We also will be partnering off YouTube. Also, make sure that when you are developing a channel you have a clear message and intention so you are able to reach your audience in a consistent way. There is a lot of best-practice thinking around when you upload your content and how you upload your content that a partner like Maker can be very helpful with, as well as advising you with what kinds of formats to produce. Off of YouTube, you are a business. You are a brand. Think about your distribution of your content holistically. How are you best leveraging the digital environment and ecosystem to make sure you are reaching your audience?

Do you actually like getting caught in the rain, as your Twitter profile claims?

I think that really revealed more about my nostalgic love of cheesy ’80s songs. If it’s warm out, I don’t mind it at all. There’s nothing like a good summer rainstorm.

Is there a notable difference between East Coast and West Coast video makers?

(Laughs) I’m not seeing that rivalry yet, but that could make for an interesting digital series. We’re partnered with Snoop, so maybe I should get him involved somehow.

Photo: Karl J Kaul/Wonderful Machine