YouTube Invites Brands Into Its Partner Program

Will provide the same tools, training and analytics as content companies

YouTube wants to take this "brands as publishers" thing to a whole new level.

During a presentation at Cannes, the company announced that it plans to invite advertisers into its official Partner Program—essentially providing brands with all the tools, data, services and training YouTube provides its top content creators. The hope is that more brands find the success of the Red Bulls and GoPros of the world, i.e. producing authentic (or authentic-looking) content that users want to watch and share, as opposed to just housing all their TV spots on the site. In fact, pushing the success of brands and publishers was a big focus of YouTube's NewFront event last month.

YouTube has invited American Express, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo to participate in the initial pilot program for this new partnership endeavor. The plan is to have 100 brand content partners by the end of 2014, said officials. The program will kick off in the fall of 2013.  

"By inviting advertisers into our partner program, we hope to give them access to resources and expertise that will help them develop even more compelling and authentic content on YouTube,” said Lucas Watson, YouTube's vp of video online global sales. Those resources will include use of the new YouTube Creative Space in Los Angeles, starting with a week-long workshop this September.

"We've see this as an incredible opportunity to share our technology story on a truly global scale," said Linda Boff, GE's executive director of global brand marketing.  

Plus, just like YouTube's top creator talent, brands will get a dedicated YouTube partner manager assigned to help them make the most of the platform, including programming and audience development strategies. YouTube also plans to connect these partner brands with its most successful talent to share tactics, and hopefully ink more ad deals.

In an interesting twist, brands will be able to monetize their content through advertising, just like other YouTube creators. However, a YouTube rep said that's not going to be a major focus of the pilot test. Rather, it's more about helping brands figure out how to build a real YouTube following. “This requires new tools, new storytellers and new measurements, so we are incredibly enthusiastic about navigating this new terrain with Google and YouTube," said Frank Cooper, CMO of global consumer engagement for PepsiCo.

Maybe a Pepsi moon-jump?