5Qs with… Mike Henry, CEO of Outrigger Media

/ Sep 16, 2013

mikehenry2

With nearly two decades of experience in the digital media sphere, Outrigger Media CEO Mike Henry has had a hand in developing a wide array of video-centered marketing and sales initiatives and platforms. This includes Outrigger’s proprietary OpenSlate platform, which looks to measure and rank the top professional YouTube channels by metrics like engagement, consistency, and influence. Henry says OpenSlate analyzes data for more than 60 million videos every day, and is able to ingest social media data and track views of YouTube content across platforms and devices, providing a holistic view of how a certain video and channel is performing. Check out what else Henry had to say about the OpenSlate product, the YouTube-ranking tool called SlateScore, the personality of YouTube, and why he thinks, “The king is dead.”

The SlateScore ranks YouTube channels by measures of engagement, consistency, and influence. Why those measures? How would you define each?

Engagement, consistency, and influence are the cornerstones of the SlateScore quality metric — they’re also exposed discretely as scores on the site. Each is a relative measure that takes into account channel size and primary publishing focus. If you take away “it looks like something I’d see on TV,” these are the next three indicators of quality for brand marketers. Engagement leans heavily on metrics that show a direct interaction with the content or producer: likes, shares, comments. Consistency considers longevity and the ability of a channel to continuously attract a similar audience. Influence focuses on how views translate to YouTube subscribers, and how a channels’ social media following embraces and shares the content.

From the traditional media side, how would you peg their interest in YouTube today versus even a year ago?

Ad-supported television content (from mainstream TV networks) has pretty much played its hand. The ad load is approaching parity with linear TV. Inventory there isn’t growing as fast as the rest of the market. And much of those ads are spoken for through upfronts. So to keep up with their audience, brand advertisers simply have no choice but to rethink their definition of “premium” and to attack a broader set of content with new tools and new data. YouTube is incredibly well-positioned to receive that interest.

People like to answer the prompt “_____ is king” with words like content and engagement. Your recent report on entertainment brands on YouTube suggests that the answer is personality. How would you answer that question?

The king is dead. He’s been replaced by a democratically elected playbook, which is augmented by a lot of proprietary data. There’s no one answer for what drives success on YouTube — either on the media side or on the content creation and distribution side. For certain, the inalienable new truth is that creativity, scale and brand awareness can come from literally anywhere. We’re operating in a world where one good video can lead to a massive social following; where a massive social following can drive programming decisions; and where programming can be dynamically created by a user. Or an advertiser. To be sure, it’s complicated, and will be increasingly so. In our recent Top Entertainment Brands on YouTube, we saw personality (more specifically, celebrity with a large social following) correlate with success on YouTube, BUT typically only when coupled with a substantial commitment to audience development on YouTube. Take Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon. They’re all killing it on YouTube, but only because they each have a clearly defined YouTube strategy that goes well beyond relying on their social networks. Ellen, for example, publishes religiously onto her YouTube channel 8-10 times per day on average in season, and 1-2 times per day when they’re off.

What is the biggest thing advertising brands and entertainment marketers still struggle with when it comes to YouTube?

Quality doesn’t look like anything they’ve considered for brand advertising in the past. And there are thousands of combinations of quality, content and packaging to consider. It’s daunting. Take a look at the Gaming category on OpenSlate — there are hundreds of channels with great scores that produce mostly video game walk-throughs. It might not be content that wins production awards, but if you stop there you’re missing the point and the opportunity. A lot of this content is massively undervalued at the moment — especially if you care about young men.

At the Digitas NewFront, you and Digitas unveiled the Emerging Talent Tracker to identify up-and-coming talent on YouTube before they strike it big. Since the spring, which creators fit that definition?

We’re really excited to have partnered with Digitas on the Emerging Talent Tracker; a tool with real benefits to their agency for both content development and media buys. Two YouTube producers that fit the Emerging Talent criteria are BethInShow and OkayNate, both of the MyDamnChannel Network. We profiled them at the August Art, Science, YouTube meetup and touched on their content and publishing patterns that have signaled their upward trending momentum on the platform.

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