Data Companies: Making the Numbers Work

/ Apr 10, 2013

SlateScore_OpenSlate

For anyone who engages with online video on a professional level, the importance of understanding your audience can’t be understated, and the secret to understanding that audience may lie in the accumulation of data.

As a result, a number of services and platforms have arisen to address this need, including the ones profiled below. What was interesting about all these companies is how each is looking to solve the same problem — understanding audience — but is approaching it in a unique way.

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For the creators: FanBridge

FanBridge, founded by Noah Dinkin and Spencer Richardson, began initially as a service to connect musicians directly to their fanbases. However, in the last year the company has shifted its focus to online video, especially YouTube networks and creators like The Collective and David Choi.

While FanBridge provides a number of widgets and tools for creators — the company is a YouTube certified developer, making things like email collection and bulletin scheduling possible — data is the core of their offering.

For FanBridge, it’s not just about delivering data to their clients — it’s about turning that data into actionable items. Thus, the site’s dashboard is formatted as an activity feed, basically becoming a To-Do list: See that a video is resonating with a specific demographic, or a high-level influencer has just commented on it? FanBridge will alert you and encourage you to act on that information, whether it be doing another promotional push on the video or reaching out to that high-level influencer.

The end goal, according to Dinkin via phone, is to tackle the concept of the engaged viewer. “For YouTube, we’re solving a problem that everyone knows exists — audience retention. YouTube as a platform is really great in some areas, but there’s nothing really proactive you can do once the audience leaves the site,” he said.

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For the brands: Open Slate

Can you put a single number on the value of a YouTube channel? That’s what the Open Slate platform, recently launched by Outrigger Media, aims to do.

The four metrics the Open Slate team focuses on are audience engagement, consistency, influence and momentum, but they then take those metrics and use them to create a single number, similar to how credit agencies create credit scores.

This single number, the Slate Score, is then used to rank over 50,000 of the top YouTube channels — thus, according to CEO Mike Henry, “measuring the value of content to advertisers.”

And YouTube channel managers have the option to give Open Slate access to their audience demographics — even more valuable information for advertisers.

Tubular Labs logo

For both sides: Tubular Labs

Allison Stern, co-founder of Tubular Labs, tracks the origin story of the site to a realization that founder Rob Gabel had while he was senior vice-president of advertising performance at Machinima — that while the content online was great, there wasn’t enough insight into the audience. So he set out to create the analytics tools that he had wished existed while he was at Machinima, opening them up to both creators and brands.

Stern said that Tubular looks at online video fans in two categories — engaged fans and influential fans. While engaged fans are important, the influential fans — “people who have a large number of YouTube subscribers on their own” — are equally important; like FanBridge, Tubular also alerts clients to when high-profile members of the YouTube ecosystem connect with their content.

“We’re able to pinpoint those needles in a haystack and bubble them to the top,” Stern said.

And similar to Open Slate, Tubular also provides its data to brands as an opportunity to understand the YouTube audience better, and thus target sponsorship deals to the appropriate demographic.

Each of these companies is banking on the value of this data as a business model. While a clear heir to the title of “Nielsen of online video” has yet to emerge, the services they provide could form the core of this industry.

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