Content vs. Distribution: An Analysis of YouTube’s MIPCOM Keynote

Earlier this week, YouTube’s Vice President and Global Head of Content Robert Kyncl spoke at the MIPCOM conference held in Cannes, France. The presentation was very informative and started with a short summary of the history of YouTube. Kyncl then went on to discuss YouTube’s growth and why online video is essentially the future of entertainment. Watch the video below, then check out my notes on the points I believed were most important.

Own Your Audience

Kyncl started off the presentation by asking the audience whether content or distribution was more important. He then gave an analogy that compared Jerry Seinfield to Haim Saban. Jerry Seinfield was cited by Kyncl to have “created the most successful franchise in TV history” and to have generated $800 million of personal wealth in his career. Haim Saban, on the other hand, started Fox Kids, a television channel that he eventually sold to Disney for $4 billion. The point that Kyncl wanted to make was that no matter what you do, owning your audience will always be more lucrative than just simply having one. But in regards to content vs. distribution, the argument between whether content or distribution is better will always be a never-ending debate according to Kyncl.

Regardless of whether content or distribution is more important, the biggest message you should take from Kyncl’s point is that as a new media creator, you need to realize the power of building an audience AND having control over it. I don’t think the separation between content and distribution matters as much anymore in the era of social media. Sure, there are networks forming and creators that are rapidly getting signed left and right, but it’s always up to the creators themselves. We are in a generation where user-generated content dominates the online space; from the moment we build some sort of following online, we have full control and “ownership” of that audience. How, you ask? Because by using the beautiful tools of social media avenues like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others, you can essentially dictate where you want those eyeballs to go. This model does not exist in mainstream media. Before the era of new media, the only time your audience would see your content was if it appeared on the big screen or on TV, and most of the time, the projects you were involved in and when that content was released was determined by a bigger company that stood above you.

Audiences are Rapidly Changing

Kyncl mentioned that he had recently met up with Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, and told him that he considered any video on the Internet over 30 seconds long to be long-form content. This is proof that what was once considered “long-form” content in the past is much different from what it is perceived as today.

As well, with over 72 hours of content being uploaded per minute globally, we are constantly being exposed to different niches and cultures. Everyday, we hear about a new video that goes viral which we’d never have seen in our own media channels. “Gangnam Style” is a great example of this: Because of YouTube, PSY is an international sensation at this very moment. This rapid process of globalization via YouTube and the Internet is what will cause trends to change quickly. If there was a formula to become a viral hit online, I can guarantee that knowing your audience and realizing how fast they are changing will definitely be in that equation. Understand that while you may be catering to a niche market, you are also now catering to a GLOBAL market.

Online Video Avenues Like YouTube is the future of Advertising

TrueView (skippable) ads are probably one of the most effective advertising mediums of this generation, and it is the ad system that YouTube offers to its advertisers. As Kyncl noted, “When advertisers can pay only when ads are watched, and viewers are watching ads they care about, everybody wins.” This is an amazing model. Because TrueView allows the viewers to skip ads, advertisers get higher quality trafic, and creators benefit from higher payouts because advertisers are willing to pay more for the views. Also, with the detailed analytics and demographic data that the Internet offers, and TV doesn’t, advertisers can see exactly what type of audiences their products appeal to, which allows them to further scale their campaigns for maximum profit. The effectiveness of TruView is further supported with Kyncl’s note that YouTube is currently making as much revenue per hour as ads on cable TV.

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