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Hispanic YouTube stars come out of nowhere … Una chica makes some videos in her bedroom. Two years later, maybe she’s talking to 15 other kids – or maybe she has 7.5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel.

Source: JustJaredJR.com
Source: JustJaredJr.com

The most high-profile of the latter is Bethany Mota, AKA Macbarbie07. Mota began producing “haul” videos in 2009, showing off new purchases. Her first video shows a shy, subdued tween sitting in an under-lit bedroom rambling on about some makeup she bought.

Fast forward to 2014, and Mota is on the cover of Fast Company and launching her own clothing line from Aeropostale, while flying around the world producing kicky videos about style and shopping – oh, and appearing on Dancing with the Stars.

There are plenty of Hispanic video stars, including Rosanne Pansino, Tiffany Garcia and Divino.

There will always be competition in launching new video destinations, but nothing of the scale that YouTube has achieved.

Why one blows up and another doesn’t is somewhat mysterious. For example, in her second-ever video, Mota gives a shout-out to a mentor, Blair Fowler, known on YouTube as juicystar07. Fowler began covering the style and beauty territory earlier than Mota, yet she’s coasted along at around 150,000 views per video. That’s nothing to sneeze at: Any brand would be happy with that many views of its video. But it can’t compare to the 5 to 8 million views Mota typically garners.

Secret weapons

While YouTube provides information and tools for its creators to help them garner more views, some stars have an extra edge in the form of multi-channel networks, or MCNs. This confusing moniker refers to companies that act as talent agencies and ad-sales networks for video bloggers. Many of them also produce custom content for brands featuring the stars in their networks.

MCN Omni Media and Channel Factory recently launched a joint venture called Content Labs to act as a branded content studio. Channel Factory is a native video marketing and YouTube video-ad-buying platform.
Omnia has a stable of video talent, including Hispanic stars Baby Rasta y Gringo, Divino and Garcia’s iHasCupquake. It aims to continue creating custom branded content employing the digital influencers within its MCN. Channel Factory has expertise in the granular targeting of specific audiences and optimizing videos for high clickthrough rates and ROI, according to Tamoor Shafi, CEO of Omnia Media.

target omni promo2
iHasCupquake promo for Target

“Our focus in the past two years has been working with top influencers. Sales and interest from brands has increased exponentially,” Shafi says. For example, it landed a deal with Target for four iHasCupquake episodes in which Garcia decorated dorm rooms.

Omnia helps video bloggers develop their audiences on YouTube and beyond. For example, EME Music, Baby Rasta y Gringo’s label, had only a small presence on YouTube, so Omnia helped it establish a few new channels and launch content, making use of its expertise about best practices on YouTube, such as the best time to upload, how to properly tag content and search engine optimization.

Divino’s channel had only 5,000 subscribers. When he launched two new songs, Omnia helped EME cross-promote them with strategies including targeted ad buys and placements in more popular playlists, as well as driving views through likes and favorites. The campaign bumped his subscriber numbers up to close to 40,000.

MiTú is another of the many MCNs that provide talent development services as well as opportunities for their stars to participate in sponsorship and ad opportunities. It provides them with an internal platform called MiTuVero.com that lets them check out branded opportunities they might want to participate in, as well as submit their own original content ideas. They can keep abreast of what other channels are doing and what’s working for them.

A lot of Hispanic talent creates content for a global audience.

Says Charlie Echeverry, MiTú’s chief revenue officer, “Analytics means more money and audience for these influencers. Every one of them wants to create new, bigger-budget things that can be upstreamed to other platforms.”

Internationalization

It’s interesting that many of these young online stars are not creating Hispanic-specific content, nor are their fan bases predominantly Hispanic. At the same time, non-Hispanic stars recognize the importance of the Hispanic audience. According to Shafi, Inna has a very large following in Mexico, and Omnia is helping her to optimize her video content to bring in more fans from Latin America. “A lot of Hispanic talent creates content for a global audience,” he says.

Going Over the Top from YouTube?

Next, Omnia Media plans to create branded mobile and web apps for its talent that will be used to deliver their content outside of YouTube. It’s also launched a new ecommerce initiative called iRockCustom.com to sell merchandise for its talent stable. It will design, produce and sell merchandise for its stars; each star will have a unique URL that he or she can market to their fans.

More and more of these young influencers are, with the help of their MCNs, trying to build a strong brand that’s less dependent on YouTube. That’s partly due to the fragmentation of video and the rising importance of sites including Vimeo, Vine, Twitter and Blip.tv.

But it’s also because YouTube takes, in most cases, a 45 percent cut of all ad revenue, although it reportedly is trying to do better in supporting its top stars. YouTube did not respond to several requests for an interview.

Iddo Shah, Kaltura
Iddo Shai, Kaltura

Fueling potential flight from YouTube is a series of acquisitions of MCNs by mainstream entertainment companies. For example, Maker Studios, recently acquired by Disney, likely hopes to move as much of its audience as it can off YouTube and onto Maker.tv, according to Iddo Shai, director of product marketing for Kaltura, an end-to-end, over-the-top video platform.

He points out that right now, it’s difficult for advertisers to do integrated campaigns that include YouTubers’ videos and other media, as well as to create the innovative campaigns that marketers crave.

“On YouTube at this time, that is very hard to do. There are some changes on YouTube, and maybe they will become more flexible in what they especially allow the upper talent to do. But they will never give full access — and rightfully so. They are a strong platform and want to control much of the revenue and the content,” Shai says.

But the MCNs are becoming strong in their own right. They have to race with YouTube to reserve advertising on their stars’ videos. Whoever reserves first gets the inventory, making it harder to plan and execute the larger campaigns that MCNs are increasingly angling for.

Omni’s contracts with talent usually include obtaining exclusive rights to selling their YouTube inventory – except, of course, for YouTube, which also can sell it. Some contracts include the exclusive right to sell brand content on their channels. While Omnia competes with YouTube to sell its stars regular inventory, Shai points out that there are a lot of cases where the companies collaborate, with YouTube handling the media side and Omnia selling the custom ad products.

Will these rising stars flee YouTube altogether? Not a chance, according to Shai. He says, “There will always be competition in launching new video destinations, but nothing of the scale that YouTube has achieved.”

Other articles on the emerging (Hispanic) online video media and marketing sector: MCNs in Hot Pursuit of Brands and Are Multichannel Networks the Future of TV?

The Multichannel Network (MCN) World is smoking hot. YouTube content has grown up – so much so that it’s growing off the platform, thanks to multichannel networks, or MCNs, that are investing in original content and investigating new distribution channels. Is this the future of TV? What major players told  Portada Digital Media Correspondent Susan Kuchinskas.

nbtv

On September 26, NBTV Studios launched New Buzz TV, an over-the-top multichannel network that will curate content across six channels, including multicultural. Its aim is to provide a single distribution platform for premium content producers, offering them content development, talent management and video production services. At the same time, it will partner with brands to create original premium video content.

In a world where cable and the web are fragmented, we would become a tile in this digital universe.

“It’s about identifying things that have high production value and good storytelling that might have an existing audience on another platform,” says CEO Nicholas Buzzell. “The mission is to make it easier for people to discover premium content and help them find things.”

Original programming is also part of the plan. Buzzell, who helped launch AOL Latino, has been producing Hispanic video for several years, and some of this will be distributed on New Buzz TV. For example, NBTV Studios produced and owns a feature film starring Puerto Rican comedian Luis Raúl that had a theatrical release in Puerto Rico and was available as video-on-demand in the United States and Latin America. It’s also planning a show called “Gazpacho,” a program that will recap the previous day’s news and entertainment, with commentary from hosts.

Buzzell says all content deals will be non-exclusive, and he’s offering producers a share of ad revenue, as well as of future subscription revenue.

Producers rock

Video producers represented by MCNs benefit by being able to focus on content instead of having to take incessant meetings and wade through contracts – oh, yeah, and by increasing their revenue.

Karla Celis MiTu Influencer
Karla Celis, MiTu Influencer

Those meetings with brands could be incessant, indeed. There’s huge demand for placement in the hottest channels – and Hispanic is caliente. MiTú recently partnered with Maker Studios, provider of video content for millennials, to provide culturally relevant content to brands targeting the U.S. Hispanic market. Maker did have direct relationships with a host of brands directly, but it didn’t have expertise in multicultural content. Says Charlie Echeverry, MiTú’s chief revenue officer “Maker was getting inquiries directly about talking to Hispanic audiences. Their response prior to our partnership was that they didn’t specialize in it.”

MCNs usually offers various sorts of talent management and consultations on content. NBTV offers original content development, talent management, and video production services to celebrities.

MiTú’s top influencers have growth managers assigned to their channels to help them develop better content and take advantage of trending topics. For example, during the World Cup, a food channel might be advised to develop recipes tied to countries that were playing, while a beauty channel might get a suggestion to do a spot on what to use to paint your face in your team’s colors.

Echeverry says this is one of the biggest values MiTú offers to producers. “Recruiting them is easy,” he says. “The real value is in building them up to something greater than what they currently are, on a personal level but also through technology,” such as analytics.

This is the first of two articles exploring how Multichannel Networks (MCNs) work and their role in the emerging online video ecosystem. The role of Multichannel networks in the Latin Digital Media world will be analyzed in Portada’s upcoming Evolving America Summit at Digital Hollywood on October 21 in the Ritz Carlton, Marina del Rey, Ca.

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