If you've never heard of Machinima, you're probably not a gamer, lover of comic books, or animator, but it's one of YouTube's big partners, a major content network that caters to the niche interests described above. And what's more, it is attempting to cure many of the ills that have beset its big brother YouTube's advertising strategy, where money is often lost, and brands are unhappy.
What's wrong with YouTube's advertising platforms? As Harrison Jacobs describes in Business Insider, it's an issue related to its "Wild West" quality. Advertisers have little, or no, control over when their ads will be shown, and matched with which content. On television, for example, advertisers can select which programs with which to match their ads (spots for Tostito's salsa during the Super Bowl, for example). But on YouTube, the pairing is never so exact, and one can imagine how this pretty much ensures that advertisers don't receive as many clicks without the ability to reach the right audience.
Now Machinima (the term refers to real-time computer graphics used to create cinematic videos) is turning back to the television model in order to make YouTube's advertising more accessible to marketers. They've decided to lean on as many as 32,000 content creators on YouTube to partner with them and create ads pertaining to events and campaigns that will be of interest to Machinima's audience of 20-something game lovers. Advertisers can find their way into this process as sponsors, backing YouTube users who already have significant followings on the site, and also simply having more access to Machinima's programming that will help them time their ads for best return.
Behind the scenes here is Machinima's increasing interest in shifting its identity from a media company into a content studio. There are rumors that Warner Bros is looking to invest in the network. And with this, the network laid-off 42 people in its sales department and began off-loading those duties to teams at YouTube and Google. And behind the greater scenes: online video channels are grappling with the idea of how best to compete with television as more and more viewers turn to smaller and smaller screens for their content.
Here's an example of one of Mashinima's sponsored campaigns, new under the recent restructuring. It features one of its most successful reality TV shows, "Away From Keyboard," a program that asks some of YouTube's creative influencers to do zany stunts via games like roller derby and parkour, and has received more than 10 million views over three seasons. The show has attained partnerships with Geico and Acura, whose demographic is strong in the male, 20-something range in certain models. When watching this clip, you can see just how seamless the new branding is. One dreams of the day we can stop seeing those clunky intro ads--Skip!