Old-school YouTuber LisaNova’s comedic talents have taken her from the web to MadTV and then back to YouTube, where she co-founded The Station. In this Five Questions, she talks about the disconnect between YouTubers and the rest of the online video world.


I’m pretty jazzed about today’s 5 Questions question-answerer, guys. Lisa Donovan, better known as LisaNova, appeared on the web scene in 2006 and was one of the first people to discover YouTube’s potential for engaging and directly connecting with an audience. Her talents as a comedian and creator of characters took her from the web to MadTV and then back to YouTube, where she became a founding member of the insanely popular sketch comedy collective The Station. Below, she talks about the trouble with online video CPMs and the disconnect that’s arisen between YouTube creators and the rest of the online video world.

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?

The biggest issue I’ve found with online video are the extremely low CPMs, especially on YouTube. It’s virtually impossible to put any kind of production resources into producing online content unless there is a brand sponsoring the video/series. Hopefully advertisers will start to realize that the engaged online community is actually a much more valuable impression than traditional TV advertising. If we get to a place where YouTube CPMs are even half of TV CPMs, you will see an explosion of high-quality online content.

2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?

Viral. It’s way overused and misused and just sounds dirty in general.

3. If someone gave you 50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)

Seeing as I have a company in this space — Maker Studios — that I believe will revolutionize the entertainment industry, I can’t imagine investing in anyone else’s company. I would need to do some serious research if I had that kind of money to invest.

4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?

For sheer comedy it would be the Dick Slang video — its a good one to send to a friend if you want to make them feel dirty and laugh all at the same time.

Otherwise, for artistic inspiration, anything by Brain Spray. I’ve been watching them for years — love their stuff.

5. WILD-CARD: What are your thoughts on the “rift” that exists between YouTube creators and web series creators? And what’s the biggest misunderstanding about YouTube that people outside the community have?

It’s engaged consistent audience vs “higher-quality content.” Many people don’t understand the fact that YouTube is a totally different kind of entertainment medium, which is much more personal and connective with the audience. People subscribe to people, not necessarily “high production value content.” People can see high-quality content on TV/movies — with YouTube, it’s a whole different kind of thing. The audience is looking for a much more intimate relationship on YouTube.

YouTube content creators with huge subscription bases get consistently high viewership and that’s very hard to understand for people who don’t understand the medium. Web series creators are typically trying to prove themselves to mainstream media and are usually hoping to make the leap to TV and don’t try and cultivate an intimate audience, but rely on the “high-quality” content instead. With YouTubers, it’s sometimes the same story, but the majority are on YouTube because they have the freedom to create content on their own and aren’t necessarily looking at YouTube as a stepping stone to something “bigger.” I believe in the end YouTube will be just as big, if not bigger, than television.

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  1. Ben Franklin Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Hmmm.. revolutionizing the industry with provocative thumbnails and titles on her Youtube channel such as:

    “Bumping & Grinding”
    “Getting Some”
    “Boom Cock”
    “High On Drugs”
    “Naked With No Pants”

    Not trying to hate, but videos with misleading thumbnails and provocative titles does little to move the industry forward. If I want explicit entertainment, I will pay for it (i.e. HBO, R-Rated films, adult films). Free entertainment dependent on ad revenue (i.e. Youtube and television) needs to be void of controversy, shock or any other salacious/scandalous material – it is the only way advertisers will take Youtube/the Internet seriously.

  2. @Ben Franklin- Seriously?

    Lisa just passed 500,000 subs… that is 500,000 people who liked the video enough to want see more. Not because of the title names. She is an artist, an amazing incredible actress that WILL definitely go far in this industry. Her talent and dedication is far beyond what Ive seen in most actors. Don’t hate on the thumbnails haha

  3. :):):)

  4. [...] 5 Questions With…LisaNova (AKA Lisa Donovan) [...]

  5. Not trying to hate either but the stuff from the Station is so so so so so not funny. It’s painful to watch what they do. To have that many videos be so bad is difficult. One guy from the station stole Zach Galifinacis 2 Ferns series idea, and made it interviews with >>>>> porn stars. only not funny >> and stuff like that is what works on youtube sometimes, but it is not talent.

  6. Popular people on YouTube are a lot like Dane Cook; not really talented but amazing at marketing themselves.

    As it’s already been mentioned, these guys either rip off established bits like Kassem G’s rip off of Between Two Ferns or they’re making videos with misleading thumbnails and provocative titles.

    I think the real reason for the gap is that web series creators are actually trying to create content Worth watching and can be proud of while YouTubers will just make whatever can get them the most views/revenue from YT.

  7. [...] 5 Questions With…LisaNova (AKA Lisa Donovan) [...]

  8. [...] the community to showcase her acting talents, and has been fortunate enough to collaborate with LisaNova as well as Shane Dawson in the [...]

  9. [...] the community to showcase her acting talents, and has been fortunate enough to collaborate with LisaNova as well as Shane Dawson in the [...]

  10. [...] the community to showcase her acting talents, and has been fortunate enough to collaborate with LisaNova as well as Shane Dawson in the [...]


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