Summary:

In preparation for next week’s NewFronts, YouTube has developed a new initiative to showcase the top five percent of channels for advertisers. But how much YouTube-born talent is going to be considered “Google Preferred”?

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YouTube’s most popular creators bring in millions of views. Their audience is young, and should be every marketer’s dream. However, their content has yet to draw the kind of ad rates that will be sustainable in the long-term, which is why during next week’s NewFronts, YouTube is going to highlight thousands of selected channels to potential advertisers.

The question is: How many of these are native YouTubers, and what does this selection tell us about the future of YouTube?

As reported by Tubefilter and the Wall Street Journal, YouTube has curated a selection of channels  that represent the top five percent of YouTube across fourteen categories:

  • Anime/Teen Animation
  • Beauty
  • Cars
  • Comedy
  • Entertainment/Pop Culture
  • Family
  • Food
  • Music
  • News
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Video Games
  • Wellness

The “Google Preferred” initiative, as it’s known, will showcase for advertisers exactly what kind of content they’re buying ads against, and also reserve space for advertisers who commit to buying into top shows. It’s also promised access to a highly desirable demographic — from the Journal:

Ad buyers say YouTube has been making presentations to advertisers with comparisons of the audience makeup of YouTube versus the makeup of audiences of cable networks such as ABC Family. These comparisons showed that YouTube reached more people in highly coveted demographics, such as people aged 18 to 34, than many high-profile cable channels.

The range of content — from online video mainstays like The Young Turks to the official channels for The Ellen Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live to nearly any popular beauty vlogger you might care to mention — is massive.

Using Tubefilter’s list of 400+ channels, which reflect the top one percent of channels involved, I went category by category to see how many came from YouTube-grown talent. The results were a pleasant surprise — with a few exceptions, the split tended to lean towards the YouTuber side.

The categories that were dominated by outside brands weren’t too surprising. Music does showcase some artists who developed audiences through YouTube, including Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix, but the majority of the channels come from pre-established artists and record labels.

Sports also shows a reliance on pre-existing brands, though it did feature a few YouTubers with unique takes on the genre, such as DevinSuperTramp and Dude Perfect.

And the majority of the News category is dominated by channels for long-standing journalism mainstays like Vice, ABC News, the Associated Press and the New York Times. Even The Young Turks, which has become a true YouTube success story, was originally born as a talk radio show.

The trend I observed — if a category had clearly defined roots in traditional media, the more channels it included from outside brands. Conversely, if a category came from traditions and genres born of YouTube, the more likely it was to be dominated by YouTube originals.

For example, one category was completely dominated by YouTubers — Beauty. All 40 channels, to the best of my knowledge, come from women who have built their followings primarily on the video platform; given how specific the genre is, and how much it owes to the vlog format, this makes a lot of sense.

The Tubefilter list isn’t a complete list of the channels being offered up to advertisers. But it does show that YouTube is not only committed to highlighting the content that’s working, but that by and large the YouTubers who have been a part of the site from the beginning are a major part of its plans. Because making more money off its ads doesn’t mean YouTube needs to stop being YouTube.

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