5 Questions With…LisaNova (AKA Lisa Donovan)


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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