YouTube: The Newsstand of the 21st Century

It's the home of the Car & Driver, PC World, Cosmopolitan, Scientific American, People, Christian Science Monitor and Hustler of our time -- and so much more. Some are more prominent than others. Some are shrink-wrapped and out of the reach of children.

So what?  Well, it's simple. There probably never was a reader that bought or read all of these, much less an advertiser that placed their message in all of them. So it was then, so it is now. It was a simple business as a reader deciding which to buy, but a complicated business as an advertiser deciding which, where, when, how many and how often to use in creating a media plan. There's no reason to think that it should be any easier now.

When we bought ads in different magazines we thought about them uniquely. Sometimes we did the same thing everywhere, sometimes we did things very differently, either because we bought more or less ads or we used different creative. Sometimes we abandoned ads in favor of content integrations. We made these choices because we wanted to use tactics that reflected the relationship between reader and publisher. Sometimes we sought simple reach, sometimes the passive association of adjacency and sometimes active endorsement.

A newsstand was a haystack made of needles. YouTube is the same, something for anyone and, now and again, something for everyone.

This leads us down the path to a new version of an old job. Look at the brand, look at the segments it serves, find the channels in which it can find those segments and then create relevant messaging for all or any that represents potential return on investment -- and all the time search for common threads that drive efficiency and special cases that deserve made-to-measure solutions.

Some of this we can do programmatically, some by crafting solutions by hand.  In doing so, let's be guests of the viewer, not gate crashers; let's be enablers, not just Daddy Warbucks, and let's make our content as relevant to the creator and his or her audience as we can.

YouTube has smart machines. How much smarter can we make them by reverting to a time of consideration and exceptionalism?  Man's greatest gift to the machine.

From YouTube all we want is that. A broad taxonomy of channels with clear content descriptions and audience quantification, with the cream-topped gold list at the top and a "more like these" tab below.

In my dreams I see a media plan.

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Rob Norman

As Chief Digital Officer of GroupM Global, Rob oversees the activities of the world’s largest buyer of online. In this role, he develops the digital capabilities within GroupM while establishing thought leadership positioning in the digital space and... read more