David Blecken
Mar 18, 2016

Ecosystem growth makes APAC YouTube's most dynamic region

TOKYO - On a trip to Google's Japan office, Kelly Merryman and Gautam Anand, who head up YouTube’s content partnerships division globally and regionally, respectively, took time out to speak to Campaign about what’s driving business for the platform.

Kelly Merryman joined YouTube from Netflix in 2014
Kelly Merryman joined YouTube from Netflix in 2014

What’s new in terms of partnerships in Asia-Pacific?

Gautam Anand: Historically we’ve had strong engagement from traditional media folks, but what’s really exciting is the emergence of the creator ecosystem. The fact that we were able to hold eight FanFests last year is due to very active participation from local creators and would not have been possible two years ago. In every market [in Asia-Pacific] the foundations are now present. Partner revenue in Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing globally. The breadth of the ecosystem is increasing and tapping into the programming void. TV may not speak to younger audiences in the same way. In India we’ve had lots of engagement from larger TV networks and studios, but its taken them a while to get to the million subscriber mark. The Viral Fever, for example, took just one year.

So are partnerships with creators more important than with broadcasters?

GA: I wouldn’t say more important. We want people to have as much choice as possible. Really it’s about feeding into diversity and letting people follow their passions.

What is your ultimate objective in the content partnerships division?

Kelly Merryman: Toy-unboxing is probably not something we would have identified as the next big thing. So I’ve decided that fans know better than any of us and we have to listen. That’s why we have to take the middlemen out. It happens organically—I don’t get to pick where we get to be five years from now. My job is to listen to our users and creators and see where they take us.

Gautam Anand

GA: Different markets have different goals. In China, we’re working with creators for export. We saw the value of export in Korea and with Bollywood. It’s another way of figuring out what the needs of a partner are and building solutions around those.

How actively are you pursuing partnerships with sports leagues?

KM: We’re a home for sports clips and highlights around the globe. The other thing besides clips and highlights is Content ID. If I’m at a basketball game and take a video of an awesome shot and upload it, there are two options: you can have it blocked, or the NBA can claim it and monetise it. We’re seeing this concept embraced by sports leagues around the globe. Fans do a great job of capturing different viewpoints and can probably deliver more assets than just the league on its own could. As long as the rules are clear, there’s a lot of value for leagues in allowing fans to participate in uploading and viewing.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the past year in terms of brands working with content creators?

KM: Brands as creators—brands are starting to create their own content. It’s starting to blur the lines: is the brand a content creator or advertiser? [Creating content] is a great way for brands to learn as they spend more on the platform.

What’s the biggest driver of watch-time in Asia-Pacific?

KM: Unique storytelling that you can’t find anywhere else; two-way communications and the flexibility to watch what you want, when and where.

GA: We’re doing a lot of work for access in countries like India and Indonesia. Things like partnerships with telcos around video data plans, and making sure the experience is ideal for markets where people are cost-conscious. We’ve made Offline available in pretty much every market in Asia-Pacific, where in the US it’s a part of paid subscriptions. That’s a great driver of viewership.


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