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Metacafe Morphs into Entertainment Network for M.E.N.

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Metacafe, a website that specializes in short-form video entertainment in the categories of movies, video games, sports, music, and TV, has morphed into the Metacafe Entertainment Network, or M.E.N.

To meet growing demand for premium short-form video content Metacafe introduced M.E.N. back on Sept. 29, 2011. It’s a collection of owned-and-operated sites and preferred publisher partners that represent an online entertainment network for young men.

Designed to keep 18-to-34 year-old males in the loop on what’s trending in the categories that entertainment enthusiasts care about most, M.E.N. features exclusive, original, and curated short-form video entertainment content in the categories of movies, games, and action sports.

Research from Frank N. Magid Associates revealed last fall that 39 percent of men ages 18-to-34 watch online video content daily and that among this group the computer now outpaces the television as the primary medium for entertainment. With the launch of M.E.N., Metacafe is working to meet this demand for entertaining content and is creating scalable ways for marketers to connect with this hard-to-reach demographic.

I recently interviewed Erick Hachenburg, CEO of Metacafe. Here are my questions and his answers:

Greg Jarboe: Your most recent annual sponsored study on online video consumption revealed that television is no longer the primary entertainment device for males aged 18-34. In fact, 68 percent of males aged 18-34 said that the PC/laptop was the entertainment device they “can’t live without” – beating out both the television (53 percent) and video game consoles (39 percent). As Butch Cassidy once asked, “Who are those guys?”

Erick Hachenburg: Today’s young male consumers are entertainment enthusiasts and influencers who live online and consider their laptop or PC the center of their universe. For those of us in the content business, this means we need to deliver an experience that feeds this voracious appetite for short-form video entertainment. For brand advertisers, this means that the young male audience is getting harder and harder to reach if online isn’t a primary part of media plans.

GJ: What do brand advertisers care about most?

EH: In today’s digital media world, there are two things brand advertisers care about most: Close association with premium content and broad reach among a target demographic. The Metacafe Entertainment Network addresses both priorities and is a natural evolution of our business and shifting media consumption habits from TV to more interactive forms of entertainment.

GJ: What do you see as the biggest trends that will shape brand advertiser demand for premium short-form video content online in 2012?

EH: There are two big trends that I think will come into play in 2012. First, we’ll finally learn whether YouTube is a real media company. What I mean by this is I think YouTube will jump into the pre-roll marketplace and create waves in pricing, standards and beyond, assuming it can resolve the continuing identity struggle about whether to be a technology company or a media company. Second, ad networks will become more publisher-friendly. I predict that ad networks will face slowing revenue growth in 2012, as ad agencies assert themselves by expanding their exchanges. Agencies target audiences and content, and the exchanges will enable them to do so more effectively by working directly with publishers on high-reach buys as well as high-impact buys that include customized brand integrations and content associations. The industry must establish an efficient and effective ecosystem in which all the major players – leading agencies, premium publishers and innovative ad networks – work together to collectively serve the best interests of brand advertisers.

GJ: When comScore Video Metrix looks at video ads, it includes streaming-video advertising only and doesn’t include other types of video monetization. As a result, YouTube isn’t one of the top 10 Video Ad Properties by Video Ads Viewed. How does YouTube’s approach, which lets viewers choose to skip a video ad if they're not interested, impact Metacafe?

EH: YouTube faces a fundamental question this year: Does it really want to monetize online video? YouTube monetizes through AdSense (on site and in overlays) and through homepage events (like a portal), but YouTube viewers currently spend only 0.1 percent of time watching video ads in and around YouTube videos. How this impacts Metacafe really connects back to the online video industry as a whole. The industry must solidify online video’s position as a primary medium through which advertisers can connect with today’s young consumers – and YouTube needs to step up and participate.

GJ: Americans viewed 7.2 billion video ads in November, with Hulu generating the highest number of video ad impressions at more than 1.3 billion. What do you think about Hulu delivering the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 44?

EH: Hulu’s continuing efforts to increase its ad load will plateau in 2012. Hulu built its early advertising success on research showing that one ad per commercial pod drove greater impact – and then charging higher CPMs for those ads. Now Hulu has nearly tripled its ad load. The decrease in effectiveness and the subsequent decrease in Hulu’s CPMs will put a sudden stop to the efforts to match the TV ad load. Does anyone really believe the research that shows viewers want more ads? Does anyone want to do the research that shows viewers ignoring more ads? The industry has to be more focused on delivering advertiser value and an engaging user experience.


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