Yahoo has partnered with Current TV, the viewer-generated TV network founded in part by former Vice President Al Gore, to launch several ad-supported video channels on Yahoo Video.
The Yahoo Current Network launched Wednesday with four channels: Yahoo Current Buzz, Yahoo Current Action, Yahoo Current Driver and Yahoo Current Traveler. Current Buzz showcases the most popular videos rated by users, along with editorially selected and professionally produced clips. Madeleine Smithberg, co-creator of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” has been tapped as executive producer of Current Buzz.
Current Action covers action sports news and videos, like skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX and motocross. Current Driver showcases automotive content, and Current Traveler features video postcards and travel tips from destinations around the world. Several other channels are planned, with eight expected by the end of next year. Current TV will also air the most popular submissions from the Yahoo Current Network on its TV broadcast each week
For advertisers, the Yahoo Current channels grant access to a large audience of media-savvy young adults, and provide a rich environment to communicate with that audience, Jason Zajac, VP and general manager of social media at Yahoo, told ClickZ.
“What’s unique about the content is also what makes it a great environment for branded messaging. Between Current TV and Yahoo, we’re bringing together the skills and experience in creating both professionally produced and editorially selected and programmed user-generated content, combined with the community, audience and engagement metrics that Yahoo has,” Zajac said.
At launch, there are some rich media ads running on several pages as part of the Yahoo Video network buys, as well as house ads for Yahoo. A few pre-roll ads are being used to educate users about how Yahoo Current works, but no commercial pre-roll spots are running.
Yahoo’s sales team will begin selling rich media ads specifically for the Yahoo Current channels, and plans to sell commercial :15 and :30 pre-roll ads in coming months. Yahoo will also sell premier sponsorships of channels and special sections. Initially, ads will run across all four Yahoo Current channels, but could be segmented out over time once audience size grows.
Yahoo expects to follow this model by adding more channels to Yahoo Video from other premium content providers in the future. “In this media space, it’s really all about the classics: the size and attractiveness of the audience, and the quality of the content. This is our first premiere partner to follow this model, but there are lots of content providers that would like to do similar things,” Zajac said.
By combining user-generated content with editorial oversight and professionally produced content, Yahoo is hoping to quell the fears of advertisers afraid to have their brand associated with unfiltered content of popular community video sites like YouTube, and also offer a similar kind of audience, Zajac said.
“Advertisers have shown a tremendous amount of interest, because they’re all want to tap into user engagement in the growing social media space, but there are also certain characteristics they need to feel comfortable putting their brands out there,” Zajac said.
The demographic of young, informed, and Web-savvy users is also highly attractive to many advertisers, and the ability to reach that audience with engaging video messages makes this even more attractive, according to Zajac.
“Advertisers that have big brands, that are interested in the emotional connection you can make with a well produced video ad are very enthusiastic about this. Some of these advertisers have a message that they think will resonate with this audience, and are looking for a more participatory relationship with their consumers,” Zajac said.
Current TV’s cable TV network launched a year ago, and is now available to more than 30 million homes in the U.S. The network recently began efforts to expand its online presence, with this marking its largest foray into Web-based video so far.
Current TV shows viewer-created content on its Web site, and the submission that get the most votes each week is promoted to air on TV. It also features content from partners on its site, including a Google Current channel that’s been online and on TV since last year, featuring a short recap of a topic related to the day’s most popular searches.
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