David Jones, the former CEO of advertising agency group Havas and now the founder of what he has dubbed the “world’s first brand tech group” You & Mr Jones, has launched a multi-channel video network (MCN.)
MCNs are a relatively new type of company that rapidly sprung up in recent years and built themselves into huge businesses given the rise in popularity of online video. MCNs build networks of online talent — YouTube creators, popular Instagram stars, Twitch gamers, and so on — and help them build their audiences, provide access to production resources, and grow revenue through advertising, sponsorship, and even book and TV deals. The biggest MCNs include Fullscreen (part-owned by AT&T,) gaming network Machinima, and Disney-owned Maker Studios.
Speaking to Business Insider, Jones said his company’s new MCN — called Mosaic — is a little different. He describes it as a “brand-centric” MCN.
“Mosaic” is a product of You & Mr Jones-owned video crowd-sourcing company Mofilm. The company has sought to launch or acquire a number of different YouTube channels and accounts across a range of platforms including Snapchat, Vine, Facebook, and Instagram.
Channels range from TravelHub, to CatHub, and FoodieHub, and the network already claims more than 1 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views.
Mosaic works with marketers to create branded video content series, which it distributes across the most appropriate network of its channels. Sometimes Mosaic will simply just upload the content, but other times it might pay for advertising to boost the reach of the videos. It then applies data analysis to help marketers measure the return on their online video investment.
The content is created by Mofilm’s global community of filmmakers. Mosaic also has about 45 permanent staff. It is being led by former Googler Jonathan Ratcliffe, who is based in Johannesburg, and Mofilm’s London-based managing director Rebecca Sykes. As part of the launch, Mosaic is also opening a production studio in Culver City, Los Angeles.
Jones tells us he imagines Mosaic will have between 100 to 150 employees once it reaches scale, which rivals the size of other MCNs.
Jones said Mosaic provides brands with a solution to the growing ad blocking trend: “If you force people to watch awful pre-roll ads, and shove pop-ups in their face, of course people will hate what brands are doing. But if the content is compelling enough and brands are seamlessly involved, they will not block. They will watch it and share it.”
There has been growing consternation from YouTube stars in recent months about the so-called “freebooting” trend of people taking videos without the content owner’s permission and uploading them to Facebook for their own personal gain. The disquiet grew louder earlier this week when a video on the topic from YouTube channel Kurzgesagt entitled “How Facebook is Stealing Billions of Views” went viral.
We asked the Mosaic team whether freebooting was a concern. Jones said it wasn’t a topic that has even been discussed internally, although the company is monitoring it.
Ratcliffe said: “YouTube worked really hard with its Content ID system. Facebook is scaling so fast and it’s really hard to get a hold of this and get a Content ID system in place and build a legal framework to manage it. But in some cases it can be quite flattering when people take your content and upload it to Facebook, as long as they don’t take a different skew on it. It has happened to some of our content. But as soon as we have a brand attached to it, we have to be more sensitive as brand equity is at play.”
You & Mr Jones launched earlier this year and has raised $US350 million in funding. Its other investments include viral news site Mashable and content marketing platform Pixlee.
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