Fullscreen, I Really Wanted to Hate You...

On Friday, we visited Fullscreen, a “global YouTube network for creators and brands.” We were connected to them because they have a number of Luther alumni working there, but the only thing Brad told me about Fullscreen before the visit was that they create YouTube video ads. Obviously, I’m going to be a little predisposed to hate them…

What I found was actually something pretty different. It’s true that Fullscreen is definitely involved in video advertising on YouTube, but they do a lot more.

Their primary business model is that they’re hired or contracted to manage content for thousands of of channels. Their primary goal is to increase viewership and revenue for the content creators so that the creators can actually make a full time living from their content.

Most of Fullscreen’s clients were people (“content creators”) who were already doing content on YouTube (the content ranges from music videos to teenage girls complaining about their lives). Fullscreen works with them to monetize.

What Fullscreen does depends on the needs and wants of each client. In some cases, they simply connect their clients with advertisers. In other cases, they help their clients design the entire ad campaign.

They’ve got between 26,000 and 30,000 channels under the Fullscreen umbrella. Most of their channels had at least 1000 subscribers before they signed a deal with Fullscreen. Some of their clients include Lindsey Stirling (“dubstep violinist”), lonelygirl15, Jenna Marbles, and Philip DeFranco (phillyd).

A lot of these people now make enough money from just their YouTube content to live on full-time (in the case of Jenna Marbles, much more than enough to live on full-time).

Fullscreen is also aggressivly trying to expand their product and service lineup. They’re working on tools that help the creators create content, and streamlining the process so that clients can take more of a self-service approach to monetizing their content. They’re also working on networking between creators, who can share ideas and tips via some forum-like software.

One of the questions I had going in to Fullscreen was how their business was affected by ad-blocking plugins that are very effective at suppressing YouTube advertisments. It sounds like they aren’t particularly worried: less than 5% of the world audience uses ad-blockers, and they don’t see that increasing tremendously, as ad-blockers are generally only installed by technically-saavy users. (I asked one of the developers at Fullscreen whether he personally used an ad-blocker: he didn’t seem to have any dilemma in using one!)

So, walking away from Fullscreen, I realized that I can’t fault them for their business. The people who make YouTube interesting deserve to make money, and Fullscreen has gotten pretty good at helping them do so in a fair way.