Founder and CEO Michael Wayne talks about the brand’s inception and the need to establish a local presence
Kin Community is more than a multichannel network, it’s a global digital media business, insists the brand founder and CEO Michael Wayne.
Kin Community launched in 2011 as a women’s lifestyle content channel as part of the YouTube Original Channel Initiative – a $100 million investment made by Google.
“Out of the 100 plus channels that YouTube funded we are probably one of only a handful that still exist today,” Wayne told Mediaweek a week out from its launch in Australia.
Currently Kin Community has two arms to its business: it is a multichannel network and a content creator. As a multichannel network it manages a slate of 140 content creators globally (including two from Australia) and connects them with advertisers.
“We had been producing content but we wanted to make sure that as a business people knew that we were not just a network and that we were in the business of creating original content, some of which is purely editorial and doesn’t have brand integration,” Wayne said. “But a good amount of it does have a brand integrated into it. That’s a big source of our revenue.”
In 2012, Kin Community failed to receive a grant from YouTube for original content. But this did not deter Wayne and his team, because its parent company DECA, founded in 2007, had already been focusing on women’s content before the launch of Kin Community.
“We used the channel as a way to shift our business from off YouTube to on YouTube,” he said.
In its first year of business, DECA had a digital studio model where the company was creating content across different verticals including women’s and men’s interests. At the time, this content was distributed via websites and blogs.
This changed in 2008, when the business decided to focus exclusively on women’s lifestyle content.
“What we found was that the marketplace was moving to global social platforms and that video content was less likely to be viewed on a website or a blog, and more likely to be viewed on a platform like YouTube or Facebook,” Wayne said.
“Before 2011, the women’s audiences on a social platform hadn’t quite evolved. It was very young, so it was a lot of teen and tweens. By 2011, what we started to see across social platforms is that categories like food, DIY, health and wellness really started to blossom.”
Kin Community launched Kin Studios in mid-2015. The studio has recording and filming equipment and employs a dedicated team of people to produce branded and editorial content for Kin Community’s social platforms. The facility is also used to support its network of creators to produce branded content for their own social media accounts.
Despite having a presence on multiple social services like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, Wayne recognised YouTube and Facebook as Kin Community’s primary platforms for content distribution.
In September 2016, DECA launched Kin Community Australia in partnership with Fairfax-owned Allure Media.
“We are a 50-50 joint venture,” Wayne stated. “Allure has built a really great digital sales team…we are going to be relying on Allure to be the frontline sellers for the joint venture.”
Since the launch of Kin Community in Canada in 2014, Australia is the second market where it has launched outside the US. The brand is in the process of hiring a local managing director and staff for integrated marketing and account management.
“We have a ‘think global, act local philosophy’,” Wayne said. “From the beginning of Kin Community we have been on a global platform.
“But our business happens on a local level. Our creators have needs. If it’s a creator in Sydney they want to be able to rely on a team of folks that are in that market.
“If we sell to a brand in Australia, it’s going to be a local brand who wants to target local audiences on these platforms, and usually use local creators to do that.”
The expansion into Australia was a natural move for the company, Wayne said.
“We find that the top markets in terms of our audience and our creators’ audience are from English-speaking countries, so the US, Canada, UK and Australia,” he explained.
Currently, Kin Community is in three of the four countries listed. Asked about plans to expand to the UK, Wayne said: “We are actively pursuing partnerships in the UK. We are planning on launching in the UK next year.”