More brands tap Canadian influencers as MCN audience soars

Studio71 Canadian outpost has added to its sales leadership, focusing on creating made-in-Canada opportunities for local advertisers with superstars such as Lilly Singh and Matthew Santoro.
lilly coca cola

Jeffrey Dickstein, former director of brand partnerships at Wattpad, has joined on as VP of sales for the Canadian outpost of Studio71.

In the newly created position, Dickstein will manage the network’s Canadian sales team, and will be in charge of deals with holding companies Studio71′s Canadian network of creators.

According to Studio71, ad revenue for Canada has tripled in the past year, thanks largely to its work in custom and branded content with advertisers such as Coca-Cola (which sponsored the tour of the network’s biggest Canadian star, Lilly Singh, pictured above) and TD Canada, as well as a long-term partnership with Omnicom’s content division, Alternator.

The channel’s global fan base has also grown, with more than five billion monthly views (up from 3.5 million in January 2016) and boast 468 million subscribers to the network.

Talking with MiC about his new position, Dickstein noted that in an increasingly digital age, brands tend to pair with creators based more around their personality and target demo rather than their location. “It’s a borderless world,” he told MiC. 

He said that “borderless” definition applies to many of Studio71′s creators in Canada.

“When people think of Lilly [Singh], they don’t think of her as Canadian,” he said. Singh, known to fans as IISuperwomanII, hails from Scarborough but is now an international sensation who has embarked on a global tour and released the YouTube Red documentary A Trip to Unicorn Island. She has been with Studio71 since 2014, prior to the launch of its Canadian outpost.

Singh boasts nearly 11 million subscribers and, for two years in a row, has been named by Forbes as one of the top 10 highest paid YouTubers in the world (this year Singh jumped from eighth to second place, pulling in an estimated $7.5 million).

Other big Canadian hits with the Studio71 network are trivia vlogger Matthew Santoro (5.7 million subscribers) and Next Time Productions, the team behind Epic Meal Time (7 million subscribers).

While YouTube continues to be Studio71′s biggest concentration in terms of platforms, since it’s the only one that offers direct monetization through pre-roll and banner ads (as opposed to branded content deals on platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook), Dickstein said he’s always keeping an eye out on other platforms with potential for brand-friendly content creation.

“When I was at Wattpad, we’d always be testing out all the new apps that come out for the younger generations,” he said, adding that with the rate at which new platforms are popping up, it’s worth it for creator networks to tap into all of them. “They were like mushrooms after a storm, just always springing up at once.”

Jordan Bortolotti, EVP for Canada at Studio71, also noted that Studio71 is diversifying in terms of age demographics, noting that it started as a millennial-focused network but now grabs a good amount of attention from women age 35 to 45, which is why the network now produces a great deal of family content.

Prior to Wattpad, Dickstein worked in sales leadership roles with Microsoft in Canada and the U.K.