YouTube: Corporate Marketing and YouTube “Celebrities”

By: Megan Carignan & Marisa Harrington

YouTube is one of the largest and most active social media platforms, and it is the second largest search engine in the world. It was started in 2005, and was sold to Google just months later in 2006 for $1.65 billion. The connection to Google strengthens the site, as the videos appear in Google Search results. Marketers need to take advantage of the platform, especially as YouTube and other video sites are replacing standard cable television. The young adult audience is better reached on YouTube, and the site provides a global social media platform for companies.

The gender divide on YouTube is about equal, although the types of videos that people watch varies with gender. Males concentrate more on the gaming and action channels, and the top YouTube earner is PewDiePie, who runs a gaming channel and rakes in around $12 million. Comedy and music are other popular topics on YouTube, and companies should be aware of those three areas and how to get them to help their marketing campaigns. Female viewers tend to watch videos based on fashion and health.

Interacting on YouTube appears in many forms and features, such as uploading videos, commenting on videos/comments, and liking/disliking videos and comments. People can also share videos with friends or to different types of social media, as well as subscribe to creators. People can create their own YouTube community by interacting with people who have the same interests, and those people can lead to more knowledge about a topic as they suggest videos.

There are many ways a business or brand can market on YouTube. To start with, companies can create their own YouTube channels. On these channels, they can interact with customers by posting content and responding to comments on their videos. Customers can interact as well by sharing, liking/disliking, commenting on, subscribing, and adding videos to playlists. YouTube allows companies to interact with customers, although it may be difficult for marketers to optimize the function. It can be difficult to upload videos consistently and react to followers, but this is necessary in order to maintain a good YouTube channel. Companies can use YouTube for increasing brand awareness, showing ads for products, promoting their retail stores, demonstrating the product, providing customer support, and training.

There are four standard ways to pay to market on YouTube: In-Search, In-Slate, In-Display, and In-Stream. The In-Search function means that videos appear above the search results. For example, when “comedy” is typed in the search box, above the results involving comedy are current ads for Android, Nike and Pedigree. These videos have nothing to do with the searches, but they attract viewers at the top of the results. In-Slate ads appear after you watch a video, and they suggest another video to watch. They only appear after the video has ended, so the viewer would have to watch the entire video in order to see the ad. The brand would also have to attract the viewer to watch the full video with just a still image, meaning that the title and video thumbnail need to quickly grab the viewer’s attention and reinforce the brand. This concept is the same as with the In-Display types of ads, which appear next to the video you are watching. Marketers still need to quickly grab attention, but they do not require that views watch until the end of their current videos. As eyes wander during videos, they could interest the viewer and get the person to click on their video.

The last of the four standard ways to market on YouTube is the In-Stream method. This is the most effective method, and also the one that annoys viewers the most. When watching a video, this ad appears before the start of the videos as the viewers are attempting to watch. Often viewers can skip this ad after a certain number of seconds, so it is crucial to attract viewers in the first few seconds of the ad. Viewers may be annoyed at the delay between them and watching their preferred video, but it is still the most effective technique. Another problem companies may face is ad blockers, which removes ads from YouTube so people no longer have to see them. This is a problem, as video creators get money with ads, and marketers no longer have as large as an audience to target.

As YouTube celebrities are emerging, companies are beginning to market by paying a YouTuber to promote their products. YouTubers are gaining sponsorships, since companies are aware that their subscribers will purchase the products promoted on the channel. There are many well-known YouTubers who have sponsorships, and they are becoming more popular as companies are realizing the popularity of YouTube. The extreme sports YouTuber DevinSupertramp is sponsored by Mountain Dew and Reebok, among others. The channel WhatsUpMoms is appropriately sponsored by Tide, Capital One, and Keurig Coffee. This demonstrates the importance of finding a channel that aligns with the company image and target. Kurt Hugo Schneider is popular for producing music videos for artists, and he has been featured on the Ellen Show. His videos are often viral successes, and Coca-Cola attempted to capitalize on that with commercials and products in videos. He sang the song “Pass it On” (see here: which featured coke bottles. Sprint was also affiliated with him when they provided phones for his video “Holiday Medley” with Victoria Justice and Max Schneider (see here

There are risks for the companies and the YouTubers themselves, since the YouTubers are often accused of being sellouts to corporations. The news channel host Philip DeFranco started off with sxephil, and then he created the news channel Sourcefed with funding from Google. His affiliation with Google and many sponsors has caused many people to accuse him of selling out. For example, his promotion on Facebook of his sponsor in July 2013 sparked anger in fans. One comment accused him of shameless advertising, while another comment stated “Google sent out recommendations on how to make easily sellable content. Phil is basically the face of corporate Google. The definition of a sellout” (Facebook). Phil is not the first YouTuber to be accused of selling out for money, and he will certainly not be the last. The companies that sponsor these YouTubers may also receive anger from customers for interceding into the videos. This may hurt their image, so they should be careful on how aggressively they have their products promoted.

As YouTube “celebrities” emerge, individual YouTubers are becoming a brand in and of themselves. The highest paid YouTuber is PewDiePie, but there are other popular YouTubers such as TheFineBros, who create reaction videos, and Jenna Marbles, a popular comedy creator.  Many YouTubers are essentially running their own businesses, and they need to market to consumers and protect their image. Product lines, especially from beauty channels, are being developed by Youtubers. Zoe Sugg, a popular English beauty and fashion blogger, known as Zoella, has her own product line called Zoella Beauty. She has also published a couple books, and many other YouTubers have also released books. It is important to note that the YouTubers themselves have to market on YouTube, it is not just the large corporations. Calendars and shirts are other popular merchandise that are being distributed by YouTubers. YouTubers are becoming so popular that marketing has evolved into personal interaction with fans as well, not just video interactions. There are award shows and conferences that YouTubers attend, such as VidCon and VidSummit in California.

Legal issues and other problems may arise on YouTube, and marketers need to be aware of any potential situations and things to avoid. When marketers utilize YouTube as a platform, they need to maintain regular content. Although this has gotten easier with the development of cameras, editing tools, and other technology, it still may be difficult to think of creative content in order to be constantly updating videos. The Turkish Airlines channel has been uploading frequently, and they have included humanitarian content. The channel contains positive videos of customers being upgraded, and inspirational stories from around the world.

YouTube is a great platform for marketers, as long as they utilize its potential. YouTube allows marketers to tell a story, to implement music, imagery, colors, and sound. This means that consumers will have a longer and more in-depth understanding of the company or product. In that case, YouTube might be best used to increase brand loyalty and to send a longer message to customers. Marketers should use the four standard ways to market on YouTube, especially the In-Stream method. Corporations should also consider using YouTube “celebrities” to sell their products and increase brand loyalty, as many of them have a strong following. PewDiePie has 32 million subscribers, and many people have watched his videos. Targeting individual channels with a large subscriber base also means that marketers can target their message to the content most related to their product. While some companies are well versed in the marketing power of YouTube, there are other companies that are struggling to define its role in their company. The majority of companies can find a use of YouTube, and YouTube will continue to be a powerful marketing platform.

Works Cited

“10 YouTube Stars Your Brand Should Partner With.” The Contently., 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“The 14 Best Conferences For Meeting Influencers.” NeoReach Influencer Marketing Platform. N.p., 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“5 Businesses With Brilliant YouTube Channels | Sprout Social.” Sprout Social. N.p., 30 Dec. 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“The Demographics of YouTube, in 5 Charts – Digiday.” Digiday. N.p., 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Everything You Need to Know about YouTube’s Competitors.” The Daily Dot. N.p., 06 Aug. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Forbes Names PewDiePie as Highest-Earning YouTuber.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“How Much Do Ads on YouTube Cost?” Penna Powers. Penna Powers, 06 Aug. 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

Jacobs, Harrison. “The 20 Most Popular YouTubers In The World.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Kobe vs. Messi: The Selfie Shootout.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Making the Most out of YouTube.” YouTube Help. Google, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Pass It On – COKE BOTTLE SONG!! – Ft. Kina, Max, Sam, Alex G, KHS, Diamond.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Philip DeFranco.” Facebook., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Using YouTube for Your Business.” Social Media Today., 22 July 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Using YouTube to Market Your Business.” Queensland Government. The State of Queensland, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“YouTube Competitors – Rivalfox.” YouTube Competitors – Rivalfox. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“YouTube Statistics.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

“Zoella.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.


19 thoughts on “YouTube: Corporate Marketing and YouTube “Celebrities”

  1. Olivia Sullivan March 15, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    This is a very good post. I agree that marketers should use YouTube more often because a lot of people of different ages are watching YouTube videos. It is also videos so it catches peoples attentions more because no one likes reading long posts anymore. If marketing were to use YouTube they should make short videos because nowadays people do not have long attention spans. Although I agree that marketers should use YouTube I also think that it has died down a lot so they need to take that into consideration.


  2. Aishwarya March 15, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    I do agree that YouTube is replacing the traditional cable television. But one of the main reasons for this transition is the absence of advertisements. People who can watch the same movie on TV prefer to watch on YouTube because of lack of advertisements which keep on disrupting the flow. I would recommend YouTube to be vigilant on the inflow of ads as it make this site to be neglected as of traditional forms of entertainment.


    • Julie Wusenich April 17, 2016 / 1:49 am

      I agree, YouTube is replacing cable due to the lack of ads. You can watch without any interruptions, thus saving time.


  3. Justin Flory March 22, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    YouTube is definitely a great opportunity for marketers. There are a lot of YouTubers with large followings that can help market products for a company. Also video is better in today’s digital world than print. People would much rather watch a 30 second ad than read a block of print.


    • Aishwarya Gunti March 23, 2016 / 1:56 pm

      I completely agree with Justin Flory on advantage of video on print though both of them are pictorial presentations.


  4. Sharon Masucci March 26, 2016 / 4:12 am

    I definitely think youtube is great place for advertising. I think alot more people watch youtube than watch regular tv. Also you can often times skip ads you are not interested which makes it more personal to you.


  5. reganka March 28, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    I agree with all of these comments. I think that YouTube is a platform that a wide variety of people use for varying reasons therefore it is a great place to advertise. Especially with short video clips, it is an effective way to visually persuade a consumer into buying your product if the ad is created strategically.


  6. Jing Wang March 28, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    I think Youtube is a good way to promote, but it is also a big challenge for the marketer to take off and lead the advertise. there are so many video clips posted every day, How to be remarkable and attractive? New media like Facebook. it is distinguishing with the traditional media, like newpaper. People have to read the newpaper advertisement even thought they don’t intereted in it. New media provide more choice and information to people. So Youtube provide a good platform to marketers but also made them face a big challenge.


  7. Samantha April 1, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    Youtube is a great way to get brand awareness. Youtube reaches everybody, many different markets. It also does not discriminate against certain ads. All ads pretty much fit within the YouTube world. It works out nicely too when the user is trying to watch a video and can’t right away because it has to watch a few seconds of an Ad first. So the marketers know that people are seeing their products and hopefully making some connections and inspiring them to buy or learn more.


  8. latikakarnani April 2, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    I believe marketing via youtubers videos create more impact than the standard ways to market on YouTube (In-Search, In-Slate, In-Display, and In-Stream )because it gives more targeted marketing plus people trust the you tubers….Many youtubers are part of their fans lives. They are trusted and looked upon as role models. But this has to be done in moderation otherwise people will stop trusting youtubers if they market products blatantly.

    I used to follow a youtuber who showed beauty and health videos. Lately she does nothing but promotes brands. And I have stopped seeing her videos. So I believe this has to be done in moderation.


  9. Meghan Gulbrandsen April 3, 2016 / 8:49 pm

    I agree that YouTube could be a good place for marketers to advertise because of all of the different age groups that use the site for various different reasons to view different videos. With this being said however, I feel as though people go on YouTube to just watch the video that they had intended and that is it. It is a very quick way to access a video, within seconds, buy the advertisements that pop up before the video comes on are irritating and I believe are more often than not skipped over when allowed to so the viewer can just watch the video that they intended and nothing else.


  10. Ronald Zampanti April 14, 2016 / 6:53 pm

    YouTube is a great platform for businesses to gain attention. YouTube celebrities can be used to promote products/brands. The large target audience of celebrities can have a large impact on companies ability to gain awareness/sales. People who are fans or followers these celebrities will have awareness of the brand/product and may purchase the product(s) from the brand because the YouTube celebrity promoted it. I believe the best ad placement to use on YouTube is the ad before the video begins. That is when consumers are paying most attention; they are waiting to watch their video. Many people do skip the ad but if it is something someone is interested in, they will let the ad finish. A large number of people will be aware of the ad if played before watching a video.


  11. Derek Lawton April 14, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    Youtube is a great platform for companies to market there products. I think there is definitely better options for marketers to advertise since people only go on it and watch videos. As far as Youtube celebrities I would not recommend relying on them to market my company. Many people love the Youtube celebrities but the demographic is mostly young kids.


  12. Andie-Jane Phinney April 15, 2016 / 5:00 pm

    Agreeing with what has been stated, I believe Youtube is a great platform for companies to market and promote their businesses/products. There are many people who use Youtube and so the content is possible to get millions of views. The content of the videos must be unique to gain others to see the video and want to recommend others to watch it. The comments and likes allow for others to communicate on the posts of the companies, as well as the companies can see the comments and help change or add to their businesses, by reading the comments. It does take time and perseverance to get your company promoted on Youtube, as it is not always successful, but it is a great way to market because of the popularity of digital marketing. The marketers must be careful to not make them too repetitive because they do not want to see something that looks like an ad on their youtube pages. They want something that is interesting to them, to allow for them to click on them. I think the how to’s that people themselves do, help promote companies without even working for them. I think if you can connect the how to’s and helpful videos of certain products, it will help gain sales for companies.


  13. Alicia April 22, 2016 / 6:05 pm

    I 100% agree that Youtube is an excellent way to market to people. Youtube typically attracts a younger crowd, but it appeals to people of all ages. Many people have become famous because of Youtube, so if a company can partner with a popular Youtube before they become a celebrity then it would benefit their business greatly. Marketing on Youtube is especially a good idea for retailers because they can send users their products to try and feature them on their personal channels, in a review or beauty haul. I personally turn to Youtube a lot when I want to learn more about a product before I decide to purchase it because I can always fine honest reviews.


  14. Colleen Flynn April 24, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    I agree with the blog post that Youtube has unbelievable potential for marketers. I did not realize that Google had bought Youtube just months later after it was created. This makes sense to me however, since the blog mentioned how you always seee Youtube videos pop up when you search for something on Google as well. I think Youtube is a great platform that can serve many different issues that companies want to address. This is what makes it so popular. Also, I like the idea that anyone can access Youtube and it is truly a platform of the people. Many people become famous and are “Youtube celebrities” based off this social media platform alone and make a living off it. It is amazing. The fact that Youtube can market and meet the needs of so many companies as well is definitely something to look into. Like anything, there are things to look out for and pros and cons of the platform, but it is one of the most well known websites and if I were a marketer, I would definitely look into for my company.


  15. Joseph Sanfilippo May 5, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    I personally think that Youtube celebrities will become some of the most famous people in the world. You see Youtubers such as Pewdiepie with close to 44 million subscribers, which is ridiculous to think about. The amount of people he can reach by making a video is crazy, and I have seen more companies taking advantage of his popularity. Recently Pewdiepie has made featured videos, meaning a company paid him to advertise one of their products. I think this is very smart of companies, as they can easily get their product out to millions of people.


  16. Hechuan Lou May 12, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    Youtube is a very good way for companies to do products promotion. It low cost and can easily target the customers. This blog introduced four ways: In-Search, In-Slate, In-Display, and In-Stream. I agree with them. But I think there is another point that also very important, that is content. The most attractive content they have the most influence they get. For example, there is a very interesting blender advertisement, it attracted more than 18,000,000 people to watch, and it got a very low cost but a successful advertisement.


  17. Xinran Zuo May 13, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    Youtube is one of the best ways in marketing in my opinions, It works really good and helpful for business. There are many youtubers that I know and have contact with are really appreciate this tool, it is very easy to plant your product or brand into any video, and the 5s ads before very video gives the big chance for marketing.


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