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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzuRvzsNpTU) 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHpaCq7xIQM).
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 Domain.com 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.
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