Social media platforms are exerting huge influence on the evolutionary path of modern advertising and YouTube is a platform which promotes experimentation and innovation in marketing strategies. Marketers, keen to capture the attention of the engaged, diverse and large audience (There are 1billion active users each month), are developing new types of content and finding new ways to engage potential consumers. As a user of YouTube I am very interested in following the growth and evolution of this site and observing how marketers attempt to harness its popularity and make use of the creative freedom that the platform allows.
YouTube enables interested consumers to access a huge amount of extra material beyond traditional video TV ad campaigns. Searching a particular product on the site is likely to produce extended adverts, behind the scene footage from the company, interviews, independent product reviews, product demonstrations and many other videos. Now marketers are exploring new types of advertising such as product endorsement from influential YouTube content creators and creating branded content for their own YouTube channels.
Product endorsement has been a widely used for many years but brands are increasingly seeking endorsement from influential YouTube content creators rather than traditional ‘celebrities’. This has proven to be an effective way to capture the attention and custom of viewers who trust the endorsement of the ‘YouTuber’ whose videos they watch. This type of marketing is more subtle than traditional advertising and essentially allows word-of-mouth recommendation to be amplified on a massive scale. Brands can effectively target audiences as YouTube viewers self-select channels to watch based on what they are interested in. Typically the videos featuring a product do not have the feel of a traditional advert. Instead the ‘YouTuber’ incorporates the product into some sort of activity so that its inclusion in the video appears to be almost ‘natural’. Due to this the viewer does not feel as if they are being sold a product and is more likely to remain engaged with the video.
YouTube has recently changed its policy so that content creators must disclose when they are being sponsored to promote a product. This may reduce the subtlety of this type of advertising but it still proves to be an attractive advertisement channel for brands.
- In this video Lifestyle blogger Tanya Burr (3million subscribers) endorses Stork ‘Stork with Butter’. The video has been watched 750,00 times.
- In this video Lifestyle blogger Joe Sugg (6.3million subscribers) endorses Skype ‘Skype Qik video messaging app’. The video has been watched 2million times
In another innovative move some larger brands, such as Nike, are investing in the creation of branded content, which they publish on their own YouTube channels.
Nike recently launched its first original series ‘Margot and Lily’ consisting of 8 short videos released at a rate of one per week on the NikeWomen YouTube channel. This channel has a moderate number of subscribers (173,888) but impressively – and likely due to the promotional reach of Nike across all social media platforms – the first episode has been viewed nearly 20million times. This is clearly a marketing tool with huge potential reach!
The consumers who watch this series have chosen to take the time to watch material far longer than a traditional advert. The need to focus on only one product and deliver a succinct message is reduced and the product stories told by the series can evolve slowly and with a lot of depth.
The customer watching the series is aware of the promotional aim of the video but they are choosing to engage with the video because they find it entertaining. Brands can earn an audience for this type of advert as long as their content is good enough to keep people interested.
The original series may only be an option for massive brands like Nike who have an established audience and the budgets necessary to produce such content. However, the fact that brands such as Nike are willing to make this level of investment in YouTube as a platform is testament to the influence and marketing power of this social media site.