So your marketing team is committed to investing a little more into YouTube; brand loyalty is your goal. You’ve been pumping some money into Adwords video placements, maybe you’ve even dipped into some custom content for your branded YouTube channel. But you’re not seeing the return – neither directly nor in brand loyalty or awareness.
To put it simply: it’s not that simple. Pumping big bucks into premium content that’s well-scripted and professionally produced doesn’t guarantee a higher level of success on its own.
YouTube is quite unique in that the people who draw the viewers and the money are not the huge production companies and streamlined professionals – they are what the “industry” might label as amateurs. Those YouTube creators don’t necessarily have expertise in script-writing, cinematography, or production, but they’ve proven their skills in a different light. In understanding their audiences and gaining their trust and loyalty, YouTube creators are unrivaled.
And that is exactly the reason that it’s a lot more difficult for brands to jump into the YouTube game than they often expect. Take Honda for example, who attracted a lot of attention from the likes of The Wall Street Journal with the announcement that they’d be putting big money and production capacity into a branded YouTube channel with corresponding events and stages. After its first 24 hours live the channel only garnered 50,000 views, and it was clear that, although the idea was widely perceived as ingenious, the right audience was just never going to show.
Even targeted advertising through Adwords can fail to attract a brand’s target audience. Yes, Adwords is an incredibly intelligent technology, but placements don’t always end up where they belong and there’s no amount of money that can assure they’ll achieve your goals of brand loyalty and awareness.
So is all the fuss about YouTube being a marketer’s dream a lie? Nope.
A brand’s success on YouTube relies on a content recipe that is critically different from the ones used in traditional media. The truth of it is that most brands don’t understand just how important it is to align themselves with the stars of YouTube – and it’s not just about leveraging stardom to reach more eyeballs, it’s about leveraging trust and expertise.
Let YouTube creators work with your brand, not for your brand.
When trying to tap into a creator’s audience through sponsorships and brand integrations, brands should understand that the audience returns to that channel because of their anticipation of a certain style of content. If your brand weighs down a creator’s freedom with demands for content that breaks with the creator’s native style of programming, you could drag down their channel and with it, your chances at brand loyalty.
Even requesting that a creator adhere to a certain quality of content can drag down the value of a brand integration by giving the audience a sense that the content is overly “polished” or ad-like. Ali Adab, VP of Content & Partnership at BBTV, said about product placements that “You don’t want to see that really high-glossy video that’s showing the iPhone 6 in the most amazing light — you want to know what it really looks like. So a lot of times when you’re watching videos on YouTube, [they are] very low-budget but people want that.”
Of course even on YouTube there’s a time and place for premium content – hence BBTVs partnership with FremantleMedia and its investments in scriptwriters and brand integration teams. Still, when taking advantage of the holy grail of YouTube stardom, faith must be placed in the creators’ decisions about what content & production style is right for their channel and their on-screen personality.
“Just trust us, realize we know what we’re doing”, said Gregory Brown of the hit YouTube channel ASAP Science at the Buffer Festival in Toronto. “Realize that we do just this one thing and we’re really good at it”. BBTV’s offering to brands and advertisers has hinged on this realization, and along with other MCNs, they help brands and advertise navigate a daunting digital space composed of an inventory of over one million channels.
An in-depth knowledge of our Partners’ original programming styles informs BBTV’s Branded Entertainment team of how that content can be creatively applied to certain brands without breaking the expectations of the channels’ viewers. That, coupled with proprietary technologies that provide a deeper understanding of each creator’s audience and the behaviour of a brand’s target demographics on YouTube, gives BBTV a unique advantage in connecting brands with creators.
Yes, your brand has the money, the product, the brand guidelines, and the intricate knowledge of your target demographic. But when it comes down to it, the creators are the faces that the audience trusts, and the experts in keeping their viewers engaged and faithful. If you’re tapping into this space and not willing to offer some creative freedom, you might be shooting your brand in the foot.