With YouTube’s clutch on the world of digital media growing stronger by the year, it is becoming clear that brand presence on YouTube equates to a level of publicity unachievable by other platforms. It’s more than just YouTube’s reach though that drives leading brands to the online video giant — studies have shown that YouTube’s ability to drive brand awareness and product recall (in the positive sense, like people recalling Apple, rather than the negative, like Dell recalling its exploding batteries) is astronomical.
The experts have spoken and the viewers have voted — YouTube is King — but there are so many complex ways in which brands can add YouTube to their marketing mix that it can get pretty intimidating to actually draft out the plan. In future pieces we’ll discuss the finer points of each method at length, but for now a quick 101.
First let’s discuss the obvious; methods that demand production of original content.
Original programming in online video has at least one undeniable advantage over traditional media. Though you might think that the ‘comments’ section under a video exists mostly for trolls to heckle YouTube creators (see item 1), it’s perhaps more importantly a platform on which viewers can discuss a video and engage with the creator after having watched it. This is an advantage that television does not have, and a shortcoming that isn’t likely to be solved by Smart TVs anytime soon.
When a user clicks on a YouTube video they see the total engagements (views, comments, likes, dislikes) associated with that video. As a result, a YouTube user’s opinion is not only formed by the content of a video, but also by whether it is “trending” (don’t act like you’ve never jumped on that bandwagon).
Consider Old Spice for instance, a company whose revitalized success is almost entirely owed to their ingenious strategy on YouTube, in which they responded to social media comments through YouTube videos, and then responded to the comments on those videos with more videos. Inception? Yes. Genius? Well, enough so that those campaigns garnered hundreds of thousands of views and engagements per video and an undeniable cult following.
Channel management in general, and more specifically the production of engaging online video content, can be a laborious endeavor — which is why many brands come to professionals like BBTV to advise on and even produce their YouTube content for them. Another option to help catalyze that type of engagement is to run that content as paid advertising.
2. Advertising (Ad Buys)
It might not seem like such an innovative topic to discuss, but on YouTube, advertising campaigns have an ability to trend like no other.
YouTube ads are not just ads. They are content viewable at any time from a brand’s hub channel. At the end of the day, it means that when brands produce ad-content for YouTube, they have the potential to get millions of unsolicited (free) views on their campaigns (i.e. when viewers see the videos in their suggested feed rather than viewing the paid ad).
First a brand has to get that content to ‘trend’ though. Running it as a paid ad — which places it as one of those ads you see before a YouTube video — is a great way to increase the chances of your ad becoming a fad. Since views acquired through paid advertising count towards a video’s view-count, and since users can comment on an advertised video, paid advertising (especially in-Display rather than in-Stream, for those Adwords experts out there) is a great way to increase the chance that your videos will start to trend.
Take, for instance, this new breed of Old Spice commercial, which was run as an advertisement and garnered five to ten times the views and engagements of any other Old Spice YouTube video.
For brands that aim to target their ad content at a hyper-specific audience (rather than relying on the automated targeting provided by Adwords), advertising with an MCN network community is a huge leg-up. By working with a network community, brands can buy ad space on a category-focused group of YouTube channels – such as the gamer network TGN (featuring creators such as Drift0r and OMGitsfirefoxx) or the hip hop network Opposition (with producers like A Zae Production and sites like WorldStarHipHop). That kind of deal would secure pre-roll ads either throughout that entire network community or among key influencers within that network.
Oftentimes though, brands need to supplement their original branded content with content produced or curated by other creators. Say hello to your YouTube brand heroes.
Have your Brand Heroes Speak For You
There are a wealth of ways in which a brand can boost its brand awareness on YouTube without needing to produce its own original content. For those endeavors, working with those self-made influencers who sculpted the YouTube landscape is clutch.
3. Branded Entertainment
Branded Entertainment is a particularly strong marketing tactic when employed on YouTube. In a previous article I laid out how the nature of YouTube’s pool of creative geniuses make brand integrations and advertiser-funded programming on that platform a particularly effective means to boost brand awareness and recall.
Brand integrations (especially product placements) are the quintessential way in which brands can get involved with creators.
In the not-so-distant past, product placements had been pretty darn obvious. We all knew for instance that James Bond was raking in Aston Martin money and Wayne’s World had so many integrations that they didn’t have a choice but to make it satirically obvious.
But YouTube creators have changed that landscape by earning an unparalleled level of trust with their audiences. YouTube’s viewers often perceive the platform’s content creators as having built themselves and engaging them in a one-on-one conversation, making that audience more unsuspecting of brand integrations than the viewers of other platforms.
Advertiser-funded programming is a slight variation on the above, and essentially amounts to a sponsorship.
It often involves content that is custom-made for the purposes of selling the brand, and can live either within the creator’s video as a mention of sponsorship such as “made possible by” or “powered by”, or beside the actual content as a sponsorship banner.
A more unique and perhaps more effective way to engage in this type of deal is to offer a YouTube creator an experience related to your brand — such as a trip to meet celebrities, behind-the-scenes product tests, or a vacation — in exchange for a series of videos about their experiences with your brand.
4. Promotional Consideration — Product Reviews
A request for promotional consideration is undoubtedly cheaper than a brand integration, but also carries certain risks. When your brand sends a creator a product to sample and review, that gift does not come with any assurance that there will be a review. The creator is fully in their rights to keep the product without providing any sort of response. Even more precarious though is that in the past, some requests for promotional consideration have backfired ending in painfully unfavorable reviews.
5. Video Licensing
Video licensing in itself is by no means a novel marketing tactic. Licensing typically occurs when media companies seek out footage for a show (anything from Tosh.0 to CNN) or when an advertiser seeks out stock content for a TV advertisement. The following Pampers ad is a good example, which was compiled entirely from YouTube clips of babies’ “first times”.
A lesser-known use is the case in which a brand licenses a creator’s video that features their product (or otherwise supports it) in order to then brand the video and post that footage to their own YouTube channel hub, or run it as a YouTube ad. This video footage of a YouTube creator using his Subaru to rescue a Dodge police cruiser served perfectly for those purposes.
6. Content Creation Contests
A quick and dirty way to flood the online video world with branded content is to solicit content creation contests. This type of fan-generated content may not always be in line with your brand messaging, but will produce more earned media than most other tactics in a short timeframe. Rest assured, with a prize that’s enticing enough (in either dollars or experiences) brands can own YouTube with video contests.
7. Work with YouTubers off of YouTube
Recent surveys have uncovered the unimaginable — Hollywood stars are no longer the biggest stars! That’s right, today’s kids aren’t only loving YouTubers on YouTube, but storming them on the streets and in conventions. Thats why many brands have been working with YouTubers off of their beloved platform — contracting them to appear at branded venues or sponsoring them during public appearances.
In today’s economy, if a brand claims to want to be a 21st century market leader and doesn’t show up in a YouTube search, then it’s fairly safe to say that they’re missing the point. Its more than that though, brands must effectively and organically become part of the whole YouTube ecosystem in the same way that they aim to do so in our everyday lives. Content or no content, agency or no agency, there are countless ways in which brands can boost brand awareness with YouTube. Keep your ears to the ground for the full, in-depth scoop on how to boost your YouTube presence with each of these methods.