Just three years back in 2011, 38% of American kids were using tablets and smartphones. So much for the good old days when your kids gathered to read Goosebumps by the fireplace, you might say. Well today 72% of children eight & under are glued to those screens and more than one-third of toddlers under the age of two use them — come again? Two!? You might joke about Fisher Price making mobiles out of iPads (as we did) but it’s not so far from the truth…


While those statistics can be hard to believe, they are a large part of the reason that 59% of kids below the age of ten already have active social media profiles and update them daily. So what are the effects of all of this on-the-go preteen socializing?

One result is that before they can even wear braces, today’s kids are creating their own online personas and curating the way that they want to be perceived. While they ride the bus to school and while they eat their lunches, they are marketing themselves. They are building their own brand identities and calling out those of their Facebook friends who they feel are ‘trying too hard’ to do the same. Having gained the ability from a young age to catch that difference between a hard sell and a friendly share, they are uniquely capable of seeing through the publicity stunts and advertisements that surround them daily. The consequences of this are becoming clear.

Most analysts have found that although traditional TV advertisements are still an integral part of the total marketing mix, marketers rely more every year on innovative marketing techniques in non-traditional mediums. Long gone are the days when a brand could simply drop a middle-aged lady with pearly-whites into a TV commercial, have her talk about how amazing the product is – and then abracadabra the year’s quotas were met.

Research suggests that purchasing decisions are increasingly being made online – especially during the consumption of online video. That’s no surprise when considering its reach – Nielsen for instance has found that YouTube reaches a larger audience than any cable network in history. Product placements in online video in particular have often outperformed traditional ads – they’ve been found to increase Brand Awareness by almost 30% more than traditional techniques, and even 63% of viewers have found it to be more influential in their purchasing decisions.

It’s not that the allure of good traditional advertising has just shriveled up and died, though. Television advertising is still an indispensable part of the big picture – a notion supported by the fact that to this day it continues to dominate the marketing mix of the world’s leading brands. But the winning bid seems to be a delicate balance that necessarily includes traditional techniques as well as brand integrations in online video platforms such as YouTube. A leading marketing journal estimated that brand integrations almost double the effectiveness of traditional ads from 30% to 57.5%; their performance is undeniable.

But why are product placements and brand integrations on YouTube gaining ever more traction in today’s purchasing decisions? It all lies in those youngsters, raised on social media and iPads – a generation of infant online socialites. To those kids, the traditional stars of TV and cinema are just thrown into the spotlight with a script, a costume, and an iPad for a hard sell. On the other hand, those same kids – just like good old South Park – place an unparalleled amount of trust in the budding YouTube stars that take their tablets’ center-screen. Those influencers built themselves – they filmed some honest and funny clips and kindly shared the final results. Thanks to that sentiment of trust, YouTube stars have gained an upper hand in brand integrations and are bringing them back like never before.

Indeed, YouTube’s influencers – more than the creators active on any other platform today – are perceived as engaging in a face-to-face conversation with their audience and are thus able to garner more trust than any other platform out there. When a YouTube influencer takes on a product placement during that conversation, fans are less likely to react negatively and more likely to take on a positive perception with that product. That trust, in short, is why YouTube and its stars are taking an ever-increasing share of the marketing mix of the world’s leading brands.

In Influencers We Trust; The Rise of YouTube Brand Integrations

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