Q&A: The Power of YouTube

15 Apr 2015|Added Value

Fluffy cats, ice bucket challenges and first wedding dances; a provider of amusing entertainment and charming amateur footage. The first YouTube film was uploaded in April 2005, 10 years ago. In fact many of us can’t remember life without it. With over 19 million unique monthly visitors in the UK alone, it certainly has made an impact throughout its history.

We take a look at what the platform means for brands and what they can do to gain maximum exposure and engagement. As well as consider what YouTube should do to fight off the competition – WARC recently published that Facebook may be taking over – to still be just as alive in the next 10 years.


What Brands Need To Do

Jamie Rathbone says: YouTube is a stellar example of internet democracy at its best. 300 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube every minute. With such a torrent of information available to potential consumers, it’s important for brands to carefully consider what, and how, they post to maximise awareness and engagement.

With more than 1 billion users per month and free access – Google’s takeover hasn’t (yet) implemented the monetisation of the platform – brands have the ability to reach out to mass audiences that span worldwide in an instant. For this reason, it’s not difficult to see why so many are looking to capitalise on this exposure through YouTube ads.
The brands that choose this route need to create spectacular and show-stopping ads to ensure that viewers notoriously bereft of attention don’t click the ‘skip this ad’ pop-up. A good example of a visually arresting and hugely captivating campaign is Evian’s ‘Baby & Me’ which earned 100s of millions of views.

Another smart and impactful form of brand exposure is through sponsorship. Lending your name to a video series draws in a more concentrated demographic and gives your brand the kudos afforded by great content. This could be in the form of online awards, discussions & presentations, products or critical reviews. For instance, the partnership between DP Review, who provide expert reviews of photographic equipment through their YouTube channel and Sigma, a photographic equipment manufacturer, generates powerful exposure for Sigma to a more distilled and responsive audience.

In addition, brands could also consider offering something in the way of practical information to the user. ‘How-to’s’ and tutorials have a huge appeal on Youtube; from learning how to code HTML or how to best save for a pension, through to learning how to skin a fish fillet or mix the perfect Caipirinha.

YouTube gives brands a robust and dynamic platform to reach local markets on a global level. India, Germany, Russia, Japan and Mexico all form part of the top 10 countries who most visit YouTube, whilst age demographics span from Gen Z right through to Boomers. And with the rise of Gen Y utilising YouTube as a means to express themselves through vlogging, brands have an incredibly rich and diverse worldwide mass audience at the tips of their fingers, or rather, clicks of their mice.

What YouTube Need To Do

Adam Walters says: YouTube has an incredible and limitless media distribution network; woven into the seams of billions of websites and mobile devices across the world. In order to compete with its rivals, the temptation would be to start offering nothing less than full HD footage and have a tighter vetting system, improving content to mirror challenger Vimeo. However, in eradicating the freedom to post (almost) whatever footage you like YouTube would lose its egalitarian appeal and fundamentally its USP.

YouTube has the potential to continue to push the sector boundaries to become more attractive to brands, by rethinking its channels strategy – putting it front and centre of their organisation. Transforming the millions of single videos into groups of seamless streaming channels and stations, similar to music platform Spotify, could be a major turning point for them.

YouTube’s algorithm needs to be smarter and better integrated. Linking users to vloggers, personal interest channels and sectors, and pinpointing passions and interests will draw in more users – raising their current statistic of 50% year on year – and will give brands an even stronger platform to harness.

YouTube already holds the power of being global and virtual, transcending geographic and technical boarders – unlike traditional television broadcasters – which it could magnify even more. Exploring the pulsating sector of streaming networks and online channels, such as Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime, and securing major content whether that is landing the next big TV drama, showing a major sporting event or screening a movie premiere. Doing so would give them ‘Superbowl sized’ mammoth audiences, opening another motivation for brands to use the platform for advertising.

In addition, YouTube need to help brands harness their target audience and engagement if they want to maintain their reign of the video-sharing world. There is a clear correlation between the anonymity of users and the quality of comments. In recognition of this, YouTube have started to link comments with Google+ accounts in an attempt to prioritise more relevant and constructive comments. But the comments field is still a largely untapped area, which if transitioned to reflect similar annotations attained on social media platform LinkedIn, would be gold dust for brands and YouTube.

 YouTube hits

‘How to peel a boiled egg’ a simple 28 seconds of H2 footage has reached out to the masses and generated millions of hits.

Burberry has mastered the approach of creating bespoke content by continually posting unique videos of products & launches, catwalk events, behind the scenes footage and even their own music through YouTube.

Zoe ‘Zoella’ Sugg is a vlogging sensation with 4.8 Million YouTube followers. Brands such as Topshop and Lilets have partnered with her to promote their products.



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