Consumers are spending more of their time with YouTube videos, which represents an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers with a more personal and engaging message.
Nielsen has already reported that when they include measuring YouTube's audience later this fall it will debut as the largest destination for video viewing among all cable networks and video websites - perhaps by a wide margin. YouTube has 1 billion unique monthly visitors globally and it continues to grow fast. In 2012 YouTube grew 55%. Television viewing, however, according to Nielsen, was down by almost 7% in the first quarter of 2014 among 18-24-year-old.
There is a new culture developing within the social ecosystem that has been called "Gen C." Gen C is the YouTube generation. Gen C describes people who care deeply about creation, curation, connection and community. It's not an age group; it's an attitude and mindset. While Gen C may not be every brand's target audience, the very notion that this is now labeled a generation underscores how large the movement has become.
Gen C is comprised of passionate brand advocates. According to an Ipsos survey two thirds agree "If there is a brand I love, I tend to tell everyone about it." Not only do they advocate, but they also act: 56% have taken action after watching ads for a product or service on YouTube.
This behavior is growing and it is fundamentally different from TV viewership. Ipsos surveyed the Gen C demographic and found that they spend the same or more amount of time watching online video as they do watching TV. A recent Variety survey of young people age 13-18 found that 6 of the top-10 most-appealing celebrities are YouTube stars.
When Frank N. Magid Associates asked 18 to 34-year olds which screen was primary, only 21% answered TV, compared to 40% of the general population. Given that YouTube is less than ten years old, it begs the question, what will YouTube and consumer behavior look like in five years, especially with more advanced smartphones?
YouTube channels are thriving because they have a deep personal relationship with their subscribers. This presents an opportunity to connect in unique and creative ways, both in the United States and globally. By partnering with "YouTube Influencers," a brand reaches new consumers around the world through a personal connection. Branded video campaigns uniquely combine scale and a personal connection for brands with their consumers.
It is important to grasp exactly how the YouTube ecosystem works. If you want a consumer to engage with your brand you have to find a way to leverage YouTube's recommendation system. This is the algorithm that puts videos onto viewers' personalized homepage and in their email inbox, based on their likes and subscriptions.
How does a brand do that? By collaborating with the Influencers that are already on viewers' homepages and in their email inbox. Your brand may produce the most fantastic content on YouTube but if it doesn't make it to a viewer's home page, it will be challenging to attract an audience because viewers simply do not know it exists.
Influencers have avid followings because they believe so passionately about their content that most produce videos for free. They built their following with nothing more than the authentic need to share through video. When those Influencers create content on behalf of a brand, there is a personal connection and a built-in incentive to be authentic: if they don’t, they are putting their years of audience relationship-building at risk.
Branded video content has seen engagement rates that, when compared to brands’ own efforts to post content on YouTube, improve as much as 1,000-fold. That is how powerful leveraging content creators to convey a brand's message to their audience can be. With these videos, your brand's voice is no longer a commercial. Now the brand is the content and conveyed in an authentic, trusted and reliable voice that lands on consumers’ homepage.
Leveraging Influencers to create content for a brand - especially video - was thought to be effective but not scalable. Contracting each individual channel and agreeing to terms and execution was too onerous. However, an automated platform like Reelio, that connect brands with the best content creators, now provides the best of all worlds - creativity and scalability without getting bogged down in the minutiae of individual contracts and creative direction.
Campaigns that leverage an Influencer's audience are now simple, predictable and guaranteed. There are no barriers to entry either. Production of the content is often effectively free and is guaranteed within a $.05 - $.10 Cost Per View range. Often the brand is paying for a guaranteed audience and getting the creativity and production for free.
Brands that focus on delivering content the way this new generation wants to consume it have an opportunity to connect with consumers and let the power of YouTube do what it does best - make a personal connection through video.
Pete Borum is the co-founder and CEO of Reelio, where he oversees the business, creative, and engineering teams that power some of YouTube's most effective branded content partnerships.