With over 2.5 billion active monthly users, YouTube ranks as the second largest social network, just under Facebook’s 2.9 billion users.
As such, YouTube can be a very cost-effective place for brands to market their products and services to consumers using their own unique content in a format that's easy for viewers to consume and share. Companies can also utilize content from influencers and other brand advocates to showcase their culture, messaging, products and more.
This article will look at the ways businesses are using YouTube for marketing, as well as the challenges that come with the social video platform.
Why Should Brands Use YouTube Marketing?
People watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube each day, and 500 hours of content are uploaded every minute. Consumers use YouTube for entertainment, education, tutorials and product research.
Aside from the content that appears on a brand’s own YouTube channel, companies can work with influencers to provide reviews of products and services, and the brand’s customers or prospects can watch those review videos to determine whether or not they wish to make a purchase. Brands can also create video advertisements that play intermittently while users watch related videos.
According to Google, 70% of users have purchased a product after seeing it on YouTube. Video marketing is very popular, and a report from Wyzowl revealed that 86% of brands currently use video as a marketing tool.
Christian Brown, co-founder and CMO of Glewee, an influencer marketing network, spoke with CMSWire about the ways brands use YouTube for marketing.
“Some brands use YouTube to showcase their products and services, others to connect with customers and build relationships and others to drive traffic to their websites or blogs,” said Brown. “Whichever way a brand chooses to use YouTube, the important thing is that they're creating quality content that will engage viewers.”
Using Branded Videos on YouTube
To use branded videos on YouTube effectively, one must understand the concept of brands and branding. A brand is the way the outside world perceives a business, while branding is the act of creating and building upon a unique, distinctive brand.
Brand identity consists of a set of creative elements that go into the process of branding and includes a brand’s website, its social media presence and its logo. These elements tell customers about the brand’s values, purpose and message. In today’s market, YouTube makes great sense as a place to establish a brand identity.
Where traditional TV markets have somewhat dried up, YouTube continues to have a wide reach. Oscar Rondon, SVP of partnerships for MiQ, a global programmatic media partner, spoke with CMSWire about the overlap between TV advertising and YouTube advertising.
“We have examples across several verticals where we see that we can reach 1–2 million more people than TV alone,” said Rondon, “which means the message gets into homes of consumers who were not exposed by traditional media investments.”
Rondon explained that when a marketer wants to drive brand awareness and attract new prospects, TV and CTV formats are great avenues to find consumers — but that linear TV no longer reaches as many consumers as it once did.
“YouTube is therefore in a great position to capture some of those TV dollars,” he said, “given their apps on CTV and the ability to test different creatives for specific audiences.”
Using Influencer Videos on YouTube
Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that typically involves endorsements and product placement from influencers — that is, people with a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field.
It’s a great way to reach large numbers of customers and leads and provides those customers with an entertaining way of becoming aware of a product or service.
“Influencer marketing can provide an efficient and cost-effective way to reach target audiences and build brand awareness,” said Brown. “When done correctly, influencer marketing can be invaluable for driving sales and growing a business, especially with ecommerce brands.”
Influencers don’t have to have millions of followers to be useful. Randy of NotaRubicon Productions, pictured above, only has a bit over 100,000 followers. But because he covers a narrow market (GMRS, or General Mobile Radio Service, and ham radios), many radio brands send him radios to review on his YouTube channel.
Randy gets to keep the radio, creates fresh content for his viewers and the brands get a video promotion in the form of a review for simply the price of one radio.
There are thousands of YouTube content producers that cover a huge variety of genres, products and services, providing a plethora of options for brands that wish to obtain cost-effective video coverage that can reach thousands or even millions of customers and prospects.
Using Video Ads on YouTube
YouTube video ads are an excellent way to reach customers and leads. Brands can target viewers based on their Google search history and YouTube viewing behaviors. As such, marketers can target ads at those who have recently searched for a specific product or service.
If the content of a video ad is related to a product or service the user has been searching for on Google, the user is more likely to watch the entire ad or potentially click through to the brand’s website.
There are several different types of video ad formats to choose from. If you are a YouTube viewer yourself, you will already be familiar with many of them. They include:
- Skippable in-stream ads: Play before, during or after other videos. After 5 seconds, the user has an option to skip the ad.
- Non-skippable in-stream ads: Are 15 seconds long (or shorter) and play before, during or after other videos. Viewers do not have the option to skip the ad.
- In-feed video ads: Consist of a thumbnail image from a video with some text that will appear on YouTube search results and alongside related YouTube videos. The exact size and appearance of the ad may differ depending on where it appears. These ads always encourage people to click to watch the video. The video then plays on the YouTube watch page or channel homepage.
- Bumper ads: Are 6 seconds long (or shorter) and play before, during or after another video. Viewers don't have an option to skip the ad.
- Outstream ads: Begin playing with the sound off. Users can tap the ad to unmute the video.
- Masthead ads: A featured video in a Masthead ad autoplays without sound for up to 30 seconds at the top of the YouTube Home feed. These ads can appear in a widescreen format and include an information panel to the right that automatically uses assets from the brand’s channel. Users can click the mute icon if they want to hear sound from the video. On mobile devices, the featured video in these ads autoplays without the sound for the full duration of the video at the top of the YouTube app or m.youtube.com Home feed.
The Challenges of YouTube Marketing
Although YouTube can be an effective place to reach a wide audience, this does not apply to all brands.
"For example,” said Brown, “brands trying to sell a product or service that is easily demonstrated in a short video (like a new piece of technology) will find that YouTube is a highly effective way to reach current and prospective consumers.
Brands trying to sell a more complex or abstract product or service, however, might not find YouTube as effective, he added, citing an investment firm as an example.
Annette Sally, president of Blue Sky Agency, told CMSWire that just like any other platform for advertising and marketing, a brand needs to understand its target market and the most appropriate avenue for the demographic it hopes to reach.
“For instance,” she explained, “if a brand mostly serves geriatric clients, YouTube is likely not going to be the best tool for use. However, if it's gamers or Gen Z-aged consumers, then a brand will probably have more luck given that's where a large swath of their audience lives, plays and consumes content day to day."
Brands must also determine whether short-form content is the most appropriate for their target audience or if longer videos will hold the attention of viewers.
“A brand must understand what it's putting out into the world and how it will ultimately engage consumers,” said Sally. “Sometimes short-form content is the way to go, while in other cases a more descriptive treatment may be a better fit.” If brands don't understand what their target market is looking for, she added, then nothing will work across any channel.
Final Thoughts: Don’t Miss Out on YouTube’s Benefits
Many brands today are taking advantage of video marketing on YouTube and have found it to be an excellent avenue to entertain and educate current customers while potentially gaining new ones.
By using branded videos, influencer recommendations and reviews and YouTube ads, brands can get the largest reach from their advertising and marketing budget.