YouTube is Changing: What That Means for Brands TODAY
A very wise man, William Bernard Ziff, Jr., once said, “We pay too much attention to events and not enough to trends.” I worked for him in the early 1990s as the director of corporate communications at Ziff-Davis and I’ve tried pay heed to his astute observation ever since. Perhaps, this explains why I’m always on the lookout for new trends that are flying just below the radar or are hidden in plain sight. And I think that I’ve just spotted some that are changing how to launch a video campaign. While I don’t have all the answers, I hope this column will provide you with new insights and help you successfully navigate the evolving world of online video.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the best way to launch a new video was to: (1) create content that was unique, compelling, and entertaining or informative; (2) write optimized titles, tags and descriptions for your content; and (3) share your content with relevant blogs, sites, and online communities. Today, that’s simply not enough to ensure that your new video gets more than 10,000 views.
How YouTube is Changing, and What That Means for Brands
The first hint that the best practices for launching videos were changing appeared on Feb. 4, 2014, when our friends at Pixability released “Beauty on YouTube: How YouTube is Radically Transforming the Beauty Industry and What That Means for Brands.” Using data extracted from Pixability’s proprietary YouTube software, the report analyzed the YouTube practices of 168 beauty brands and 45,000 YouTube beauty personalities and vloggers who create beauty content focused on makeup, skincare, hair care, and nails.
Among the study’s key findings were these:
- Beauty brands own a surprisingly small share of voice on YouTube – controlling only 3% of 1.9 billion beauty-related video views.
- YouTube vloggers, haul girls, and other beauty content creators control 97% of conversations around beauty and brands on YouTube.
- Beauty brands need to create a wider variety of YouTube content – and more of it.
- YouTube’s top beauty vloggers have 10x more videos on their channels than beauty brands and publish new content 7x as frequently.
- Beauty brands are underinvesting in YouTube’s popular long-format beauty tutorials and seasonal events that are being watched in real time, and are overinvesting in publishing less popular commercials.
- Beauty brands aren’t producing the right YouTube content.
- Most beauty brand channel videos fail to reach a large audience: 70% of videos earn less than 10,000 views.
- Beauty brands tend to publish YouTube videos less than 3 minutes in length, but as women turn to YouTube for follow-along tutorial content, they expect video lengths to be long enough to create a makeup look in real-time.
Beauty Brands Are Losing Out to User-Generated Content
Beauty brands show up only 2.5% of the time in YouTube search results for popular beauty keywords. Furthermore, beauty brands aren’t engaging with users on YouTube. The site’s top 25 beauty vloggers possess 115x more subscribers and receive 2,600 percent more comments on average than beauty brand channels.
Along with ReelSEO’s other videologists and columnists, I thought this report meant that the best practices for beauty brands on YouTube need to radically change. With 20/20 hindsight, I should have suspected that brands in other categories might need to shift their launch strategies, too.
YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands – Read and Learn
The second indication that the best practices for launching videos were changing was the debut of the YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands on March 31, 2014. If I didn’t notice right away that everyone’s launch strategies needed to shift, too, it was because the Playbook for Brands is similar to Version 4 of the YouTube Creator Playbook, which remains posted in a different location. So, I thought that maybe brands need tailored strategies just like creators in music, sports, education and other categories do.
But, in preparation for a recent client presentation, I took a second look at the Playbook for Brands.
For example, when it comes to optimizing your content, the Playbook for Brands advises:
- Write optimized titles, tags and descriptions for your content.
- Create high-quality, custom thumbnails for your videos that accurately represent the content and are consistent with your brand identity.
- Use annotations on your videos to increase viewership, engagement and subscribers.
- Create and manage playlists to organize your videos and provide an extended viewing experience.
- Create a coherent channel experience to build your audience and turn non-subscribed viewers into subscribed fans.
None of this advice will come as a surprise to regular readers of ReelSEO.
But, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. And there are more than a million creators in the YouTube Partner Program from over 30 countries around the world who probably know as much about video SEO as you do. So, it’s probably getting harder by the minute for you to rank very high for popular keywords or shorter phrases.
That’s why the Playbook for Brands also recommends that you “Use paid media to accelerate your audience-building efforts and promote discovery of your content.” It goes on to say:
Given the abundance of videos on the web, it’s risky to assume that your content will be organically discovered by a large audience. It is key to design a solid plan to promote your content and ensure it’s viewed by your target audience. Virality plays a key role in building your audience on YouTube, but unless you already have millions of subscribers, you’ll need to seed your content when it launches. Indeed, when they don’t have an existing subscriber base or engaged social following, many brands use paid advertising on YouTube to ignite sharing and accelerate audience building.
And the Playbook for Brands shared these new insights:
Over the last six months, we’ve seen over 6,000 campaigns generate at least one earned view as a result of every two paid views. And we know the YouTube audience isn’t shy about sharing brand content: Three in four YouTube users agree that ‘If there is a brand I love, I tend to tell everyone about it. Indeed hundreds of campaigns get more than two earned views per paid view.
Now, most YouTube Partners are trying to earn money from their YouTube videos. But YouTube now recommends that brands spend money “to seed your content when it launches.” This is a big change in the best practices for launching videos and significantly shifts everyone’s launch strategies. I apologize for failing to observe this sooner.
Blogger Outreach: Time to Stop This Tactic?
There’s also the curious incident of the dog that didn’t bark. I want to call your attention to something that’s missing from the Playbook for Brands. In Version 1 of the YouTube Creator Playbook, which was published in 2011, there was a section on Blog Outreach that said, “Share your content with relevant blogs, sites, and online communities.” This Blog Outreach section remained in Versions 2 and 3 of the Creator Playbook, which were published in 2012, and in Version 4, which was published in 2013. But, In the Playbook for Brands, which was published two months ago, this section does not appear. That is the curious incident.
The Blog Outreach section in Version 2, which was published in February 2012, and Version 3, which was published in November 2012, said, “Don’t limit your purview to YouTube. A lot of viewersfind content on YouTube through other sites on theInternet. There are tons of sites and blogs that are always looking for great content to write about or to feature. Make it easy for these people to promote yourvideos by reaching out to them with high quality, tailored content that is relevant to their audience.” By Version 4 of the Creator Playbook, which was published last year, that Blog Outreach language had been modified to read:
Don’t limit your purview to YouTube. A lot of viewers encounter videos on other sites, and websites and blogs are always looking for great content to feature. Make it easy for them! Reach out with your most brilliant videos.
And now the Playbook for Brands doesn’t include a Blog Outreach section at all. So, what happened? Well, some bloggers have stopped blogging. Others have started embedding videos from sources other than YouTube. Others are now asking for a share of ad revenue for the videos “distributed” on their blog. And the dwindling number of blogs that continue to embed YouTube videos are now dwarfed by the growing number of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that share YouTube videos. As the Playbook for Brands points out:
- 500 years of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook per day.
- 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter per minute.
So, times change, the market evolves, best practices have to be updated, and strategies need to shift. I’m okay with all that – although I wish that I’d realized that without having to go back for a second look.
New Trrends: Unruly Research & comScore Data
Three new trends surfaced last week – within days of each other. And you didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to know the game was afoot.
On Wednesday, May 21, our friends at Unruly announced that the percentage of shares a brand video attracts online in its first three days of launch has almost doubled in 12 months. Unruly’s Social Diffusion Curve, which measures the speed of social dissemination for the top 4,000 videos across the social Web, was first launched in April 2013 and found that 25 percent of the average online branded video’s shares occur in the first three days of its launch. Now, a year later, that number has almost doubled to 42 percent, making the first few days even more crucial for marketers hoping to make their ads the talk of the Web. The average number of shares on the day following launch, when the most shares usually happen, has also almost doubled from 10 percent to 18 percent over the last 12 months, while shares in the first week have also risen from 37 percent to 65 percent.
On Wednesday, May 21, comScore released the April 2014 U.S. online video rankings. The April 2014 YouTube partner data revealed that video music channel VEVO maintained the top position in the ranking with 35.8 million viewers. Fullscreen held onto the #2 spot with 25.6 million unique viewers, followed by ZEFR with 24.5 million, Maker Studios Inc. with 24.4 million and Warner Music with 23.6 million. By comparison, the April 2013 YouTube partner data revealed that video music channel VEVO maintained the top position in the ranking with 51.7 million viewers. Fullscreen held on to the #2 position with 37.4 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios Inc. with 33.8 million, Warner Music with 32.2 million and ZEFR with 28.1 million. In other words, the top five YouTube Partner Channels have all see their unique viewers drop.
I saw this trend in February, but most of the top YouTube Partner Channels saw their minutes per viewer go up year-over-year even though their total unique viewers were down. However, comScore chose April 2014 as the month to stop reporting minutes per viewer, so I can’t tell what happening now. If you have any theories, please share them in the comments area below.
The 2014 World Cup: Unparalleled Opportunity for Video Marketers
On Thursday, May 22, Google published an article by Jordan Rost, Brad Johnsmeyer, and Allison Mooney entitled, “2014 World Cup: What a Difference 4 Years Makes.” Among other things, it said that the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament is an unparalleled opportunity for marketers, but the playbook has changed. Over the past four years, technology has let fans engage with the games in new ways, and brands are following suit.
In 2010, about 18 percent of searches for games, players, and teams during the World Cup final were done on a mobile device. Compare that to 2014, when 63 percent of those searches during a popular UEFA Champions League match were done on mobile – an early indicator of what digital marketers are likely to see during this year’s World Cup.
Fans aren’t just searching more on mobile; Google is actually seeing a new pattern of behavior emerge. During the 2010 World Cup, searches for games, players, and teams dipped during games when fans were focused on the big screen. Most search activity happened at the end of games on a desktop, as you can see below in the chart for the Spain vs. Netherlands World Cup match.
Query Volume for 2010 World Cup Spain vs. Netherlands Match
SOURCE: Google Data, July 11, 2010, Indexed Search Query Volume, Worldwide
This has changed significantly. Looking at a UEFA game this year, you can not only see that more searches happened during the game (mostly when goals were scored), but their combined volume far surpasses the searches at the end of the 2010 World Cup match.
Query Volume for 2014 UEFA Munich vs. Madrid Match
SOURCE: Google Data, April 29, 2014, Indexed Search Query Volume, Worldwide
Today, watching games is a much more active experience. “Second screens” have become so common that it’s striking to see that it barely existed a mere four years ago. This is creating more moments for digital marketers to reach fans online, right when they’re most engaged.
Taken together, these trends are changing how to launch a video campaign. And although I don’t have all the answers, hopefully this column has given you some new insights that will help you successfully navigate the evolving world of online video.