Why YouTube Influencers, and Why Now?

08 Nov Why YouTube Influencers, and Why Now?


I recently answered a question on Quora from someone who was asking about why YouTube seems to have a boom in influencer marketing attention and why we’re not seeing the same kind of attention around blogs and podcasts. Below is an explanation of why YouTube is hot right now, based on my answer.

YouTube influencers are hot for several reasons and most of them are tied to Google’s advertising sales objectives. Interestingly enough, these objectives have little to do with influencers themselves or their direct sponsorship deals, but rather the advertising dollars that are being spent on the pre-roll ads before you see your video content.

If you have seen a video ad before you watch the video you intended to see, you will notice that the ads more often than not feel just like ads you see on TV. That’s because these ads are often using the same creative as the one being shown for that brand on TV and are often being purchased by the same media buying team.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of the team who’s tasked with getting the brand’s message in front of their target audience at scale, and look back just about 10 years we see that there’s really very few options to accomplish this goal. The #1 place to do this is spending money on TV ads on channels and shows that most closely align with the target demographic of the viewer. This meant that the players in this space ranging from the shows, to cable networks, to TV channels all had a stronghold on these audiences as there was essentially no other way to reach them with so much scale.

Enter YouTube and its rise to power and you’ll see that fewer people are paying attention to broadcast TV screens as more are tuned into content on the web. For media buyers, this opens up a whole new outlet of uses for their existing TV ad video creative. Instead of going to a TV show or network to run an ad, they can now take that creative and submit it to YouTube and run it to their defined target audience via the Google ads interface. This is a marketers dream come true – but only if a few key facts are true. Spending money that was set aside for mass market TV spends can work well on YouTube if the following is true:

* The content that the ads are seen around is clean


* YouTube has enough people that the scale is worth the amount of time and effort being put into building these ad campaigns out.

Obviously, this puts Google’s YouTube in a place of real power and they know it. The key for them is to get the word out that they’re able to offer buyers the key to check both of those boxes with their ads and do so even more efficiently than on tv. If they are able to prove to these marketers that their inventory is good, there’s a HUGE pay day in it for them since most of the money being spent on branding ads is funneling into TV spends.

Hence, Google began investing in marketing their YouTube assets to marketers. Their goal was to shift the perception of the YouTube brand to get it away from how it was perceived in 2005 (where people simply uploaded random videos to share) to where it is in 2017, as it now has studio quality content being uploaded every hour of every day. To get the word out, YouTube  began running physical ads in New York City and other major advertising metro areas to show off their quality influencer content and show that advertising with them is a safe bet.

This initiative drove a lot of attention to YouTube influencers – but all with the goal of courting very large advertisers with TV sized ad budgets.

If you think back the past 5 years and think about web video, it rose to prominence because of the massive adaptation of smartphones after the iPhone became a household product. Even people without iPhones specifically were impacted by this since Android stemmed from the excitement around the iPhone concept. Never before were smartphones so prominent – even with Blackberries and SideKicks having some market share. Pair this with the age of near ubiquitous broadband in USA homes and the golden age of unlimited data plans from cellular carriers and you’re ripe with a whole audience who can access high-resolution, high quality mobile video anytime from a device that they always carry.

The bottom line is this – the iron is hot and now is the time for your brand to be on YouTube. While large brands have massive pre-roll, for smaller brands, there’s always the opportunity to partner directly with the channel to have them discuss your product in one of their upcoming videos. This can be done with a smaller budget and has historically driven tremendous results.


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