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Not Just Kooky Kids & Animals: How Brands Use YouTube To Their Advantage

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This post is written by staff blogger, Tarra Matthews.

Nothing will grab a consumer’s attention better than a video from a brand; a product demonstration, a celebrity endorsement or an innovative commercial all demonstrate this perfectly. The problem is, brands used to utilize large budgets on flashy commercials to enter the video market, and this (as we know) is no longer a relevant way to spend ad dollars. Modern technology such as DVRs and Internet streaming mean that people are recording or downloading their favourite shows, meaning commercials are not making nearly as big of an impact to their intended audience. So where can you, as a brand, post your videos/commercials for your products where people will actually consume them? With a quick internet (or common sense) search, the answer is pretty clear, YouTube.

Undeniable YouTube Statistics

The user and viewing statistics for YouTube are pretty staggering:

  • Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • YouTube is localized in 53 countries and across 61 languages
  • 25% of global YouTube views come from mobile devices
  • People watch one billion views a day on YouTube mobile
  • YouTube is available on 400 million devices



With such amazing global attention, learning how to harness the power of YouTube is undeniably valuable, and brands have attained desirable reach doing so.

Basically, if you are a brand on YouTube, you have 2 options to advertise; run ads in front of other channels’ content as part of the YouTube Partners program, or you could run your own channel. The YouTube Partners approach has pretty wide appeal, more than a million advertisers use Google ad platforms, the majority of which are small businesses. (x) The advantage of these ads is that YouTube only places your ads on the category of videos that it feels your potential customers will come from, there’s no point of putting an ad for make-up as the intro to Wii U console review, it just won’t garner the desired traffic. The one drawback to these ads is that 65% are skippable. So again, if someone doesn’t want to see your ad, they don’t have to watch it.


The other approach for brands on YouTube is to have their own channel where they can upload their own videos, have people leave comments about the brand, etc. This approach is another way a company can develop the brand identity and personality, creating a personal connection with their consumers. One brand that did this very well was Old Spice. Back in 2010, the Unilever brand had a major viral/commercial hit on their hands with the ‘Old Spice Guy;’ the seemingly perfect, gentlemanly specimen who was a Jack-of-all-trades and could do anything better than your man. Who WOULDN’T want to smell like this guy? As part of their marketing campaign, the Old Spice Twitter followers were invited to submit questions or comments and then the Old Spice Guy would film video responses to them. The initiative was beyond successful, probably due in part to the fact that Old Spice Guy responded to some pretty famous names. Below is the original ‘Questions’ video & the video response to ‘Everyone’



Looking at current YouTube data, Heineken is the clear winner in beer market as not only YouTube leader but overall social media leader in their industry.(x)

Heineken  The most digitally competent beer brand.   Wednesday  13th March 2013 from 4Hoteliers

So what makes them the best on YouTube? Let’s take a look at their channel. The branding of the channel is clear and it’s very user-friendly: props to their marketing department!


And the content itself is beyond creative. Their featured video at the moment is entitled “The Candidate,” and yes you’re right, it has nothing to do with beer.

This video completely focuses on the company culture; what it is like to work at the company. Customers who identify with a culture or personality of a firm aren’t just product loyal; they are brand loyal which is way more valuable. Clearly, the marketing and public relations firms & agencies at Heineken are rockstars.


If you want to see a company that knows how to market itself on YouTube, look no further than Red Bull. Besides being the major sponsor of some very popular sporting events, including Red Bull: Crashed Ice, Red Bull was the main sponsor of one of the most discussed stunts in recent history, Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space. That event was live streamed and the residual video from that jump can be used for a time to come in product videos as well as brand videos.

Red Bull has done their research when it comes to their targeted audience and brand positioning. Their sponsorship of extreme sports fits very well with the YouTube community as many BMX riders and skateboarders use technology (such as GoPro cameras) to capture their latest and greatest stunts and upload them to YouTube. When fellow extreme sports enthusiasts are searching and watching content on YouTube, Red Bull wants to be in there to capture a portion of those views, and boy have they ever. As of January 2013, the Red Bull YouTube channel had over 1.4 Million subscribers, (x) more than the next 2 top ‘Brand User Movers’ (Apple & Sony Music India SME) combined.


A recent FORBES article ranks Target as the top retailer on social media and a quick look at their YouTube page shows why. Target has never shied away from strong branding; their logo is a bright red bull’s eye for goodness sake!



What they’ve done well is consistence. Their images are crisp, clear and easily distinguishable as Target. Their stylish shopping bag full of celebrity endorsements, product lines and partnerships don’t hurt either. Clicking through their uploaded videos you see: The Fray, Coco Rocha, B.O.B., and Brad Goreski, amongst others. The most recent edition to the Target family of celebrities, Mr. Suit and Tie himself, Justin Timberlake; when the guy makes a comeback, he does it in a big way. Check out his spot below:

What makes Target such a force to be reckoned with on YouTube is a combination of elements. Their content isn’t only fun, full of catchy songs and bright images, it is also informative. Without even stepping into the store, I bet the average person could name off a list of products you can buy from the retailer thanks to their videos. Their videos are also filled with tips and tricks from top Hollywood stylists on how to look like a star while sticking to a budget; in today’s image obsessed society, doing those types of videos well will definitely put you ahead of the competition.


So what have we learned today?

1. Top successful brands should be using YouTube to share their video content with consumers, the facts and figures are too incredible to ignore.

2. A brand on YouTube needs to present their channel pages properly; make them user-friendly and make sure the colours and images presented represent the brand.

3. Content creation needs to be consistent and topical; if you’re a company that only posts a video every couple months, or on an inconsistent basis, you will be forgotten. Additionally, if you’re a brand posting videos than cannot relate back to your brand at all, what’s the point?

4. Be creative; such a clichéd phrase but still true. No one wants to watch a video of a spokesperson just standing there blabbing on about how useful or delicious your product is, they will click away faster than you can upload your next ‘masterpiece.’ You have a matter of seconds to capture your audience’s attention, don’t waste it.

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Use YouTube to develop your brand identity and personality. A video combines moving pictures, words and audio capabilities to engage a viewer more than a single sense medium such as print or radio. Written words can be misinterpreted, a well constructed video that shows what your brand is all about just can’t.

So there you have it, a list of tips and suggestions along with viable examples of brands that have taken over and used YouTube to their absolute advantage.

How will you utilize YouTube for your company?


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