As brands search for more meaningful ways to connect with audiences on YouTube, the relationship between advertisers and content creators is becoming more complicated. Purchasing a 15 second ad before a popular video might buy a brand eyeballs, but having a brand integrated into the video with the endorsement of a YouTube celebrity, can buy increased credibility and loyalty from lucrative audiences.
However, YouTube personalities remain selective in brand integration deals, and now, with the advent of ‘fan funding’ on YouTube, there’s discussion they’ll step away altogether. So what’s the root of the problem?
Creators Want to Protect Creative Freedom and Viewership
Talent is focused on protecting creative freedom and viewership. This was affirmed most recently when the world’s most watched YouTuber, PewDiePie, publicly denounced doing brand deals at the expense of growing his channel. Hesitant to risk audience-base for an obvious product tie-in that doesn’t make sense, creators’ positions are founded in their appeal to viewers for whom they need to remain authentic, unfiltered, and trustworthy. Now that creators can look directly to loyal viewers for funding, will brand deals no longer be worth exploring? Simply put, no. Fan funding isn’t a real problem for brands. When it comes to reaching creators and leveraging a YouTuber’s online video presence, fan funding or not, there are three things brands need to consider.
YouTube Creators Are Open To All Opportunities
YouTube creators are modern day celebrities. Think about it. The site itself reaches more US adults in the 18-34 demographic than any cable network. Ask high school students who their favorite celebrities are and a YouTuber is almost always in the mix. The reach here is massive and continues to grow, and is perpetuated by the fact that the platform is free. Even casual followers tune in consistently. YouTube creators recognize the audience connection and study viewer behavior, allowing their community to help dictate content in order to sustain and grow. An endorsement or mention of a product from a popular YouTube creator can be extremely powerful for brands looking to tap into a specific audience.
YouTube creators are also entrepreneurs. They have built their channels from the ground-up and as opportunities to earn revenue have emerged, they’ve gotten savvier. The good news for brands is most creators subscribe to a 360-degree revenue mindset. Advertising and branded content all play part of a larger purpose for creators, so long as their brand isn’t damaged in the process. They’re looking to pull earnings from all kinds of opportunities, and fan funding is just one side of this equation.
Brands Need New Strategies That Make Sense For The Platform
As more monetization models become readily available, brands need to shift focus from cash incentives and disruptive promotions to discovering integration opportunities that organically make sense. Advertisers should identify creators who can provide meaningful commentary by looking for YouTube influencers who are passionate about a specific brand. Brands need to get a sense for a creator’s willingness to work with them and map out strategies that are mutually beneficial.
It’s important for brands to understand the YouTube creator’s style, and how the brand can communicate in the creator’s voice. Advertisers who are thoughtful and willing to place trust in the creator’s ability to make an integration work, will be more successful. Remember, YouTube creators are the ones with insight in this market, and by shifting the focus to a mutual partnership they’ll gain an essential sense of respect for the brand.
In Crafting An Offering, Brands Need to Look Beyond Funding
Even if creators shift funding strategies, brands still have a lot to offer. The majority of creators are young and although they have a good sense for YouTube, they are relatively inexperienced in other markets. They are eager to grow their entrepreneurial skillset and branch out to other platforms. Brand deals should focus on helping YouTube creators with their growth through resources, access, and industry knowledge they currently lack. Offering creators these opportunities, guidance in their journey, and growth in the longer-term will be more attractive than a one-time payout.
The evolution of YouTube is showing no signs of slowing down. Brands that take the time to understand the space and exercise a more strategic approach to creating long-term partnerships with creators that offer more than just monetary returns will benefit in the long run.