YouTube's Own Marketing Advice For Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials

YouTubes Own Marketing Advice For Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials

Online video is massive in its reach and scale with 6.9 billion videos viewed monthly in the U.S. in July and August of this year, and it's quickly growing into a major component of what people do online or how they consume information and entertainment. YouTube represents a lot of the growth of online video, with 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute and 3 billion daily views are registered on YouTube worldwide. While viewership on TV is stagnant if not slowly decreasing year over year, online video is seeing a 50% yearly increase in viewership.

YouTube Marketing Advice For Retailers

I spoke with Andy Stack, Product Manager at YouTube following his keynote, "Video Convergence is Here: Get Ready!", at the 2011 Liveclicker Video Summit, who says, online video is a valuable tool to drive brands, and is transforming the way consumers engage and conduct commerce. The use of online video in e-commerce is an opportunity you can't afford to miss or not fully understand.

His main advice to brands and retailers is to create content, not commercials. Stack says that it's important for retailers to develop a content strategy and not necessarily an advertising strategy, and sponsor content that matters to your community and spend money to promote content that's tested and works.

Brands Can't Sell Brands, People Sell Brands 

Stack says that the definition of content is very rich and changing, by definition. So, we shouldn't be held to old ideas of what content is. It could be curated content, mash-ups, expression, dialogue, and a variety of different types of content.

Lines are blurring between entertainment and advertising, and between consumers and marketers. Marketing platforms are rapidly evolving, and at the center of it all is online video. Brands and consumers are interacting in ways they never have before, and everyone is witnessing this through the power of sight, sound, and motion.

But underlining it all, he says, is that we're content creators by our own DNA.

We are all storytellers, and a content strategy helps ultimately for people to sell brands, not brands to sell brands.

If you're a marketer, then you'll probably recognize some of the following videos. Which of these were made by users? By marketers? Who started the conversation?

Online Video is Social

Stack says that aside from being huge in reach, online video is also what many other media are not – it's social in ways that move viewers to engage with your brand, connect with new ideas and even change the world. An interesting fact he shared was about the activism in Egypt earlier this year, first sparked on the Internet and spread throughout the country to rally the population, and spark a revolution that forever change people's lives there. He shared the following quote that helped sum up his point.

We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world…" -Activist in Cairo, Egypt, March 2011

YouTubes Own Marketing Advice For Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials Another example of how video is social is the 'it gets better' campaign, that was launched on YouTube in September 2010, by Dan Savage and aimed to help young people, especially those struggling with their identity and sexuality, deal with bullying. The video has had millions of views and within a few weeks spawned thousands of similar videos from ordinary kids to the President, celebrities and even the SF Giants reaching millions more with a strong and united message.

Video + Social = Earned Media

Stack also cites Lady Gaga as one of the most impressive genius marketers of our time who is powered by video. She regularly uses social video to cultivate and project her image and message. She launched exclusive video premiers on Vevo, starred in a Google Chrome Ad that went viral, staged a live feed from Best Buy on launch date as fans poured in to buy her album and live interviews allowed her to take questions from fans.

The results is that Lady Gaga is the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, and her music video for Born This Way has over 79 million views and in the first week of release her album sold 1.1M copies and brought down Amazon's servers.

Stack says that a characteristic of successful videos are retailers, brands or others who have a whole social media strategy around the launching of a YouTube video.

One of the other things I encourage is to engage the viewer in a conversation. Think of the video experience as a conversation. It doesn't start and stop with the video. There's great opportunity to have at the end of a video, various calls to action. Such that if somebody's hooked with the video, here's the next step that they can take to either engage with the brand, learn more information or perhaps discover other videos.

YouTubes Own Marketing Advice For Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials Another great example of a brand using video is Orabrush, which became a YouTube sensation. Who knew that oral hygiene products could be a cross-over hot with video, yet Orabrush used it's YouTube channel to sell over 1 million of the $5 tongue brushes, and major drugstores are now carrying it on their shelves. They were named one of the Top 10 Social Media campaigns of 2010.

Stack says, the power of social is something that retailers can harness to build your own brands too.  One of the important aspects of social is sharing, and 30% of people share videos they like, over 400 videos are shared on Twitter every minute, and the amount of YouTube videos watched on Facebook is equal to 150 years. As the world's largest focus group, online video lets you know if the creative or videos that you are running on TV and elsewhere are making an impact when people choose to consume your brand and spread the word. Retailers can use video like a sand box to experiment and use the variety of tools available from YouTube to find the right mix, then rinse and repeat.

5 Things Andy Stack has Learned About YouTube

Stack says there are 5 lessons he learned from his experience at YouTube to help create successful online video campaigns:

1. Rethink what "content" means

Kutiman & Pogo make work by micro-splicing together other content. They use films, sounds, chords, even syllables to make their music. The Khan Academy also has emerged as a new voice of authority http://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy.

2. Every video is a conversation (if you let it become one)

Electronic Arts produced this response to a user generated video on the Tiger Woods '08 game.

3. Every video is interactive

Interactive zombie movie adventure - Hell Pizza's uses annotations to encourage interaction.

4. Every video finds an audience.

Online Video is reaching NEW audiences every day. Blair Fowler  and her sister Elle post style and beauty related tutorials that has reached millions on YouTube and are at forefront of the "hauling"phenomenon.

5. You don't always have to make video, you can inspire others or curate

Tweak inspired fans to help them design their shoes and the result was the mythical shoe, with wings and a pocket for a guitar pick.

Mass Media is De-Massing

Are they watching less TV? Generally speaking, Stack says, no. People are watching more TV. They are just watching cable. If you stack networks by percentage reach, you'll see that 50% of viewership is on networks with a rating less than 1.0 (1% of households). And at 0.5% share (the point at which Nielsen stops measuring), you'll find 30% of viewership.

YouTubes Own Marketing Advice For Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials
YouTube offers great opportunities to online video publishers, says Stack:

It's a good time to be a content creator. Our system allows you to unlock the untapped value of networks you may not have previously considered. For example one brand seeking to target young adults found that Fuse network delivered a much more efficient cost per order than the networks they were traditionally targeting, now Fuse is a permanent part of the line up. This also means that the established media companies don't have the high upfront cost strangle hold on access anymore.

Read Jen Fahey's related post on Videoretailer.org at: http://bit.ly/qRdMmb

About Andy Stack - Product Manager, YouTube

YouTubes Own Marketing Advice For Retailers: Create Content, Not Commercials

Andy Stack is a product manager at YouTube focused on the financial performance and video analytics of YouTube content creators. Prior to YouTube/Google, Andy was a serial entrepreneur mixing media with metrics. Andy co-founded Mozes, the leader in mobile engagement around music, sports, entertainment and causes; Stata Labs, a personal media search company acquired by Yahoo!; and DealMaven, a quantitative analysis software company acquired by FactSet. He received his MBA from the Wharton School and BSE from Princeton University. Follow @andystack


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About the Author -
Larry Kless is President and Founder of Online Video Publishing [dot] com a new media resource firm for sharing strategies and best practices for online video publishers. Larry is a 20 year veteran of the enterprise video space and award-winning producer of corporate and educational videos. His background is in fine arts and he's a long-time member of Canyon Cinema, Inc. and Filmmakers' Coop. He writes often about streaming media, online video, startups, gadgets, social media, advertising and marketing, videoconferencing and collaboration. He was also named a 2009 Streaming Media All-Star by StreamingMedia.com an annual team of the most innovative, influential, and important players in the online video arena. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Dave

    I think Youtube is a great tool for brands to interact with their consumers however, it's not the norm, I think creative thinking is needed to make a video an overnight success. T-Mobile did a great job recently with their parking pranks, it has nothing to do with mobile phones, but it should does make their brand stick in your head when you think about the video. There have also been some other videos that goe viral by nature and have the product placement blended in perfectly! in fact, when you look at some comments on the videos you will notice that almost no one has recognise the fact it's a sponsored video even when alot of youtuber's are quite tech savy.

  • http://klessblog.blogspot.com/ Larry Kless

    Thanks, Dave. The T-mobile parking prank video campaign is a great example of connecting with people through humor, and it's been interesting to see brands expand beyond traditional product pitches and really engage fans with online video campaigns. Some of the examples Andy Stack shared show that online video advertising is an evolving space, and I think we'll see a lot more sponsored videos and branded entertainment that will help brands reach new audiences and consumers, whether it's on YouTube or their own websites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1044467614 Johan Sandstrom

    Now hear this..hear this..content and not commercials...
    www.youtube.com/whiterockreporter