The Facebook threat
Traditional TV players aren’t the only ones challenging Google for a cut of this ad spend. New media’s other juggernaut, Facebook, is also making a strong play at getting a piece of the time users spend watching videos with its autoplay feature.
Many brands and content marketers are uploading videos directly to their Facebook pages. In September alone, 800,000 small to medium sized businesses throughout the world posted three million videos to Facebook, more than double the figure recorded in 2013. And in a world where traffic equates to cash, keeping eyes on the newsfeed rather than sending them to YouTube is a goldmine.
But not everyone is convinced that Facebook is a threat to YouTube’s supremacy as the dominant player in the online video market. Speaking to US publication Digiday, George Hammer, DigitasLBi’s svp of content and social strategy, said that he foresees both platforms diverging, with Facebook providing superior targeting capabilities, while YouTube will continue offering cheaper cost-per-view options.
The YouTube riposte
By drawing attention to its YouTube stars, Google is emphasising the one point of difference that separates its video platform from both Facebook and traditional broadcasters. It’s a case of the company saying that it has content-creating superstars that not only produce engaging content, but also have hordes of fans that are engaged with what is being published.
In doing this, Google defends itself firstly against the allegation that YouTube viewers only want a quick fix while simultaneously enticing brands to associate their labels with young content-producers that have a direct link to the hard-to-reach millenial target market.
Across the ditch, Google recently launched Google Preferred, a system that allows agencies to purchase media space on the most popular media channels upfront in much the same way as television ad space has been purchased until now. And while this does allow advertisers access to premium ad space, it still doesn’t rectify the problem of how annoying pre-roll advertising often is—and this is something that OMD managing partner Andrew Reinholds would like to see addressed in the future.
“YouTube has reached such a point of both scale and influence that now requires agencies to think way beyond simply buying media time and space to more powerfully utilise the unique opportunities the platform offers advertisers,” says Reinholds. “It could be a very powerful channel, if agencies look to move beyond pre-rolls or banners … YouTube is a lean-in experience for most people, therefore specific strategies to fully leverage its unique environment will become more common.”
This is already materialising through platform-specific campaigns such as Burger King and Colenso BBDO’s anti pre-roll and Pedigree’s Sharity (see breakout box above), which asked people to share a video of cute dogs and raise money for them in the process, and also, more recently, through collaborations between YouTube stars and brands.
Locally, only Jamie Curry and Shannon Harris meet the one million-subscriber threshold to be defined as a YouTube star, and both have already worked with local and international brands on various projects.
“These content creators have huge audiences all over the world and brands can work with us to connect with them to create their own ongoing relationship in terms of how they’d like to continue working together,” says Keusgen. “Our role in that is simply facilitation and introduction. It’s up to the content creators to determine how they engage and with brands.”
Coca-Cola Australia recently commissioned Curry to work on the #colouryoursummer campaign by orchestrating an elaborate treasure hunt through Sydney and having her discover the different coloured Coke cans throughout the city. And what is most notable about this project is that there were no advertising or media agencies involved.
“It was all Jamie’s idea,” says Sarah Kelly, the public relations manager for the Australian arm of the drinks company. “We sat down in a room with Jamie and discussed different ideas. It was important for the message to be authentic within her channel.”
And this goes both ways, with Curry’s talent manager Anna Lawrence, an executive director at talent management agency Johnson & Laird, saying that she is very selective when it comes to choosing brands for the YouTube star to work with.
“[We only work with] brands that Jamie would legitimately engage with and will not damage her credibility,” says Lawrence. “Coca-Cola showed a huge amount of trust in Jamie throughout the process and allowed her a great deal of creative freedom … [and this] meant minimal edits were required for the video and Jamie’s authenticity was maintained.”