The creator advantage
Brands broadcast; creators connect. YouTube influencers already speak to (and are trusted by) your target audience, no matter what you're promoting.
What creators can bring to brands
Creators can help brands say the right thing, or be heard by the right audiences — especially hard-to-reach audiences who don’t consume traditional media. There is a huge opportunity for brands to become a part of the moments and stories that YouTube creators share with their viewers every day.
Some YouTube creators have spent years developing and sustaining deep relationships with their communities. Creators possess in-depth knowledge about YouTube Analytics, viewership patterns, and content strategy.
Subscribers to YouTube channels are deeply engaged audiences, who share more in common than demographics: they are passionate about the interests they share with creators. Like-minded and connected, they are more than merely viewers, or eyeballs; they are a tribe. Understanding the depth of these connections can give brands the ability to target people on more meaningful indices than age, gender, or location.
Internet users who would use a product recommend by a YouTube creator
Internet users who would use a product recommended by a TV/movie star
gray = young adults; red = teens
Variety study, 2015.
Finally, YouTube creators can move faster than traditional ad agencies or creative agencies. Creators are used to working quickly and cost-effectively, since many of them are one-stop-shops. They can be on-camera talent, writers, camerapersons, video editors, and project managers. They possess a large range of talent and capabilities, and brands can work closely with a single top creator for a large fee, or enlist a number of smaller creators at lower costs.
See it in action
Choose creators thoughtfullyIn the dystopian Hunger Games franchise, different regions are home to different industries, so the filmmakers partnered with fitting YouTube creators: a fashion channel brings District 8’s garment industry to life; a food channel highlights District 9’s agrarian economy.
Integrate with regular channel programmingRhett and Link’s four million subscribers expect the duo to produce humorous music videos, so incorporating a brand sponsor into a funny song proves to be a smart fit for both the creators’ audience and the product’s target audience.
Is your brand ready to work with creators?
Branded content campaigns can succeed when online video integrations are introduced early during the campaign building process, and not tacked on at the end. Before getting started, consider these questions:
- Is the goal broad reach, or something else? If you’re just looking for views and alignment, sometimes a straight-up media buy might be the better approach. Collaborations benefit from relationship building, and take time and resources to nurture. Consider your key performance indicators before engaging creators.
- Do you have budget for both production and supporting media buys? Collaborations often exist beyond the creator’s channel; brands normally engage a supporting media strategy to kick-start success, generate buzz, and reach incremental audiences beyond that one channel’s core audience.
- Is the brand comfortable letting a YouTube creator have full creative control? Working with a creator is different from working with an agency. Creators will want to produce content aligned with their previous videos, and will focus on pleasing their existing loyal audiences.
- Who’s going to own this: an internal team, or a creative or media agency? Someone needs to own, drive, and project manage the creative executions. There can be many moving parts working with many cross-functional divisions: do you have the resources?
- Is the creative integral to the brand’s creative strategy? Creative that’s added on at the end of a campaign may not be as successful with the rest of the campaign strategy. Collaborations are most effective when built into a content strategy from the very beginning.
- Will the brand and creator be transparent about the relationship? YouTube requires any paid product placement, endorsement, or other commercial relationship to be declared in the Video Manager when a video is uploaded to the site. In addition, many countries have local laws around disclosing compensation.