The rise of YouTube is in many ways the story of the modern digital age and the rise of social media. First conceived in 2005 by three ex-PayPal employees based in California, only a year later it was bought by Google for over $1.5 billion. Since then it has proved to be a major disruptor in marketing, TV and advertising, forcing mainstream media outlets like the BBC to build a strong content offering on their YouTube channels.
The challenge of YouTube
Yet this immense and seemingly unstoppable rise has not come without its challenges. Concerns have been repeatedly raised by advertisers and users alike about the algorithms used by YouTube to determine which adverts show on which videos. In late November of this year, The Drum reported that 2017 has been a difficult year for the brand, with scandals surrounding the placement of advertisements by major brands such as Adidas and Amazon alongside indecent videos of children once again coming to the fore. In response many brands were quick to pull their live campaigns from the site until further steps were taken to rectify the problem.
Business Insider reported that YouTube has since made progress in dealing with these problems, removing inappropriate content and encouraging brands to use its Google Preferred to advertise on the site, alongside issuing price hikes to ‘premiumify’ it’s top digital ad inventory.
Three ways to build a robust YouTube strategy
Naturally brands must always remain vigilant in taking ownership of their content and dictating the terms of when, where and how their campaigns are used on platforms like YouTube. One way to do so is to ensure that your strategy is robust, agile and able to work alongside platforms like YouTube when such challenges do arise. Here are three essential components of a robust strategy:
1. Be context aware
According to a whitepaper by Precise TV, a company that works to create context-aware ad technologies, argues that ‘advertisers have to be sure their content is appearing alongside relevant videos, in front of consumers who are interested and engaged.’ This is true not only to avoid such scandals as the one mentioned above, but also to ensure that viewers see your brand as a considerate, relevant participant in their viewing experience as opposed to being perceived as an ‘intrusive brand.’
As the rise in adblocking software indicates, users are becoming increasingly intolerant of pop up advertising, irrelevant content and blatant interruptions to their time online. By using technology such as that developed by Precise TV, marketers can optimise their strategies and streamline where their video marketing budget can be best spent.
For Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal, when it comes to original content creation on YouTube, collaboration with other brands, influencers and vloggers is essential if you are going to disseminate your brand message widely.
Agrawal sees collaboration as ‘a win-win for everyone involved’, explaining that ‘when you collaborate with someone else who has a similar audience as you, they get exposure to your audience and you get exposure to theirs.’ This is one way for marketers to move away from a dependency on paid-for advertising which they don’t always have direct control over when it comes to the final destination of their content. Agrawal believes this approach has the capacity to not only be more organic, but also to increase the credibility of your brand by working with already trusted figures within the YouTube community.
3. Empower viewers
Just as major brands voted with their feet when it came to YouTube’s need to provide better safety measures, viewers of video and ultimately consumers are not shy of turning to other platforms or brands if you are not giving them what they need and desire.
For The Next Web (TNW), a marketing and tech intelligence platform, ‘it’s no secret that users today like to feel empowered while making decisions.’ With 90% of consumers claiming that video plays a big role in their purchasing decisions, TNW argues that brands shouldn’t just focus on the product or service they are selling but rather focus on the value they are providing to consumers. By making the video experience ‘all about the viewers’ as opposed to overly centred on the brand, marketers can tap in to the high level demand for useful, relevant content.
Despite the challenges brought into the public eye by the most recent YouTube scandal, the platform has shown itself a willing and able partner to tackle the challenges that come with video content and the online sphere more broadly. While brands must remain vigilant in responding to these challenges, a robust video strategy can ensure that these are minimised and video marketing remains a central tenet of their marketing strategy.