The introduction of influencer marketing is owed to YouTube. 2009 in particular saw an influx of YouTube vloggers—think Zoella, Smosh, Tyler Oakley, Michelle Phan e.t.c—who would later go on to become the internet’s first influencers.
At this time, YouTube stars were paid to endorse products within their vlogs and regular channel videos, often for brands completely unrelated to their niche, and it worked.
Fast forward a decade and the state of influencer marketing on YouTube is vastly different. Brand collaborations are a lot more thought out and influencers are pitted against a tougher list of requirements when it comes to being selected for brand deals. Most importantly, it has grown into one of the most profitable marketing strategies available.
Naturally, each and every social media platform has since vied for the top spot as the number one influencer marketing platform, offering easier capabilities, from seamless results tracking to access to trending content formats like short-form video. However, the introduction and popularity of newer platforms has almost made influencer marketing on YouTube an afterthought, despite the platform still being able to offer viable and impactful marketing options.
Let’s explore them.
There are two main ways influencer marketing on YouTube is activated: through dedicated videos and integrated videos.
Dedicated videos refer to a video that is entirely dedicated to one brand. The creator will typically preface the video by making their audience aware of the promotion, or will include it in the title.
Integrated videos are, funnily enough, integrated within a larger video. Often smaller—and pre-filmed—these ad segments are edited anywhere into a creator’s regular channel video. They break up the video’s content and are usually edited in within the first half.
Both ad options are viable, but let’s take a look at their pros and cons to see which better suits your brand’s goals.
Dedicated videos are a great way to improve a brand’s discoverability. Because the video is dedicated to the brand—or its collection/product—every time a user searches for the brand/product, the video will be a top search answer.
Dedicated content is evergreen. It will always remain, and will offer the brand continuous views and engagement, even years after the initial posting.
Dedicated videos are prefaced with ad transparency. This means that whoever clicks on the video is willing to hear what the creator has to say, take on board their recommendations and is generally more engaged. Engaged viewers are often translated into conversions, from an increase in website traffic all the way to purchasing.
Tracking the performance of a dedicated video is much easier than trying to track the performance of a video segment. Marketers simply need to record the performance results of the entire YouTube video, and there you have it.
It is an entire video
Some users simply don’t want to watch an entire video that’s an ad. A lot of YouTube users come to the platform to seek entertainment and relaxation. For them, watching a 10 minute-long promotional video isn’t desirable.
Authenticity is the key to successful influencer marketing on YouTube. Where dedicated videos risk their authenticity is in the fact that audiences know the creator is being paid to publish this specific video onto their channel. If they hadn’t been endorsed, would it have made the cut?
Of course influencers and creators can still genuinely love and use the products they are promoting, but if not promoted organically, there will always be sceptics.
Let’s not beat around the bush, dedicated video ads are expensive. Influencers charge a lot more for video content than static content, due to the amount of time it takes to make. The price range of a dedicated video can vary massively depending on the size of influencer you are using, but typically they start around the £2K mark, and can go anywhere up to tens of thousands. Comparing this to a static Instagram post, which can be as low as a hundred, it makes sense that the price of a dedicated YouTube video can be off-putting to marketers.
Long approval times
Dedicated video ads have to go through a rigorous approval process before being published. Typically with dedicated videos, influencers will be asked to mention key selling points throughout the content. If not all are mentioned, or if the influencer goes off-piste to mention a competitor brand, or does something not entirely PR-friendly, the video will have to be refilmed, and then reapproved. Some brands require upwards of three rounds of approval, and then have to wait for sign off from the dreaded Legal team.
Due to integrated ads requiring a lot less time and effort to make, they are much cheaper for marketers using influencer marketing on YouTube, to run.
Embedding an ad into your usual content paves the way for passive watching. Many people who watch YouTube videos aren’t that engaged with what they’re watching, merely observing. This means that the integrated ad almost becomes undetectable, lessening the likelihood of it being skipped or the video clicked out of entirely.
An integrated ad is exactly that. Integrated. This means that it can be edited in anywhere—as long as it complies with the brand’s requirements of course—giving creators a lot more freedom to run brand deals in a way they see fit and is more authentic to them.
Hard to track metrics
Tracking the success of a single video segment is a lot harder than being able to track the success of a whole video and, because these segments are ads, it’s crucial that brands are able to determine its impact.
Not discoverable via search
Due to integrated ads being embedded among other content, they are undiscoverable via search. This limits its shelf-life, as after being viewed upon its publication, it will only ever be seen again if someone clicks on this particular video later on—which isn’t as likely, as fresh content always triumphs.
Impact is temporary
Piggybacking off of the previous point, integrated ads have a temporary impact. Being less discoverable later on down the line means that the ad is no longer impactful/serving a purpose once it has run its course.
YouTube Shorts on the other hand…
Influencer marketing on YouTube is not just reserved for main channel videos. YouTube Shorts are also a viable way for brands to make an impact.
YouTube Shorts videos see more than 30 billion views per day, so making use of their short-form video format is a great way for brands to reach wider audiences and encourage people to watch more main channel content.
Short-form video has dominated social media for quite some time now and while it’s a successful avenue for brands looking to conduct influencer marketing on YouTube, the future of long-form content looks promising.
As previously mentioned, a key driving force for successful influencer marketing campaigns is authenticity. Long-form content allows them to do just this, strengthening their authenticity and powering more effective influencer marketing. In addition, long-form content adapts well to YouTube as a search engine. After Google, YouTube is the second-largest search engine. Capitalising on half of the world’s internet users looking to video content for educational purposes, brands can leverage longer YouTube videos to market to already-engaged audiences.
Both dedicated videos and integrated videos are viable options for marketers looking to leverage influencer marketing on YouTube.
On a contextual basis, marketers can make their own minds up as to which better suits their business goals. Are they aiming for discoverable and more impactful content? Or more organic and engaging content? Whichever the avenue, successful and effective influencer marketing can be carried out, proving that influencer marketing on YouTube is not for the back burner, but instead stands proudly among the rest.
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