YouTube is magnificent. YouTube is amazing. YouTube is…. wait, let me quantify that.
YouTube Marketing and Analytics Framework for Success
According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network as of mid-2013. And rather than just being content you watch, it is content you watch, share and shape. How cool is that!
As of March 2013, one billion, (B!), people around the world watch seven billion (still B!) hours of YouTube every month. How crazy big is that!
One more thing to ponder… One hundred hours of video is uploaded into YouTube every single minute, as of May 2013. #omg
The only reason I know loads of new people and brands is because of my subscription to their channels on YouTube. From Hannah Hart to Emily Graslie.
On the other side of the spectrum, the only reason I think so well of Prudential Financial is because of their incredible YouTube content. From creating retirement security to helping businesses grow to the five challenges, just amazingly helpful content. [I would have never bumped into my Prudential commercial in any place other than YT because of how I consume media.] When I have a choice, I now buy Prudential. Because of YouTube.
So, lots of content combined with an engaged audience (contributing and participating in consumption), driving great branding and real world revenue. Surely every brand in the world is totally killing it on YouTube?
Nope. Not even close.
The YouTube problem: What is YouTube? Really?
Most brands have no idea what to do on YouTube. Some brands have channels with content that is rarely updated or it is just a digital repository of their TV commercials. Some use the display advertising options on YouTube, but are not sure what value those ads deliver (and how to think of them in context of web display ads or even TV). Some have experimented with virality (Pepsi Test Drive or Dove Beauty, etc.), but commitment to uniqueness is inconsistent. Some have even tried original content (a la GoPro), but originality without key integrations into the overall marketing strategy and media mix is hard to pull off/sustain.
Why is this? There are so many case studies of awesomeness out there, including those collected by the YouTube team!
I humbly believe this is because of one simple reason: Most companies don't know how to think about YouTube.
[I'm ignoring the many small companies that have done well on YouTube, building businesses and audiences from scratch. I'm also ignoring, exceptional, outliers such as AwesomenessTV or, the even more gigantic, PewDiePie.]
YouTube is three things all rolled into one. It is a social network (like Facebook). It is a pure advertising platform (like every site on the world). It is a content platform (unlike any other site in the world where you can build audiences you can own and engage them purely by the value of your content rather than some algorithm restricting reach – you suck, you lose and you don't suck, you win, that's YouTube!).
This trifecta is often confusing for Senior Leaders in many companies. They like simple things. I have TV for shouting, I have Facebook for Social, I have Vogue magazine because my wife reads it, I have Google for Search. What do do I need YouTube for? I don't have cat videos.
(I'll let that last one slide, but it irritates me so much when I hear it!)
Because they don't understand what YouTube really is, from a business/marketing/value perspective, most brands in the world don't really have a real YouTube strategy.
And I don't blame them.
YouTube defies categorization. It is many things to many people.
I also believe that every company in a different stage of their evolution when it comes to sales, marketing, and audiences. I don't think we appreciate that enough.
For example, if Slimfast is trying to reinvent it's brand and the core of its strategy is new bottles, new look, new TV and print ads strategy (all right and good). And three videos on YouTube. You have to pause and ponder that one.
And yes, finally, there is the problem of measurement. If YouTube is so many things all at one time, and so many brand don't understand what to do on it optimally, how the heck does one go about measuring success?
So two problems really. What to do (participation)? How to measure (success)? We'll end with measurement (see tweet above), let's go figure out the first challenge first.
What should a brand do on YouTube? What's advertising/marketing/participation on YouTube?
What's YouTube all about? Audiences, Relationships, and You(Tube).
At its purest, YouTube is about: Reaching massive global audiences. Building platforms. Engaging aforementioned audiences on aforementioned platforms with unique content to create relationships.
Reach. Build. Engage.
Three simple things.
Depending on the size of your company, your YouTube strategy might be executed slightly differently. For this part of the post let's assume that you are running a medium-large to a large-large sized company. We will touch on small companies before we end (I have a extra special strategy recommendation for them below).
The Reach stage is an easy on-ramp. You don't have to have any videos on YouTube. You don't have to worry about creating new assets. But most importantly, you don't have to worry about changing the minds of your executives at all about all the glory and uniqueness of YouTube.
They do TV? Newspapers? Billboards? Put the company name on the stadium? Well, they are ready for YouTube!
In the Reach stage we simply use YouTube as any other advertising platform.
#1. Reach one of the largest global audience on the planet proactively consuming content. Masthead ads are probably the simplest possible way to get your feet wet with YouTube. Big ad. On one of the most visited page on the internet. Select if you want global, local, control the size of your audience. Get your band out there, just like on TV/Print/Billboards, get the eyeballs, just like TV/Print/Billboards, create a great first impression or re-introduce yourself.
Be very careful to not over think it when you frame this step-one to your management team. Don't talk about attribution. Don't talk about how terrible TV is from a measurement perspective. Don't talk about fine grained targeting. Don't talk about… well all the things we digital people talk about and make this harder. Remember, it is the easy ramp.
Just do TV on YouTube! [See above example.]
#2. Once you master step one… graduate to the next level, aim for the large possible global audience that is relevant for your products/services/mission. YouTube has several ad options such as Standard Pre-Roll, TrueView, Search Display, etc. You can target these ads based on types of content, relevant search keywords, demographic and psychographic choices.
Again, for your management team you don't have to over think it. This is just like buying ads in Time, Fortune or Puppy Chow magazines simply based on who you believe reads those magazines. You do the same thing.
Do not tell them that the targeting is much better than all of those aforementioned options, and that you don't pay when you ad is printed in the magazine or when it is aired, you pay when it is *completely* seen. It just complicates the discussion.
#3. The next manifestation of our physical world awesomized on YouTube is sponsorships. You sponsor the latest concert tour by the lovely Miley Cyrus or a sticker on a Nascar series driver/car or a program on ESPN. Great. You can do exactly the same to a 50x more relevant audience. Coldplay was sponsored by Amex Unstaged. In the stadium they could get the brand in front of, say, 10,000 fans. On YouTube they can reach 100,000 fans at the same time as the concert!, and thousands upon thousands more after the live concert. Your brand impressions continue (eternal!) way after your physical world concert/race/thing is over. Everyone wins.
Likewise there are tons of channels or individual bits of content that you can sponsor, have long-term relationships with, just as you would on real-word media platforms. Why is your company not the corporate sponsor for Vsauce or Veritasium? Both have a gigantic audience of the smartest people in your preferred demographic!
Remember, don't over think it. Just sell sponsorships on YouTube exactly as you would any other place in the physical world. We are tying to gradually ramp up to complexity. Be patient. :)
Very simply put, with the Reach strategy we are using YouTube as an advertising platform. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Now that we have step-by-step mastered the simplest possible things to reach the largest audiences on the planet, it is time to take our game to the next level. Now that our management team is bought into one facet of YouTube, is time to dip our toe into a content strategy.
In the Build stage we use YouTube as an media platform.
#4. Owned Brand Channel.
Build your very first amazing owned brand channel. Create an outpost, (see: own vs. rent ), on YouTube that you control completely. Give it a beautiful skin. Have the colors and branding match your corporate identity.
In order to win your management's approval, and assuage your agency, underscore how much you control everything about this channel. the look, the feel, whether there are comments or not, do you want to have store-locators, coupon downloads, and a whole slew of other things you can have in there.
#5. Leveraging Existing Content.
You have a home you are proud of, time to do the simple things to take the next step. Normally this step is scary to many management teams because they get told you have to figure out how to beat Michelle Phan on day one or do better than Dollar Shave Club or the Mentos Coke. And because that is hard to do, they do nothing or wait a million years until they can have a shiny object.
Don't do that.
In this step, grab your existing content and get into your new pretty and functional brand channel. Get your latest TV ads in there. (Or get your historical TV ads in there like Tide, they are so awesome!) Take your existing help videos from your support site or trainings or the CD you bundle with your product, and put them on YouTube. Take your existing customer testimonials and put them on your brand channel. Let Tableau show you how.
All of it is your existing content, so very low cost to your company in this step. And all super positive, so low risk. If that was not enough, you can get it all done quickly. #hurray
#6. Extend TV, Start Relationships.
The very first time you'll create original content just for YouTube!
You are already producing content for TV (like Air New Zealand above), why not extend the conversation in the commercials with videos on YouTube. When you see the Evian ad on TV it ends with "More on YouTube." Simply because if your commercial was any good (or your offer or your product or service) people are going to Google it and look for it on YouTube. Why not extend the conversation there?
All you would need to do is keep the same crew and resources for a little bit more and maybe shoot out-takes or longer versions of the commercial or create a making-of with behind the scenes footage etc. Give people who are looking for your commercials more ways to engage with you .
For your leadership team, this is a small step into original content and into building relationships. At a low cost.
Oh and speaking of starting relationships… why not create great commercials, like Seventh Generation's Campaign for a Toxic Free Generation, and benefit from thousands of more views and the social amplification already built into YouTube?
PS: Did you notice you can even search for flights on Air New Zealand's YouTube channel?
Here's the really cool part: With every step that you rock with Build, your ability to do every element of Reach gets better and better, and the business value you derive from YouTube keeps increasing with every little progress!
Now it's time to kick things up a million notches when it comes to YouTube marketing. I mean real, amazing, beautiful, long-term, truly building deeper relationships, type of work.
In the Engage stage we are going to use YouTube as a true relationship building platform, a strategy that will allow us to convert YouTube from simply being about shout marketing to being about conversational marketing .
#7. YouTube Short-Form Audience Specific Content.
Small, initial efforts are ok.
The unique thing about these efforts is not only that they will be for YouTube primarily (though you can syndicate them all over the place), the differentiator will be that you'll create them with your specific YouTube audience in mind. For example, on other platforms your audience could be 18 yr old technology lovers. But if your YouTube audience is 90 yr old lovers of Shakira, create content for them.
Your efforts could include short form brand value stories. Method does this really well, for example the Clean Happy Anthem is such a fantastic way to express what their brand stands for.
You run magazine ads, you run tv ads, you print posters in supermarkets, your radio jingle promotions… what's your plan to control what your brand stands for on one of the world's largest proactively engaged audience platforms?
Another small effort… create videos about your company charity efforts, your community/social responsibility efforts. Share with the world the good work that your company is doing (that should be an easy sell to your management team). jetBlue shares its efforts building playgrounds, fund raising, and autism. PetSmart has videos about how it gives back. Liberty Mutual Insurance has videos about The Responsibility Project. If you are a B2B company, checkout Cisco's social efforts .
Why not tell the world about the good work you do?
#8. Invest in How-to Content, Existing Customer Joy.
Our effort above was about our brand and social efforts, now it is time to do something for our customers.
The simplest thing to do here is to create simply an incredible amount of how-to content, one of the highest cluster of queries on YouTube. Follow Liberty Mutual's lead and share life improvement tips (and make sure you use techniques #1, #2, #3 above to amplify these videos!). Find inspiration from Bank of America's efforts to upgrade the financial savvy of your customers. Google Glass provides another excellent example to follow with Glass Tips.
A different flavor of the how-to is content that allows your customers to extend what they do with your products and services, in a way to empower them to live their life better. A small example of it is Sennheiser and their videos on better audio experience in your video production. Another example of it is what CVS Pharmacy was doing with their Seen on the Doctors collection of videos, or their more recent Minute Clinic videos.
Speaking of existing customer joy, why not take them and make them into super heroes. Boeing does this very well with their Customer Stories.
There are so many amazing examples of companies deepening relationships with existing customers and creating new ones.
#9. Tap into YouTube Community / Media Platform.
This is when you get to do the most glorious things you can with YouTube.
Budget YouTube initiatives to get your YouTube (and other social channels!) to contribute content to your YouTube channel. Contests. Challenges. Soliciting love, assistance, ideas, and more. Have your brand control it, let your massive bureaucracy filter it (with a light touch if you can please). Let your viewers, customers, be their most authentic self, and through that be your most authentic self.
Why not take that to the next level and engage in a two-way conversation with your audience? My favorite example of this, a non-business example, is Conan's Video Responses. With this strategy you shift from simply buying time to earning time when it comes to attention!
Why not let your community, if you build a largish regularly engaged one (by doing 1 through 8 exceptionally well), help you provide real testimonials (and I'm only slightly implying that that is better than our normal polished ones), and why not partner with them to evangelize your content? The beauty brands are particularly amazing at partnering with the power house beauty community to create and in evangelism efforts.
Why not bring your entire digital strategy into YouTube? Across See-Think-Do outcomes. My favorite example is TRESemme.
Their channel has a wealth of unique content they want the brand to be associated with. For example, Fashion Week content. You want front row seats to Rebecca Minkoff and Vivienne Tam? They have it.
Additionally they have a ton of how-to content. Want a faux bob or side bun or a headband braid? They have them all. Great content that helps you improve your look, and perhaps how you feel (about yourself, and the brand!). [Check out the innovative "Web Cam Mirror" feature, why is everyone not using this!]
So far, great execution of the normal type things very good companies do on YouTube. What makes TRESemme amazing is what they do beyond this.
You can see the products used in the how-to videos right next to the video. You are welcome to add reviews about those products from right there. You can also choose to buy any of those products if you would like to. You simply click Buy Now, TRESemme will open a new panel where they will display a list of online retailers and if they have the product in stock right now AND the price at each retailer!!
You can engage with the fashion content (branding play), you can engage with the how-to content (relationship play), and you can engage with the products (ecommerce play). All on YouTube.
Remember through it all, the customer is in-charge. How amazing is that?
One last example of tapping into the YouTube community.
Perhaps the pinnacle of leveraging YouTube is to convert it into a place that becomes your media platform. It transforms you from just a seller of servers, software, shoes or soft-drinks to a media company. A true, magnificent example of earning time rather than buying time. I give you… Red Bull!
Red Bull does not pimp its delightful energy drink (love it!) in obvious ways. It's YouTube channel is the front end of Red Bull the media company. An incredible avalanche of content (immersed in their brand) that is exquisitely crafted for their target audience.
If a large part of your current audience, and almost all of it in the future, is migrating away from a television type experience, why not convert yourself from a creator of television commercials to a creator of content that you own, dictate and build an audience around it.
By doing it on platforms like YouTube these initiatives have social, engagement, amplification, built into them from scratch. Audiences grow, and grow, and grow.
But you have to have the courage. Think about it. AT&T's annual budget is $3 billion dollars. Three followed by nine zeros! Nine. All engaged in shouting at you from every TV, radio, bus stop, magazine, and newspaper. Relentlessly. Think of how much incredible, engaging content AT&T the media company could create if it thought like Red Bull (or others like Red Bull on YT). Even with a part of its three billion shouting budget. I don't think it will happen, way too many entrenched minds. But it is incredible to think about it, is it not?
Reach. Build. Engage. Three simple, step-by-step, strategies that help you start from scratch, catch up to the present, be the best today and be ready for whatever the future brings.
I've not talked about Khan Academy, I've not mentioned TED talks, I've not discussed a million other ways in which YouTube is an incredible platform. The way in which we the consumers think about it.
This post was not about that. It was to think selfishly as a business and see how a business can and should use YouTube.
Here's a summary of our nine-point reach, build and engage strategy…
If you are a large business, you should execute the strategy outlined above in the exact order outlined above. I recommend starting at step one, top left, and then going down and then up to build and then down and then up to engage and end at step nine, bottom right.
But not every business will be a large business. What if you are a small business?
You don't have to start with spending money on advertising. You can start with something you can easily start with, content.
Create your outpost, migrate your existing content and then jump to step eight and focus on how-to content that engages current customers and adds new audiences.
Once you get good at this, you can move to step two (Display) and start to get your content viewed.
A mistake small businesses make is that they simply create the content and wait for the hordes to show up. Sadly that does not happen on YouTube any more (remember, one hundred hours of content being uploaded every minute!). First create the content. Get your initial audience. Figure out which content is resonating with them. Now shift to spending money on advertising and get larger audiences.
You can follow a similar common-sense strategy if you are a medium-sized business. Here's a pictorial representation…
Now that you have a framework (you're welcome!) you can apply it to your unique business/management reality.
You are a large company. But your management is freaked out about the YouTube community. They are scared about real people talking to them. They have zero desire to have a two-way discussion.
But they are smart enough to know that ignoring YouTube's one billion monthly engaged audience is foolish.
So, what do you do? Here…
See what I did there? Management no scared any more. : )
Consider the YouTube marketing framework to be a inter-connected yet adaptable cluster of strategies. Take it to your unique situation, make it your own. Win.
The YouTube Measurement Framework.
On this blog I'm sure you did not think I would simply share a marketing framework with you and leave you hanging when it comes to accountability.
Your faith in this blog is well placed! I can never get too far away from measurement, even if I am the digital marketing evangelist.
Here are the key performance indicators you would use to measure the success of every single effort outlined in the nine step reach, build and engage marketing framework for YouTube…
For mastheads ads we are simply doing TV. So all we need to measure are Impressions. That is all you are getting with GRPs from your TV network. But let's do one better, why not, we are the cool digital people. But if the masthead ad contains a video, let's throw in Views and % Completed Views (every advertiser would kill to have this from TV!).
You can likely measure a hundred other things. Resist that temptation. Keep things simple. See top of this post for why.
For display ads, standard web analytics metrics apply: Click-through rate, % Assists (this is glorious!), and of course our absolute favorite metric, Economic Value (macro plus micro outcomes delivered on your digital presence – mobile, desktop).
For sponsorships, the number of Live Streams is nice, measuring the Retained Audience is awesome (the number of viewers you were able to retain for x period, you determine x upfront). If your sponsorship comes with ads, CTR (but nothing else, keep it simple!).
Once we hit the Build stage you know what to do, much more standard metrics. Let me introduce Engagement Score to you.
I'm not a fan of compound metrics. In this case my hypothesis is that that is irrelevant. Your management team is going to love it. So I've surrounded it with metrics that do matter so you'll get some insight, while you tantalize your management team with Engagement Score. :)
Engagement Score is computed using Watch Time (a function of total views and percentage the video was viewed completely) and Interactions (a composite of likes, favorites and comments). If you have an account manager for your Google Account, you can ask them to share this number for your videos and judge success. Because I don't want to start a compound metric'ing madness, I'm refraining from sharing the formula.
The other metrics you know, Amplification, Applause and Conversation Rate are my best social media metrics. Use them to ensure you are creating content in Build that is delivering value.
And now you know what all the metrics are in the Engage stage. Except perhaps Unaided Brand Recall, checkout that link.
YouTube presents an incredible opportunity to reach an incredibly valuable audience, to build a true owned platform for our company, which we can use to create the type of engagement that shifts our company's media strategy from simply being about buying time to earning time.
It is not without risk. A massive part of that risk is not knowing what you are doing, which is fixed above, not knowing which order to execute your strategy, also fixed above, and finally not knowing how to measure the success of every single step, clearly outlined above.
I wish you all the very best.
As always, it is your turn now.
What is your company's current YouTube strategy? What are the reasons they are not all in? If your company, or client, is not in stage nine, what stage are they in? If they are in stage nine, which stage was the hardest to overcome? What are the challenges you've faced in measuring success of your efforts on YouTube? Finally, how can I resist this, would you please share other examples of companies doing any of the above stages really well?
I look forward to your comments. Thank you.