The new YouTube: a great new branding and engagement platform, or another (@$&ing community to manage?
How YouTube Became A Community originally published in MediaPost's Social Media Insider
Hey, community managers, the good news is that you have a new community to manage. Of course, that’s also the bad news.
YouTube has always been a funny site to include in social media plans. In the past, it hadn’t felt that social. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other explicitly social properties, it’s possible to use YouTube with absolutely no social interaction. For instance, if you’re interested in finding more coverage about the White House’s proposed extension of payroll tax cuts, you can search YouTube and find footage from the White House, Reuters, Fox News, and other established media outlets. Or perhaps you’re a normal human being and you just want to see a music video you heard about, or get a walk-through for a challenging Angry Birds level. In those cases, you’re still just there to find a video, watch it, and move on.
Sure, user-generated content has always been central to YouTube’s success, but even that is often used for broadcasting rather than interaction. And the first widely recognized breakout hit on YouTube, “Lazy Sunday,” was a “Saturday Night Live” sketch (it was shortly thereafter removed from YouTube; instead, you have to go to Hulu or NBC.com to watch it).
YouTube can rightfully counter that it’s tremendously social. Its stat roundup notes that 150 years of YouTube videos are watched daily on Facebook, and 100 million people take a social action on YouTube weekly. With an audience of 800 million unique users, it’s an increasingly social audience. Yet it never really felt like a place for community. It always felt like a way to distribute content -- a channel.
The latest updates to YouTube change everything. There are a couple reasons for this in particular:
1) The homepage is entirely designed around subscriptions, whether that’s to people, publishers, or brands. Your experience on YouTube now heavily depends on these content creators and curators, whose updates appear in a central column reminiscent of Facebook’s News Feed. In my center column as I write this, I see updates from my friends: Jeremiah Owyang shared a video on Google+, Kevin Nalts uploaded a new short, and Walt Ribeiro commented on a music video. These are mixed in with uploads from NASA, Old Spice, Coca-Cola, and National Geographic Channel.
2) As a content producer on YouTube, it’s no longer just about uploading videos. You can share videos with comments, or even post textual status updates. These are far more social and conversational features, rather than before when it was solely about broadcasting your own content. There are more ways to engage audiences.
Granted, this could just turn YouTube into a new form of an interactive program guide. But the more time I spend with the new YouTube, the more I’m sucked into it because of the social features. If Coca-Cola publishes a video and I like the brand, sure, I’ll want to get those updates; as they’re a client, I’m especially interested. If a friend shares a Coca-Cola video, though, then it will really stand out, and I’ll be far more likely to watch it.
Now this leads to a whole series of contorted pros and cons and benefits and challenges. As a consumer, I’m now more motivated to return to YouTube to see what other people are sharing, and possibly share more videos myself. But a lot of the videos are being shared on Facebook and Google+, so then maybe I don’t need to spend any additional time at youtube.com. Then again, there’s so much noise on other social networks that I’ll need to go to YouTube’s homepage to see what my friends are sharing. But do I really need to see more content? As an added hurdle, it’s harder to find and add friends on YouTube than it is on just about any other network.
I don’t know where I’ll net out as a user, but the fact that people can make all of these decisions about YouTube is a strong indicator that community managers need to pay attention. Brands that are already active on YouTube now have a chance to see which approaches attract more viewers, subscribers, and interactions. Should a brand upload more videos? What about sharing more of others’ videos? What about creating new playlists? Do textual updates generate any responses or make a difference in some way? It’s not clear, and it will likely vary based on the brand and how consumers relate to that brand. Yet those brands active on YouTube can start finding out what works. Brands that aren’t involved with YouTube may be more motivated to try it.
All of this means that community managers have more work to do. Given how much demand there is for their services right now, I’m not sure how many are thrilled by the news. They should relish knowing that all of the Web is readily migrating to their worldview, with every site a community just waiting to be managed.
Then put someone else’s ad prominently to the right of it. Make sure it flashes and sparkles a lot so it distracts you from the commercial that consumers are going there to watch.
Then, 8 seconds into the video, run an overlay covering the bottom quarter of the screen. Animate the hell out of the overlay. And run the overlay for a full 20 seconds – so it’s there during one-third of the time you’re watching the commercial.
If this is the best online video can bring, everyone might as well give up and let marketers’ budgets stay on television.
It’s not just YouTube. The Internet Movie Database runs pre-roll ads before movie trailers. You can wind up sitting through a 30-second ad before watching an ad for a movie.
This is how bad online advertising gets, and it’s from our biggest and supposedly best publishers out there. And for now, consumers let them get away with it.
People in online advertising complain that standards for online ads are set too high. Apparently we’re not setting them high enough.
The most valuable benefit of marketing videos on YouTube may not
be the views but what you learn about the viewers.
Last week, we
talked about YouTube's Sponsored Video ad platform and how it's a
complement to, but not replacement for, traditional search engine marketing. If
you do find value in driving video views, you'll be even more excited about
what YouTube tells you about those viewers. We'll review some examples of what
Insights tells you and how you can use it.
There are five categories of reports in Insights: Views,
Popularity, Demographics, Discovery, and Hot Spots. The first three are
straightforward, where you can find out: how many views your video has received
over time with breakouts by state, country, and continent; the relative
popularity of your video compared to others on YouTube; and age and gender
breakdowns for the video's viewers. The last two require a closer look.
This is the dashboard you'll love most as a search marketing
junkie. You can find out how and where people are watching the video, including
options such as YouTube search, an embedded player, Google search, external
links (Twitter is included here), related videos, and a "viral/other"
category that means it was passed along via email or IM.
With the search categories, you can click to see which terms
people are using. Want to build a keyword list to market your video through
Sponsored Video or AdWords? Start with the most effective terms from this list.
Maybe there are searches you'd expect to see but don't; consumers either aren't
using those terms, or your video isn't optimized for those queries.
Similarly, your video might be ranking for unexpected queries. This all
presents new optimization opportunities. And if you optimize well for YouTube's
search engine, those videos could potentially rank higher in Google, too.
The referring sources for embedded videos should also be
monitored. Would these sources want to embed more of your content? Are there
other ways to forge deeper relationships? Would related sites be interested?
With Hot Spots, you can find out which segments of a video are
capturing the most attention, provided the video has enough views. There's an
average attention line for your video; "cold" segments indicate
viewer drop-off or a lack of repeat viewing, while "hot" areas
indicate repeat viewing. I'll use an example of a video clip I posted
posed as a Weather.com anchor (see the write-up
from Christina Kerley for the background). There's an introductory segment
in the clip that's cold, though it gradually gains steam. Then, 12 seconds into
it, right as I start the broadcast, it heats up for the next 30 seconds.
What might I do if I'm a marketer? One idea is that with Sponsored
Video ads, I could draw attention to the hot part of the video. If it's a
certain cast member people are watching, play that up. If people keep rewinding
a racy segment, allude to that. While it's not always easy to predict what the
best parts will be ahead of time, usually it's easy to understand why the Hot
Spots are on fire.
Let's say you're trying to get the word out through digital word of
mouth -- reaching out to bloggers and other online influencers. These people
might not have the attention span to watch a two-minute clip. But if you tell
them to check out the best 20 seconds so they'll know why it's perfect for
their audience, you might strike a chord with those influencers -- and their
audiences. Such a strategy can build up links to improve that video's ranking
in natural search results, and sometimes they'll link to your homepage or other
properties, giving you even more Google juice.
That's a Wrap
I'd love to be able to combine these reports
even more. For instance, what if you could combine Demographics and Discovery
to learn the search terms by age, gender, and country? Might Hot Spots differ
for different types of users? All of this could continue to provide even more
fuel for video marketing.
Until then, there's enough here to keep busy with. The more views you can
attract for your videos, the better the information will be, so it's a virtuous
circle that's augmented when you apply the intelligence to improving your
Let’s agree right away that YouTube’s Sponsored Video isn’t the next Google Killer.
It’s not even the next Yahoo killer, even though comScore recently reported that YouTube is now the second largest search engine.
Fittingly, around the time that the comScore news broke, Google
publicly launched search-triggered Sponsored Video ads on YouTube. Does
this mean marketers need to consider YouTube over Yahoo and Microsoft?
It’s not going to quite work out that way. First, it’s helpful to understand how YouTube search ads work:
You need to promote a video that’s on YouTube. This is designed to drive video views, not site traffic.
You must have uploaded the video through your YouTube account. For my trial, I used this video I titled “Soufflecam,” a grainy, shaky shot of a waiter serving chocolate soufflé while at a dinner with New York Times columnist David Pogue.
You can target videos for words and phrases, and they’re
supposed to be relevant to the video, though I’ve found many ads
running on completely irrelevant terms. Presumably Google is focusing
on driving up inventory for now rather than fine-tuning relevance. For
my video, I used phrases like “chocolate soufflé” — surely a top query.
Ads run on a cost-per-click basis.
This is all very different from search advertising. With a typical
search engine marketing campaign, not only are direct response metrics
critical, but you get penalized for branding messaging. With sponsored
videos, you have some flexibility to include branding, and you’re
Taking a step back, the consumer mindset is very different on Google
and YouTube. On Google, a consumer might be looking to buy a new car.
On YouTube, a consumer might be looking for a cool car commercial.
Viewing that commercial might improve various branding metrics, but
there will be a large percentage of people who just want to watch the
commercial that everyone’s talking about.
Google and YouTube also differ in terms of the marketers they
attract. Google AdWords opened up to everyone. It got to the point
where marketers stopped asking if they should advertise on Google and instead asked how much
they could spend there while still reaping a return on ad spending.
Google’s not the most important platform for every marketer, but every
marketer needs to consider it, and just about everyone can get at least
some value out of it.
YouTube Sponsored Video is something else entirely. Yes, more
marketers are uploading videos to YouTube, but how many of those videos
will benefit from paid promotion? Some marketers can quantify it. Movie
studios want to get people to watch their trailers, and they understand
the value of it. Bands can use music videos to try to fill up a venue.
Marketers can also pay to promote their responses to major issues and
crises, such as when JetBlue founder and then CEO David Neeleman
published a video apology
for a string of lengthy delays. At the time, that segment might have
benefited from Sponsored Video. Today, that apology comes up first when
I searched for “JetBlue” on YouTube, so JetBlue might want to run an ad
to direct searchers to something a little more upbeat.
While more marketers will find ways to use Sponsored Video, it won’t
be for everyone. Not everyone’s in the brand-building business online,
and not everyone who is will have video assets that are good enough to
merit promotion on YouTube. Marketers who try to promote subpar content
may find themselves with negative reviews and ratings, so it’s
important to be selective.
On the flipside, video ratings are included in the Sponsored Video
ad, so great videos will attract even more viewers with their four- and
five-star ratings. I searched for James Bond on YouTube the Monday
after the latest movie premiere and an ad from Activision appeared
promoting a trailer
for the video game based on the movie. The game trailer is rated five
stars, and clicking the video shows it received 19 ratings, so
YouTube’s community validates Activision several times throughout the
experience. That’s unique to YouTube, and the advertiser benefits even
without a click (in some ways, the advertiser benefits more without
clicks since impressions are free).
The first step, as Activision learned, is uploading good content.
There’s no official Quality Score, but don’t get lulled into a false
sense of complacency. While Google won’t judge you here, your potential
Image via WikipediaHere's something a little outside of the ordinary, but a great use of online video. My chemist friend Andrew Marcus sent me this link to videos - 118 of counting - of elements from the periodic table. They include some of the factual stuff, and then some great experiments that make use of the medium. I really wish I had this in high school. It's the best adaptation of the elements I've seen since reading Primo Levi's The Periodic Table.
Google's finally starting to use speech recognition for video search. I still don't know why it hasn't just acquired Blinkx and owned the market. Compared to YouTube, Blinkx would be a bargain, and they could monetize it better.
Anyway, the rollout could hardly be more limited. It's only for political speeches, and worse yet, you have to add a Google Gadget to even use it. Find out more on the official Google blog. I've only tried it briefly and it works well enough, but it's hardly pioneering. For another good video search example, see what Reuters Labs is doing with Viewdle's face recognition technology, or check ClipBlast, VeoTag, or Pixsy.
The only challenge I had with the camera was figuring out where the two AA batteries went in this sleek, efficient device. Once that challenge was solved, I was able to start taking videos immediately, though the cab driver didn't seem to be a big fan of starting in my home movie so I refrained from recording the entire conversation he was having in French on his cellphone.
I shot a few more videos the next day walking to work, heading west on 23rd Street in Manhattan across the street from Madison Square Park, with the Empire State Building in the background, and heading by the Flatiron Building.
Uploading the videos was easy. The Flip comes with a built-in USB connector that includes basic video editing software. I tested out the videos (it's not the steadiest camerawork, and I didn't even always realize the camera was recording), and then went to make a video mix, all within Flip's software. I picked up an Arctic Monkeys song, "D is for Dangerous," from Amazon's MP3 store, selected the videos, and made the mix. It all took a couple minutes and played well in Windows Media Player.
Then it came time for Flickr. Adding a video was just as easy as adding photos. I'm not a huge fan of the 90-second, 150-megabyte limit on videos (for me, someone who isn't shooting in high-definition, it's the length that's the nuisance), but it was a cinch to do using their online uploader. Videos can also work with the downloadable uploader.
With this setup, if I'm at a conference and doing 1-minute interviews with speakers in the press room, I could probably do the entire production, including shooting, saving, and uploading, in five minutes. It would take me longer than that to boot up my computer or write the blog post. Heck, it'd practically take longer to Twitter it.
The Adobe Media Player debuted this week, and after learning a little more at the launch party and trying it out myself, I'll share a few thoughts on it. You can also find a screencast I created with the visuals (no voiceover); next time I'll resize it and embed it, but it's my first screencast, so I appreciate your patience.
* Update: I removed the comparison to Veoh and included a statement from them.
First, a few thoughts on the player:
* It's the second announcement lately with the AMP acronym. Yahoo also previewed its own AMP, the Advertising Management Platform. The two are not related, though if Adobe became a Yahoo partner, maybe AMP could become part of AMP. Or maybe Adobe will acquire Yahoo, or Yahoo will outsource its search ad delivery to Adobe. Anything can happen these days.
* Oh, the player... it's pretty good. Maybe it's revolutionary. The biggest problem is its a downloadable media player, and people aren't in a rush to download more stuff to their desktops. Then again, it may well provide people with an easier way to access their favorite content, so there is some sort of value proposition for the consumer.
* The player allows you to either stream or download your shows, and you can subscribe to them like a podcast.
* The content includes lots of premium goodies from MTV, HGTV, Food Network, and elsewhere, and then lots of random stuff from online video sources covering everything from men's style to international cartoons. The important thing: it does have The Hills.
* Advertising can take any form - overlays, pre-rolls, potentially pop-ups... you name it. They can serve just about anything. It's up to the content provider. If MTV likes 10 overlays per 20 minutes and HGTV likes 2 30-second spots (all hypothetical), that's what you'll get.
* The launch party was fantastic, held at Chop Suey on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel overlooking Times Square from the north side. They welcomed guests' companies on a massive Times Square billboard and snapped people's photos in front of it. Then they did live demos by controlling that billboard. I'll post the shots when I have them.
Here's how AMP (Adobe's) compares to other media players out there:
Hulu: Hulu's web-only. You can select favorite shows but you don't subscribe to the content. Also, Hulu's content deals aren't as far-ranging as AMP's right now, though they have more full seasons, plus movies.
iTunes: iTunes is download-only. While you can subscribe to video podcasts automatically, you have to pay for most of the premium content that you'll find on AMP. One iTunes advantage: you can port your videos on your iPod. iTunes also works with Apple TV.
RealPlayer: I know it's still around, but does anyone use this? I always resented that it tried making you add a million other things you didn't want and took forever to go through its installation.
Joost: The quality's great on Joost but the controls aren't, and then as for content, while they have a few name-brand shows, most of it's stuff like Extreme Jackalope Racing and Omaha Beach Party.
A note on Veoh, which was previously mentioned as a comparison: Veoh offers both a web-based service and a downloadable app (VeohTV), and
we have official partnerships with numerous major content providers, including
CBS, Viacom FEARNet, 60 Frames, NextNew Networks, Vuguru, National Lampoon, Ford
Noah Brier posted a link (not a full post) to a memorable Sesame Street video now on YouTube that shows how crayons are made. There's something about it that made it one of the most memorable clips I saw on TV as a kid.
I'll also share two thoughts that I noted on Noah's blog:
There were a few steps there done manually that have to be automated by now. Would we even see people in today's version?
I'm SO relieved they never did a similar segment on bacon.
David Berkowitz is Vice President of Emerging Media digital agency 360i. A frequent speaker and media pundit, he has been published hundreds of times in MediaPost, Ad Age, eMarketer, Mashable, and elsewhere. Get to know him in the links below the blog's header.