When it comes to engaging consumers online, the bar has never been higher. A recent study revealed that 82% of Americans completely ignore most online advertising. And it makes sense — faced with endless amounts of media online, we’ve all developed an eye-glaze setting reserved for pre-roll, banner and social media ads. Simply put, they don’t work anymore.
Luckily, there’s an antidote to this interruptive, beat-you-over-the-head type of advertising — it just requires a very different approach. In order to cut through the noise, brands must create content — stuff that consumers actually care about and want to engage with — instead of inert, product-centric advertisements. It may seem like an easy shift, until you realize that it’s not the way the advertising industry has been oriented for the past 100 years.
So where do brands go to release content that is richer, deeper and more tailored to the customer? I’d like to introduce you to a small video site called YouTube.
With a billion unique users flocking to the site every month, YouTube has become the place where great content, regardless of its origin, can find a huge audience. It’s also the place where brands can make their mark as creators. When 8 million people tuned in to watch Felix Baumgartner’s insanely epic space jump, they did so because it was can’t-miss entertainment — the fact that it was a Red Bull ad was secondary. The same goes for First Kiss, a spot for clothing line Wren, which has now been viewed over 77 million times. (For a little perspective, the Game of Thrones premiere received 8.2 million viewers on its opening night.)
But not all brands are created equal on YouTube. Depressingly enough, the average brand channels are still a cluttered mess of re-purposed TV spots, corporate “infotainment” and half-baked viral video concepts. Shudder.
The following five companies are proof that the “content, not ads” mantra works. If a brand invests the time and energy in creating entertainment that’s focused around the customer, it has the opportunity to gain a massive fan base who will happily do the work of bringing its message out into the world.
It may feel like a leap today, but it’s a leap every brand will have to make if they want anyone to pay attention.
Any brand who wants a quick primer on how to act like a creator need look no further than GoPro’s pulsing YouTube channel, a true action sports network told through the lens of their device. Granted, it’s easier to market a DIY camera through video content than just about anything else, but GoPro leverages YouTube best practices to cement their place as a product by and for the people.
The channel page draws you in with an unmissable welcome video and then leads towards a wide variety of content – from the painfully adorable to the painfully painful, perfectly categorized and organized for your browsing pleasure.
Fiat’s YouTube channel is a lot like the car itself — a small but mighty upstart who goes about its business in the right way. While its 12,000 subscribers aren’t blowing anyone away quite yet, the numbers are steadily climbing and the content they’re releasing is both extremely compelling and perfectly “snackable” — from its documentary-driven Snapshot series to a LOL-worthy series for the release of the 500L.
Playstation is a perfect example of what happens when a brand commits to delivering consistent, high-quality output over a long period of time. The brand’s secret to success begins with a sleek and extremely well organized YouTube channel design, routing you to immediately the console you’re interested in. With 8 to 10 new videos uploaded every week, the Japanese gaming titan produces more volume than just about any brand channel out there because the appetite of its 2.4 million subscribers is all but boundless.
4. Home Depot
My grandma always told me, “If you can’t be funny, be useful.” Home Depot, while it’s not getting many belly laughs, has taken a different approach to engaging its audience with content they can use. Its 1,000+ tutorial videos, on everything from aerating your lawn to building a shed, have turned the channel into a hub of “how to” content. The views are real — they’ve grown their subscriber base to nearly 60,000 strong and some of the most popular DIY videos have topped 1 million views.
Over the past two years, beverage and snack giant Pepsi has delivered some of the most consistently entertaining branded content on YouTube. What’s more, the conglomerate has done it in an impressive variety of formats — from a 75-video sketch series called “Internet Taste Test” to one-off hits like “Test Drive with Jeff Gordon.”
The crown jewel of their recent output has been Uncle Drew, a masterful series with all the elements of great branded content: a simple, compelling concept, production that feels polished but not overdone, non-traditional use of celebrity talent. I could go on, but I’m already getting pretty emotional over here.
What’s your favorite brand on YouTube? Tell us on the comments.