How to make YouTubers more popular among the masses? Forget digital: it’s all about traditional forms of advertising. At least, that’s one conclusion from YouTube’s new drive to advertise some of its stars on TV, in print and on billboards around the US.
“If you look at our top creators, they have a lot of subscribers; it’s all categories like entertainment, health and beauty, food, cooking, and yet I think a lot of times advertisers and users don’t know about these channels,” YouTube’s recently-appointed CEO (and Google veteran) Susan Wojcicki tells AdAge.
For now, musicians aren’t benefitting: the first three stars to get the treatment are chef Rosanna Pansino and beauty channel owners Michelle Phan and Bethany Mota. AdAge suggests “many others” will be featured over the rest of this year, and given music’s popularity on YouTube, a few of them will surely be artists.
“We are making bets on proven talent,” says YouTube’s content boss Robert Kyncl. “Bethany, Michelle and Rosanna are all proven talents with huge amounts of followers, subscribers and a lot of watch time and regular release schedules.”
The piece also provides more details on how YouTube is trying to boost its advertising revenues with a new scheme called Google Preferred, targeted squarely at sucking brand budgets away from TV.
“It’s packaging its top 5% of content as determined algorithmically (of course) in 14 categories and offering that up front on a guaranteed basis to advertisers,” as the piece puts it. Wojcicki: “We are just so early on – that is a really important point — we are at the point where we are trying to get advertisers who have traditionally bought TV to understand the YouTube platform.”
Watch to see if YouTube’s moves increase or reduce tension with the multi-channel networks (MCNs) that have been building their businesses on its platform. In theory, massmarket advertising for stars and better ad revenues are good news for all concerned, but promotion and direct deals with brands are one of the raisons d’être of MCNs.
On top of YouTube’s moves last year to make it easier for YouTubers to break their contracts with these networks, YouTube’s latest efforts could be seen by some as more evidence of it getting in between MCNs and their biggest stars. Of course, believing this requires a certain level of suspicion of YouTube’s motivations, but that’s a state of mind that’s pretty familiar within the music industry.