The Business Side of YouTube

As the digital landscape increasingly shifts to social media, businesses are wrestling with ways to use it most effectively. Similarly, social media outlets are rapidly moving from informal consumer venues to more commercialized arenas that serve the needs of business.

It’s no surprise that YouTube, a Google property, is following suit. YouTube’s statistics are absolutely staggering. More than 700 billion videos were watched on YouTube in 2010. There are more than 2 billion video views daily. YouTube mobile alone gets over 100 million views a day. Twenty-four hours of video are uploaded every minute. YouTube is localized in 25 countries across 38 languages.

YouTube has become a launching pad not only for budding entrepreneurs but for promotional programs from big brand marketers. Procter & Gamble used YouTube, for example, to create a sensation with its “Old Spice man” commercials, which garnered over 140 million video views. One of those videos, called “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” has generated over 28 million views to date. This success is one of the reasons P&G announced recently it is moving aggressively into social media marketing.

Look at the names of the brand marketers who were responsible for some of the most popular You Tube videos in 2010: Procter & Gamble, Nike, Toyota, and Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3. But it isn’t just big name companies who make a splash on YouTube. Ever heard of DietHealth? It’s the YouTube username for Diet.com’s video team, “which is solely produced by Sarah Dussault,” according to DietHealth. DietHealth uploads a new health or fitness video every week. DietHealth claims that “we have seen our online video revenue jump, and our traffic from YouTube to Diet.com has significantly increased. YouTube is the fourth leading website that drives traffic to Diet.com.”

One-person enterprises are having a field day. “People are creating careers on YouTube,” says Shira Lazar, a video blogger who launched the “Partners Project” last month, a weekly talk show that runs on YouTube.

The concept behind Partners Project is to feature individuals who use YouTube as a platform for drawing huge audiences. Take Lazar’s interview with twenty-three year old Joe Penna, for example. Penna claims he used to visit soup kitchens to eat, but “now I have my own studio,” he told Lazar. Penna has 1.6 million subscribers and 206 million views for his “MysteryGuitarMan” videos, according to the New York Times.

YouTube has signed up over 10,000 business partners, including major brand marketers who have their own channels. Many are producing full-length movies and shows, some exclusively for YouTube. A YouTube phenomenon is the fact that most every partner who owns intellectual property looks the other way when an ordinary user posts a video that may infringe on those IP rights, because the wide, informal distribution and publicity received outweighs the potential damages.

YouTube’s revenue in the last year has grown rapidly. Increasingly, ads are embedded in videos or accompany them. The number of advertisers using display ads on YouTube increased by a factor of ten last year. A slew of brand marketers run stand-alone campaigns on YouTube; others actively use YouTube to extend the reach of traditional television ad campaigns.

Of course, not everybody is happy with the ads, the paid videos, and what some claim to be censorship. In late 2009, for example, YouTube created a controversy by deleting video clips at the request of Fox News. This month, Internet activists attempted to organize a boycott of YouTube on January 10 to protest the site’s increasing commercialization. Supposedly, the protest was largely targeting paid videos provided by Vevo, a leading music video service.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult to debate the fact that YouTube is the Google of video. It may still be a consumer video playground, but YouTube is quickly becoming a serious business medium. If they haven’t already done so, marketers need to discover the selling power of YouTube and take advantage of it.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

5 Responses to The Business Side of YouTube

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  3. It is a powerfull buzz weapon.

  4. YouTube is a great medium for business. It's relatively easy to create and upload a video and it adds a "human" element to your company. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something that your audience will find valuable and interesting.

  5. Niket Dattani says:

    I agree Nick Stamoulis