Expert Advice From YouTube

  |  August 17, 2009   |  Comments

How do you successfully execute an online video campaign? YouTube offers six best practices.

Last month, 77 percent of Americans online watched a video. By now, we all know that the right video can make or break a campaign.

From a consumer perspective, online video is the fastest-growing medium in history, having gone from zero to mass market globally in three short years. Video attracts the attention of millions, and it's essential that brands and agencies handle it correctly.

Recently, my company hosted a digital marketing summit that explored opportunities and challenges in the digital space. The keynote presentation by Michael Rucker, product marketing manager at YouTube/Google, focused on the world of online video and how best to navigate this ever-growing medium.

As media consumption transitions from passive to active, Internet video combines the storytelling capacity of traditional television with the interactive participation of online social media. Today, forward-thinking brands have begun to embrace online video as a cost-effective medium for reaching and engaging with their target consumers.

But it's not as simple as just dumping your :30 TV spots online and hoping they take off. So how do you successfully execute an online video campaign? Rucker shared six straightforward best practices that serve as solid guidelines when navigating the online video landscape.

  • Create ads that work as content. Create fun or arresting videos that tell a story and seamlessly integrate your brand. Extreme Sheep LED Art for Samsung is a great example of how to do this right.

  • It's all about the dialogue. Be aware of and harness the social exchange process on YouTube, including comments, ratings, and the cycle of video responses, remixes, and mashups. Hip-hop artist Soulja Boy rose to fame largely because fans shared hundreds of video responses showing them doing his signature dance.

  • Ideas come from everywhere. Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer, TBWA Worldwide told "The New York Times" that having consumers create commercials "is part of this brave new world we live in." Crowdsourcing is a legitimate and effective tool, so stay open to it. This iPod ad created by an 18-year-old UK student is a fantastic piece of user-generated content that was then parlayed into a real Apple ad.

  • Find the talent and use it. YouTube has a well-established pantheon of video stars, with built-in audiences. Partner where appropriate and secure exposure for your video. Carl's Jr. successfully teamed up with popular YouTube personality iJustine, instantly accessing her over 150,000 subscribers.

  • Tools exist. Use them. Explore ways to best place and promote your video. "Featured videos" garner far more traffic in shorter time. And buying supporting media can help your content reach and grow its audience. YouTube is using its own channel to spread awareness of new tools via the "Adopt a Feature" program.

  • Metrics matter. YouTube offers sophisticated ways to measure video engagement. Insight allows you to easily track the ups and downs of viewership at each moment in your video, creating a better understanding of what's working and what isn't. Don't forget that original views and comments are only a small part of the metrics: copied and derived videos often add up to double the original view count, and repeat views are another factor. Don't miss out on these. In many ways, this viral activity is more important than the views of the original placements. The Nike Kobe Bryant hyper dunk video is a great example of this, where copied and derivative videos have nearly tripled the impressions.

Finally, have a thick skin, turn challenges into opportunities, and be prepared for anything when you're exploring the wild frontier of online video.


Shane Atchison

In 1998, Shane co-founded ZAAZ to advocate a different approach to Web services — one that respects and delivers on the power of the individual and the promise of Web technologies. As CEO, Shane leads the company's long-term strategic vision of working with leading financial service organizations, consumer brands, startups, non-profits, and community-based organizations, helping each realize the potential of the Internet and its meaningful impact on their business.

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