Diversifying Beyond YouTube Is Not Enough to Boost Online Video Revenue

After years of dominating the online video market, YouTube is no longer the only place where online video is happening. From big video outfits like Maker Studios to independent YouTube stars like PewDiePie, video producers who got their start on YouTube are now looking beyond the platform for their next act.

But as smart a move as this is, there are plenty of potential pitfalls in its execution. Because as much as relying on YouTube as your sole revenue stream is a mistake, not fully taking advantage of the alternative distribution channels at your disposal is as big a mistake, if not a bigger one.

Consider why video providers are eyeing post-YouTube strategies: The most popular channels will continue to establish their brands independently of YouTube as the financial rewards of doing so become clearer. Consumers will continue to seek deeper engagement with these channels through unique experiences. And the engagement that brands need and experiences that fans want will come through apps on the devices that they love most (usually their phone or tablet).

So that’s the opportunity. Now for the pitfalls:

No App Strategy

Creating a YouTube-alternative video network online is all well and good, but the first off-YouTube step should be into mobile and tablet devices. Moving beyond YouTube to establish a syndication channel you control yourself should be the goal of any online video provider, from the largest multichannel network to the smallest niche programmer who wants to control their content, distribution strategy, and revenue stream.

According to YouTube, 40 percent of its views come from mobile and we are seeing mobile video CPMs 200 percent higher than online CPMs. Yet few of the top YouTube stars have a mobile app. In a sampling of 20 large independent YouTube stars, only six have official mobile apps. But it’s more than just being where viewers are – it’s about establishing a branded presence, through the app icon, on viewers’ devices.

An Incomplete App Strategy

The best app strategy is a complete app strategy. Simply pushing out an iPhone app is a nice step, but it’s not a complete step. There’s no reason to not create a cross-platform app strategy for Android devices, and even Windows Phones as well.

Android devices command nearly 60 percent of the smartphone app market, with iOS devices at 32.5 percent. Yet the most popular YouTuber of all, Maker Studio’s PewDiePie, finally released an app but limited it only to Apple devices. Given the multitude of video app development platforms out there that specialize in creating cross-platform apps, there’s no reason not to cast a wider net.

No Syndication Strategy

TV content creators make all their profits off syndication rights. The bills are paid with the ad revenue from the original airing of a series, but the profits come from syndication. Online video can be the same. YouTube might deliver the ad revenue to sustain your content creation activities, but syndication deals buy the new pair of shoes.

Connected TV

Speaking of TV, there are plenty of smart TV app networks that video creators could easily tap into with very little effort or investment. Roku, FireTV, Apple TV, and more are all seeing increased use among viewers, and as such increased attention among app developers. And a branded video app on a smart TV platform is just as prime a branding and mindshare space as a mobile app icon on a smartphone. Don’t miss out.

Lack of Web Strategy

People still use computers and still browse the Web. Websites can carry a lot of deep functionality in both video streaming and social engagement, let alone e-commerce opportunities like merchandise sales. And on a simpler note, all of the above assets can be listed and linked to from a central website, as well as offering expansions into fan clubs or other viewer-driven opportunities. Yet many creators still don’t have their own site outside of YouTube, and many who do have poorly designed and neglected sites that are worse than no site at all.

What’s more, syndication is important to get your content where your existing fans live, and where potential new fans live. Yes, they’re likely on YouTube, but maybe not your YouTube channel. Capturing their attention in other places and driving them back to either your YouTube channel or your mobile app is the smart move forward.

Remember, there’s value in controlling your own brand. There’s value in knowing more about your audience. On top of all of that, there are more ways to monetize your content when you control both – from in-app purchases to higher-value mobile video ads to merchandise sales and more.

Expanding beyond YouTube is a smart strategy to achieve this, but don’t just take stabs in the dark while doing so. Go mobile, go mobile fully, and be everywhere.

Related reading

CNN screenshot featuring a Simpson’s video parody of President Trump