ÜberTube vs. Brandcast: Is YouTube a Different Beast?

On Tuesday morning of this week, YouTube co-sponsored the ÜberTube 2014 Brand Summit with Pixability, which attracted about 150 digital marketing executives to the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel in New York City. On Wednesday evening of this week, YouTube unveiled Google Preferred to an audience of more than 2,000 at Brandcast, its NewFronts event at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

If digital marketers missed the first event, then they risk acting like one of the characters in the classic John Godfrey Saxe poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.”

Here are a couple of stanzas of that 19th-century poem:

The First approached the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side,

At once began to bawl:

“God bless me!—but the Elephant Is very like a wall!”


The Second, feeling of the tusk,

Cried: “Ho!—what have we here

So very round and smooth and sharp?

To me ‘tis mighty clear

This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!”


The Third approached the animal,

And happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake: “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant

Is very like a snake!”

In other words, the big announcement of Google Preferred was made to people who believe that YouTube is very much like a wall – or, to be more precise, who believe that YouTube is like TV. And, YouTube is like TV – in some respects. YouTube gives advertisers reach like TV, especially in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic. In fact, YouTube reaches more of this demographic than any of the largest cable TV channels. Meanwhile, almost all cable TV channels saw a decline in viewership in the 18-to-49 age group in 2013. And one-third of Millennials don’t watch live TV anymore.

“Simply put, today’s 18-to-34-year-olds live differently. They’ve grown up in a connected, always -on world. And YouTube has become a primary source for entertainment, news, and lifestyle content because it’s on demand, interactive, and always available,” said Margo Georgiadis, vice president of sales, Americas at Google, speaking at Brandcast. 

“YouTube is now the number one place 18-to -34­-year-olds go to learn about a product or passion that interests them. They’re four times more interested in watching ads on YouTube than anywhere else. And because they’re choosing to learn about products on YouTube, it influences what cars, phones, and beauty products they buy 28 percent more strongly than TV,” she added.


So, you can see why YouTube wanted to reassure advertisers on Wednesday evening that their promotions would be reaching the right people. In fact, the TV-like side of YouTube unveiled a new service that guarantees audiences at its Brandcast event. The new offering, called Google Preferred, packages the top 5 percent of content on YouTube for 14 different areas such as beauty, fashion, comedy, food, and music. According to Robert Kyncl, head of content at Google, initial partners include Johnson & Johnson and Heineken NV, along with a first agency signing of DigitasLBI.

And that wasn’t the only news unveiled. Reminding the audience of its partnerships with ComScore and Nielsen in order to provide industry standard metrics to evaluate marketing campaigns, YouTube also revealed a new tool that gives advertisers the ability to measure interest in their brands based on users’ real-time searches.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with Google’s YouTube stepping up its efforts to woo more dollars away from traditional television advertising as users increasingly watch videos online. Preferred is part of an effort to show the company is willing to offer features that are familiar to traditional marketers.

“We’ve made it easy for you to buy against our top content and talent,” Susan Wojcicki, who was recently promoted to chief executive (CEO) of YouTube, said at the event. “We’re in the middle of a big revolution with video. It’s all changing and YouTube is playing a key role…. I’m excited because I believe in the power of video and the opportunity to change the way that people connect, learn, advertise, share, and interact. And I believe we’re just getting started.”

But, that doesn’t tell the whole story. YouTube is also the world’s second largest social medium, behind only Facebook. Videos by the top 25 consumer electronics brands were shared 134 million times last year, according to Pixability. On average, every consumer electronics video is shared 526 times and the top 25 consumer electronics videos average more than 370,000 shares each. In fact, 100 million people took some social action on YouTube last week.


But, YouTube is a more complex beast than that. As digital marketers know well, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, behind only Google. In fact, 48 percent of people conduct research on YouTube before they buy a tech product.


So, how can digital marketers be successful on YouTube? At the ÜberTube 2014 Brand Summit, Bettina Hein, the founder and CEO of Pixability, said, “YouTube is a different beast.” However, instead of using the classic blind men and the elephant analogy, she offered a new one inspired by a German children’s book Verrücktes Mix-Max-Puzzlebuch.

It lets children (and their parents) combine an elephant, a zebra, and a crocodile to create a new beast. And Hein, a mother of two, asked the digital marketing executives at ÜberTube, “So, how does your brand become successful on YouTube? By thinking like an elephant? Yes, YouTube can offer reach.”

She illustrated this by showing GoPro HERO3: Almost as Epic as the HERO3+” – which has almost 31 million views. She also showed the Dermablend Professional channel on YouTube, which has more than 30 million views and more than 17,000 subscribers.

Finally, she asked digital marketing executives if they could become successful “by thinking like a crocodile? Yes, YouTube can help you get found and be an immensely profitable sales channel.”

She illustrated this by showing YouTube search results for MinWax.

Hein concluded by saying, “The most successful brands combine all three.” She illustrated this by showing Puma’s channel on YouTube, which has 33 million views and almost 37,000 subscribers. And she showed the e.l.f. Cosmetics Eyes Lips Face channel on YouTube, which has more than 14 million views and 64,000 subscribers.


Hine said, “These brands create their own kind of animal.”

Based on her new analogy, digital marketers may want to do much more than examine Google Preferred. They may want to recognize that YouTube is a very different beast that offers additional opportunities – if you look for them.

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