When YouTube launched back in 2005 – marketers had no idea what scale of success it would achieve. Now any Tom, Dick or Harry could record a video and upload it onto the platform without having to follow the regulations that normal broadcasters had to adhere to. Real life reviews offered credibility and assurance before somebody parted with their hard earned cash and alas vlogging was born!

Over a decade later, marketers have resentfully watched the runaway popularity of amateur content and jumped to all the wrong conclusions. The main original idea that brands could join the party, uploading their own content onto YouTube and expecting consumers to flock to it in their hordes with sales to follow.

Vlogging represents the ‘everyday-life’ heartland where most brands want to reside. If 17 year old vloggers could attract 5m viewers keen to learn how to do their makeup like the Jenners or make their own brownies, why shouldn’t brands, with their access to expertise and fancy graphic deign resources, get a share of that action?

Well, the pretty obvious answer to that is that vloggers [initially] aren’t trying to sell stuff.

Why doesn’t branded content work on YouTube? 

Some interesting figures I found from RealSEO particularly related to the Beauty sector:

  • Just 3% of views generated on YouTube against beauty-related content is for branded content.
  • There are 45,000 non-brand-affiliated YouTube channels specializing in beauty topics.
  • YouTube’s top beauty vloggers have 10x more videos on their channels than beauty brands.
  • Top beauty vloggers publish new YouTube content 7x more frequently than beauty brands.
  • Beauty brands continue to ignore YouTube’s popular long-format beauty tutorials and tentpole events, and overinvest in publishing less popular commercials.

For a brand to be successful on YouTube they need to consider how to indirectly influence their viewers rather than a vlogger style video talking about how great their product is. Red Bull has done an excellent job of this by focusing on its sponsorship of extreme sports without a salesy “drink Red Bull” pitch in sight. Likewise, Marvel provides exclusive interviews and behind the scenes footage from any upcoming movies and finally GoPro posts amazing footage that has been sent in to them from their customers or brand ambassadors.

Vloggers aren’t actually that effective in terms of sales

Another ‘solution’ to the vlogging phenomenon is to team up with one – paying them to say nice things about their brand.

Despite crippling new regulations from the ASA about branded content, Marketers also need to remember the audiences that vlogging reaches. Zoella’s fans – who she claims are aged 13-17, but are actually much younger due to YouTube’s minimum sign-up age being 13 – take her word as gospel. This is remarkable influence but in all seriousness, how much spending power does a 13> year old actually have?

Further evidence shows that despite having millions of subscribers, GWI claims that vloggers are “a minor force” when it comes to successful advertising.

Figures show that vloggers are the least effective source of product discovery, with just 7% of all internet users finding out about new  products and brands via vlogs.

Although YouTube is the third most visited website in the world, trumped only by Google and Facebook, eighteen other options were found to be a better channel of product discovery than vlogging. Trumped by stories on news websites, recommendations from real life friends and results from a search engine, reaching roughly 40% of internet users each.

GWI’s quarterly trends report surveys 42,000 internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 across 32 countries.

So there you have it – branded content just doesn’t work in the vlogsphere but creative inhouse content could help build your brand up as a passionate expert in your field. If a customer can confidently go to your channel to learn something without being hounded with sales messages then that should be the new “heart-land” you strive for.