The seemingly overnight rise of celebrity video bloggers has created new marketing opportunities, with a new window to reach young consumers. But while they have large audiences, are they influencing consumers’ purchasing behaviours?
Video bloggers have a huge reach. The most successful, video game vlogger PewDew-Pie, boasts 233.5m sub-scribers, while fashion vlogger Zoella has 7.6m subscribers. However, there are questions over how many people are engaging with them, and how much influence vloggers have over consumers’ purchasing decisions.
A study by GlobalWebIndex suggested that only 7% of internet users say they find out about new products, services or brands via vlogs. The figure rises to just 12% among those who say they have watched one with in the last month.
GlobalWebIndex head of trends Jason Mander says that vloggers are “valued more for their stories, tips and experiences than as a source of brand promotion.”
But for brands looking to target the 16-24 demographic, video blogs are a good way of reaching these consumers during the product discovery phase. 16-24 year olds are four times as likely as 55-64s to say they discover new products via vlogs. There is, however, a significant difference between 16–24s and 25–34s. Equal numbers in both age brackets say that they are watching vlogs, but 11% of 16-24s are likely to cite vlogs as a product discovery channel, almost twice the proportion of the older bracket.
Hugely Influential On Generation D
Peter Firth, the insight editor of trend forecasting agency Future Laboratory emphasises that this channel is a hugely influential one for those in Generation D, people aged 12-18, and that it would be a big mistake for brands to ignore this channel.
According to Future Laboratory research, for these digital natives video is the language of the internet. Research by Future:Poll found that watching video clips was the third most popular use of the internet for 8-to-14-year-olds, at 53%. Firth says that these consumers are used to instant gratification from the web, they expect information to be served up in short, punchy blasts, preferably with a clickable video to save the bother of reading.
“Retail has only just begun to see the power of an army of young vloggers. The battle is about to begin in earnest, to determine how best to harness their digital reach as they become one of the biggest influences on the future of the sector,” he says.
“Just as Generation Ds see no difference between the virtual and real worlds, so they expect brands to be in both. There is a lot of leverage to be gained from using these highly networked individuals to spread your brand message or endorse your product.”
But Firth emphasises that with content like haul videos, where teen shoppers film them-selves showing off the spoils of their latest shopping spree, power is shifting from brands to Generation D, whether the bloggers are paid or not.
“Marketers have to realise that they’re not truly in control, as Generation D are marketers as well,” he says.
With vloggers speaking about your brand regardless of whether or not they are paid to do so, it's important for brands to get involved, in order to have some hope of shaping the conversation.
And there are no end of ways of doing that - from pre-roll video ads and other traditional display formats, but the creation of native content is where things are becoming increasingly interesting.
Firth suggests companies should become co-creators rather than treating online video the same as broadcast media. “Consider products and services from your brand that help Generations Ds to become co-creators, and even co-sellers, of your brand. Even if all Generation Ds, and all consumers, are not yet doing this, by diving into co-creation, yours will be a hero brand for today’s Generation Ds and all of tomorrow’s consumers.
“Vloggers are incentivised to create organic, actionable content and will become ever more aware of their value to retail brands – and will increasingly seek to be rewarded for it. This generation of content creators is becoming more savvy so the ethical thing to do is to compensate them for their creativity, because they have real value to retailers.”
Growth Of Native
As a channel, the native advertising market is forecast to substantially increase during 2015, according to a survey conducted by the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA), but is still expected to only account for a small percentage of overall ad budgets, making up 5% or less of spending for 68% of respondents.
Native advertising across video is an important slice of the pie, with six in ten marketers using native videos and photos, while eight in ten using native advertising through articles.
According to UK advertisers trade body ISBA, native and content advertising spend, which included paid-for sponsorships, ad features and in-feed distribution reached 21% of display ad spend in the first half of last year.
This strategy is not without challenges, as brands and vloggers look to manage transparency around paid-for content. In November last year, the UK Advertising Standards Au-thority (ASA) banned a series of ads for Oreo that starred YouTube vloggers, as it was not indicated clearly enough that they were being paid by Mondelez to feature Oreos in the videos.
But this is no reason to avoid using vloggers. Firth says the space they influence is huge, citing Euromonitor statistics that assumes they reach over 1bn people globally, and they are proving themselves to be popular across most verticals.
“As long as there is a vlogger with an interest in your product and service, and engaged with an audience with a similar interest, you have an opportunity to use vloggers as part of your marketing strategy,” Firth explains.
“The essential extra factor provided by YouTube vloggers is the ability to react and con-tribute. Rather than just passively viewing the clips, Generation Ds comment and produce their own reaction videos, meaning their viewing is part of an ongoing conversation in which their voices are being heard,” says Firth.
For brands wanting to stay relevant as this new demographic’s buying power increases, they have to join the conversation, and team up with those with the loudest voices.