YouTube is more than a place to watch and share video; it’s a cultural movement that has inspired film-makers, musicians, content creators, and anyone with a camera to share their stories. As the first media giant of the new digital era, YouTube has undergone some substantial changes over the years, slowly transitioning from a user generated content hub, to a more traditional media company with executives and advertisers calling the shots. But there’s one thing YouTube has always been — entirely free — until now.
On Wednesday, YouTube introduced the world to their new paid subscription model called YouTube Red, a $9.99 upgrade to their famously free service that eliminates ads and gives users the ability to download videos for offline viewing. Their core service remains free, but not everyone is excited about the announcement. Initial social media chatter has shown that some YouTuber’s are skeptical of the new model.
So far, this is all we know about YouTube Red. 1. Horrible name. 2. The rich get richer 3. No one knows what it means for other 99% of YT.
— Jesse Cox (@JesseCox) October 22, 2015
One YouTuber even created a petition called “Stop YouTube Red” which has already brought in close to 6,000 signatures.
It’s still early to be critical and despite some dramatic reactions, most analysts predict a more positive outcome. “It’s great to see YouTube offer an alternative to an ad-only model,” said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner. “Consumers want choice and options.” The subscription fee becomes easier to justify with free access to Google Play Music.
The fact is, we all saw this coming. A future without 5 second skip buttons has never been hard to imagine, and that future is here for anyone with a few dollars to spare each month. At Mansfield, we see this new era of digital content as an opportunity.
A higher standard
What will this mean for brands and advertisers that use YouTube’s platform as a way to communicate with their customers?
It means that we’ll all need to create better content if we want our audience to care. This tactic isn’t new, and some advertisers have seen huge success with it.
Take Metro Trains Melbourne for example. Some cute animation and catchy jingle made their transit safety campaign international mega-hit with over a hundred million views. The formula is simple – create content that people want to see. Content people will tell their friends about.
Other brands have used ‘Native Advertising’ to connect with their demographic. Being part of the conversation is always better than forcing your way in, and it’s become a hot new strategy in digital marketing. Especially for driving huge traffic. If an ad doesn’t look like an ad, it won’t be ignored like an ad.
With a clever script and the baritone voice of Ze Frank, the Dear Kitten spot by Purina fits in elegantly with BuzzFeed’s original content. The sponsorship doesn’t make it any less shareable and with almost 24 million views, it’s easy to see that this type of content works.
This year, Condé Nast made a big bet on Native Advertising by announcing their new branded content studio, 23 Stories. With over fourteen Webby nominations in 2014, it looks like a safe one.
“CNÉ has quickly become one of the fastest growing premium digital video businesses,” said Dawn Ostroff, president, Condé Nast Entertainment. “Our programming development strategy has connected with upscale millennial audiences and we’re looking forward to further bringing that expertise to our marketing partners through 23 Stories by Condé Nast.”
Native Advertising has proven to be more than a fad, and YouTube Red is sign that branded content is here to stay. For the advertising world, it’s a nudge. A reminder that our audience craves an uninterrupted lifestyle. In this new era, only the best will survive and new generation of content will emerge. Pre-roll is dead, but YouTube lives on as one of the most powerful ways for brands to build relationships with their customers.
At Mansfield, we’re ready to embrace this new age of excellence with hype-worthy content that will work harder for our clients and be less intrusive for their customers.