Viral Video Marketing And YouTube Advertising: A One-Two Punch

In my opinion YouTube doesn’t get the attention is deserves from advertisers. Yet YouTube is the #2 search engine by query volume. More Americans watch YouTube than the Super Bowl and, for many viewers, YouTube is replacing time spent in front of the television. If you don’t have a strong marketing and advertising presence on YouTube, you’re possibly leaving a lot of money on the table.

Goin’ Viral

YouTube is a social network, and this provides an opportunity that you don’t have with Google search—an opportunity to get people buzzing about your products or services, through favoriting, video replying, commenting, rating, and so on. Case in point: Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” viral video campaign that swept through YouTube and became Blendtec’s most successful marketing campaign in its 35 year history. The videos of Blendtec founder Tom Dickson blending golf clubs, golf balls, marbles, rake handles, Chuck Norris action figures, iPods, iPhones and yes, even iPads, is the stuff of YouTube viral video legend.

It’s no small feat to create campaigns that have viral potential. If the videos are too polished, too professionally produced, then campaigns can fall flat. Like the Evian “roller babies” commercial—despite its nearly 30 million views on YouTube (an impressive number, mind you!), it failed to capture the ongoing attention of YouTubers. When YouTubers truly embrace a video, they spread it virally through remixes and video replies to their own channel subscribers. Think what could have happened for Evian if “roller babies” had become an internet meme like Boxxy’s “Trollin’” videos (here’s one of many remixes).

If you can’t create your own meme, you can always ride on the coattails of an existing Internet meme. Geico took this approach by hiring the Numa Numa guy and the Evolution of Dance guy, among others, to make follow-up videos, but they failed to really take off. What was missing? Perhaps it was the lack of a strong YouTube advertising strategy…?

Buy Your Way In

Leveraging your constituents to push your brand out to their channel subscribers can be tricky business. One of the more powerful ways to do this is through a contest. Contestants post their entries to their channels and the subscribers to those channels are then exposed to those brand impressions. Many of these contests take the form of user-generated commercials or music videos. Intuit had some success with a YouTube contest called The Tax Rap—where contestants submitted rap music videos about doing tax returns and using their TurboTax software. Intuit hired Vanilla Ice as the spokesman. To say it was inexpensive would be an understatement (apparently he’s not that busy!). The grand prize winner got $25,000. For this campaign, Intuit used a multi-pronged advertising approach to promote the contest: they purchased a brand channel and a contest channel, and impressions on the YouTube home page.

Intuit wasn’t afraid to spend money to ensure success. And success is what they got. Although Intuit kept results close to their chest, they were very pleased with the ROI from the contest.

So where should you put your YouTube ad dollars? A brand channel? Promoted videos? Call-to-action overlays? All of the above, of course!

And if you want to get really clever about it you could buy views through a third-party service like Jump Start Views. Or you could sponsor popular videos relevant to your industry—for example, a tennis equipment retailer sponsors tennis pros’ instructional videos and gets a link to the retailer’s site in each video’s description (note that a URL in a YouTube description is automatically turned into a clickable, albeit nofollowed, link).

But remember it’s when you marry the advertising with the viral marketing that you get the one-two punch. It’s not enough to advertise on YouTube; you need to have something worth advertising—something buzzworthy.

It’s All Just Interruption Marketing

Advertising on YouTube is like advertising on Google’s display network (formerly the content network) in that you have to become a master of “interruption marketing.” You need to engage the YouTube user when their attention is turned elsewhere. You don’t simply use the same keywords and ad copy that you use on your paid search campaigns. Not only are the keywords that people type into YouTube quite different from what they type into Google (use this tool to see), but their receptiveness to a call-to-action overlay (while watching a video) is a lot lower than a paid search ad. Think of it this way: you can’t reuse your magazine ad copy on a highway billboard. The context is just too different. Someone travelling at 65 miles per hour along the freeway doesn’t have time to read a long ad. Rather, you’ll need to interrupt with something short and high-impact.

Step 1: Build A Brand Channel

First, you need a home, somewhere to post your videos and send channel subscribers to, somewhere that represents your brand in its best light. A good place for this is a Brand Channel. If you have the budget, it’s probably worth the investment. As it was put in the forums: If you have to ask “how much?” you probably can’t afford it. Note: Pricing for brand channels varies from country to country. Unlike the usual self-service account tools available on YouTube, Brand Channels can only be set up by contacting a YouTube representative or agency.

Here’s an example of a brand channel, this is 3M’s Post-It Notes brand channel:

post-it-notes-brand-channel

Notice how it integrates the company’s website navigation as well as links to their other social network tactics such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. An effective brand channel not only builds the brand but drives brand engagement both within and beyond YouTube.

Step 2: Sorry, You’ll Have to Wait Till Next Month

Stay tuned. In part 2, I’ll walk you through the remaining YouTube advertising options: Promoted videos and call-to-action overlays. And we’ll also look at essential YouTube metrics and how to measure success.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column

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About The Author: was recently voted the 2013 Most influential SEM. She is the Vice President of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on search engine marketing strategy, landing page optimization (LPO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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