So today I was browsing Mashable, and I came upon a video of a huge Slip’N Slide set up on a street in San Francisco. As this specific activity is a big priority on my bucket list, I decided to take a look. I mean, who wouldn’t want to round up a bunch of friends and spend a whole afternoon slipping and sliding down an urban street? The video starts as a group of young people eagerly set up the slide. At this point it looks like the best block party ever. I’m 41 seconds in, and there it is: a package of Bear Naked Granola hanging out of a participant’s mouth. The whole thing is an ad.
In the last two days, the video has racked up more than 400,000 YouTube views and 34,000 social shares. Brands are getting smarter about the way they promote products on YouTube. People flock to the site in search of awesome, entertaining content—partner with a popular YouTuber who is already creating this kind of content for millions of viewers and you’re golden.
This particular YouTuber, devinsupertramp, has created a slew of subtly branded video content all featuring extreme activities most people could only dream of participating in. Check out these examples:
Vooray – “Human Slingshot Slip and Slide”
13.9 million YouTube views; 845,000 social shares
Ford – “Bike Parkour -Streets of San Francisco!”
7.5 million YouTube views; 225,000 social shares
Panasonic and Aerial Concepts – “Rope Swing Zipline – NFL Stadium”
3.7 million YouTube views; 74,000 social shares
BOOMco. – “Epic Capture the Flag in Panama — BOOM!”
1.1 million YouTube views; 20,000 social shares
Bear Naked – “Human Bowling – Bear Naked!”
1.7 million YouTube views; 54,000 social shares
Brands have infinitely more freedom when it comes to product promotion in online video content versus television ads. The TV ad equivalent of these kinds of videos is a party where everyone is drinking a specific brand’s beer. The psychology behind the ads is the same—viewers should want to be at that party, drinking that brand’s beer; people definitely want to be zip lining across NFL stadiums and playing capture the flag in Panama. That’s why these videos go viral, and brands have the opportunity to be a part of that virality.
Dude Perfect is another YouTube group helping brands reach viewers through viral content. We’ve noted that brands have to find a balance between promotion and entertainment value, and YouTube stars are actively facilitating this balance.
Value exchanges between brands and consumers are often the biggest drivers of success in online video advertising. Viewers receive value in the form of entertainment, and brands receive value in the form of views and engagement. Most people aren’t going to actively seek out and sit through an online video that aggressively promotes your product—unless there’s something in it for them (i.e. entertainment).
Brand partnerships with YouTube stars have delivered impressive results in terms of viewership and engagement. Whether your brand is going solo or collaborating with a YouTuber, creating entertaining content for video viewers is paramount.