If you want online video to engage, find a digital native, not a TV producer

Tim CooperIn this guest post, Boom’s Tim Cooper argues that TV production experience is almost irrelevant in online video: marketers need to partner with digital natives to reach audiences.

Snoop Dog wants to sell you Nestle Hot Pockets, and he’s not afraid to play around with one of his classic songs to do it.

YouTube’s march towards global domination as a provider of high quality online entertainment, and not just videos of cute kittens (not that there’s anything wrong with kittens) was boosted in late July this year when it doubled its investment in new channels to US$200 million.

A lot of this money has gone towards getting TV talent and stars like Snoop to generate YouTube content, but as the WSJ reported at the time attempts driven by TV execs such as the MyISH channel flopped before an experienced YouTube talent was brought on board to turn it around.

The opportunity for marketers to launch branded entertainment through online video is huge. Here in Australia, YouTube had a unique audience (UA) of 9.7 million in September alone. And its popularity is growing – the average time Australians spend watching YouTube videos has grown by a staggering 50% since September 2011. But what the MyISH experience has taught us is that a high-end production values approach is not the key to creating successful content for YouTube.
So for campaigns that don’t have the reach to engage a global name like Snoop, what is the best way to get their brand in on the game?

Well, for inspiration why not turn to the people already doing it. Australia’s YouTubers have been flying under the radar of most marketers, steadily posting their content, building large followings and becoming celebrities in their own right. Channels like ChampChong (which is a Boom content partner) or Lauren Beauty have millions of views and tens of thousands of subscribers, but their USP is not just these numbers – it’s their authentic connection with their online following.

Just like Snoop and his Hot Pocket, these digitally native video creators are fluent in the language of the online video eco-system. They know that great YouTube videos don’t necessarily need to be shot with professional equipment and storyboarded to death by a team of marketing creatives. For them, it’s not about endorsing a brand – it’s about creating a video that is different, compelling and engaging. It’s about having fun.

In today’s market, those of us conceiving campaigns are no doubt struggling to retain a sense of fun while balancing the economic realities of the market. However, for a real shot at creating the unique and compelling content that drives a campaign’s online success, we have a lot to learn from YouTubers. It’s time for us to go digital native.

  • Tim Cooper is strategy and operations director at online video Boom, YouTube’s first Australian channel partner. He will be speaking at the Festival of Branded Entertainment next Tuesday.


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