YouTube: Going Back to a Well Not Fully Tapped

August 29, 2022

by Jason Molina, Executive Director, Digital & Social 

Not long ago, YouTube reigned supreme as the preeminent platform for brands to reach youth audiences, work with creators, and even establish a monetizable brand presence. Then along came TikTok and upended everything we knew about youth interests, content formats, and creators alike. Attention was diverted, resources reallocated, and strategy pivoted to account for the emerging platform and its rich composition of youth audience. What I’ll put forward for consideration, however: perhaps too much attention was shifted away from YouTube in the clamor of TikTok’s emergence. If you haven’t checked recently, YouTube still quietly reaches 98% of A18-34 to TikTok’s 59%. It’s a beast that hasn’t gone away and is arguably more easily tamed than TikTok and their vaunted for you page algorithm.   

Here are four reasons why your brand should consider a greater emphasis on YouTube within your marketing mix: 

  • YouTube hasn’t turned off the organic reach spigot – Between engaged subscribers (10+% of subs viewing) and viewership via algorithm suggestion, significant organic reach is still a real, attainable goal on YouTube. 
  • Algorithm transparency and influence – YouTube has been clear from the start about what drives viewership (watch time) and methodically researched novels have been written about how to influence the algorithm (side note: don’t spend your days reading these novels, we at Golin have cheat codes for this sort of thing).
  • Creator fairness – As legendary creator Hank Green pointed out, TikTok’s creator fund, while a helpful start, does not compare to the revenue share that YouTube has offered for over 15 years. TikTok is trying to right that wrong with a new ad platform (with revenue share) called pulse, but it is a slow rollout rewarding the only the top 4% of videos. Unlike TikTok, YouTube creators can start monetizing as soon as they hit 1k subscribers. Not only is this important to keep in mind as influencer marketing continues to grow in the marketing mix, but if you want to monetize your brand content and turn it into a positive ROI machine, YouTube is the place to do this. 
  • Netflix-like analytics to drive content – The breadth of data at your fingertips, through a YouTube studio login, is mouthwatering. It can allow you to apply a Netflix-like approach to developing content that brands, like Shiseido (skincare/makeup), have recently discovered. Startups like Oatly are also starting to rediscover the value of premium YouTube branded content. 

Keep in mind that I’m not advocating brands should move away from TikTok. TikTok is most certainly a platform that needs to be understood, strategized for, and leveraged. That said, YouTube is the blocking and tackling, the low hanging fruit that spoiled on the vine as TikTok garnered all the press. Let’s go back and fully tap that well until its dry.