Cartier is winning YouTube, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail released this week. Five of the top 10 most-viewed videos from specialty retail brands on YouTube belonged to Cartier, and “Shape Your Time” surpassed all videos in the category with 24 million views.

The stories and the accompanying visuals – a look into Cartier’s craftsmanship, panther cubs playing with red boxes, a montage of scenes in Paris – are stunning, but money is what really drives the views. Just 4% of the views on Cartier’s brand channel are organic; the other 96% are paid.

L2-paid-views-cartier-Aeropostale-victorias-secret-old-navy-That’s not just the case for Cartier. All other brands that produced one the top 10 most-viewed videos (Victoria’s Secret, Aeropostale, Old Navy, Williams-Sonoma) obtained most of their views from ads.

And the influence of paid ads will only increase. Earlier this year, YouTube placed a ban on branded content involving logos, unless the brand purchases ads from Google. (The policy was introduced due to concerns about content quality being diluted on the platform.) While brand channels are unlikely to be affected, influencers’ potential reach will shrink for brands without large Google ad budgets.

For more on the digital advertising tactics of 73 Specialty Retail brands in the U.S., download a copy of L2’s study.

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