YouTube generates the second largest number of searches in the world after Google. Consequently, brands that dominate search visibility on the platform also see superior channel performance. However, few Department Stores make content easily discoverable through YouTube search tools. L2’s Digital IQ Index: Department Stores finds that the average Department Store controls only 29% of first-page organic search results for its brand term on YouTube– half as many as on Google.

Optimizing content for discoverability can be as simple as including the brand name in the video description. Yet about one in three brands fail to include their name in the description of their most-viewed video.

This suggests that YouTube popularity requires more than compelling content; brands need to be diligent about search optimization and promotional strategies. Eight of the 10 most viral YouTube videos published by Index brands received 90% of their views through sponsored links, according to the L2 study.

Share of Video Views Generated Organically

U.K. retailer John Lewis was one of the few exceptions. The brand’s 2014 holiday video “Monty the Penguin” holiday video earned more than 70% 
of views organically. The heartwarming story of a boy and his toy penguin scored more views than any other Index brand content (23.5 million). In comparison, the most popular video by Mexican retailer El Palacio De Hierro scored about four million.

Top 10 Brand Videos on YouTube

Many of the views for “Monty the Penguin” were the result of combining digital content with offline marketing. John Lewis integrated the ad with in-store experiential activities such as “Monty’s Goggles,” which used Google Cardboard technology to place users in a 3D virtual world. John Lewis’s success with organic views shows that a strategy for placing branded content in front of shoppers is key, whether this takes place in physical stores or on digital channels.


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