While social media has opened the door for select innovators with small budgets, the landscape has become almost entirely pay-to-pay. Scaled reach on Facebook requires advertising spend, and winning brands on YouTube rely on TrueView in-stream ads — the platform’s premier advertising product — or offline advertising to drive viewing.

In the midst of this shift towards big budgets, savvy brands are discovering a more cost-effective way to drive digital video impact: Influencers.

Traditional brands are not the biggest winners on YouTube, influencers are. In the Beauty space especially, vloggers and makeup artists have gained significant scaled reach on YouTube without pre-roll advertising.

Authentic Influence

YouTube vloggers bring two assets to the table, authenticity and reach.

Brand visibility on these channels often seems more authentic and credible than traditional advertising. In fact, 62% of 18 to 24 year olds say they trust endorsements from popular YouTube influencers.

However, vloggers must strike a balance between cultivating this credibility and receiving ad dollars from more established brands, opening the door for sampling activation or brand and influencer partnerships.

Bigger (And Better) Than TV

As eyeballs shift from TV to digital video, they are often shifting to vlogger YouTube channels. While viewership for the top 25 TV cable networks has declined by an average of 10% over the past year, subscribership to influencer channels is up. Subscribers to the top 25 YouTube vlogger channels grew on average 19% year-over-year.

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This subscriber growth has catapulted influencer audiences into competition with TV shows that currently attract millions of beauty ad dollars. For example, Keeping Up With the Kardashians was the top destination for beauty TV budgets, attracting an estimated $27.7 million for national beauty & hair care television spots. But the show’s viewership has recently been cut almost in half to 1.3 million viewers, while vloggers like Zoella boast nearly 11 million subscribers.

This reach is particularly impressive given the key vlogger audience—engaged young women. The average vlogger channel boasts an engagement rate (likes, dislikes, comments, and favorites divided by views) of 4.6% (nearly 4X that of the average beauty & hair care brand) and 13 to 34-year-old women account for more than 70% of viewers watching the top 100 YouTube beauty and style channels.

Savvy brands have even begun to replicate influencer content—Sephora has generated scaled organic reach on YouTube by mimicking both the subject matter (tutorials, product reviews, and favorite product videos) and casual, conversational style of vlogger videos.

Capture These Eyeballs
How can beauty and hair care brands capture these shifting eyeballs, and get in front of vlogger viewers with varying degrees of investment? Product or brand mentions are generated via sampling activation or working directly with influencers. Although these mentions are typically situated in the context of many other brands and products, and seem more organic to viewers, they still require significant investment.

Brands can also leverage more traditional YouTube advertising opportunities on vlogger channels by placing their videos as TrueView in-stream ads before vlogger videos. They can also bid on audiences searching for vlogger content, allowing the ad to show up when a user searches a vlogger by name.

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L2’s recent Intelligence Report: Video 2016 examines these vlogger visibility opportunities in depth, identifying winners across all three types of vlogger activation—mentions, in-stream ads, and paid search results.

Download full report here.

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