YouTube stars are now more popular among U.S. teens than mainstream celebrities, making them ideal marketing vehicles for brands targeting millennials. Popular vlogger channels on YouTube draw 15 times more views than those belonging to Beauty and Hair Care brands and have 108 times more subscribers, according to L2’s Intelligence Report: Video.

However, the study shows that even brands that set up partnerships with vloggers often fail to leverage this opportunity to its full potential. While 17% of Beauty and Hair Care brands posted content featuring vloggers on their social properties in Q4 2014, only half of these partnerships took advantage of the vloggers’ huge audiences on their own YouTube channels.

Relative Influence on Millennial Purchase Intent

For example, when Clean & Clear featured popular YouTube vloggers MayBaby and MamaMiaMakeup on its brand channel in Q4 2014, neither of them mentioned Clean & Clear in any of their own videos. While the brand videos’ view counts range from 1,000 to over 17,000, the average video on MayBaby and MamaMiaMakeup’s channels draws 1.5 million and 371,000 views respectively, suggesting that the partnership could have achieved far greater scale if the vloggers had promoted Clean & Clear on their own channels.

A better strategy, which some brands have already experimented with, may be sponsoring product placements in videos by popular influencers. For example, CoverGirl’s “Glambassador” Ingrid Nilsen featured the brand’s products in five videos on her YouTube channel in Q4 2014. In one video, she demonstrates how to use lip color to change up a look, using only CoverGirl Colorlicious lipsticks. These videos received 891,000 views on average, slightly more than her 829,000 channel average. This suggests that viewers are undeterred by brand-affiliated content, making product placement a strategical way for brands to harness the reach of popular influencers.

A video on vlogger Ingrid Nilsen’s YouTube channel

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