Abstract

In this research, we investigate the trend of Vlogging on a deeper level. We specified our research to focus on how marketers and advertisers can profit and learn from the trend, and how it impacts Online Marketing and Marketing in general.

We conducted online research, as well as desk research. We further made use of Netnography and Social Network Analysis, in order to conclude our research.

In our conclusion we summarize our findings and give recommendations and tips for marketers and advertisers to successfully employ Vlogging in their future strategies.

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Introduction and Background

In 2005, YouTube was created and with it came a new wave of user-generated content. As the website rapidly grew and garnered millions of views, more and more people uploaded their own content. Since then a new trend has emerged: Vlogging.

Now there are different genres of Vlogging, such as daily-, beauty-, gaming-, and fashion-vlogging. These are some of the most popular genres of Vlogging.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.38.16 AM

Since the rise of Vlogging, which can be dated back all the way to 2005 according to Google Trends, social media in general has grown rapidly and has, of course, attracted marketers. It was not different for YouTube.

Nowadays some YouTubers, as those who create content for YouTube are often called, even make millions with the revenue they gather from advertisements before or during their videos, as well as sponsorship deals with brands that fit the content of their videos.

What many marketers and advertisers have realized is that YouTubers have rather close relationships with their subscribers and followers, as their content is based on platforms that encourage interaction between creators and consumers. It is therefore a very lucrative platform for advertisers and marketers who seek a closer relationship with their target audience, who want to create brand aware, or who want to create brand recognition.

Vloggers are highly influential

According to a survey conducted by Variety magazine, Vloggers, such as SMOSH or Jenna Marbles, are more popular with US-American teenagers, nowadays, than mainstream celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence.

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(Ault, 2014)

YouTubers and the platform YouTube have evidently become incredibly valuable for marketers and advertisers. But more often than not, they still struggle with using them properly and to their full potential. Therefore it is important to conduct thorough research on the subject in order to give good recommendations to marketers and advertisers who plan on including YouTube and its creators in future promotional or marketing strategies.

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Literature Review

From user-generated content to YouTube to Vlogging

The new age of Web 2.0 has brought us social media. Nowadays, a life without this Internet feature is barely imaginable. A very interesting and often important aspect this development has presented us with is user-generated content (Drury, 2008). With this new landscape also came new opportunities for advertisers and marketers. One of these opportunities was YouTube.

YouTube is a video-sharing website that was founded in 2005 and has been bought by Google in 2006 (Velde, 2015). In its rather short existence, YouTube has grown rapidly and has become the third most visited website worldwide (ibid). The first brand to recognize YouTube’s marketing and promotion potential was NIKE, who have since continued to majorly include YouTube in their promotional strategies (ibid).

In 2007, YouTube launched its partner program, which allows those who post content on YouTube to earn money with their videos (Velde, 2015) (Ingham, 2015). YouTube’s partner program works together with Google’s AdSense, who are responsible for selling advertorial space on or in videos (pre-video ads, banner ads during videos) to advertisers and marketers (Velde, 2015).

The first advertorials on YouTube were placed in 2007 and have since garnered a lot of revenue for YouTube (ibid). Furthermore, the most popular of YouTube’s partners in the partner program managed to earn up to six-figures in the first year of the launch of the program (ibid).

 

YouTube celebrities, their influence, and what makes them so appealing to their audience

Felix

One of the most famous and successful vloggers nowadays is Felix Kjellberg, or better known as PewDiePie (Velde, 2015) (Ingham, 2015) (Kemp). He produces gaming videos in which he simply plays video games while commenting on them. This has gained him up to 39 million subscribers (spread over his multiple channels) and 10 billion views on his videos (Velde, 2015). Kjellberg therefore has a lot of influence on his viewers, socially, as a gamer, and marketing wise (Ingham, 2015).

Zoe Sugg

Other very famous and influential YouTubers are beauty vlogger Zoe Sugg (Zoella) and her boyfriend vlogger Alfie Deyes (Pointless Blog). They are vloggers based in the UK and have both been named in the list of 500 most influential people in the UK in the past (Kemp). Both of them have also published books, which further emphasizes their reach (Burling, 2015). While Deyes published a book based on the content of his vlogging channel, Sugg published a fictional novel called “Girl Online” in 2014, which sold very well from the start (ibid).

Sugg and Deyes, both of course members of the YouTube partner program, are said to be able to demand up to £20K from brands if they want them to use or mention their products in their videos (Ingham, 2015).

This shows just how well YouTubers nowadays can make money.

The question therefore is:

What makes these vloggers so influential and well-liked?

One of the most commonly given answers is their authenticity (Velde, 2015) (Sykes, 2014) (Kemp).

Vlogs are often mimic face-to-face conversations in a conversational tone of voice, which creates a more intimate relationship between the vlogger and his or her audience (Sykes, 2014). Another important aspect to consider when pursuing authenticity is that most YouTubers started out by simply making videos about their interests as a hobby (Velde, 2015). Therefore the audience can identify with the vlogger on a personal level and they appear more like friends rather than unreachable celebrities or money-hungry marketers (Sykes, 2014) (Kemp). Also important for the success of a vlog are the quality of the video and the presentation of the vlogger, the interactivity with the community of subscribers, and the expertise of the vlogger (Sykes, 2014).

A survey conducted by Joyce van de Velde for her dissertation shows that these are things audiences of YouTube vlogs do associate with vloggers. It shows that 12 – 15 year olds often see vloggers as idols and many 19 – 27+ year olds like to use Vloggers’ reviews in order to get an authentic and credible opinion on a product, therefore considering them experts in their fields (Velde, 2015). This is further supported by a study conducted by Google, which is mentioned in Sarah Syke’s Theses, which shows that four out of ten viewed fashion vlogs lead to a viewer pursuing the actual or online store of a brand after watching such a fashion vlog (Sykes, 2014).

In this case, beauty, fashion, and gaming seem to be some of the most influential vlogging genres (Ingham, 2015) (Sykes, 2014).

These factors and aspects of vlogging are very important to consider for marketers and advertisers who plan on engaging with the new medium, as it is important in social media advertising to work with two-way communication (Drury, 2008). They have to connect with the audience and build a relationship, which makes YouTube and other social media especially lucrative to those brands who want to strengthen brand recognition (ibid).

 

YouTube versus traditional television

Another topic discussed is that of whether YouTube has already or will replace traditional television. The opinions differ.

In her article 5 Marketing Lessons for Marketers, Nicola Kemp cites managing director of creative content Ruth Barton, who points out the drop of TV consumption while YouTube rises above (Kemp). Contrary to that, another source in Kemp’s article, joint chief strategy officer of advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers (AMV) BBDO, Craig Mawdsley declines that TV consumption is seriously declining and does not believe that YouTube can in any way take over that medium (ibid).

A source of van de Velde’s reckons, YouTube is not replacing television, but rather posts a new form of entertainment for the younger generation that has grown up with the Internet, which makes it very attractive to advertisers (Velde, 2015).

Mawdsley supports this idea in Nicola Kemp’s article. He does believe that YouTube is a good tool to expand a brand’s reach, for example through pre-roll ads, although he also points out that people do not like to wait for what they really want and might therefore not get a positive association with the brand in a pre-roll ad (Kemp).

 

Important for marketers and advertisers

The new developments in the media landscapes and the great influence of social media and especially YouTube celebrities present many new and creative opportunities for marketers and advertisers. There are certain aspects, though, both marketers and advertisers need to bear in mind when engaging with these new platforms.

One of the most important aspects of a vlogger’s influence is the authenticity and credibility they have due to the enthusiasm for a particular subject that they share with their audience (Velde, 2015). A major concern of marketers and advertisers should therefore be to keep this authenticity and credibility safe. They therefore cannot approach such marketing in the same way that they approach TV or magazine marketing (Drury, 2008). They must make sure to not just place their products in videos, but to create creative and subtle content that places their products in the right light (ibid). They must not under any circumstances look like commercials to the audience (Velde, 2015).

This is further important, because another reason for the popularity of video streaming is the human interaction it mimics (Kemp). Many find social media to be a very humane thing to do and advertising is often criticized as taking the humanity away from these platforms (Drury, 2008). It is therefore important for marketers and advertisers to make sure to preserve this highly valued humanity (Drury, 2008) (Kemp).

Online (Re)search Aspects of the Background Research

Introduction

After having conducted our Literature Review, we decided to get a closer look at how 1) the use of YouTube and Vlogging specifically for marketing purposes and 2) the earning of money through YouTube and Vlogging is discussed on the Internet.

First of all, we conducted relatively general search for articles and colums via Google search, especially scanning pages like the BBC, The Guardian, as well as trend-watching websites such as mashable.

We then wanted to find out what the audience thinks and moved on to conduct an advanced Twitter Search, a hashtag analysis, and a YouTube Video Search.

 

Google Search

We started our Online Research by doing a Google Search in order to get an overview on articles and thoughts about the YouTube phenomenon that is vlogging and on people who earn money with it, as well as aspects that are of interest for marketers. Based on our Literature Review we came up with a couple of search terms. Some of the most fruitful terms were the following:

site:theguardian.com YouTube AND “sponsored videos”

site:mashable.com Vlog*

site:bbc.co.uk YouTube AND marketing

vlogging AND money

One article we came across during our Google Search was a short article from The Guardian from 2008, which presented a, at the time, new way for marketers or Vloggers to make garner attention on YouTube and make money. We had not come across this possibility during our desk research.

Guardian 2008 (Kee, 2008)

To explain this new opportunity a little better: The idea is that, for example, brands can either promote certain videos or their channels as a whole. The program is called “YouTube Sponsored Videos”, which, in our research, might sound a little confusing, because we call Sponsored Videos those of Vloggers who feature branded products to earn money. For YouTube’s “Sponsored Videos” one has to go to ads.youtube.com. From there they choose a video or just choose their channel, if they want to increase traffic to it. Then they type up a promotion text (Why should people watch their video). Then they choose keywords through, which, if users type them into YouTube, leads them right to these promoted videos. They further type in a budget or “Maximum Cost-per-Click” for the video.

Another very interesting aspect for brands is that of monitoring YouTube. In one article we found through our Google Search it states that nowadays, through social media such as YouTube, complaints against company have far more impact due to their reach than they used to have. One example is that of a customer of United Airlines who made a video about how the staff of United Airlines damaged his guitar. Because United Airlines didn’t want to pay, he produced the video and it has since been watch 9.23 million times, which puts immense pressure on the Airline.

United Airlines

(Weber, 2010)

This shows that YouTube is not only relevant for marketing and promotions, but also for customer relations. It shows a tremendous change in consumer power, which has increased massively due to the rise of social media.

One last very interesting article we found during our search and want to emphasize is an article written by a YouTuber herself. She describes the shadow sides of earning money through YouTube, or rather not earning money, but being too well-known for audiences to believe that they do not earn enough to live off of it. It’s a tricky thing, this monetization of YouTube.

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(Dunn, 2015)

 

Advanced Twitter Search

Twitter 3

Twitter 4

Our Advanced Twitter Search, unfortunately, did not garner a lot of information. Most tweets consist of people promoting their videos as can be seen in the screen shots below

Twitter 1

Twitter 2

We did find an interesting article about Lily Singh, a YouTuber we will later feature as well, and the influence she has due to her job. This can be seen in the last screen shot.

Although we did not manage to find a good conversation about the topic on Twitter, this did help us with our Netnography in the end. We had first thought about making use of Twitter, but after seeing these results we decided to find another community.

 

Hashtag Analysis

We did a small Hashtag Analysis in our Online Research and found two very interesting results. One is a 24-hour-trend analysis, which shows the popularity of a tag during a 24-hour time span. The results here are for the hashtags vlog, YouTube, and spon.

Here are the results from the website hashtags.org:

 

Vlog

spon

youtube

Surprisingly, the three graphs are rather different, even though we believed, due to our preliminary research, that especially YouTube and Vlogging would be closer connected.

On the website keyhole, we were able to garner word clouds with related hashtags to the one we were searching for. The results here show a close connection between Vlogging and YouTube and further between the hashtag spon and YouTube. Spon is short for sponsored and therefore very interesting for us. Furthermore we can see that especially the popular Vloggers Dan Howell (danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) are closely related to the hashtag.

#Vlog

 

Vlog 2

#Spon

Spon 2

Interestingly, the hashtag YouTube garnered an entire cloud of presumably Arabic hashtags, which is why we did not include that cloud in here. None of us speaks Arabic, unfortunately.

 

YouTube Video Search

Last, but not least, we decided to conduct a YouTube Video Search in order to find out more about the partner program, how YouTubers themselves work with YouTube, advertisers, and sponsors, and how they feel about it. For this we used search terms such as the following:

Sponsorships YouTube

Truth about YouTube money

YouTube money

We were able to find a few interesting videos. One of these is by Lily Singh, as already mentioned above. She is a very popular and successful YouTuber and answers frequently asked questions about the often controversial issue.

(Singh, 2014)

The YouTuber Carly Cristman also presents how she feels about sponsorships on YouTube and Social Media (SM) in general. She speaks about allegations of SM personalities being ‘fake’ and explains why she does vlogging and uses SM. She further warns to not be naïve about photos and other snapshots of a person’s life on SM, because obviously these are only snapshots and usually of happy moments.

She goes on to explain a little more in detail how sponsorships work for fashion vloggers and emphasizes the pros for marketers, especially the fact that it is cheaper than traditional advertising. She also shows the pros of sponsorships for creators and therefore their viewers.

(Cristman, 2015)

Another side to the story presents beauty vlogger Simplynessa15, whose real name is not revealed publicly. She calls out fellow beauty vloggers on being “scammers” due to a variety of sponsored videos they have made. She does not, though, condemn sponsored videos, though. She simply calls out sponsorships that are based solely on money and which should actually have not been done, because there was not enough time to test the product thoroughly enough to make an honest review.

(Simplynessa15, 2015)

The last video we want to include in this research is a part of a video filmed by Ex-vlogger Meghan Rienks. In this part of the video she speaks about why she stopped doing daily vlogs (which is the original intent of vlogging) due to privacy issues.

(Rienks, 2016)

Research Question and Sub-questions

How is it possible people make money from Youtube? / When uploading homemade videos onto YouTube becomes your job.

  • How do brands connect with YouTubers?
  • At what point is a YouTuber able to make a job out of a hobby?
  • Why are some able to live off of what they make through YouTube and some aren’t?
  • How exactly do YouTubers earn money through YouTube?
    • What do they get money for exactly?

Research Design and Methodology

For our research, we began with Online Research in order to garner some background information on our trend. We continued with Literature Research through our University’s library and further Online Research based on that.
Finally, we conducted Netnography and Social Network Analysis.

 

APA

Burling, A. (16. February 2015). Book Publishing Comes To YouTube. Publishers Weekly , 22-26.

Cristman, C. (Autor), & Cristman, C. (Regisseur). (2015). THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA + SPONSORSHIPS [Kinofilm].

Drury, G. (2008). Opinion piece: Social media: Should marketers engage and how can it be done effectively? Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice , 274-277.

Dunn, G. (14. December 2015). Fusion. Abgerufen am 01. March 2016 von http://fusion.net/story/244545/famous-and-broke-on-youtube-instagram-social-media/

Ingham, E. (25. September 2015). The World’s Most Successful Vloggers, The Fees They Command And Why They Are Marketers’ Best Friends . Forbes .

Kee, T. (13. November 2008). YouTube’s new bid to boost revenues: Sponsored videos and a live performance. The Guardian .

Kemp, N. 5 Marketing Lessons from Generation YouTube. London: Haymarket Media Group Ltd .

Rienks, M. (Autor), & Rienks, M. (Regisseur). (2016). WHY I STOPPED VLOGGING: THE TRUTH [Kinofilm].

Simplynessa15 (Autor), & Simplynessa15 (Regisseur). (2015). Beauty Guru’s Are Scammers [Kinofilm].

Singh, L. (21. August 2014). The Truth About YouTubers.

Sykes, S. (2014). Making Sense of Beauty Vlogging. Carnegie Mellon University. USA: Theses and Dissertations at Research Showcase @ CMU.

Velde, J. v. (2015). YouTube: How businesses can use YouTubers effectively for the promotions of their products. The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Academy of European Studies, The Hague.

Weber, T. (3. October 2010). BBC News. Abgerufen am 13. March 2016 von http://www.bbc.com/news/business-11450923