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The Problem With YouTube? Marketers Need a New Playbook

In the recent MediaPost article by Ashkan Karbasfrooshan “Content Owners May Have To Diversify Away From YouTube To Win, the author writes, “I have no idea if YouTube will help me grow my business or force me to grow despite it.” I’ve outlined what appear to be the main points he made in support of that argument, and offer different perspective from the point-of-view of a YouTube Partner. I’ve headed up TouchStorm’s efforts on YouTube for the last two years where we’ve gained over 80 million views and have become one of the top 50 “Gurus” of all time.

Good YouTube Content Is Still Easy To Find

Karbasfrooshan’s initial point is about all the noise around the mass amounts of content being uploaded every day. He says
“Therein lies one of the challenges facing content owner…on YouTube it’s a bit of a free-for-all, where National Geographic competes with Buffy the cat…”
I’m not sure of the source of that conclusion, as I have noticed over the years, with analytics, that the most trackable sources of views typically come from related video views and YouTube search. If YouTube, and viewers, are doing their jobs correctly you should not find the above scenario Karbasfrooshan points to often. Personally, I haven’t had that experience in quite a while.

YouTube Marketers Need To Adjust To Online Audiences

Next he says:
“The problem is that the majority of audiences on YouTube seem to favor the content that seems less than desirable from the big marketers.”
I believe this problem happens due to a disconnect between marketers and the YouTube audience and from marketers not understanding how to create engaging video that meets a want or need in a fashion/format that encurages discovery and positive user engagement. Without either your video won’t go far. TouchStorm works with large brands heavily and the success we’ve had with matching viewer’s interests with brand’s interests shows that this problem is avoidable.

The YouTube Homepage Is Getting Better

My previous point holds true also when Karbasfrooshan says:
“…as YouTube grew and got acquired by Google, its algorithms favored those channels with high subscriber counts. The cycle continued and became a self-fulfilling prophecy, a new-media video version of ‘it takes money to make money.’”
It’s true that the home page of YouTube used to be populated quite a bit by content from those that were already popular and by those that knew how to game the system with tactics like category sniping. But there have been several changes to the YouTube home page, which now features content from a broader variety of publishers. YouTube has also tightened up it’s TOS and given warnings to all…including partners.
Here’s a video that delves further into some of the changes the Partner program has been through:

The Odds On YouTube Marketing Success

Finally, Karbasfrooshan wraps with this:
“…if you are starting to produce or distribute videos now and looking at YouTube as a channel, good luck. It’s not impossible, but the odds are stacked against you.”
I don’t completely agree. Success for YouTube marketers is very much a possibility. However, the odds are surely stacked against you if you don’t know:
  • What topics to create videos around (backed up with data)
  • How to create a video in a style/format that encourages positive user engagement
  • How to optimize your content for YouTube and Google search which has more moving pieces than traditional SEO
  • How to fully leverage the promotional tools YouTube provides publishers
  • What it takes from a resources standpoint to engage with your viewers and grow your community