YouTube is by far and away the most popular video streaming site on the planet.
The site, which is owned by parent company Google, receives over 30 million users every day, and over 1 billion videos are viewed on the site daily. YouTube is enjoyed by millions around the globe for the purposes of entertainment, education, and information.
On YouTube you can find user-uploaded content on almost any topic imaginable. You can learn new skills on YouTube as well as wind down at the end of a long day with some entertaining content. The site has become an important fixture in the daily lives of countless internet users. YouTube is not just used for recreation — it has a role to play in our working lives too.
For example, you may start the day checking out the latest headlines from news channels while you are eating your breakfast and having your morning coffee. You might then load up the channel of your favorite musical artist or band to listen to some music in the background while you check your emails (of course, there are plenty of music streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, but YouTube has a significant share of the music streaming market). Even when you are not actively watching YouTube videos, it is common to have the site open in a web browser tab playing music or podcasts while doing work. In many offices, there is no stigma around using YouTube while working and it may even be expected.
On your lunch break, you might catch up with the news headlines again or watch videos from your favorite streamer or commentator before you have to start working again. During the working day you may also use YouTube to find video tutorials on how to complete a work task — whether you are doing basic PC troubleshooting or learning effective sales techniques.
At the end of the working day, you might use YouTube to watch guided home workout or yoga videos, and then to relax by watching entertainment content about gaming, music, or any other leisure activity.
To put it plainly: YouTube plays a huge role in many aspects of many people’s lives. An arena that it can be particularly useful in is that of digital marketing. Digital marketers often focus more on emails, Google PPC ads, and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram than they do on YouTube. However, ignoring the potential benefits that YouTube can have for digital marketing campaigns would be a mistake! With an audience so huge, visiting the site for so many different reasons, it only makes sense that YouTube should be considered for a role in any digital marketing strategy. Uploading video content to YouTube is also free, so what is there to lose by giving it a go?
The History of YouTube
In 2004, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim were working for PayPal, when they came up with the idea to create a video sharing platform for online dating videos. In 2005, on Valentine’s Day, then-CEO Chad Hurley registered the logo, domain, and trademark for the site.
YouTube never really took off as an online dating site, but after users began uploading videos of all kinds, Hurley, Chen, and Karim decided to rebrand the platform as a general-purpose video sharing tool. In April 2005, the first public video was uploaded. Titled “Me at the Zoo”, the 19 second clip sees Karim at San Diego zoo outside the elephant enclosure, helpfully explaining “the cool thing about these guys is they have really, really, really long trunks, and that’s cool. And that’s pretty much all there is to say”. The following month, the beta version of the site became available for the public to use. The site became popular pretty quickly, and that September, private investment firm Sequoia Capital invested $3.5 million dollars in the enterprise.
Although most of YouTube’s early content is very different from most of the content that is uploaded these days, the site’s potential use for the purposes of marketing became apparent pretty quickly. In October, 2005, the first video to reach 1 million views was a viral Nike ad featuring Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho. That December, the site left beta testing, by which time it was receiving 8 million daily views.
YouTube’s first brush with copyright law came in 2006, when a clip from the NBC show Saturday Night Live went viral and the network demanded its removal from the site. In October 2007, YouTube launched its Content Verification Program, designed to help identify content that infringes on copyright and remove it.
2006 was an extremely eventful year for YouTube. The site received $8 million dollars from investment firms, stuck a deal with NBC to host clips from their shows on the site (a form of marketing that benefitted both YouTube and NBC!), and was eventually bought by tech giant Google for a sum of $1.65 billion, after their head of acquisitions Susan Wojcicki (now CEO of YouTube) saw potential in the site.
In May 2007, a family home video entitled “Charlie bit my finger – again!” went viral and ended up making the family over £1 million in royalties over the next decade! A month later, the mobile version of YouTube was launched. In August, Google launched advertisements on YouTube, making the site’s link to marketing even more apparent, and in December the launch of the Partner Program enabled content creators to profit from getting enough views of their content.
Many creators began to make a profitable career out of using the site. Content creators — or “YouTubers” — like Shane Dawson, Ryan Higa, and Felix Kjellberg (also known as PewDiePie) have made fortunes of many millions of dollars from their channels and become household names all over the world.
In 2009, it was announced that the site was receiving over 1 billion views a day. In 2011, the launch of YouTube Live marked the site’s entry into broadcasting. Since then, events such as the Olympics and royal weddings have been broadcast on the site.
In 2012, Psy’s Gangnam Style became the first video to hit 1 billion views. 2015 saw the launch of both YouTube Kids and YouTube Gaming, versions of the site aimed at and designed for specific demographics. In 2017, on-demand streaming service YouTube TV launched.
In February of 2020, it was announced that YouTube generated US$14 billion from ad revenue during the previous year.
How YouTube Can Boost Your Business
Clearly YouTube can make a lot of people a lot of money! But how can you use it to boost your digital marketing strategy? A combination of quality content and a knowledge of data analytics can enable you to hugely increase your marketing efforts through use of the platform. You can check out more information on how data analytics can help your business here. YouTube itself has some handy analytics tools that enable you to monitor engagement on videos on your channel.
There are a few different strategies for using YouTube to increase your profits. One strategy is to create a popular channel that can then be monetized so that you profit directly from views of your videos. This is a highly competitive arena, however, and plenty of luck as well as talent is needed to create a hugely popular channel!
Another strategy is to use your videos to increase web traffic to your site. Whatever type of business you are running, you most likely want to get more website visitors who may purchase your services or products. Creating content that is useful, entertaining, or both can enable you to direct viewers to your site via links. The extent to which you will want to outwardly promote your business in your videos may vary depending on the industry that your business is a part of.
Your marketing can benefit from YouTube even if you do not have your own YouTube channel! Reaching out to popular influencers on the site can expose your business to their audience rather than you having to build up your own sizable audience from scratch. For example, many creators post popular “unboxing” videos, or reviews of products. Sometimes getting your product to appear on their channel is as simple as sending them one of your products! This minimal cost can result in huge profits down the line if they end up featuring your product in their videos!
Of course, you have to make sure that your products or services are of good quality before you can effectively market them. YouTube allows word to travel quickly about businesses, and this can have a negative effect as well as a positive one. Getting a bad review from a popular YouTuber can damage the reputation of your business, and once it is out there online it can be hard to control!
While there are risks, the world of YouTube is on course to overtake traditional methods of advertising such as television commercials, and marketers are shifting their focus to the site as a vital component of a digital marketing strategy.