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YouTube – making the most of this free resource

When YouTube started five years ago, it proved a popular destination for teenagers eager to watch ladder accidents, and, as ever, when consumers see a good thing, businesses are quick to follow. Andrew Petherick looks at how publishers can turn this free resource to their advantage.

By Andrew Petherick

According to YouTube, a staggering 48 hours of footage is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Apparently, more video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the three major US networks have created in sixty years!

A significant portion of YouTube channels are now from the business and news sectors. The sheer volume of professional and specialist content being uploaded to YouTube is vast, and it could be on your site, entertaining your readers, and making you money.

All Publishers Face Same Issue

Most of the publishers we work with want video content on their sites. Regardless of whether they’re big glossies full of display advertisers or niche titles with specialist advertisers, they all face the same issue. Creating video content is, in the main, expensive, cumbersome and time consuming. As a consequence, comparatively few publishers do it.

Some publishers have attempted to resolve the issue by investing in enterprise level streaming platforms. Without content, this strategy is seriously flawed. The publisher ends up with a powerful and complex product that few staff are trained to use, to deliver video content they don’t have.

Other publishers have set up YouTube channels and added to them whatever content they can afford to produce. Another flawed strategy. Firstly, why invest your marketing budget encouraging readers to visit your magazine’s own website, only to divert them to YouTube when they get there? Secondly, competition for viewers on YouTube is extremely fierce. It’s a busy environment and its users are easily distracted. Publishers assuming any meaningful number of users will choose to search for their magazine’s YouTube channel while they’re being distracted by opportunities to watch sheep hang-gliding are fooling themselves.

For many publishers, a YouTube channel is out of site and therefore out of mind. As a consequence, many languish looking empty, forgotten and forlorn for months; a poor ambassador for the brands they’ve invested so much in building. Granted, more pro-active magazine publishers do add their YouTube videos to their own sites, but lack of any meaningful video production will or budget often means the content is rarely refreshed in line with their editorial rota; consequently they put their websites in danger of looking unloved too.

The Content’s Out There and it’s Free – Take Advantage of it

There is a third way, which some publishers have started taking with some extremely encouraging results; they are starting to appreciate that the vast volumes of free video content available on YouTube can be used to their advantage.

The principle is simple; as an example, if you publish a magazine focusing on interiors and DIY, there are thousands of user-generated videos on YouTube your readers will find interesting, and they should be on your site watching them, not YouTube. Readers buy your magazine and visit your magazine’s site because they trust your journalists and your editor’s opinions and enjoy the content they put forward for them to read. Why not do the same with video, particularly when the content is free? If you can encourage readers to watch interesting video content that relates to your magazine’s subject matter on your own site, that you’ve curated and filtered from the vast acres of content available, they will stay on your site longer, your SEO will improve and your advertisers will become more interested in being there as a result.

One specialist B2B publisher, Med-Tech Innovation, uses to create a premium TV player for his site, which he now keeps filled with a rotating selection of YouTube videos in-keeping with his magazine’s area of focus (medical device technology). He also encourages readers to submit their own content or ideas for the channel and it’s become a vibrant and interactive part of his site. Analytics suggest that video on his site is over 20 times more likely to be viewed than on YouTube. The publisher is staggered, but the answer is obvious – there is far too much content on YouTube, and who ever thought of viewing medical device content when on it! Its rightful place is on his site. The interest his TV channel has generated has also found favour with advertisers, who now want to place their existing video content into it too.

Sound familiar? Advertising being dovetailed in-between editorial content? This is something most publishers should be familiar and comfortable with. After all, it’s formed the backbone to the publishing business model for centuries.

The choice of free content available for you to add to your TV player can be daunting, but as publishers, you’re more than qualified to act as curators and determine what’s worth adding and what your readers will benefit from. If you invest a short amount of time picking content your site visitors will find interesting, you’ll reap the rewards.

Get Advertisers Involved

As well as the acres of excellent user-generated content available on YouTube, an increasing number of advertisers are also beginning to fund and create great editorial-style video content for readers to enjoy. A good example of this can be found on IPC Media’s Horse & Hound’s TV Channel, where Land Rover has produced and added a series of useful editorial style videos to the ‘How To’ channel, teaching horse owners how to complete manoeuvres when towing a horsebox. As you’d expect, the vehicle being used to undertake the manoeuvres is a Land Rover, but it’s useful content, it’s not overtly commercial, and the analytics prove that readers enjoy watching it. Developing this sort of relationship with advertisers is a smart move. The magazine benefits from great video content in their TV channel while also generating a new revenue stream. The advertiser gets to show their products being used in a practical setting using a medium that readers enjoy consuming.

Creating the Right Video Space

The most important trick to achieving a profitable TV player is to collate the content within a dedicated video space on your site. It will be difficult to justify a premium price to advertisers if you are simply taking video content off YouTube and placing it randomly on a page on your site. Advertisers tend to respond better if they can buy dedicated space within a specific and identifiable zone.

Having a dedicated space or TV channel has a number of commercial advantages over the list of videos pasted on a page approach.

Firstly, there are advertising “products” built into a fixed player of this type; you can earn revenue by having your entire TV player sponsored; you can earn money by having a channel within it sponsored; you can earn money by charging advertisers to place existing content in it. These revenue routes are significantly more difficult when videos are simply scattered onto a web page.

Secondly, within a TV channel, you can sub-categorise content, creating specific zones for specific markets (and advertising sectors). This creates more targeted media space specific to a sector, thereby making the space relevant and the sale easier. You can also add value to the advertiser’s content by adding their email, Google Map location, PDF and web address, helping sales teams justify a higher advertising rate.

Thirdly, a framed TV player holds unlimited volumes of advertising content within a set frame, so its commercial value can increase exponentially while its physical size remains the same (we call it RPP or Revenue Per Pixel). For a list of YouTube videos to become higher value, it has to get longer and will become messy before it becomes commercially sensible.

Existing Video Content

For specialist and B2B publishers, the real opportunity for video revenue is in their advertisers’ existing video content; more and more are having it made and it needs to be seen by your readers; that’s why they had it produced in the first place. The best way to encourage advertisers to part with money to place video on your site is simply to create an exciting environment for their content to be in; and you can do that without having to be ITV.