Marketers must learn from UGC to achieve stand-out for branded content, says YouTube’s head of brand propositions

Marketers must investigate what makes certain kinds of user-generated content (UGC) so popular to help shape and achieve stand-out for branded content on YouTube, according to YouTube’s head of brand propositions Derek Scobi.

Speaking at MediaCom’s Beyond Advertising event in London yesterday Scobi said brands most often want to advertise around premium content on YouTube which includes catch-up TV content from broadcasters including the BBC and Channel 4.

However, there are more avenues they should be exploiting including creating their own branded content and mining UGC for ideas of how to shape their own strategies, according to Scobi.

“Many marketers find it hard to separate their personal views or experiences of YouTube from their professional ones, meaning they can only see it as a platform for UGC content such as dogs on skateboards,” he said.

However, it is the dogs-on-skateboards kind of content that attracts such massive audiences and therefore brands should be delving into how and why such videos are so popular if they are to unlock the value of their own branded content strategies, according to Scobi.

“These videos of skateboarding dogs are the beating heart of YouTube and a single one can get 22 million views. When your brand gets 22 million views then come and tell me the [UCG] content is shit, but until yours does it’s better than yours.

“Also no one has sellotaped a dog to a skateboard and rolled it down a hill – that dog has actually learned how to skateboard – which is pretty impressive. I’m not saying you should advertise against a skateboarding dog but brands must understand what made it popular and why people wanted to watch it,” he said.

Authenticity is a major reason behind why such videos do so well on YouTube, he said. “The guy who filmed his son on the way home from the dentist [see above video] wasn’t intending to make a viral video. He caught the imagination of families across the world and was able to share it on the YouTube platform, that’s what made it famous."

Fellow speaker at the conference Andy Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Little Dot Studios, agreed that authenticity is invaluable when it comes to creating and sustaining audiences on YouTube.

Little Dot Studios, a venture backed by TV production powerhouse All3Media, is aimed at bridging the gap between TV and YouTube. Taylor, formerly commercial and digital media director at All3Media, told delegates that quality content alone is not enough to sustain YouTube audiences.

“Until two years ago All3Media was a traditional TV production house, and our core was making content which we would then license to broadcasters. But with YouTube we can now develop our own direct relationships with viewers, which was something we weren’t able to do before.

“We have learned that having quality content is not enough on YouTube. Getting seen is really difficult. You have to understanding how you get views,” he said.

Little Dot Studios experimented with one of its programme brands Skins. It started off using the archive and clipping content to run on the channel, with the result that it built 2,000 subscribers in a month.

However, it was once it started creating original content for the channel that it saw the subscriber base soar, according to Taylor.

“We wanted to be authentic with the content and so we took a camera and whenever a cast member or writer came into the office we would ask them what their top five favourite scenes were for example.

"Then we would do things like walk into the production studios and ask them what they were doing – all sorts of content like that. We found within two months we had grown from 2,000 to 70,000 subscribers,” he said.

The company will now look at creating more premium content for the channels.

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