I read last week that for every minute that passes, 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube; it receives 4,000,000,000 page views a day (around a trillion a year) and it has around 800,000,000 users (similar to Facebook) who watch 3,000,000,000 hours of video a month.
After digesting these staggering numbers I came to the conclusion that anyone reading this will have at some point fallen victim themselves to the procrastination inducing powers of videos titled “LOLZ – this is totes amazeballs…” or at least something similar, and probably wonder how an earth YouTube has become such a media phenomenon wherein randomness reigns supreme!
Both YouTube’s size and its ability to distract are a result of its most important feature – that it allows anyone to become a broadcaster. Because of this strategy, and the digital media revolution in general, there has been a shift in how we all consume media over the past few years. For example, with regards to broadcast media, CNN has 61,000 subscribers on YouTube, yet the otherwise unknown Young Turks news channel (the bombastic, longest standing all online American politics show), with a fraction of CNN’s resources, has gathered 340,000. If online news channels such as the Young Turks can attract nearly six times as many online viewers as a global news company then surely there are wider implications for broadcast media’s biggest brands?
Almost as a reaction to this though is that I do sometimes wonder whether in the land of viral video and social media consumption it is possible for the likes of “Baby monkey riding backwards on a pig,” and “Credit Suisse AG Videos” to peacefully coexist? Certainly we have to celebrate the diversity YouTube has on offer and Credit Suisse’s collated views are impressive, but with regards to success, one breaks the viral fresh-hold and one doesn’t. Then again this is dependent on the audience and their consumption habits; there will always be the niche following and YouTube does work excellently as a resource – think ‘how to’ guides for specialist products.
Whilst not every brand can create an Old Spice Guy or taste the rainbow like Skittles, there are considerable opportunities on YouTube for brands to be different. The online landscape is a much more level playing field and many brands who have always dominated traditional media end up playing like amateurs on YouTube, whilst the real amateurs play like the international brands. YouTube in this sense gives real power to the people, and brands big and small (although it is worth noting that Young Turks are firmly established these days).