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YouTube paid versus earned media: Which works better on mobile?

Despite YouTube's work at monetizing its growing mobile traffic with new advertising units, earned media could be the bigger opportunity if brands can get it right.

This week YouTube rolled out a new mobile version of its homepage takeover ad, which has been fairly successful on desktop and could be appealing for brands that already have a strong presence on the platform. However, a recent report from Octoly found that, for certain brands, consumers are watching more user-generated content about that brand than content that brands themselves are creating

"Even with new ad units, earned media is the bigger opportunity for marketers within YouTube mobile," said Eugene Youn, vice president of business development at Rhythmn NewMedia, Mountain View, CA.

"On a user-generated content platform like YouTube, authentic, user-initiated brand engagement ultimately ends up winning more fans," he said.

Earning mobile media
As the amount of video content continues to grow, finding ways to get a brand?s existent content viewed by as many consumers as possible is also a challenge.

In fact, Octoly recently tracked YouTube videos from 1,000 brands and celebrities, correlating to 28 million videos across one million channels. 

The research found that a massive amount of brands? content ? both user-generated and on marketers? pages ? is going unnoticed.

For certain brands, such as video games or beauty, the amount of user-generated content that consumers are watching heavily outweighs the amount of content that brands themselves are creating.

For example, 95 percent of video views related to Call of Duty came from user-generated content. These videos are giving gamers tips or strategies on how to play.

Only five percent of videos watched came from the brand?s official page.

The YouTube app

Red Bull, Victoria?s Secret and Lego are all examples of brands that are getting video content right within their own pages.

The reason why these brands are succeeding with earned media is because they are cranking out content on a regular basis.

At the same time, Red Bull, Lego and Victoria?s Secret also are investing in content that has a strong storytelling component, suggesting that the key to winning on YouTube with earned media is a mixture of quality and quantity.

?It's a mix of paid, earned and owned media that make the brand efficient on YouTube,? said Thomas Owadenko, CEO and founder at Octoly, Paris.

?Brands should not monitor one or other individually. It's an holistitc approach,? he said.

Paid opportunity
This week YouTube rolled out a new mobile version of its homepage takeover ad, which is a popular ad spot on desktop.

The ads appear as a regular video at the top of the page within the ?What to Watch? section in YouTube?s apps.

Fox recently used the ad to promote the show ?Almost Human? with a 30-second ad, according to a YouTube video from BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield that was posted this week.

With 40 percent of traffic coming from mobile, Google is looking to help monetize some of its content with more compelling advertising units than banner advertisements.

As marketers look to move away from banner ads, YouTube?s new mobile ad unit also points to the rise in native forms of advertising that publishers are embracing to reach consumers through their mobile devices where they are spending a substantial amount of time watching videos. 

These new paid ads give marketers guaranteed reach, but could also be easily be skimmed over as consumers scroll through videos.

YouTube also offers mobile pre-roll video ad placements that play before content. However, consumers have become accustomed to skipping these kinds of ads, according to Mark Pinsent, social and content lead at Metia, London.

?Brands need to focus on creating useful, entertaining, thought-provoking content aligned to the audience's interests and passions,? Mr. Pinsent said.

?And then market that content hard, which could include some smart social media marketing,? he said. ?But, in my humble opinion, as soon as something is marked as an ad, its ability to influence is reduced.?