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How You Can Embrace the Holy Grail of Online Marketing

How You Can Embrace the Holy Grail of Online Marketing
Image credit: Oliver Munday
This story appears in the December 2014 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Unless you’ve been sitting in front of a cathode-ray tube TV for the past few years, you’ve seen how important video has become as a marketing tactic. 

In fact, paid advertising on YouTube converts more customers than any other online platform, according to AOL Platforms. The number of digital video viewers in the U.S. is expected to increasen by more than 22 million between 2013 and 2017, according to eMarketer.

“Ultimately, video is so effective for business marketing because it works,” says Bettina Hein, founder and CEO of Pixability, a Boston advertising and video marketing platform for YouTube. “As the star power—and business pull—of video-content creators only grows, we’ll see more brands effectively leveraging their industry’s independent creators to cross-promote and co-create.” 

The beauty of online video is the fact that interactions and conversions can be tracked and measured—something brands could never do with precision on TV. According to the latest data available from the National Venture Capital Association, of the 4,041 VC deals struck in the last year, more than 10 percent (455) were for media and entertainment startups like those that help businesses and brands generate awareness and sales online. 

As evidence of interest in the online video space, Disney this year acquired YouTube video supplier Maker Studios for a reported $500 million, while Otter Media—a joint venture between AT&T and The Chernin Group—has taken a majority stake in Fullscreen, the largest independent YouTube network. Not to be left out, AwesomenessTV, one of the most-subscribed-to teen networks on YouTube, was acquired by DreamWorks Animation SKG, which went on to purchase Big Frame, a multichannel network that connects YouTube creators and advertisers, for $15 million.

So what’s next for online video, and how can entrepreneurs take advantage? 

Crowdsourcing platforms are promoting independent filmmakers and producers to small companies that want to leverage user-generated video. By partnering with the likes of Tongal.com, Poptent.com or Zooppa.com, a company can have its video marketing assignment seen by thousands of filmmakers across the world, many with built-in followings. The results can be used to help a business tell its story, engage its audience and drive awareness and traffic. 

Additionally, companies are turning to online native advertising (aka product placement)—no longer a tactic used exclusively in television or the movies. By aligning your business or brand with a YouTube creator whose following matches your target demographic, you can knock off multiple birds—content creation, audience alignment and a high-profile endorsement—with one stone. Branded Entertainment Network, Sponsify, MediaSpike and Brandertainer are among the companies that facilitate native advertising in online video.

Finally, there are the networks, which affiliate themselves with multiple online video channels. For businesses that possess the in-house talent and creativity to launch a YouTube channel, these networks can offer assistance with programming, funding, digital rights management, audience development and product placement under one roof. Among such networks are Collective Digital Studio, StyleHaul and ChannelFlip. 

As it turns out, the means for effective storytelling no longer resides exclusively within your four walls. Outsourcing for the creativity, production value and distribution you need to compete in the age of video makes sense now more than ever before. 

Edition: December 2016

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