Why Brands Suck at YouTube

Touchstorm says only 74 of top 5,000 channels on platform belong to advertisers

Brands as publishers? Yeah right. Unless your business card says “chief Red Bull video guy” your brand is blowing it on YouTube.

At least, that’s the assesment of Touchstorm, a company that claims to be able to get brands' videos distributed—and even better, watched—all over the Web.

What makes Touchstorm so qualified to say that so many brands are blowing it on Google's mega-video platform? Well, according to an analysis the company has just released, The Touchstorm Video Index: Top Brands Edition, among the top 5,000 channels on YouTube, only 74 belong to brands.

Touchstorm notes that huge brands like Pepsi and Coke are not in its top ten list of brands on YouTube (though the much smaller Blendtec is). Despite the preponderance of instructional beauty videos on YouTube, makeup brands are next to nowhere on the platform.

In addition, The Mormon Church outranks Apple and Microsoft, Ford Models tops Ford Motors, and Little Tykes buries Toys ‘R Us when it comes to YouTube subscribers, per Touchstorm.

That’s where brands blow it, says Touchstorm. Even companies like Lego and EA that have produced standout YouTube content are lousy when it comes to converting subscribers and bringing back repeat viewers, according to Touchstorm CEO Alison Provost.

“It’s pretty simple formula,” she said. “Make the right content and market it right. That means acting like a publisher.”

Provost says acting like a publisher means deciding whether your brand should entertain or inform. If consumers are gravitating to How-to videos on YouTube in a particular category, don’t fight that trend by doing something entertaining, she argues.

And when it comes to marketing, too many brands just buy pre-roll ads, when YouTube requires unique tactics, like annotations and thumbnails within videos that drive users to subscribe. Subscribers keep coming back, and they are the ones that share the most, says Provost.

“You have to do what has been done for all social media,” she said. "This year, brands are finally figuring out that YouTube is social media. And for a certain generation, YouTube is their TV.”

Right, and given that fact, shouldn’t brands just try and leverage YouTube stars and talents with built in followings (like say Smosh)? Wrong answer, argues Provost, since most campaigns using YouTube talent drive fans to that talent’s channel or website, and ultimately doesn't convert to consistent viewers for brands.

“The brand's reasoning is, ‘they’ve got a big audience I don't have one,’” said Provost. “But YouTube is fundamentally their media. if you have an exclusive piece of content, what you should be saying is, ‘you’ve got to go this channel, to get this…Not everybody, but most brands can do something.”