YouTube is a blessing for marketers in several important ways. The primary benefit of YouTube is that it’s a place for marketers to distribute video content to consumers. Marketers can make product information videos, behind the scenes videos, interviews, commercials, and more, all on a network with hundreds of millions of viewers, and it’s free to publish. The other benefit comes from YouTube’s ability to send referral traffic to a website. This can happen from people clicking on ads or notations in a video, or from links on a YouTube channel. A recent report from AOL Platforms provides evidence that this referral traffic may be one of the greatest things about YouTube. This new report suggests that YouTube is the most effective social network at driving conversions and introducing consumers to new products.
The power of YouTube for marketer has become clearer in recent months. Earlier this year, we reported on a study that analyzed the quality or referral traffic (based on bounce rate, average number of pages viewed, and average time on site) found YouTube to be at the top of the ladder. This most recent praise for YouTube comes from a study published by AOL Platforms and Converto. The study sought to analyze how social media marketing affected ROI by watching the effects at various points in the sales cycle.
“To understand how social media channels contribute to an advertiser’s efforts, we leveraged Convertro’s multi-touch attribution technology to analyze all social media exposures that occurred in Q1 2014 across its entire client base,” explained the authors, in the report itself.
“This data uncovers how social channels influenced sales conversions and to what extent, and how brands can use this information to optimize their media spend. To reveal true user action, this report is based on real world, third party customer data rather than relying on survey data, which can be unreliable.”
Besides the findings on YouTube, the study had several other key takeaways. The report notes that social media marketing is effective because these channels have a ‘significant impact on a customer’s path to purchase and strongly influences their buying decisions.’ The study also points out that paid promotion of social media content is a valuable tool that can be used to effectively direct consumers towards a certain part of the sales funnel. Besides content promotion, paid advertising on social networks, when available, is also effective. However, as the findings on YouTube show, the performance differs on each network. Some social networks are more conducive to awareness while others are geared toward conversions.
The researchers looked at referral traffic from social media sites to see where in the sales funnel they landed. The study found that YouTube was the most successful at bringing people into the start of the sales funnel as well as being the most successful at bringing people into the final stage. The reported noted that ‘YouTube appeared to be the strongest of the social networks at introducing new products (18%) and driving conversions (14%)’. This is further evidence that video is an important format for advertising to potential customers, which is something that was discussed in another article.
“We believe that YouTube does well in both of these important purchase funnel areas for a number of reasons,” Jeff Zwelling, CEO and co-founder at Convertro, told VentureBeat. “YouTube’s own search volume and preferential positioning on Google’s results help drive large amounts of traffic, of course. But when you get to YouTube, the content is rich, descriptive, and usually helpful.”
For those who are wondering, Facebook came in a ‘close second place in terms of introducing new products (11%) and closing sales (10%)’.
Marketers should remember that there a lot of ways they can use YouTube to promote their brand. They can produce video content, which in itself provides endless possibilities, run video ads before other YouTube content, run video banner ads, or even the YouTube homepage ad (assuming there’s a lot of ad budget to burn). The findings of the AOL Platforms report show that marketers should make the effort to see how they can leverage YouTube to their benefits. There are a lot of ways to do it so experimentation is necessary.