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Publishers underestimate YouTube

Publishers go for new shiny social media and forget YouTube

Publishers trying to attract young consumers focus too much on new and shiny social media like TikTok and Instagram, but they don’t have a strategy for YouTube that with 2.5 billion monthly active users is the second most popular social network in the world after Facebook with 2.9 billion, writes Damian Radcliffe, Professor in Journalism, and Professor of Practice, at the University of Oregon on Digital Content Next (earlier Online Publishers Association).

He argues that it is time for a change presenting three major arguments: size, versatility, and reach.

“For publishers interested in reaching Millennials, Gen Z, and even Generation Alpha (a cohort born in the past decade), YouTube should feature prominently in their plans.”

He quotes a Pew Research report showing that among teens, nearly one in five (19%) say they use YouTube almost constantly. “That puts it ahead of both TikTok (16%) and Snapchat (15%). Collectively, around three-quarters of U.S. teens (77%) visit YouTube on a daily basis, some way in front of its rivals.”

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“According to Semrush, a software-as-service (SaaS) platform used for keyword research and online ranking data, last month YouTube was the second most visited website in the world with 60.9 billion visits. The average session visit was a whopping 29 mins 42 seconds.”

He quotes Nic Newman, lead author of Reuters Institute’s annual Digital News Report, saying that YouTube is a seriously undervalued part of most publishers’ audience development plans and the second most important network for news after Facebook.

In the United States, YouTube is the second most popular social channel for news in a typical week. That puts it behind Facebook but some way ahead of Twitter.

“Video-led podcasts are part of the reason for this popularity, as well as the opportunity to access content on multiple devices. This includes desktop and Smart TV consumption, which allows YouTube to play in the background, as well as more active “lean in” viewing.”

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“The rise of YouTube viewing on TV sets is one reason why mobile increasingly makes up a smaller percentage of overall views in many developed markets. This presents opportunities for content creators to reach audiences in new places and spaces.”

“Meanwhile, the ease of publication (and lack of a requirement for a broadcast license) has resulted in the emergence of YouTube TV-style shows and commentary alongside popular formats such as WIRED Autocomplete Interview (where celebrities answer the internet’s most searched questions about themselves) and Vogue’s 73 Questions video series.”

Radcliffe stresses that YouTube Shorts, a TikTok copy, “is also a growing priority for the platform and another space that publishers may look to capitalize on.”

“Collectively, these formats, along with more traditional video content found on the site, present a variety of means for publishers’ to harness YouTube as part of their engagement and revenue strategies.”

He argues that creators can make money on advertising, sponsored content, channel subscriptions and online shopping.

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“When it comes to both content and opportunities for revenue, the platform’s versatility means you don’t have to deploy a cookie-cutter model to be successful on it. There’s scope for variety, experimentation and avoiding the “one size fits all” approach, which you sometimes encounter on other platforms.”

Among potential problems, he says YouTube’s recommendation engine can drive viewers away from your channel to other creators.

“Publishers might prefer to keep traffic (and its associated ad revenue) on their own properties. And last year The Information argued that Programmatic ad sales were also hurting midsized publishers.”

“Nonetheless, despite these real considerations, YouTube’s size, versatility, and reach with younger audiences are all major plus points”, Radcliffe writes.

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