UPDATE September 3, 2019 — YouTube, the ultimate destination for online video, is dominated by YouTube Creators who produce hours of video content for their communities of followers. This creator-centric culture has lent itself to a staggering variety of online video content on YouTube.
YouTube released 2018’s #YouTubeRewind, an annual celebration of YouTuber culture which remixes the “videos, people, music, and moments that defined 2018.” Based on data from 2018 trends and a little forecasting, we explore the top YouTube trends for 2019.
YouTube continues to be a destination for shoppers. The video medium is ideal for shopping because it allows viewers to see multiple angles of a product and real-life interaction. Common shopping video types include:
Users Go to YouTube to Shop
Viewers seek out YouTube as a destination for product research and shopping inspiration, and the data supports this:
This unambiguously suggests that brands are well positioned to connect with engaged shoppers via YouTube.
Passive to Active
Watching YouTube shopping videos has proven to be a surprisingly active experience, with many viewers using multiple screens to research products as they learn about them on YouTube. This active pursuit to shop translates into conversions for brands.
A YouTube Creator invites viewers to join them for their morning or nighttime routines. YouTubers film themselves getting ready for the day or ready for bed, including all of their daily rituals.
Though these routine videos tend to center around makeup and skincare regimens, they often include other daily habits. A morning routine might include going to the gym, drinking coffee, or styling hair; a nighttime routine might include taking vitamin supplements, applying essential oils, or chatting with family on FaceTime.
Google cites the growth of this trend over the past year:
Product Suggestions: Routine videos offer tons of opportunity to speak about products that YouTubers love enough to use every day. These videos are a product placement goldmine for beauty brands and other consumer product brands.
Intimacy: Waking up or going to sleep is intrinsically very personal, thus viewers feel a connectedness as they glimpse into a YouTube influencer’s daily practices. Advertisers can capitalize on the private nature of routines to evoke a visceral connection to their brand.
Habits: Routine videos invite subscribers to partake in a YouTube star’s daily habits, thus influencing viewers to adopt these same practices (and products) into their own daily routines. A successful sponsored placement in a routine video could add a new staple product to the consumer’s lineup.
Primitive technology refers to the process of building something using only naturally available materials. Primitive technology videos demonstrate how to build something in the wild, with no influence from modern technology. Videos in this genre instruct viewers on survival skills within the natural world with the aid of man-made artifacts.
Items constructed from scratch in the videos include:
As BBC puts it, “Primitive technology is more than just survival skills. It’s like hitting the reset button and seeing how advanced you could become if left to fend for yourself.” The Creator of the original Primitive Technology YouTube channel and blog coined the term, which has since spawned other content Creators to expand the genre. The survivalist movement has an active online community and subreddit. Between July 2017 and July 2018, monthly views on primitive technology, survival, and bushcraft videos have increased 248%.
The barebones nature of primitive technology makes it a mismatch for conventional influencer marketing. Most primitive technology videos have no spoken dialogue, as the viewer learns by watching the Creator’s technique while sparse captions offer cues.
Takeaways for marketers are thematic. Google explains the appeal of content that brings us “back to our roots:”
Mainstream celebrities are joining YouTube by launching their own channels, offering them a direct, personal way to connect with their fans. In contrast to the ubiquity of celebrities on social media channels like Instagram and Twitter, there are relatively few examples of celebrities releasing unscripted video content on YouTube. YouTube channels managed by record labels and traditional media publications have traditionally released professionally produced content in which celebrities appear.
On the other hand, some YouTube celebrities are getting help from YouTube production teams to create shows that live on YouTube (e.g. Adam Rippon‘s channel and his YouTube show called Break the Ice).
Celebrities are launching their own YouTube channels left and right:
The jump in celebrity YouTube channels continues to blur the line between social media influencer and celebrity. Prior to social media, celebrity spokesmodels were the blueprint for influencer marketing today. Celebrities as YouTubers brings this concept full-circle, suggesting that the two similar but disparate brand ambassadorships will continue evolving. YouTube is a platform for them to showcase their personality and connect with audiences in a new, personal way.
Celebrity channels can be a powerful marketing tool in part because the platform is inherently personality-driven. Celebrities already have a built-in following based on their fame—YouTube provides them with ownership and creative control over their content. =
While Twitch still dominates video game livestreaming, gaming content is wildly popular on YouTube. At over 81 million subscribers, the official YouTube Gaming feed showcases livestream video in addition to a diverse range of video game content. The global gaming market is projected to bring in more than $148 billion in revenue in 2019 and continue to grow through 2021.
Research shows that the female gaming presence continues to expand and we expect that to play out on YouTube as the genre grows. A recent Google survey found that 30% of audiences that regularly watch YouTube gaming videos are female. This statistic demonstrates that the gaming space is becoming slightly more gender neutral, enabling the gaming industry to continue to reach new audiences.
It’s clear that video games are becoming more popular each year, which means more gaming enthusiasts will be watching gaming content on YouTube. YouTube’s data shows that gamers are even more inclined to purchase goods like electronics and computers compared to the general online population. Marketers can embrace the gaming audience by developing campaigns that are suited for the online gaming community in terms of messaging, culture, and product offering.
In early 2018, YouTube famously changed their Creator monetization policies in such a way that smaller YouTubers (those with fewer than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year) could no longer earn ad revenue from their channel. This change in policy, sometimes called “Adpocalypse”, curtailed the number of Creators who could earn money via their YouTube channels, prompting a backlash from the Creator community.
As a result, other social channels have improved their own creator monetization opportunities as a way to entice creators onto their platform. Twitch has earned “creator friendly” reputation through a diverse range of monetization options for video game streamers. Facebook recently overhauled its features for creators, empowering influencers to earn money by selling subscriptions and badges to their Facebook following.
Creator monetization matters for advertisers because each time YouTube adjusts its monetization rules, it changes the goalpost for Creators.
This will change the playing field in the following ways:
Akin to the culture of participating in Challenges, YouTube creators are visiting Yelp’s (or other online review platforms) “worst” rated businesses. This type of video intends to show YouTubers as customers of “shoddy” businesses with the potential of dramatic scenes unfolding. Often focusing on the product or service’s quality, interactions between customers and business staff, and the business environment, vlogs based on online reviews generate tons of views.
For this reason, YouTube creators have taken to Yelp and other online review sites to find restaurants, tattoo parlors, bars, nail salons, etc. to determine if they truly deserve their low online ratings. In some cases, YouTubers are pleasantly surprised to find that the business with a 1-star rating isn’t actually that bad at all. Still, many find that the “worst” online reviews live up to their underwhelming ratings.
Because worst reviewed videos earn thousands and into the millions of views, marketers may view these as an opportunity to gain brand awareness and extend brand reach among consumers. However, due to the nature of these videos potentially bashing other businesses or exposing harmful online reviews, this content may not offer the best influencer sponsorship opportunity for brands. With brand safety at the forefront these days, it would be wise to steer clear of the worst reviewed video fad.
The docuseries video format is a documentary-style video that is released in segments, typically by an independent YouTube creator. Owing to the belief that YouTube favors long-form content, more YouTubers are producing docuseries content to generate more valuable views. Shane Dawson, Ariana Grande, and ACE Family are a few notable YouTube influencers creating these types of video series, but publisher accounts like Vice are also getting in on the action.
As creators constantly test new video styles in response to YouTube’s evolving algorithm, YouTube docuseries have emerged as a particularly impactful format for gaining immediate and significant viewership. In addition, the episodic nature translates into more hype around the docuseries in such a way that new viewers are inclined to watch all episodes. This means the opporunity for advertising is ripe for brand advertisers, and those who are keen on partnering with top YouTubers have guaranteed access to engaged viewers.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and refers to the subtle tingly feeling people experience when they see certain visuals or hear specific sounds. The “triggers” are soothing to audiences, hence, YouTube creators generate various types of ASMR content to address their audiences’ need for relaxing effects. While the category started of as a small niche, it has expanded into a large online community, including ASMRtists that cover a variety of ASMR content. Whether it’s whispering, cosplay, cooking, eating, makeup application, or book readings, ASMR invokes physical reactions that are extremely satisfying to viewers.
As ASMR continues to gain popularity, brands related ot mental health, meditation, therapy, and wellness are naturally suited to sponsor ASMR channels. ASMRtists have emerged as big players in the influencer marketing space, so brands interested in tapping into this rising category have the opportunity to partner with creators and sponsor their evocative content.
Mukbang is an audiovisual video in which a YouTube creator eats copious amounts of food while addressing the audience. While gorging oneself may not seem pleasant, viewers apparently take joy in watching YouTubers ravenously shovel food into their mouths. The video format also enables viewers who feel alone to “socialize” with the YouTubers. In other words, anyone who feels lonely will subsequently feel accompanied by the mukbang creator.
Mukbang, like most other YouTube trending content formats, has the potential to rack up thousands or millions of views. YouTubers like Yuka Kinoshita earn a living by creating mukbang content and working with brand sponsors. Any food-related brands have an automatic advantage when it comes to influener sponsorships.
In a relatively recent craze in the YouTube trending world, YouTubers have gotten creative (or is it unoriginal?) by relying on the person to determine what they eat or buy. The suspenseful decision-making of these videos draws in tons of views, just as most YouTube challenges do. Primarily dictating food orders—an insignificant decision—this challenge can also essentially affect anything creators do, like deciding what car to purchase—a comparatively much more consequential decision.
Much like it makes sense for food-related brands to sponsor mukbang content, the same brands would be suitable sponsors for “letting the person in front of me decide what I eat” challenges. For challenges that determine other consumer purchases, such as what car to buy, what hairstyle to get, or what clothes to purchase while shopping, brands of all sorts can feasibly sponsor unique challenge videos. The benefit of these types of videos is that they often spur a chain reaction in which several other YouTube creators, both big and small, follow suit and create their own versions. Therefore, brands have the chance to work with various YouTubers.