With more and more time spent online each and every year, especially during the times of Covid-19, brands are shifting more focus towards online audiences than ever before. Social media is the primary time-consuming activity for internet users, particularly amongst people aged 16-24 (Review 42). In addition, traditional entertainment mediums such as movie theaters and large venues have suffered significant financial losses due to the pandemic.
On the other hand, platforms such as Youtube and Tiktok have seen increasing downloads, as well as time spent on the platforms (The Verge, BusinessofApps). Brands have capitalized on the growing popularity by partnering with the largest creators on Youtube to market their products and services. Youtube creators provide a variety of benefits that enable them to market the brands that they partner with.
One of the largest benefits of utilizing influencer marketing is that creators provide seamless integration. Seeing a commercial on TV or on a billboard can seem impersonal and can prove ineffective at grabbing the attention of a target audience. However, Youtube provides the opportunity for a product or service to be used in the context of a video, making an ad seem more genuine and sincere. For example, popular creators Colin & Samir, as well as Peter McKinnon, have made videos sponsored by Storyblocks, a company that provides stock pictures and video for a fee. Both Colin & Samir as well as Peter McKinnon utilize stock video from storyblocks in their Youtube videos, so they can seamlessly display the service that they are marketing, rather than simply name-dropping the brand. Another Youtube channel that has mastered the art of seamless integration is Yes Theory, who makes videos involving travel and meeting strangers. They have partnered with apps such as Bumble and Tinder to meet strangers before traveling to different countries.
In addition to seamless marketing, some brands have essentially become synchronous with certain channels. Perhaps the most well known collaboration is between David Dobrik and Seatgeek. Dobrik, who currently has 18 million subscribers on his Youtube, creates short videos of his crazy LA lifestyle along with his friends who make frequent appearances in his videos. Seatgeek has essentially become another frequently recurring character in David’s videos. For example, David has given away several cars to his friends, and he has also had several Tesla giveaways on his Instagram, all sponsored by seatgeek. By frequently collaborating with Seatgeek with the phrase “Seatgeek is an amazing app that helps you buy tickets in the easiest way possible,” David has created an association between Seatgeek and giveaways.
Lastly, brands partner with creators to make exclusive merchandise. Popular gaming and lifestyle organization FaZe Clan has partnered with Manchester City, Lyrical Lemonade, and the NFL to create merchandise. These are typically a one time partnership which creates a sense of exclusivity. However, some companies' entire business model is based off of merchandise collaborations. For example, Fanjoy creates and sells merchandise for creators such as David Dobrik as well as Addison Rae (who at the time of writing has 52 million followers on Tiktok). It is clear that creators will be at the forefront of entertainment and culture for the coming future, and brands have a great opportunity to capitalize on the multitude of benefits that influencer marketing brings.