YouTube puts its money where its mouth isn’t
I’ve started a YouTube channel where I post videos of me talking about my pony, which sadly died. Yes, I’m vlogging a dead horse.
Vlogging is a word I still haven’t come to terms with. It is one of several modern portmanteaus that rub me up the wrong way. Vlogging (video + blogging) lives alongside normcore (normal + hardcore), glocal (global + local), labradoodle (labrador + poodle), and twerking (twisting + jerking). If someone was to set up a vlog in which they dressed in normcore while glocally twerking and walking a labradoodle I would probably throw up.
When I was young, I had Smash Hits and its pop stars. My daughters’ generations have pop stars too but now it isn’t just about music. The most popular vloggers – the likes of Zoella and Alfie Deyes (who together are Zalfie – don’t pretend you didn’t know that) – are a new breed of pop star. Video hasn’t killed the radio star and it never will, but we do now have some video stars. Some vloggers attract large followings and, like traditional pop stars, then gain wider exposure in more established mass media like radio, newspapers and TV.
Vlogging still feels like rather a niche word, but soon it may well be on everyone’s lips because YouTube is launching a mass media ad campaign to showcase some of its more popular vloggers (Zoella, Vice News and Slow Mo Guys). TV is central to this campaign with 30 second spots in primetime TV shows, including X Factor.
YouTube is to be congratulated on its decision to start advertising on TV. Obviously I’m pleased, but they are also following in the footsteps of many advertisers who have looked at the evidence we now have and made the informed decision to invest in what is proven to pay back.
However, the rationale YouTube gives for going on telly is a strange one:
“We are trying to show that broadcast TV is not the only route you can go down to reach large audiences and engaged, passionate groups of consumers around almost any niche of content. Irrespective of your brand or the topics you want to talk about, we are able to find it on YouTube.”
If you’re trying to prove YouTube does what broadcast TV does, why bother with broadcast TV? Aren’t you sort of admitting TV does things YouTube can’t? If the claim is true, you would just have to advertise on YouTube to get your point across. QED.
This is the latest in YouTube’s complicated and unresolved relationship with TV. In the early days, it kept saying TV was dead and YouTube was the future. Then, in 2009, it launched a marketing campaign promoting the fact it was home to some proper TV content (with the line ‘YouTube’s got TV’). Then it launched its own ‘channels’. Then a couple of years ago Eric Schmidt said YouTube had ‘displaced’ TV (we were so gob-smacked at the gall of this we blogged about it to put the claim in context). And now YouTube is advertising on TV to tell people they are an alternative to TV.
There’s isn’t a clear logic to this love/hate relationship so who knows what YouTube’s next move as regards TV will be. Maybe a broadcast TV channel?