Jessica Wood

YouTube product endorsement: Flogging and Vlogging

It’s YouTube marketing, but not as we know it. I’m not talking about those annoying ads at the start of videos, whose “You can skip to video in 5 seconds” button we can’t help but hammer-click until it finally takes us to what we really want to watch. Or even ad banners, video adverts or viral videos. This YouTube marketing is more a type of product placement, or even celebrity endorsement, where YouTubers (people who film themselves and upload videos to YouTube) recommend everything from mascara to coconut water to their impressionable followers.

It’s YouTube marketing, but not as we know it. I’m not talking about those annoying ads at the start of videos, whose “You can skip to video in 5 seconds” button we can’t help but hammer-click until it finally takes us to what we really want to watch. Or even ad banners, video adverts or viral videos. This YouTube marketing is more a type of product placement, or even celebrity endorsement, where YouTubers (people who film themselves and upload videos to YouTube) recommend everything from mascara to coconut water to their impressionable followers.

Making you beautiful

The most popular genre of YouTube endorsement is beauty videos from self-styled “beauty gurus”. These beauty gurus, some of whom attract hundreds of thousands of followers, film and upload various types of help videos to their ‘vlog’ channels. These vlogs include a wide range of beauty and fashion topics including tips on makeup for different occasions, nail and hair tutorials to OOTD (outfit of the day) videos, product reviews and clothes hauls. Some even post vlogs and TAG (question and answer) videos, which allow the viewer to get even closer to the YouTuber. By getting an insight into a day in their personal life of these beauty gurus, a virtual relationship is fostered between vlogger and subscriber – creating the perfect conditions for successful product endorsement.

Take Blair Fowler for example. Better known as juicystar07, she is an 18 year old American beauty guru with over a million YouTube subscribers. Her life motto is “Conquering the world one lip-gloss at a time”. She regularly features products on her vlog channel and even has a ‘shop’ link where you can buy her all her favourite products. The benefits of this type of endorsement are obvious, brands know that the product is being exposed to only the right target market. juicystar07’s subscribers unsurprisingly are young girls who are interested in make-up, and more importantly are interested in what Blair has to say about certain products.

Hauling in the freebies

Another popular way of unofficially sponsoring video content is with ‘clothes hauls’. This term is used by beauty vloggers to describe clothes they’ve recently bought or have been given free in return for an endorsement. Some of them quite unashamingly plug the brand, an example of this is Thepersianbabe, who states in the video description, “Hello everyone! I’m back with a haul full of amazing sale items from ASOS! As I mention in the video it’s rare I make videos where I feature things I’m sent etc but I am a loyal fan of ASOS and so was excited they asked me for this opportunity. Here is the link to the sale.”

I have to admit that I’ve fallen victim to this type of marketing on more than one occasion. It’s surprisingly effective. The beauty gurus are under no obligation to endorse a product if it’s not any good, which is something that take great pains to emphasise to their audience.

User-friendly gadgets

It’s not just beauty products and clothes that are being marketed in this way. Shay Carl Butler is a popular YouTube personality, known mostly for his ShayTards channel, which features the daily adventures of Shay and his family. He was sent an XBOX 360 and a Kinect system by Microsoft because he and his family were shown playing on the console and having loads of fun in one of his video blogs. In return, he was asked to blog about it. It’s alright for some hey?

The video that he made was sent to Microsoft for approval before it was uploaded to make sure it was a suitable “advert” for the XBOX and Kinect system. For his community of just under one million subscribers, Shay shows how to set up the XBOX and Kinect emphasising how user friendly it is. It then shows him and his family having a great time playing on the console together. Advertising gold for Microsoft – reaching 1 million potential customers for the price of a console.

This time I wasn’t tempted to rush out and order an XBOX 360 Kinect, but I’m sure those in the market for a console may have been swayed in the direction of Microsoft.  However, I was taken in by his constant recommendation of Vita Coco coconut water and actually went out and bought a bottle. It wasn’t great!

Guess that shows endorsement can only take a brand so far…