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At a time when many marketers are trying to predict when their lives will return to pre-pandemic normalcy, let’s examine three key trends reshaping YouTube marketing today.
1. Audiences are receptive to AI, but content is still king
Creators are utilizing AI to generate some amazing content, as I noted in a previous article, “The best AI video generators for creators and marketers.”
For example, Curious Refuge uploaded “Lord of the Rings by Wes Anderson Trailer | The Whimsical Fellowship” on May 9. Created by Artificial Intelligence, Caleb Ward, Shelby Ward, and Tyler Smith, this delightful fan-made trailer now has 4 million views.
Since then, Curious Refuge uploaded “Barbenheimer | Movie Trailer” on July 18. Created by Artificial Intelligence, Mike Fink, and Caleb Ward, this video now has more than 387,000 views.
“ANIME ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS,” which Corridor uploaded on Feb. 26, now has 4.2 million views.
Since then, Corridor uploaded “ANIME ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS 2” on Aug. 12. Episode 2 now has over 823,000 views.
And my article featured ““러브홀릭스(Loveholics) – ‘Butterfly’ 커버 COVER [ ],” which RuiCovery uploaded on Dec. 2, 2022. This song by a virtual YouTuber, or VTuber, now has 1.4 million views.
Since then, RuiCovery uploaded “FIFTY FIFTY – Cupid COVER [RuiCovery] | KPOP TIKTOK VIRAL MUSIC” on Aug. 16. This cover now has almost 25,000 views.
It’s worth noting that in all three cases, earlier videos created with AI-based tools got more views than later ones. So, using AI tools doesn’t guarantee your video will go viral.
I now realize that my article focused on the AI-based tools these three YouTube creators used, not the content they’d created. So, I may have been looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
So, here’s the first trend that’s reshaping YouTube and video marketing:
Marketers and pundits may be looking at which AI tools are reducing the time, training, and expense required for creators to bring their visions to life. However, audiences are still evaluating the content, not the video production techniques.
Up to 60% of audiences agree that they are open to watching content from creators that use AI to generate their content, according to the YouTube Culture and Trends Report 2023.
So, if creators use AI to apply director Wes Anderson’s iconic style to their beloved sci-fi fantasy, their content gets more than 4 million views. But if the same creators use AI to generate a mashup of two blockbuster films that are polar opposites, then their content gets less than 400,000 views.
In other words, AI may eventually become Prime Minister, but content is still king.
2. The line between creators and their audiences is blurring
Marketers should think twice before using Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers to segment their target audiences.
And whenever you come across a news story or research about generations, remember to consider the following:
- “Generational categories are not scientifically defined.”
- “Conversations about generations often focus on differences instead of similarities.”
The line between Gen Z and millennials isn’t the only one that’s blurring. The line between creators and their audiences is blurring, too.
- 40% of all the respondents 18-44 years old described themselves as video content creators, according to the YouTube Trends Survey mentioned above.
Now, how did Think with Google package this insight? In July 2023, it proclaimed that “41% of Gen Z describe themselves as video content creators.”
But if you do the math, 41% of Gen Z isn’t significantly different than 40% of 18- to 44-year-olds online. And we don’t know if Gen X or baby boomers are similar or different because they weren’t surveyed.
So, this trend does not signal that “kids today” are significantly different from their predecessors. Something else that is much broader and has been happening for much longer is blurring the line between creators and their audiences.
YouTube’s Smriti Sinha and Maddy Buxton surmise:
“In 2023, thanks to the availability of advanced tech tools, fans have a more active role in shaping culture than ever. Fandom is more layered, and it’s shifting not only how people experience and participate in video culture but how they perceive their role.”
Umm, OK. The availability of advanced tech tools is certainly a factor.
But this first trend has been hiding in plain sight for years. According to Tubular Labs data:
- In 2014, 12.8 million creators uploaded 159 million YouTube videos, which got 4.0 trillion views.
- In 2015, 14.8 million creators uploaded 194 million YouTube videos, which got 5.1 trillion views.
- In 2016, 18.1 million creators uploaded 251 million YouTube videos, which got 7.2 trillion views.
- In 2017, 19.8 million creators uploaded 334 million YouTube videos, which got 10.4 trillion views.
- In 2018, 18.4 million creators uploaded 355 million YouTube videos, which got 11.8 trillion views.
- In 2019, 16.5 million creators uploaded 336 million YouTube videos, which got 12.2 trillion views.
- In 2020, 14.4 million creators uploaded 381 million YouTube videos, which got 12.7 trillion views.
- In 2021, 13.8 million creators uploaded 479 million YouTube videos, which got 17.6 trillion views.
- In 2022, 16.7 million creators uploaded 732 million YouTube videos, which got 24.6 trillion views.
In other words, the number of creators worldwide has gone up and down over the past decade, but the number of videos they’re uploading to YouTube is now 4.6 times greater, and the number of views they’re getting is now 6.2 times greater.
Did advanced tech tools make producing content daily instead of weekly for millions of YouTube creators easier? Sure. But why bother?
Well, YouTube launched its Partners Program in 2007, which lets creators earn ad revenue from video ads that run on their channel.
With YouTube paying out more than $50 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years, a higher percentage of creators can now turn their side hustles into successful businesses with employees and full-fledged operations.
Oxford Economics estimates that YouTube’s creative ecosystem contributed over $35 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2022 and supported more than 390,000 full-time equivalent U.S. jobs last year.
For example, Hercules Candy is “just a wee little family candy shop that has been in the heart of East Syracuse, NY, since 1910.”
The business, founded by Robert Adrianos and his two brothers, fell on hard times and closed its store doors in 1972. Then, Robert’s grandson, Steve, reopened the business in 1977 and started making and selling candy from his home.
In 2017, the Andrianos family launched the Hercules Candy YouTube channel, which offered viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how treats like strawberry lemonade hard candy were made.
Their mix of long-form videos and live streaming attracted a following of sweet-toothed subscribers, and they saw the demand for their products take off.
The following year, the Andrianos could finally open a storefront, purchase new equipment, and hire additional staff.
More recently, the “wee little family candy shop,” which Steve and Terry Andrianos have run for 46 years, added Shorts to their mix of video content.
And advanced tech tools may accelerate their business growth going forward. But the family candy shop’s growth started in 2017 and was powered by their community of fans, who loved their behind-the-scenes look at how handmade chocolate and hard candy were made.
Since Steve and Terry Andrianos “don’t know how to take anything seriously,” they’d be the first to admit that they aren’t card-carrying members of Gen Z.
And because Steve is “fluent in sarcasm,” he might concede that the availability of advanced tech tools has helped their business. That is, if you consider their gas-fueled candy stove as an advanced version of his grandfather’s coal stone.
It’s also worth noting that “community building” pre-dates YouTube by thousands of years. And the reason why the line between creators and their audiences is blurring is that a significant percentage of your family, friends, and online community now describe themselves as video content creators.
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3. Long-standing language barriers are coming down
Since I’ve questioned AI and advanced tech tools, you might think I’m a “Luddite.” But you’d be wrong.
I happen to agree with Everett M. Rogers, the author of “Diffusion of Innovations,” who wrote:
“The interpersonal relationships between opinion leaders and their followers hang in a delicate balance. If an opinion leader becomes too innovative, or adopts a new idea too quickly, followers may begin to doubt his or her judgment.”
“One role of the opinion leader in a social system is to help reduce uncertainty about an innovation for his or her followers. To fulfill this role, an opinion leader must demonstrate prudent judgment in decisions about adopting new ideas.”
Now, I see you as the opinion leaders in your organizations, social networks, and online communities. I’m just trying to provide helpful content on the key trends reshaping YouTube marketing so you can demonstrate prudent judgment when making decisions that impact your organization, network, or community.
And sometimes, innovations that haven’t gotten much attention and new ideas that have flown under the radar can generate measurable results.
For example, long-standing language barriers are coming down as YouTube features like closed captions and multi-language audio enable global audiences to tailor their viewing experiences to their local preferences.
And more creators are using captions to add context, deliver inside jokes, or provide Easter eggs for interested viewers.
Closed captions have also contributed to the rise of “silent vlogs,” which use subtitles to add commentary without interrupting a video’s immersive storytelling.
Not only were users open to watching videos without sound, but videos with “silent vlog” in the title garnered 24 million views in 2022, according to global data from YouTube.
Meanwhile, YouTube’s multi-language audio feature lets anyone upload different audio tracks to the same video.
For ads specifically, YouTube is experimenting with an AI-powered offering that can dub English video ads into nine languages, with more coming soon. The option opens up a new world of possibilities for creators, brands, and viewers hoping to reach wider audiences.
YouTube’s most subscribed individual creator, Mr. Beast, recently shared how he dubbed his most popular videos into 11 languages to cater to more of his international audience.
Creators testing multi-language dubbed videos saw over 15% of their watch time come from videos in nonprimary language.
Midnatt, the alter ego of South Korean singer Lee Hyun, launched “Masquerade” in 6 languages (ENG/KR/JP/CH/ES/VN) in June.
Midnatt’s song even used AI to enhance pronunciation and make his vocals sound more natural in his non-native languages.
Audiences support these innovations.
- 54% of respondents said they follow a creator who creates content in a language other than their own, According to the same YouTube Trends survey, .
For marketers, dub tracks can mean reaching new audiences without the need for huge production budgets.
The road from here
So, even if other marketers are trying to predict when their lives will return to pre-pandemic normalcy, I’d recommend focusing on three key trends reshaping YouTube marketing today.
That’s more likely to get you where you want to go.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.