Influencer marketing is maturing on YouTube.
On Tuesday, YouTube rebranded FameBit, the influencer marketing and branded content platform it acquired in 2016, as YouTube BrandConnect.
YouTube hopes to make BrandConnect into a full-funnel offering, from making it easier for brands and creators to collaborate through to campaign creation, management and measurement.
Influencer marketing has been growing in general, and on YouTube specifically, said Lori Sobel, a 16-year Google vet who took on the role of global business head of YouTube BrandConnect two months ago after serving most recently as managing director for Google’s technology ad sales team.
Over the past two years, the average deal size facilitated by FameBit on YouTube grew by more than 260%.
“And we’re evolving our services accordingly,” Sobel said.
YouTube BrandConnect is also rolling out an advertising product called the app shelf. Viewers can download an app that’s being discussed in a branded video on the watch page directly beneath the video.
App shelf joins other related products already under the YouTube BrandConnect umbrella, including media shelf, where viewers can buy or rent streaming shows or movies mentioned in branded content, and shopping shelf, which does the same, but for any products featured in a branded video. There’s also the option to integrate an augmented reality try-on experience so that viewers can experiment with a product before buying it.
The shelf products can only be added to sponsored videos through deals facilitated by YouTube’s influencer platform, and can’t be retroactively added to an organic video that happens to be talking about a brand.
“The goal is to engage users who are already watching content and showing interest in a product, show or app – and then take it a step further by allowing them to take an action,” Sobel said.
Enabling performance is one of YouTube BrandConnect’s differentiators, as are the measurement solutions on offer, Sobel said.
“Brands need to measure the performance of their influencer marketing and make sure their media is accountable, just like they do with their ads,” she said.
There are three main metrics available through YouTube BrandConnect. Influencer lift measures the impact of organic engagement across brand metrics, including recall and purchase intent. Organic view-through conversions tracks the number of people who take a specific action after watching branded content, whether that’s visiting a website or shopping for a product. And brand interest lift measures whether a creator’s campaign is driving search activity across YouTube and Google. (These metrics already existed via FameBit.)
A Calvin Klein influencer campaign last year drove a more than 235% increase in consumer searches for the brand.
But YouTube isn’t the only show in town for creators anymore.
Roku, for example, is actively trying to make inroads with YouTube talent, and other streaming platforms are striking deals with pocket.watch, a digital media studio representing some of the most popular creators on YouTube, including Ryan’s World and Kids Diana Show. Facebook is wooing creators with monetization tools, Instagram already has a large slice of the influencer pie and TikTok is actively pursuing influencer deals.
And, in general, creators themselves are starting to blur the lines and launch campaigns across platforms, according to recent research from digital content studio Collab.
But Sobel is bullish on YouTube BrandConnect’s prospects.
“We help brands partner with creators, gathering insights about what audiences are watching and what they’re feeling at particular moments; we have consumer product innovations and we have measurement,” she said. “That’s what I’m bullish on and what we’re hearing there’s a need for in the market as brands lean into this more than ever.”