Within 18 months of its launch, YouTube was getting 72 million visitors every month. Then Google bought it.
Almost 90% of Google’s $66bn annual revenue come from ads, so it was clear that their aim was to monetise YouTube. With original content from hobbyists, makers, engineers, artists, musicians and mechanics, surely YouTube’s ads would be equally innovative, right?
Instead we got a load of regurgitated TV adverts for cars and cat food. What was missing was a basic understanding of the channel, and how YouTube simply isn’t ‘TV on your computer’.
A number of major brands set up YouTube channels for the various territories that they operate in, and immediately diluted their reach. The majority of these channels were awash with content that was created for TV, and corporate videos masquerading as bespoke content created for a digital channel.
Computers and mobile devices give us access to an infinite amount of knowledge, and when people subscribe to YouTube channels they’re looking for educational yet entertaining content.
We looked at the stats from the UK channels of the 10 largest car manufacturers in the world (which comprises 13 individual car brands) along with four high-end car-makers for good measure.
In total, these 17 brands have 248,427 subscribers and a combined 199,546,854 views on their 4,973 videos.
Pretty impressive, on the face of it.
However, when compared with two popular car enthusiast channels, we see a very different picture. Powered by personality, petrol and puns, Mighty Car Mods has built a thriving community of followers from their Sydney base. Another example, Motor Trend, is an American automobile magazine that first appeared 1949 and has clearly embraced the digital movement.
There are car lovers the world over, so how about a more obscure example, like a Canadian who builds things out of wood that he mostly finds in people’s bins?
Well, that’s exactly what Matthias Wandel does for his 593,683 subscribers and as a result, he’s racked up 190 million views.
So what does wood-working have to do with modifying cars?
It shows that the guys at Mighty Car Mods, Motor Trend and Matthias Wandel get what YouTube is all about and between them they’ve made thousands of videos that speak to the YouTube audience.
People don’t go to YouTube to subscribe to a channel that simply hosts a brand’s TV ads and corporate videos, they go there to see what camera you used to make the advert, to see behind the curtain and find out what software you’re editing on, how much torque the car in your advert makes and why it has Pirelli tyres and not Bridgestone.
That’s why car adverts created for TV don’t translate to YouTube and why the UK’s YouTube channels for 17 of the biggest car manufacturers in the world combined have a smaller YouTube audience than two friends who modify cars in their spare time.
The bottom line? Make sure you have the right background research on a channel and its audience before producing content for it.