Historically, companies have seen platforms like YouTube and Facebook solely as marketing opportunities. As a result, they have invested less in producing high-quality entertainment specifically for them and instead, reserved budget for their big campaigns to be distributed via traditional outlets like television. Digital platforms have long remained an afterthought, used as content libraries for past campaigns or simply for repurposing traditional media assets. What marketers need to realize is that content on these platforms can be profitable by understanding the differences between marketing and monetizing on digital platforms.
Brands and media companies have the opportunity to monetize content on these platforms by acting like creators––opening up their videos as inventory on which others can advertise and therefore, make money from, which can then be used to produce even more content.
As monetization offerings have matured over the past few years, some companies have started to recognize the revenue opportunity on YouTube, and more recently, on Facebook. For example, in the last two years, one of our large network clients has successfully turned on monetization across all its properties on YouTube. This network has only been successful because it also shifted its entire mindset and content strategy. It no longer approached YouTube as a marketing platform, but as an entertainment platform––a platform with revenue opportunity.
The difference between the two approaches is simple:
Marketing Strategy Approach: Companies repackage traditional content to live on digital platforms to potentially increase the lifespan of campaign or general awareness.
Monetization Strategy Approach: Companies utilize a social-first approach and produce content specifically for each platform, in the hopes of driving high viewership, and therefore high ROI.
When you monetize content on the platform, you are still representing your brand and marketing. Monetizing can drive similar results as marketing (i.e. brand awareness, engagement, and even off-platform goals), but the inverse is not true: marketing alone does not yield the same benefits as monetizing.
If more media companies and brands start to create and monetize their content like a creator would, the incremental revenue they see can then be used to produce more social video content. Taking a page from creators, brands can do this by producing digital-first content that they know will engage their audiences. When monetizing a YouTube channel experiencing fewer than 10,000 viewers per day can expect to earn around $7,000 per year. A channel with a million daily views across the channel, can expect to earn somewhere between $500,000 and one million dollars per year. The best way to ensure a steady stream of monetizable views to a channel is by coupling a sizable library with a regular cadence of new (and platform-specific) uploads. As we see with our clients, healthy channels can earn revenue between 20 and 200 times the size of their library.
Monetization opportunities vary by platform. YouTube is a much more mature monetization option. Despite some of the bumps in brand safety and fears of the Adpocalypse, YouTube is still the place to be. Feeding YouTube with premium brand safe content (which more creators and brands are doing after these incidents) will only help to bolster brands and their efforts in monetization. With a strong foundation as a search engine, it thrives on search functionality, allowing brands more opportunity to have their content resurfaced and subsequently, to monetize that content. Because of their emphasis on search and discovery, YouTube videos can continue to generate revenue years after they are posted––something that is more valuable than ever in today’s world, in which videos such as Despacito can drive more than three billion views in 203 days and quickly take the spot of most viewed video on YouTube. YouTube, enables monetization that can deliver a long-tail of monetizable traffic. Remember that epic fail or incredible performance on that one show three years ago? If you’re monetizing on YouTube, you can make money on that one scene for years after it happens thanks to the platform’s search capabilities. Compare that to five years ago, when it took Psy’s Gangnam Style a few months to surpass one billion views, or even two years ago when it took a few months for Wiz Khalifa’s Furious 7 homage, See You Again, to surpass two billion views. Note that Psy reigned supreme for over five years before another video could outrun it. “See You Again” was only #1 for about two years. Despite the increasingly saturated world of social video, view velocity, the speed at which videos rack up views, is also increasing.
Monetization on Facebook is still in its initial stages, but will improve over time. Its search functionality is not as strong as it is on YouTube, so videos don’t resurface quite as easily just yet. Facebook is improving these functions and continues to evolve as a video hub. Through consistent and compelling content, brands and media companies can lay the foundation for their online audience now. As online strategies become more robust, these audiences will only grow, and drive larger returns in the future. Facebook has and will continue to have the ability to scale on their side, so it’s worth it for brands to begin investing now.
Monetization and views go hand in hand — when done right. Monetization can have the opposite intended effect and deter viewers when brands are not creating compelling content AND subjecting viewers to ads. When monetization is turned on, brands need to ensure engaging content creation. In addition to digital revenue, another incentive for brands is the algorithmic value that is present when you monetize your content. With the monetization switch turned on, YouTube’s algorithm that places content in search results favors monetized content. Simply put, monetizing content floats it to the top of search results on most platforms.
Monetizing your videos on YouTube and Facebook don’t have to be the end game right now, but whether you like it or not, we will soon be living in a world where companies of all sizes turn on social video monetization and focus on ROI approaches to content distribution. Maximizing your digital distribution strategy does not require you to put all your eggs in one basket, but investing in the production of platform-specific content can help you reach and engage with new audiences. And guess what? You can use that reach to drive viewership to other platforms, including your owned and operated properties.
It’s time to figure out that strategy and build up an audience now, so you can profit in the future.