Google Killing The Social Influencer Brand Partnership
Google has made a major change to YouTube that should have brands who have been partnering with video content creators more than just annoyed. Video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding are no longer allowed on YouTube — unless the sponsor pays Google to advertise on that channel.
What Is Going On
Video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding are no longer allowed — unless the sponsor pays Google to advertise on that channel.
It's actually really interesting, as the same issues are occurring on television. When you watch TV content and you see a brand in the content, most people jump to the assumption that it is paid for. In reality, less than 90% of what you see in movies or TV has had a cash fee attached to it. I work with productions and brands for a living, and have for almost 20 years. We are definitely in an interesting time.
Movie and TV content creators - just as many digital content creators - have relied on product placement to help offset or save actual dollars from the budget - from their bottom line costs. Getting a loaner car versus having to pay $$ for that rental car (or better yet, the full car if the show is destroying it, and needing doubles or triples for the scenes) is a good example of why this 'scratch my back by showing my brand and I'll scratch yours by helping you save money' has been the standard for the last couple of decades. And the brand providing that loaner car wants to be sure they get something in return - namely, their logo on screen.
Impact On Consumers
So how do you win as a consumer? Before you cry 'this sucks I don't want to see brands in my content', remember that whole cost savings part. If production is able to save a few hundred thousand (or even more) through brand cost savings, they can redirect that budget into better special effects or production quality. And they do.
The dollars saved don't just go into people's pockets, nor do the dollars earned through those smaller brand integration deals.
The Small Brand Conundrum
A lot of the brands that get product placement are not 'giant' brands, with super deep pockets. And they often don't do any sort of national media ad buying. In some cases these brands have some smaller budgets that they will direct to a content producer to help build a bigger story, and help to impact that production budget even more so. But TV ad networks - just like YouTube - have decided that all of these brands with even small budgets should have to meet minimum ad buy requirements, often in the realm of 7 + figures, which they just can't do. And when $'s are agreed to, the network/distributor is taking the money anyway, so it doesn't help the content creator. So in the end more and more the brand loses and the production loses.
So we have to wonder - will music videos be next as targets by YouTube? That type of medium is one of the areas that almost always is paid for by a brand (less than you think by the way), and the CPM reached is absolutely incredible. Seriously incredible, and not leveraged by brands enough at all. Music artists and their labels are hurting for dollars, and these integration partnerships are one of the reasons they can actually make their videos often. Literally the case may be no brand $, no music video.
And what about Instagram, Twitter and Facebook? The government is now requiring that sponsored content - even when provided free to social media influencers bloggers (who love getting free things, don't you!) - needs to be called out as 'sponsored'. Will these social networks next require an ad buy accompany the influencer's post?
What do you think? Will YouTube win at this tactic, or will content creators and social media influencers find new ways to distribute branded content for which they would otherwise not be receiving dollars?
So Now What?
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