Times are changing and increasingly we’re being asked by clients where to spend marketing budgets, how to target social media campaigns, where to save on traditional media and how they can create meaningful content to support their brands.

So… what’s the answer?

Well, there’s no simple answer. But there are a few observations we’ve made over recent months that we feel are shaping kids, teens and the media industry:

  1. No longer is it just the networks, producers or big CEOs who are deciding whether content or a concept is a worthwhile investment. Performers of all kinds can now reach their audiences directly without the need (or expense) of a middle man and it’s young people who are making the decisions of who makes it or doesn’t
  2. YouTubers have risen in importance and popularity to the extent that they’re now competing with the traditional ‘Hollywood’ celebrities, in terms of the influence they have over kids and teens in society today

 

In a recent study this year, conducted by Variety among 1,500 teens aged 13-17 in the US it was found that the top 1-5 (of 10) and indeed 6 out of the ten “most influential figures among teen Americans were YouTube stars.

That’s BIG!

And to put it into real terms, people like Smosh, The Fine Brothers, PewDiePie, KSi and Ryan Higa are all felt to be “more engaging, extraordinary, relatable” than more mainstream stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Katy Perry. The scores achieved by these YouTubers were significantly higher than traditional celebrities across a range of characteristics considered to have the highest correlation to influencing purchase among teens.

It stands to reason that teens are heavily influenced by YouTubers because that’s their site/app of choice. But that doesn’t include the younger kids…or does it?

Have a look at EvanTube HD  – a little 8 yr old with a very big following. He’s got over 800 million views on his toy review blog. That’s 800 million kids viewing; children as young as 4 and 5 watching an 8 year old review and ‘play’ with cool toys that have just been released.

“Kids trust other kids more than they would an adult”, a quote from toy consultant Marc Rosenberg and we have to say we agree – especially when you hear that the toy brands themselves (including Mattel) are reporting uplift in sales since partnering with Evan e.g. Spy Gear toys told us they’ve seen a 65% boost in sales this year.

So even younger kids, are on YouTube (they’re not so much subscribing and ‘following’ at this age, but they’re watching and digesting) and they are being influenced by what they watch as well as who they watch.

  1. And this is an interesting one… YouTubers are moving from the virtual celebrity world, into the ‘real world’ of traditional celebs i.e. they’re becoming ‘Hollywood’

Just in the same way that Moshi Monsters broke the mould when it moved from a digital brand into the ‘real world’ space; creating plush toys, magazines, and albums, Youtubers are now moving onto our TVs and into our cinemas.

  • Take Bethany Mota (aka MacBarbie07), an entirely self-made celebrity aged only 18, announced in September that she was going on Dancing with the Stars. This is the show that’s had massive success in the US, with nearly 13 million tuning in to watch it every week…
  • Also, Shane Dawson (Shane DawsonTV) with the 56th ‘most subscribed channel’, known for his comedy parodies and impersonations, has now made a movie. A movie… ‘Not Cool’ was made on a budget of $1 million and competing against the likes of Captain America and Godzilla
  • Smosh too, around since the dawn of YouTube are also making their own movie, to be distributed by Lionsgate. THE most commercially successful mini major film and television distribution company in North America have backed this movie – that’s kind of a big deal!

So to get back to the original point – where to spend marketing budgets? Our advice would be to keep an eye on these YouTubers. They’re proving to be super influential in the US, more influential that the traditional Hollywood stars even for younger kids, not just the teens.

You just need to get in with the ‘up and coming’ YouTubers who are going to make it big, who are hungry for fame and want to associate with the right brands… but that’s for another piece. Watch this space…

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