Back to School Video Trends

4.5 billion views—who’s watching what when?

The first day of school. The one day a year when both students and parents are excited. Today’s kids come prepared with more than just new school supplies. Armed with YouTube, this year’s back to school “kids” (ranging in age from elementary through college) are ready to take on the classes, the bullies, and that fresh, new hairstyle.

YouTube has become the sage source on back to school, everything from making friends to ROFL at harmless pranks to recreating that new braid. Interestingly, this content is viewed cyclically, but not in the way you might think. Let’s take a look at the trends that can be found in their views and uploads.

Content Timeline Through The Year

The content timeline for back to school brings a few surprises. You’d expect a burst of uploads surrounding the first day of school, which the data shows. However, on top of that back-to-school spike, content is uploaded all year round at a consistent rate.

back-to-school video uploads and views bellcurve

Instead of only one mass of content showing up around the first day of school, there seems to be consistent 5-week cycles when content goes from low (or no) to high and down again. What does this mean? Back to school content is relevant all year long because consumers are looking for back to school answers nearly every day of the year.

Interestingly, posts drop to next to nothing the week before school starts. Since much of the back to school content comes from students themselves, perhaps this is the busy week of shopping and school-time preparations, keeping posters away from their computers. Likely, these content creators have already uploaded their videos and they are now waiting until after school is in session to share more wisdom across different content categories.

The data tells us that what is viewed, or the content category, is the main thing that changes throughout the year not the number of uploads. Uploads before school starts tend to center around outfits, recipes, DIY, and comedy while videos on back-to-school hacks, peer advice, and style rule after school begins. It seems that viewers are looking for help with more concrete tasks after the bell has rung.

back-to-school bellcurve with video content types

In addition to consistent viewership and uploads throughout the majority of the year, the total views year-over-year is also increasing. From 2016 to 2017, uploads increased by 7 percent, and this year’s numbers are on track to keep up the pace. An increase of even a percentage point is no small potatoes when it comes to these YouTube numbers. To put it into perspective, this data took into account 121,000 channels, 30,000 uploads, and a whopping 4.5 billion views in 2017. That’s 9 billion eyeballs watching back-to-school content on a yearly basis.

Year over year viewership of back-to-school video content

Most Popular Back to School Content

So with such a large, impressionable audience, what is all this content about?

YouTube has become entertainer, advisor, and teacher for most students, so back-to-school content is a broad topic with dozens of categories. It encompasses everything from beauty to biology and bullies to backpacks.

For example, the peer advice content category helps students know what to do with academic and social issues at school. Hacks and school supplies reports the best supplies and how to make the most of them, sometimes in unconventional ways.

And the numbers are in! This past year, beauty/fashion (hairstyles, makeup, and outfits) took the lion’s share of uploaded content at 24 percent. Runners up include hacks (14 percent), school supplies (14 percent), and peer advice (11 percent). Clearly the back-to-school content category has its hand in every book bag.

most popular back-to-school content types

Check out some viewer favorites from the past school year:

3 popular back-to-school videos hairstyles DIY peer advice

Who is Watching What

Back to school viewers can be as varied as the material they are uploading and searching for. So what age group is watching the most and what are they watching? Turns out that high schoolers upload the highest percentage of YouTube videos (at 38 percent) while college students take second place (with 28 percent). However, what they are uploading is incredibly different, with high school students focused on the physical hacks, outfits, hairstyles and college students concerned with the not-so-tangible peer advice, recipes, sports, and comedy. These varied audiences create a huge need for relevant advertising.

types of back-to-school video content different age groups are watching

Though YouTube-cramming in preparation for the first day of school may have passed, the beauty of YouTube is that students can and do! come back time and time again. Though only one day, the uploads and views driven by the “first day of school” impact viewers all year round.

Leveraging content targeting in back to school advertising ensures that the brand message is aligned with the right content, increasing the chances that the person accessing it will actually watch it because it’s relevant to them in that moment. We’ve got a great video that explains that way better and in greater detail!

This is where Zefr comes in. We take the overwhelming profusion of YouTube’s online video content and classify, categorize, and make sense of it so brands and advertisers like you can use it in a more powerful and relevant way to engage their target consumers. Excited about what content targeting can do for your business?

Back to school supplies