ZEFR Insights is pleased to announce the release of Cars in Context: Targeting Automotive Content on YouTube. Now, you can have access to the full report, already excerpted and previewed in such publications as Digiday, MediaPost, Automotive News, and the BMW Blog.

In the pages of our most recent report, we’ve used ZEFR’s proprietary technology to gather and analyze the most relevant and unique video trends devoted to the seemingly infinite world of cars on YouTube. Our report includes viewable content from the community’s top influencers, as well as exclusive access to ZEFR data gathered about the top automotive brands, including Audi, Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, KIA, and more.

Cars in Context also includes an exclusive interview with BMW Group’s Head of Brand Communication, Uwe Dreher, to find out how the automaker has integrated social media marketing initiatives into its overall strategy, helping them to outpace every other brand on YouTube, with over 4 billion views. Also included is a conversation with David Patterson, whose car-culture YouTube channel, That Dude in Blue, has attracted over 300,000 subscribers and 45 million overall views. These conversations combined allow readers a direct view into how to find success on the platform straight from the source: a historic automaker and a successful YouTuber.

If you’re a carmaker, an auto parts brand, or a creator seeking tips for success on the platform, look no further than ZEFR Insights’ report, Cars in Context: Targeting Automotive Content on YouTube.

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Cultural Trends

In part one of our three-part automotive series, ZEFR Insights explored the “car surprises” trend on YouTube. In part two, we looked at “Car Tours” and “What’s in My Car?” videos. Here, in our final installment, we turn our attention to the robust “DIY” realm of YouTube.

The power of video to serve as a tool for learning a new skill is undeniable. Even the most detailed, step-by-step guidebook can only teach an apprentice so much—sometimes you just need to watch a master in action to fully understand a proper technique. This is why YouTube has become a must-use resource for anyone trying their hand at a new craft for the first time. Targeting these “fix it myself” consumers can be a highly valuable opportunity for brands.

One of the most active DIY (aka, “do it yourself”) communities on YouTube is the world of “autos” and “cars.” For the DIY crowd, buying a car is only the first step in an ongoing relationship that includes everything from routine maintenance to custom installations to tricky repairs.

ZEFR ran a search to measure the scope of this DIY, “How to” world:


ZEFR also ranked some of the key phrases that video creators are using:


How to Install…

To further illustrate why these videos are so engaging and useful to any at-home mechanic, consider the modern trend of the “start button” found in most luxury cars these days. Who ever said the start button has to be a “luxury” perk? Here’s “How to Install a Start Button” from a pair of hilarious Brits. (Note: Be sure to install the start button on the left side if you are driving in the U.S.)

How to Replace…

If you are a brake-pad manufacturer, what better time or place to align your marketing message than with a step-by-step video that shows your potential customers how to replace their own brakes?

Takeaway for Brands: How to Do Everything

Contextual targeting is all about understanding the mindset of your audience at the time you are trying to reach them. For the always expanding, wide-ranging video library of DIY, “how to” videos on YouTube, brands can reach an audience that is clearly looking for help. Instead of passively sitting back and watching whatever shows up in their feed, the DIY community is actively searching for the right video to solve their unique problem. Is your brand ready to supply an answer?


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Cultural TrendsThought Leadership

Here, in part one of a three-part series devoted to Automobiles on YouTube, ZEFR Insights investigates the unique trend of “car surprises” and how the platform captures “moments” and “mindsets” unlike any other social platform.

ZEFR Insights has always championed YouTube’s unmatched breadth of content as an opportunity for brands. By this point it should be clear: If you are a brand and you are ignoring the opportunities that exist on YouTube, you are doing so at your own peril. If we’ve been explicit about our endorsement of aligning with the right content and creators for your brand, we have perhaps not been as adamant about an equally, if not more effective, strategy for discovering relevant mindsets.

Often, the equation is simple. If you are BabyGap, you might consider aligning with one of the numerous and ultra-popular parenting channels. The most successful alignments are driven by contextual targeting, allowing your advertisement to become an extension of the information being provided. Partnering with the right content creators not only reduces the likelihood of your ad being skipped, but can also transform your message into the exact kind of useful information the viewer has come to YouTube to find while in a specific mindset. Suddenly, your ad is no longer an ad in the traditional sense, but part of the viewer’s research.

This is how adept ad execs have capitalized on the fact that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. People come to YouTube in search of things relevant to their lives. Knowing what a consumer is looking for is only one of the myriad opportunities YouTube offers a brand in terms of “getting in front” of consumers. But what if a consumer is not on the hunt for a particular product, but instead sharing and viewing content that captures a moment, such as a “car surprise”? What exactly can a brand do with a mood?

The Demographic-Defying Behavior of Real People

If matching an advertisement with relevant content is obvious, what about moments? Yes, the elusive and often murky landscape of human behavior also abounds on the platform. If an advertisement for a car is best matched with content about cars—or, even more specifically, content about minivans, SUVs, sedans, etc.—what about the vast user-generated YouTube content that captures once-in-a-lifetime moments in lives as they are being lived?

YouTube captures these moments better than any other platform. The emotional impact of a teenager being gifted her first car from her parents is a moment once limited to the private archives a family’s home-video collection. Now, these human moments are uploaded, shared, and viewed millions of times by others who seek to share in the joy of others. This is why YouTube is also the world’s second-largest social platform.


New Car Surprise Videos: The Value of Human Moments

You don’t have to be an automaker to see the value in aligning your message with the day Hailey’s parents surprise their daughter with her first-ever car.

There is no quantifiable measurement that captures the authenticity of a proud father and mother proclaiming, “No power locks, no power windows, but it’s yours!” Family, pride, love, and life as it is actually lived—it’s a narrative ad executives have been trying to recreate in television spots for decades. Why not join forces with the real thing on YouTube?

A daughter indebted to her stepfather is triumphant in her tireless pursuit of finding, restoring, and gifting him with the identical make, model, and color of the car he sold to help his new family. For a man who sacrificed more than just his beloved Porsche 914 to help raise her, he is overcome with gratitude and joy. It sounds like an advertising script, but on YouTube it exists in all of its realness, unable to be replicated.

Again, automakers who often recreate these scenes in traditional television advertisements, should seek out these authentic moments to imbue their own messaging with the “real” joy that a new (or vintage) car can bring to family members arranging the giving/surprise, and the gratitude of the recipient. If the title of this YouTube video sounds like the treatment for a fictional auto ad, witness instead the authenticity of “Son Surprises Hard-Working Mom with Her Dream Car.”

What Do Moments and Mindsets Mean for Brands?

For much of our lives, we are bombarded with messages. Of all the things that vie for our attention, advertising can often be met with passivity (at best) or as an irritating interruption (at worst). On YouTube, the unique marriage of consumers in search of specific content (mindsets), combined with the undeniably real moments that users upload hourly, presents brands with an opportunity unavailable anywhere else. Put simply, YouTube is a universe both created and used by real people. The genuine moments that abound on the platform allow brands to not only understand what their consumers want, but to become a meaningful participant in the real lives being lived on YouTube.



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Brand Spotlight

YouTube is where consumers reveal how they actually interact with products and services out in the real world. Few brands understand this fact better than Tesla Motors, the upstart electric car manufacturer that has witnessed both the good and bad publicity that can result from the platform’s unfiltered honesty. First, let’s take a quick look at the bad.

Tesla’s Catching Fire… Literally

In case you were beginning to doubt whether YouTube can impact a company’s stock price, simply watch this video from October 1st, 2013 of a Tesla Model S engulfed in flames on the side of the road. Two days after that video went viral, with about 3.5 million views as of this writing, Reuters noted a $2.4 billion hit to Tesla’s market value, prompting Elon Musk himself to explain in detail what actually happened.

Below is just one of many re-uploads of the original viral video:

While Tesla can certainly complain about these kinds of videos being cherry picked and distorting the truth around the safety of their cars, the lesson here is that perception matters. The sight, sound, and motion of video affects consumer perception more than any magazine advertisement, no matter how good the photograph. Moreover, when the video comes from regular folks on YouTube, that perception is given extra weight because of the trust and authenticity that comes from actual consumers.

Fast forward to 2015, and Tesla has plenty to smile about when it comes to consumer videos on YouTube. Thanks to these recent uploads from Tesla’s actual drivers and fans, the next time you get into a Tesla, you will likely want to ask…

Let’s Try the “Insane Mode”!

“Reaction” videos are one of the biggest trends on YouTube. Creators film themselves and others reacting to almost anything, whether it’s a new movie trailer, a climactic scene from Game of Thrones, or game-ending Super Bowl plays.

For Tesla, reaction videos have been a godsend thanks to the “Insane Mode” feature of their Tesla Model S P85D. To understand why, it’s essential to simply watch a few for yourself. The compilation below has nearly 5 million views, and contains explicit language, which is a given, because, well, these people are going insane:

We ran a search using ZEFR technology to see just how big this trend actually is:

tesla insane mode reaction videos

The Value of YouTube

Try to quantify the value to Tesla of these homemade fan videos of drivers and their passengers experiencing pure joy in a Tesla car. Then, imagine millions of consumers watching and sharing these videos with their friends and families. What kind of impact should that have on Tesla’s stock price?

Again, while Tesla might gripe about one-off clips of cars catching fire, the important lesson to realize is consumers are engaging with brands on YouTube and other social platforms in a variety of ways. Given this reality, the only mistake is to sit on the sidelines and not engage.


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