Cultural Trends

The Power of the Pester

In the vast video-sphere of YouTube, there is nothing small about kids entertainment, including the opinions of its pint-size viewers. They are an audience who knows what they want and how to influence the buying decisions of their parents. The power of their pester presents an enormous opportunity for brand advertisers to plug into this powerful demographic.

So, what are they watching? Amongst other things—live action, tv shows and toys & games. Take a closer look at our infographic below!

If you’d like to learn more about how to use these trends to better align your messaging with the right content in your next campaign, we’re here to help.


Moms are a core audience on YouTube. The platform solves almost all of their digital needs – from entertainment to crafts for the kids to problem-solving and advice. In fact, a recent Google study found that 83% of mothers search for answers to their questions online – and 60% of them turn to online videos in particular.

YouTube plays an important role in Mom’s life, and to better understand her interests ahead of Mother’s Day, we looked into what she’s watching on YouTube.

356 Million Total Views of Mother’s Day Content on YouTube

Much of the Mother’s Day content on YouTube is about love, heartfelt messages, and praise for Moms. People share Mother’s Day moments, gift ideas, and surprises that can help others think of ways to make their moms feel special. We found 365 million views on Mother’s Day content on YouTube, presenting an opportunity for brands to reach moms around the day that’s all about them.

Mother’s Day Topics and Trends

Inspirational / Happy Moments

Moms do so much for their families, but Mother’s Day is the day to give back to them. Kids young and old turn to YouTube to share their love for Mom, whether they’re reading a poem, giving mom praise, or simply saying, “I love you.” For example, “Moms Are Magic” is a heartwarming video featuring young children sharing their favorite things about their moms.


Not all Mother’s Day content is sentimental. Entertaining videos, like music and kids content, makes up a large portion of what’s being viewed around Mother’s Day. Many musicians have created songs especially for their moms and children’s programs, like this clip from Angry Birds, educate kids about the meaning of Mother’s Day.


Of moms who watch videos on YouTube, 81% watch how-to content. In fact, moms are significantly more likely to watch how-to content than the average viewer. How-to and DIY videos that feature Mother’s Day are also popular on YouTube – from DIY Mother’s Day gift ideas to how to put together the best surprise party for mom.


Although practical, informational videos are popular amongst moms, that’s not all they’re watching. Moms also go to YouTube to watch funny content and have a good laugh!


Influencer Moms on YouTube

When families are searching for the perfect gift for mom on Mother’s Day, they turn to mom influencers on YouTube for ideas. 68% of consumers say recommendations influence their Mother’s Day gift purchases. Working with the right influencers can help a brand amplify its message to an audience that is seeking advice.

We used our technology to identify influencers creating content that resonates with moms on YouTube:

Five Fun Mom Influencers To Follow On YouTube

1. What’s Up Moms

2. Daily Bumps

3. Ellie and Jared

4. Rachel Talbott

5. Brittani Louise Taylor

Align with the Best Mother’s Day Content on YouTube

Mother’s Day videos on YouTube provide an opportunity for contextual alignment, allowing brands to reach consumers at a moment when their message is an extension of the content moms are watching.

Zefr provides brands with the opportunity to target the most relevant Mother’s Day topics and trends and amplify that messaging with custom influencer activations.

Sign up for a demo to find out how our technology can help you align your message where and when it matters most.

Register for a demo now!


Coachella kicks off – it’s music festival season

Coachella weekend two kicks off this Friday, which means we’re in the midst of music festival season. Over the course of two weeks, 200,000 festival-goers will flock to Indio, CA to partake in all the Coachella festivities.

In recent years, the music festival landscape has exploded in popularity. In fact, 32 million people go to at least one music festival every year. With festivals for practically every music genre and walk of life, festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza are drawing larger and more diverse crowds than ever before.

32 million people attend in person, but millions more experience the magic without setting foot inside, on YouTube. There have been 5.1 billion views on music festival content on YouTube in the last three years – there are more daily views on music festival content on the platform than there are daily attendees at some of the country’s biggest events. 

It’s not surprising, as YouTube is the top music service in the world.

YouTube and Music

Music on YouTube

For the past seven years, YouTube has been giving Coachella fans the opportunity to watch live performances. According to  Variety, viewers will be able to choose from three different live streams, as well as a 360-degree virtual reality mode, on Coachella’s YouTube Channel.

Music Festivals on YouTube

By creating engaging video content or partnering with social media influencers, brands can share their messages with millions of fans experiencing the excitement on YouTube and other social media channels.

There’s an Opportunity for Alignment

As festival-fans tune in for performances from the shows, pre-festival prep videos, onsite experiences and post-fest reviews, there’s an opportunity for brand activation.

Pre-Festival Prep: Pre-Festival YouTube content includes tips and tricks intended to prepare music fans and enable them to have the best festival experience possible. They include survival guides, camping tips, Look Books, Style Guides and “Get Ready With Me – Festival Editions.”

Onsite Experiences: Festival goers document their personal experiences through YouTube vlogs, incorporating real-time elements of the festival, such as what fans are eating, performances they’re watching, and the people they interact with.

Post-Festival Reviews: Creators review key moments of past festivals including notable performances, events, and even fashions. Post-Festival videos ensure the legacy of Music Festivals on YouTube. Fans can easily reference and relive their favorite parts of any festival.

At Zefr, we understand video content and have found the most important Music Festival topics, trends and influencers on YouTube and turned them into targeting and influencer opportunities. Our technology can align your brand with the most relevant music festival content at the video level to successfully reach fans on YouTube.

Let’s Chat

Find out how we help your brand contextually align with the best videos on YouTube. Click here to request a demo with a member of our team and see Zefr in action!

Thought Leadership

Brands are increasing their investment in YouTube advertising, as the largest video platform in the world continues its rapid growth. Marketers know they need to advertise on YouTube to reach their audience, an insight that is well supported by audience viewership data. But today, most brands lack the control or visibility into the specific inventory they are buying, which raises critical issues regarding the brand safety of the content they are running against.

Recent news has thrown into focus the issue of brand safety as marketers are running ads against content that can be created by anyone. PewDiePie, arguably the world’s most successful influencer, lost his standing with Disney’s Maker Studios and with YouTube due to anti-Semetic stunts. Super Bowl ads have been seen running in front of terrorist recruitment videos. These stories are trending, but the issue isn’t new – and it’s only going to grow as more content is created and brands continue to increase their investment on the platform.

How does it happen?

Most advertisers target their intended consumers  on YouTube based on keywords, audience (demographic) and channel (typically via Google Preferred, the most popular influencer and creator channels). But each of these approaches assume that all of the content isolated by one of these targeting options is similar and therefore safe. ZEFR has found that this isn’t the case.

Let’s take Michelle Phan’s channel for example. She’s known as a beauty influencer, but only 52% of her content is related to beauty. The other 48% is better categorized as lifestyle content, including career advice and current events. A beauty brand may only want to align with that  52% of videos, but if they’re buying her channel in Google Preferred, they don’t know which videos within the channel they’re aligning with.

Michelle Phan channel audit conducted Summer 2016
Michelle Phan channel audit conducted Summer 2016

The same theory applies to brand safety. Not all content within a creator’s channel will be considered safe or on target for every brand.

There is another way

ZEFR’s technology delivers TV-like contextual relevance and brand safety on YouTube, allowing brands to leverage the incredible potential of the platform at the individual video-level. There’s a tremendous amount of great content on YouTube for brands, and video-level targeting allows for marketers to exclude specific videos from their YouTube buys, ensuring that they’re never running ads against content that is not relevant. It requires an understanding of each discrete video that only ZEFR is able to provide.

ZEFR’s solution

Here’s how it works. A video is uploaded to YouTube. ZEFR analyzes the video for:

  • Relevance – Is the video content aligned with the brand’s media strategy? What is this video actually about? If a video is of a father and son tossing a football and it’s called, “My Son is the next Tom Brady,” the video isn’t about Tom Brady. It’s about a father and son moment.
  • Brand safety – Is this video appropriate for a brand to align with? Does it have profanity, negative imagery, violence, or controversial opinions? Is it promoting negative activity, or hate speech?
  • Forecasting – Is this a video that’s generating views, or trending upwards? Will it deliver enough impressions so that an ad is seen by a real human audience at scale?
  • Performance – Is this a video that can carry an ad? Is it meaningful enough content to justify placing an ad before it? Will it help you reach your key performance KPIs?

If each of these indicators are met, the video is organized into a content segment with thousands of other videos that are all contextually related. Every day, ZEFR evaluates over 8 million videos, while only qualifying 250,000 of those videos for inclusion in premium, brand safe campaigns that deliver performance.

Video-level targeting is the future

So, should brands be afraid to align with influencer content on YouTube? The answer is no. Brand safety is an easily mitigated risk when video-level targeting is employed. “It’s so important to target ads at individual videos on YouTube, so brands can ensure that they’re aligned with the most relevant content at any given time,” said Rich Raddon, co-CEO, ZEFR. “The content within channels varies, and not every video is right for every brand. ZEFR’s technology and review process ensures that an ad will never run against a video that is not considered safe.”

For more on ZEFR’s video-targeting solutions, contact us at

Oded Noy is the Chief Technology Officer at ZEFR

Thought Leadership

This article originally appeared in edited form in AdAge on Nov. 2, 2016.

The World Series is in full swing, and there’s a common thread between the The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs: a data-driven approach to building a franchise that wins. Both teams have best-in-class analytics departments that leverage data on every at-bat, pitcher matchup and defensive alignment in order to assemble and optimize a roster that gives them the best chance to win.

Brands should take the same approach to building their influencer rosters, looking at influencers like athletes and using data to create smart and impactful relationships and strategies that deliver results. Much like batting average and RBIs are not enough to determine a great baseball player, metrics like reach and subscribers don’t tell the whole story for influencers. By looking at statistics like cross-platform engagement, engagement percentile, top content topics and 4-week engagement trends, brands can assemble a winning influencer roster.

We broke it down into simple categories that can lead to success:


Within every team, there are a few superstars that can carry a roster to victory. The key is to define the superstars when they are entering their prime, and not based on past performance — as the Angels learned the hard way with Albert Pujols. The Cubs and Indians have invested in superstars like Kris Bryant and Corey Kluber, and built rosters around them. To find the right superstar influencers for a brand, project the average engagements per post vs. every other influencer, on each platform. At Zefr, influencers in the 80th percentile for engagement are deemed superstars.


Certain situations require particular set of skills. Andrew Miller, the Indians lefty, is brought in to protect a late-inning lead, and some influencers will also specialize in very particular types of content. For back-to-school campaigns, look to influencers that drive millions of back-to-school-focused engagements, such as MsTiffanyMa or Chelsea Crockett. By tapping into the specialty of influencers, you can expect optimal performance, rather than tasking them to work outside of their strengths.


While they may not be as flashy as the up and coming superstars, the veterans have been there before, and have a professional approach that warrant results. That’s why it was so important for the Indians to sign veteran Mike Napoli and for the Cubs to sign last year’s World Series star Ben Zobrist. While neither of these players are the core of their respective teams, they come through when it counts. Shonduras, a hardworking Snapchat star in his mid 30s who built his audience, is a perfect example of a veteran influencer who delivers breakthrough results based on craftsmanship as opposed to being a flavor of the month.

Glue Guys/Fan Favorites

On every team, you need one or two players that bring up the morale of the team because of the pure joy they bring to the stadium. Examples include Cubs catcher David Ross and Indians utility man Coco Crisp. For fan favorites like these, it isn’t about eye-popping stats, but the authentic bond that they have with fans. For brands looking to round out their roster with Glue Guys, seek out these authentic fans and ask them questions like, “How often do you shop at our store?” and “What makes you love our product?” Chances are, if they give an amazing answer, they’ll also be a fan favorite.


When a baseball season is over, the entire roster doesn’t disappear, leaving the team to build next year’s roster from scratch. Instead, players develop, work to improve and come back the next year better than before. Data can get brands into the “big leagues” in the same way, identifying influencers that will work with them over the long term, as opposed to one-off campaigns. Data also provides the ability to learn what works, so rosters can be optimized based on what’s gaining traction. By building an influencer roster with the same care that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein builds a team, you’ll have a massive competitive advantage versus every other brand.

Trygve JensenTrygve Jensen is the GM and VP of Influencers at ZEFR, which takes a data-driven approach to influencer marketing, identifying and activating the most relevant influencers for campaign goals across every social platform.


As YouTube enters its second decade, the platform has established itself as the foremost destination for fan communities and especially consumers. It is no longer a question of whether or not a brand marketer should develop a strategy specifically tailored for the platform, but rather, what that strategy should look like.

While the opportunities available for brands on YouTube are limitless, even keen marketers can get lost, or even intimidated. The sheer variety of different niche communities—and the subtle nuances that distinguish one from the other—can make reaching your consumer at the right place at the right time seem impossible. Luckily, here at ZEFR, we’ve developed technology to sift through YouTube, video by video, to help our experts develop deep understanding and insight into many of the platform’s consumer eco-systems.

With this in mind, ZEFR Insights is pleased to announce the release of Parenting on YouTube: The Top Child Rearing Video Trends. Within the pages of this Report, readers are guided through specific video trends, featuring viewable content from the community’s top influencers, as well as exclusive access to ZEFR data gathered from top brands (Baby Gap, Pampers, Gerber, Gymboree, and more). Plus, an interview full of useful advice from YouTube creators who have attracted millions of views to their successful channels.

Even if you are a brand that does not work within this particular demographic, the marketing strategies and partnerships discussed throughout this Report can be adapted to nearly every consumer category imaginable. In short, there is something here for anyone interested in learning how to navigate the vastness of YouTube and join the community conversation.


Click here to download the ZEFR Insights Report!



Paid media is the necessary third part of a successful, and complete, YouTube strategy. We have already assembled some of the best resources for both owned media and earned media, so now here are some resources to help strengthen your paid media strategy. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for all the latest tips on YouTube marketing.

Paid Media Guides From Google/YouTube

First up is a collection of resources provided to advertisers by both Google and YouTube, which includes some of their tools and best practices for paid media.

1. YouTube Advertising Overview

An overview of everything YouTube has to offer its advertisers. Can’t go wrong starting here:

Paid Media Resources YouTube

“Deliver your message to the right people at the right time with video ads. Every business has an audience on YouTube.”


2. Google Support – Display ads on YouTube

Pulled from the Google AdWords Certification Exam Study Guides, this particular section is filled with great paid media topics just for YouTube, and there’s plenty to dig your teeth into. One example: a breakdown of the differences between Auction and Reserved Media Buys on YouTube:

“As a part of the Google Display Network, YouTube allows advertisers to leverage the AdWords’ auction-based system to target specific YouTube content.”

To find out what exactly Auction and Reserved Media Buys are, and when to use one over the other, click here.

3. Google Video Ads – Step-by-Step Guide 

Google walks advertisers through the process of creating a campaign on YouTube in this handy guide for AdWords.
Paid Media Resources YouTube

4. YouTube In-Stream Ads: Captivate Your Audience [PDF]

paid media resources youtube 5
YouTube explains the different kinds of in-stream ads, while assessing the benefits of each in this excellent, 2 page PDF.

“Target viewers by geography, demographic criteria, or topic to make sure that your ads reach the right audience and get the attention they deserve.”


5. YouTube Advertising Resources

So, if you were being thorough as you worked through each of these resources, you should have already found this page from the very first “YouTube Overview” resource. But, we felt it was important enough to highlight again just in case you got lazy. This is a well curated selection of resources that YouTube maintains for advertisers.

“YouTube works hard to provide a reliable home for your brand. We have systems in place to categorize videos, and Community Guidelines, so that ads can be matched with appropriate content.”


6. Mastering AdWords for Video Tutorial Series [Videos]

Last but not least from Google/YouTube, we have this video series. Though slightly outdated, given that a few of the videos have been taken down, there’s still a lot of valuable info here:

Paid Media Tips From Blogs

Next, we have some tips from expert blogs on how to maximize paid media strategies.

7. ClickZ | YouTube Paid Advertising – A Beginners Guide

Here we have ClickZ’s fifth most read article of 2013, and a solid argument in favor of advertising with TrueView Ads:

“According to YouTube, over six billion hours of video are watched each month on the video search engine … This presents enormous opportunity for brands to promote their goods and services to a worldwide audience through video advertising on the world’s second largest search engine.”

See the full extent of what the author of the piece, Benjamin Spiegel, has to say about TrueView here.


8. ZEFR Blog | YouTube Ad Formats 101: Where to Advertise and Why

Read our explanation of the various types of ads available on YouTube, and learn when to use which ads depending on the objectives of your paid media campaign.

“Pairing the right ad placements with your specific objective is the most fundamental way to make sure you’re getting the most value out of your marketing budget. Here’s a brief guide that lays out which ad formats to use for some of the most common KPIs on YouTube.”


9. ReelSEO | The YouTube Advertiser Playbook Index and Overview

ReelSEO breaks down and indexes all 9 parts of the YouTube Advertiser Playbook, with a brief description of each section, and a link to their coverage on it.

“Titles, keywords, descriptions.  Things that describe the video so that a search engine can find context.  Perhaps there will be one day where computers can scan a video and tell you all of the contents of it, but for now, writing the relevant metadata is important in video discovery.”


10. Tubefilter | Meet the Top 1% of YouTube’s “Google Preferred” Channels for Advertisers

Tubefilter investigates YouTube’s new offering for advertisers, Google Preferred.

“Brands and marketers who commit to buying advertising space on YouTube in advance will reportedly be given the opportunity to advertise against these select few Google Preferred channels.”

What precisely is Google Preferred and how will it impact paid media? Read the full article to find out.

11. ZEFR’s Introductory Guide to Brand Integration on YouTube [eBook]

Get our latest eBook here to learn the ins and outs of brand integration deals and how they can supplement a paid media campaign.

Paid Media Resources YouTube

12. Business Insider | This Chart Breaks Down Why Advertisers Need YouTube

Paid Media Resources YouTube

“With 1 billion unique users every month, YouTube has become a necessary platform in virtually any marketing plan. MDG Advertising created an infographic that breaks down all the numbers that explain why advertisers need to be on the video sharing site.”

Check out the awesome chart in its entirety here.


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Thought Leadership

It’s understandable that brands might find the presence of critics, detractors, or just plain old “haters” to be bad for their image, particularly when it comes to those who upload their negative opinions and/or experiences to YouTube.  For brand marketers, waking up to news of a viral video denigrating their products or services may signal the start to a rough day.

However, such a scenario is not necessarily cause for alarm. Rather, it presents a unique opportunity to build something highly valuable – authenticity.

Through the use of social media, it’s now possible to convert vocal critics into advocates and fans, and letting the world watch the process unfold creates authenticity. In the case of YouTube, rather than trying to eliminate the presence of critics, sometimes it is better to engage with these influencers and simply make your case. Negative stories are important stories, because a brand space absent of criticism is inherently inauthentic. A lack of diversity of opinion within a social network has that eerie distaste of a dictatorial regime – of cheating the system and bypassing communities in exchange for metrics that are shrinking in relevancy by the day.

Thus, the question is no longer “how do we silence detractors?”. Instead, it now becomes “how can we win these people over?”.

YouTube Strategies vs. Other Social Media

On YouTube, the lifespan of a video is inherently much, much longer than a tweet or a status update. Videos might sit on YouTube for years before someone uncovers it and sparks a viral sensation. And, once a video gains enough notoriety, attempts to remove the video are only met with more and more re-uploads of the same content, starting a useless game of whack-a-mole that only amplifies the video’s message.

So, why are strategies on YouTube for dealing with critics treated any differently than strategies on other social networks? Answer – they shouldn’t be.

If someone were to critique your brand on Twitter, you would probably choose to engage with them, rather than try to get the tweet retracted. This should be no different on YouTube. If anything, YouTube requires even more diligence to understand and engage with the communities in a positive way.

What not to do: A bad exchange between United Airlines and a Musician

One musician, Dave Carroll, while flying United, witnessed his guitar suffering abuse at the hands of United baggage handlers on the tarmac. When he arrived at his destination for a gig, his instrument was broken. United did nothing to remedy the situation, declining to reimburse him for the damage, so he made a video that ended up going viral:

Situations like this need to be treated as open doors rather than enemies to be ignored or eliminated. United was faced with an excellent opportunity to bolster brand sentiment and turn the story and attention into a more positive note. Instead, United only engaged after the video went viral and failed to think outside the box and offer up an authentic response, such as a video song of their own to apologize. To this day, new negative comments on the original video continue to get posted:



What to do: A great exchange between EA Sports and a YouTuber

A great example of an exchange well done occurred between YouTube user Levinator25 and EA Sports from 2008.

Levenator25 thought he saw a glitch in the game:

EA Sports played off of that for their next iteration of Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

Calling back to the organic user video, coupled with the new Google+ enabled comments section and threads, allows for brands to get conversations going in a positive direction. While some negative comments will always be around, plenty of authentic, positive reactions from fans can be found:


So, are “haters” bad for brands? Only if brands respond poorly or not at all. Moreover, when dealt with properly, the end result can actually be a positive overall thanks to the creation of authenticity and trust.

In some cases, ignoring your critics entirely may seem like the safest bet. But, without risk there is no reward. Engaging and engaging well with negative feedback, especially when the medium is video, is something brands need to do in order to really understand the future of branding and customer service. And, getting it right on YouTube can bring more rewards than anywhere else.

Engaging well on YouTube means listening to what’s being posted in order to discover complaints and then solve problems. And, if the problem is expressed through video, it is best to respond in the same medium. Companies need to be seen as able to evolve and solve problems using the same language as their customers. In markets with diversity of opinions, it is customer service that sets apart the good from the bad. Converting “haters” to advocates through video needs to be seen as more than just good marketing, or social strategy, but also as good customer service.


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