Brand Spotlight

Close your eyes and think about everything you know about GoPro. You might imagine dolphins, or deep sea divers, or exotic fish flashing by in miraculously choreographed schools, or simply swimming in clear blue tropical waters and looking at coral reefs. Maybe you’re high up in the sky, falling precipitously from an airplane, speeding down a curvy mountain pass on a motorbike, or surfing through a perfect curl. Maybe you’re seeing it all at once in a montage because GoPro, as the company’s Founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman puts it, wants “to create experiences and realities that expand our world and inspire those around us.”

And yet, if your imagination stops and starts within the world of extreme sports, where GoPro first made its mark, you’re missing a huge part of what makes YouTube so powerful.

Redefining Adventure

GoPro is, quite simply, everywhere. If you’re unlucky enough to endure a stop-and-go morning commute, you’ve likely seen a cyclist (motorized or pedaling) fly by you in traffic, with that unmistakable camera mounted to the top of their helmet, as you sit and stare at the crawling queue of red brake lights. But, maybe there’s something about being stuck in traffic that’s as interesting as a skydive. Maybe you should have a GoPro camera too, ready to capture every moment. After all, a family drive is a kind of adventure too.

“Enabling you to share your life through incredible photos and videos is what we do,” says Woodman about his company. Yet, lives do not have to be extreme to be interesting, and GoPro is catching on to this as they begin to expand beyond the high-wire, high-risk sporting footage that put them on the map. GoPro is beginning to see the market value of a more everyday experience that most of us live each day.

If you could point to a video that exemplifies this transition for GoPro, look no further than this combination of what GoPro and YouTube do best together: capturing life’s milestones on video for posterity, albeit with that inevitable GoPro twist.

But as YouTube continues to grow, with hundreds of hours of content being created and shared every second, brands such as GoPro are watching, listening, and seeing how users of their products are even innovating how the company sees itself. Credit users like this couple for reimagining the traditional wedding video with their own GoPro HERO 3 and a bouquet.

Extreme Real Life

More and more, GoPro users are discovering that diving out of a plane might not be as interesting as finding out what exactly your dog does when you leave the house. Listen closely, and you’ll hear this dog owner’s friend ask, “Are you really leaving it [the camera] on him?”

Ask any parent and they’d likely nod in agreement that fatherhood is an extreme sport in a category all its own. For a toddler, a simple playground slide is every bit as daunting as a skydive. Most importantly, GoPro knows that these everyday moments are how most of us live and are increasingly including a family day at the park alongside expert stunts.

GoPro is also quickly expanding its line of camera mounts to help its users capture moments beyond the niche market of recreational thrill seekers, even offering options for musical instruments resulting in some surprising, low risk, high impact content.

The kitchen can be a dangerous place too. Who’d argue with this mother, telling her daughter as they scour the cupboard for supplies, “Baking’s a workout!”

And while no one would mistake a model train enthusiast for an extreme sports star, GoPro wisely sees the value in sharing user-created content that highlights the versatility of its cameras. More importantly, it is exactly this type of content that appeals to the vast majority of us who don’t base jump from skyscrapers. This content is more inclusive, helping the more timid among us to consider purchasing a GoPro to capture the less extreme moments of our everyday lives. Or, in this case, extreme hobbies.


GoPro has cornered the market on documenting the extreme adventures of regular people (and not so regular) hiking, biking, swimming, jumping, and living adventurous lives. As the brand inches closer to 1 billion total views on its official YouTube channel, while boasting over 3 million subscribers, the brand sees the benefit in expanding its reach to those of us who might be active in different ways than even the brand has imagined. Whether its users invent “bouquet cams” or want to see what their dog does while they’re away, GoPro has taken notice, announcing the creation of a new GoPro Licensing platform seeking to harness and capitalize on all of the ingenious ways its users continue to discover (and reveal back to the company itself) the infinite ways digital video has the power to capture life as it is being lived.


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Thought Leadership

Often times, brands either aren’t in the business of video production, or they simply don’t know where to start with regards to making content specifically tailored for the web. But, the good news is that there are plenty of ways for brands to get their name out on YouTube without having to make new content in house.

Here are 7 ways to get started:


1. Send Out Products for Promotional Consideration

This involves sending an influencer a gift in the hopes of getting your name mentioned in a video at the very least or possibly getting a full review. There is not a whole lot of obligation in this relationship typically, as YouTubers can choose whether or not to feature the product, and they do not necessarily have to say favorable things about it.

In the case of FleurDeForce’s “Christmas Gift Guide for HIM!” video, she chose to include a John Varvatos fragrance set that was sent to her and her husband:

Note the disclaimer at the end of the video description:

“Disclaimer: All of these products were bought with my own money with the exception of the Varvatos gift set which was sent by their PR for review consideration.”

Remember, the content of the video itself is left up to the video creator, so be prepared for some loss of control. With video game companies, for example, new games sent for consideration often get a fair shake and an honest opinion, which means this may not always result in a positive review.

Consider the case of a user like TotalBiscuit, who in 2013 was given a code to download a game called Day One: Garry’s Incident, along with permission to make videos about the game. TotalBiscuit gave the game an unfavorable review, using actual game footage, and the game creator Wild Games Studio issued a copyright notification stating that TotalBiscuit did not have the right to monetize against the game content. There was huge drama surrounding this, and the full extent of the backlash can be read about here.

This is the original review video, which is now back up online:

So, while offering products for promotional consideration may entail a certain amount of risk, the ultimate benefits of getting your product seen widely and engaging your audience are clear and well worth the occasional negative response.


2. Integration and Sponsorship

These two terms point to the spectrum of different levels of involvement that are possible when official deals are struck between brands and video creators.

What is Brand Integration?

A Brand Integration deal is when a brand and a YouTuber come to an agreement, usually paid, for a product to be featured in a video.

As opposed to full on sponsorship deals, brand integrations are usually featured in videos that the creator would have created him or herself anyway. So, from the perspective of a viewer, these are generally harder to spot as being outright commercial. YouTubers do have a legal obligation to specify if they have a relationship with a brand, but how exactly that needs to be specified is still a bit of a grey area.

What does it mean to sponsor a video?

Sponsorship differs from brand integration in that sponsored videos deviate from the traditional videos of a channel in style, content or publication timeline. So, the involvement of the brand is usually much more obvious.

Much of this is of course just semantics – sponsorship and integration can look very similar, and often times it is hard to tell the difference between “product for consideration” and integration. The key takeaway is to try and find the right YouTuber for the right message, and make sure the proper disclosures are made.

Examples of Integration and Sponsorship

Take this one between Neutrogena and user Tati:

Or this one between Axe and Kassem G:


3. Licensing

Now, this one gets into some new territory not seen very often, so follow along closely.

“Channel Ads” are ads that are meant to attract viewers to a particular YouTube channel rather than an outside product or service. As they become more common, it’s becoming a bit less jarring for viewers to see regular YouTubers in pre-roll advertisements as opposed to highly produced commercials from brands.

For example, ads like this one for the Vlogbrothers’ channel run as skippable ads before other videos as part of FanFinder, helping channels expand their reach on the platform:

Therefore, this cultural adjustment on the platform opens up some space for brands to make deals with YouTubers when it comes to licensing content. Instead of making their own content, brands can find original videos from existing users, which are already driving earned media for a brand, and potentially agree to license a video or piece of a video to run as a commercial in YouTube’s advertising slots, or even just on a brand’s channel. Whether this strategy takes off remains to be seen.


4. Advertising

While using existing ads and paying to have them displayed on YouTube may sound like nothing new, there are a couple points worth going over for brands unfamiliar with the details. For example, brands can now use special services that pair them up with more targeted channels and keywords, set to display over specified periods of time, resulting in a much better ad campaign as a result.

Also, when running video ads on YouTube that are hosted on a brand’s channel, those videos rack up views for the world to see, because a view counts not only from someone who has seen a video on a brand’s channel but also from someone who has watched more than 30 seconds of that video if it ran as an ad.

To illustrate, this TOMS ad below ran in paid advertising slots on YouTube, which helps explain its huge view count in relation to the other videos on its channel. It’s also a great example of the kind of content that succeeds as video advertisements on YouTube:


5. Content Creation Contests

Contests require a user submission of some kind, followed by a merit based choice with regards to the winner. Sometimes the submissions requirements include using specific footage, featuring specific products, or fulfilling another set of visual requirements.

These are a bit harder for brands to pull off, because there isn’t a whole lot that can be done once the call to action happens with regards to the videos that go online afterwards. Not all submissions will be on brand message, but it is a way to get a lot of earned media.

The ultimate example of success in the field of content creation contests is Doritos’ “Crash The Superbowl.”


6. Re-purposing Existing Content

Some brands benefit from being nostalgic, like Coca-Cola, and media companies typically have more content than they know what to do with. So, in the instance of evergreen content, where fans are uploading vintage commercials or other clips, YouTube can be an excellent site for brands to follow suit. It is important however, to not treat YouTube as a dumping ground for content that isn’t primed or optimized for the platform.

Coca-Cola fans have uploaded view-catching vintage and foreign commercials like the recent Argentine commercial about starting a family:

And this classic 1971 commercial, with a famous jingle:

Media companies have it really easy when it comes to YouTube and repurposing content. Ellen for example is killing it on YouTube by just slicing up her show into shorter bite-sized segments and posting them to YouTube. Check out this this clip of Sophia Grace & Rosie singing “Super Bass” with Nicki Minaj:

Ellen is a particularly YouTube centric example because she uses YouTube to find new guests, and, in turn, makes them more famous by posting her show on YouTube.


7. Working with YouTubers off of YouTube

Vloggers, if given the chance to film their experiences with your brand out in the real world, will publicize you on all of their social platforms, including YouTube.

A great example of a brand partnering with YouTubers for something beyond the YouTube platform is when “Project Runway: All Stars” worked with StyleHaul to use five of their best talents as clients for a challenge. FleurDeForce, one of the beauty vloggers that was featured, not only made an announcement video, but also a vlog from the day the episode aired, plus a “get ready with me” video for the viewing party:

StyleHaul also posted the official promo videos for the episode:

This tactic is easier if you are a media company, but not impossible for consumer product brands, especially those that are already sponsoring events. Working with a YouTuber off of YouTube could mean sending them to an event to do coverage, or even including them in an official ad campaign.


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