YouTube Content Strategy: Why Repurposing Videos Isn’t Enough

When developing your content strategy for YouTube, one of the biggest decisions for any brand to make is whether it’s enough to simply repurpose already existing assets, such as 30-second TV spots, or whether it’s time to start investing in videos produced specifically for the YouTube audience, such as an exclusive web series.

While uploading existing assets to your YouTube channel is certainly not a bad idea for brands just getting started on the platform, in order to reach the kind of subscriber numbers and view counts that create those sought after spikes in analytics reports, YouTube demands something more.

By comparing the difference in performance of repurposed and custom content across all of our channel management partners at ZEFR, our data provides a compelling argument for investing in custom content.

Indicative Metrics: Custom Works

We’ve found that custom YouTube content averages a higher number of daily views and engagements than repurposed content:

  • A custom YouTube web series was released in conjunction with its associated Cable TV show. The channel experienced a 260% increase in average daily views, while 30% of the total channel views came from the custom content.
  • On average, custom content results in 110% higher average daily views and 116% more subscribers than repurposed content.


Custom, Gruesome Pranks

By way of example from the media landscape, consider AMC’s YouTube channel. For their content strategy surrounding The Walking Dead, they decided to capitalize on the “prank” trend that has been flooding YouTube for a while now. Their “Walking Dead Zombies Prank NYC” video has almost 5 million views, and is the third most popular video for AMC, falling behind only two full-length Comic Con trailers.

Then, there is the mother of all prank videos on YouTube, brought to you from the producers of the latest Carrie reboot:

With over 58 million views, and over 50,000 comments, this viral success story was only made possible after the decision was made to align with the kind of content built specifically for a YouTube audience. When compared to the repurposed trailer for the film, it’s no contest: the highest viewed Carrie trailer currently sits at just over 4 million views.

Volvo’s Epic, Custom Split

“Where were you the first time you saw Volvo’s Epic Split video?” That is a question that will, in all likelihood, be asked for generations to come, thanks to this insanely unique concept from Volvo Trucks:

As Variety explained around the time of its release, the video was “only being shown online,” recognizing that Volvo was prioritizing the YouTube platform. If parody is indeed a form of flattery, this ad was parodied by none other than the handsomely smashing Channing Tatum for his latest flick, 22 Jump Street, which is yet another great example of custom-made YouTube gold:

Dollar Shave Club’s Marketing Masterpiece

Entrepreneur magazine looked into the origins of one of the “greatest hits” of YouTube video marketing, Dollar Shave Club’s “Our Blades Are F****** Great” ad:

“In the first 48 hours after the video debuted on YouTube, some 12,000 people signed up for the service.”

At the time there was no other marketing by Dollar Shave Club aside from a few Google ads.

If you were starting a shave company, and you had to choose between repurposing an existing TV spot, or crafting a minute-and-a-half comedy gem, which would you pick for your YouTube content strategy?

NAIL Communications/ASPCA Skippable Ad

Another classic example of custom YouTube content emerged from the world of “skippable pre-roll” TrueView ads. NAIL Communications teamed up with ASPCA to create this masterfully crafted pre-roll ad that fully incorporates the framework of YouTube:

Looking at the video description for the video above, you will find a compelling argument for why custom content for YouTube is worth the time and investment:

“Think about what we know at that moment: we know what they’re going to watch, we know what they just Googled, we know where they are, we know what device they are watching on, heck, we know they can skip the ad. All of this information is an opportunity to customize a message that respects the viewer and the platform.”


Thinking qualitatively for a moment, this preference for custom YouTube content makes sense. From a shareability standpoint, custom YouTube content is much more likely to go viral, as viewers are more willing to share a video that they think their friends haven’t yet seen. Once you look at YouTube as a chance to experiment, to think outside the box, and give viewers something new, the potential upsides are huge.


Get future posts delivered to your inbox