Creating video content around toys and games should be a cinch for brands. After all, they have been running TV campaigns for decades, and every toy manufacturer's marketing department will have been gearing up all year for the annual Christmas push to get their products in front of the public. So, you would think that YouTube would be the ideal virtual marketplace for brands to promote their latest must-have toys, right?

There are many toy brands on YouTube and a lot of them are doing very well in terms of engagement, but it is toy reviews from independent creators that have captured the imagination of the public. Disney may have a strong presence on the video platform with its various regional accounts, but it's a Disney toy reviewer that has generated over 400 Million views in the last 30 days alone. Viewers are looking to reviews, how-tos, and unboxing content as part of their research into toy products, while children are watching and following their contemporaries on YouTube, youngsters like themselves who are creating exactly the type of videos other kids want to watch.

With online holiday spending expected to rise by 16% to more than $61B in the run up to Christmas, failing to take advantage of the interest in toy-related video content that isn't just a straight sales-pitch, could be the one of biggest missed opportunity for brands. In this post we'll take a look at the superstar creators, like DisneyCollectorBR, and EvanTubeHD, who are attracting views and subscribers in the millions, and how brands can learn from their approach.

Most Viewed Toy Videos: YouTube Nov 2014: Play Doh Rules!

Using data from analytics platform Tubular, we took a look at the most popular 'toy' videos uploaded to the 'Entertainment' and 'How-to & Style' categories on YouTube in the last 30 days. Obviously this is a pretty generic keyword term, and a different set of searches on toy brands and products will return a different set of results. That being said, these are the videos that have either been optimized for that keyword, or whose channel has been built around that theme, and these are the ones that have generated a huge number of views.

The common denominator is that they all belong to independent creators, there isn't a 'big' brand in sight, although they all feature the latest, and most sought after toys of the season. The views generated are incredible, although perhaps not so surprising, given the subscriber numbers a lot of these channels have.

Interestingly enough, engagement is pretty low compared to views. Although FluffyJetProductions has 533K subscribers, its Facebook page has only attracted 235 likes, and its 'Lollipop Play-Doh Surprise Eggs' video has very view comments and likes which suggests that views were generated via a paid campaign rather than organically. DisneyCollectorBR (AKA DC Toy Collector) also has a very low comment rate, and has opted not to show the like/dislike stats on its videos. Still, the views have been racked up enough to make this chart. The top ten are listed in order of views:

#1 Play-Doh Meal Makin Kitchen Playset - TheEducVideos - 5.2M Views 

#2 Disney Princess Surprise Backpack - Frozen Giant Play Doh - MaterCarClub - 2.4M Views 

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#3 Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Make Me Better Playset TheEducVideos - 2.3M Views 

#4 Disney Frozen Surprise Toy Eggs Where is Olaf? - MaterCarClub - 2.2M Views 

#5 Pocoyo Picnic Blocks Merienda Bloques Lego  - disneycollectorbr - 1.2M Views 

#6 Lollipop Play-Doh Surprise Eggs - FluffyJetProducitions - 679K Views 

#7 Halloween Edition Barbie Bella The Twilight Saga - TheEducVideos - 627K Views 

#8 Orbeez Perfume Magic Kit Scented Balls - TheEducVideos - 621K Views 

#9 Custom Shopkins Pink Cheese Chee Zee DIY - cookieswirlc - 608K Views 

#10 Paw Patrol & Bubble Guppies Puppy Playhouse - disneycollectorbr - 605K Views

Top Toy Channels on YouTube: November 2014

We also ran a search for the top YouTube channels that created content around toys, and how they performed in the last 30 days. It was no surprise that the big reviewer channels had generated so many views (paid and organic) given the amount of subscribers they had:

  1. disneycollectorbr 3 Million Subscribers - 402M views in last 30 days 
  2. rrcherrypie 1.5M Subscribers  - 44.7M views in last 30 days 
  3. blucollection 1.3M Subscribers - 1.81M views in last 30 days 
  4. tutitutv 1.3M Subscribers - 84M views in last 30 days 
  5. talkingfriends 1.3M Subscribers - 17M views in last 30 days 
  6. disneycartoys 1.1M Subscribers - 148M views in last 30 days 
  7. matercarclub 1M Subscribers - 1.53M views in last 30 days 
  8. vat19com 1M Subscribers - 38M views in last 30 days 
  9. evantubehd 967K Subscribers - 64M views in last 30 days 
  10. unboxingsurpriseegg 936K Subscribers - 109M views in last 30 days 

However, it was a surprise to see little visibility for any of the top toy manufacturing brands. We ran a separate search for branded content only (again, 'toy' videos uploaded to the Entertainment and How-to & Style categories), where the following channels appeared based on views of their video content for the past 30 days. Obviously Disney dominates and 50M views for WaltDisneyStudiosUK - given that the channel only has 825K subscribers - is very impressive.

But the video content resolves around movies, rather than toys, with the trailers for 'Cinderella', and 'Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast' generating around 1M views between them. We acknowledge that 'Toys' is a very short-tail, generic search term, but viewers are searching for it, and independent creators are taking advantage of the interest. Brands, take note.

  1. waltdisneystudiosuk 825K Subscribers - 50M views in last 30 days
  2. disneypixar 372K Subscribers - 4.6M views in last 30 days
  3. waltdisneystudiosfr 208K Subscribers - 10.1M views in last 30 days
  4. waltdisneystudioses 149K Subscribers - 1.7M views in last 30 days
  5. hotwheels 145K Subscribers - 4M views in last 30 days
  6. waltdisneystudiosit 123K Subscribers - 2.5M views in last 30 days
  7. disneyinfinity 112K Subscribers - 7.6M views in last 30 days
  8. nerf 106K Subscribers - 7.9M views in last 30 days
  9. waltdisneystudiosjp 91K Subscribers - 341K views in last 30 days
  10. waltdisneystudiosde 85K Subscribers - 2.5M views in last 30 days

It is worth mentioning that, while not strictly a 'toy' video, 'Let it Go' from Disney's 'Frozen', has generated 370+ Million views on YouTube since its upload this time last year. Ice skating Ella dolls are among the most sought after Christmas toys of 2014, and Frozen merchandise continues to generate huge revenue for the Disney brand:

YouTube Influencers and Toy Reviews: Who is Getting it Right?

In the last 90 days there have been just over 7.6K videos uploaded to YouTube around the topic of 'toy reviews'. These videos have generated (at time of writing) just over 311 million views, and have attracted an average of 40k views per video.

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Unboxing and review videos are sweeping across YouTube, and picking up millions of views on the wayWe already know that it's non-branded content that is attracting much of the interest, but who are the creators that have tapped into the kind of videos that viewers are consistently tuning in to watch? We take a look at 2 - EvanTubeHD, and DisneyCollectorBR.

EvanTubeHD: A Multi-Millionaire at 8 Years Old

Kids start young on YouTube these days, and one particular 8 year old is making a fortune from uploading toy reviews to the site. To date, the youngster is reported to have earned $1.3 million a year from posting his reviews, collaborations, and unboxing videos to YouTube. His family has even employed a dedicated sales team that negotiates endorsement deals with brands. These deals have resulted in promotions and reviews of LeapTV, AngryBirds, and LEGO products, and the positive exposure of those brands to his audience of just under a million subscribers.

DisneyCollectorBR: 4 Billion Views For Toy Reviews

The DisneyCollectorBR, also known as DC Toys Collector, YouTube channel is an enigma, but that hasn't stopped it from attracting over 3 Million subscribers, or generating nearly 4 Billion views. The channel consistently tops the most viewed in the U.S. every week, but the creator behind it remains a mystery. There is little to no social media activity outside of YouTube, and hardly any on the platform - comments are disabled, and the viewer doesn't get to see the amount of likes, or dislikes, that a video attracts.

The uploaded content doesn't tend to deviate from the winning formula. A young woman introduces the clip by telling the viewer which toy is about to be reviewed, usually a Disney product. She unboxes, and then plays extensively with the toy, demonstrating all the different features. The videos are uncritical, usually of low production value, and seemingly endlessly fascinating to young children. So, who is behind it? According to Buzzfeed, it may be a 43-year-old Brazilian woman, living near DisneyWorld, with a spouse that produces very similar content for his BluCollection YouTube channel. This video, for Play Doh's Sparkle Princess range generated 122 Million views:

The Top Ten Most Popular Toys: Christmas 2014

As part of the research for this post, we did a sweep of the internet on both sides of the Atlantic to reveal the most popular toys for Christmas 2014. Has the brand's video marketing persuaded you to buy any of them for your children? They are, in no particular order.....

    1. Frozen ice skating dolls - $30 (Disney)
    2. My Friend Cayla Dolls - $100  (Vivid)
    3. FurReal Friends GoGo My Walkin' Pup - $100 (Hasbro)
    4. Ride on Cars - $300 (Various)
    5. LeapFrog Leap Pad 3 - $150 (LeapFrog)
    6. Transformers Age of Extinction Stomp and Chomp - $120 (Hasbro)
    7. Nerf Weapons - $20 (Hasbro/Various)
    8. Kidizoom smart watch - $90 (VTech)
    9. DohVinci Style & Store Vanity - $40 (Hasbro)
    10. Teksta Robotic T-Rex Dinosaur - $70 (Teksta)

A big thanks to our friends at Tubular, and to YouTube, for the data.