Thanks to Tubular’s latest Sponsored Video Marketing Report, we know views on sponsored video content on YouTube and Facebook in Q1 2017 grew year-over-year by a whopping 242% and 7390%, respectively. Obviously, something about sponsored video works. Whether that’s because audiences are already familiar with their favorite companies and want to see more content from them, or maybe the pairing of influencers and complementary brands just works fantastically well in some cases, the fact is online video viewers are hungry for sponsored content.
But what genres of content get the most attention from these viewers? What topics are sponsors most interested in investing in? As it turns out, two genres per platform (YouTube and Facebook) dominated the rest, with others competing for views before slowly trickling off into the less-viewed content by viewers in Q1 2017. Here’s what we found when we analyzed posts on YouTube and Facebook from January 1 to March 31, 2017, in terms of top genres for sponsored content, which sponsors were on top of their game within these genres, and which media partners helped these sponsors’ campaigns find success.
Gaming and Music/Dance Rule YouTube, but Sponsored Animal Content Performed Best
YouTube has always been a top destination for video fans who want to watch gaming content. Back in 2014, Minecraft became the second most-searched term on Google’s online video site with a total of (at the time) 44.3 million searches. YouTube also launched its complementary YouTube Gaming site and app in August of 2015, reportedly to compete with Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch.
It should be no surprise, then, that the top genre of sponsored content in Q1 2017 on YouTube was gaming. Content which focused on game guides, playthroughs, how-tos, and possibly even some rage quitting and button mashing generated 198 million total views over the course of the first three months of this year alone. Several YouTube creators were choice partners for sponsors, too, including well-known channels such as VanossGaming (which pulled in 18 million views in Q1 on sponsored content), H2ODelirious (9 million), and Achievement Hunter (8 million). The top three sponsors whose content generated the most views this quarter were Ubisoft (36 million total views), COUGAR (8 million), and EA’s United States branch (7 million).
The second most-popular genre of sponsored content in Q1 2017 turned out to be music and dance, with 161 million total views. Singha Light, Young & Hungry, and SEEK Thailand were top sponsors of music and dance content, pulling in an impressive total of 46 million total views. The next-highest genre — entertainment — came in third with 95 million views and partners such as To Catch a Cheater, Rooster Teeth, and Domics earning a total of 44 million views on their sponsored content in Q1.
Despite gaming, music and dance, and entertainment all generating the most views on sponsored content in the first three months of this year, a different genre entirely came out squarely on top in terms of engagement, and that was animals and pets. Sponsored content featuring furry critters and fascinating creatures had a 30-day average view count (V30) of 1.2 million. The next-highest V30-boasting genre? Film and movies, with a significantly less count of 273k.
According to Tubular’s DealMaker product, the #1 sponsor behind sponsored content on YouTube in terms of views hailed from pet nutrition brand Mazuri with 86.8 million total views. And this company helped sponsor portions of a live stream for April the Giraffe, the long-necked, spotted creature living at the Animal Adventure Park in New York. April became internet famous — she even has her own Twitter account! — after the park started live streaming the late stages of her pregnancy in February and the birth of her male offspring Tajiri in April. The live stream (which was also sponsored at one point or another by Toys R Us and Babies R Us) generated a total of 232 million views since its launch in February, with Tajiri’s birth pulling in 1.2 million live viewers alone.
April undoubtedly helped spur audience’s interest in animals in Q1 of 2017. The extended views on her live streams and word-of-mouth marketing regarding her soon-to-be-born calf easily contributed to the overall 1.2 million V30 sponsored animal content received in Q1 on YouTube.
Facebook Users Love Being Entertained and Looking at Food
YouTube audiences seem ready to consume gaming and music/dance content on that platform, with the occasional animal-centric live stream or content push thrown into the mix. But what about on Facebook? Across the billions of users on this social media site, two genres in particular resonated the most with them in terms of video views. And, as you might expect, these two genres universally seem to connect with people around the world: entertainment and sports.
Sponsored entertainment segments generated a massive 2 billion total view count in Q1 of 2017. Ellen DeGeneres was the top media partner, having pulled in 90 million views herself across various sponsored videos. Unsurprisingly, DeGeneres’ digital video studio ellentube also landed in the top five partner list for Q1, with 73 million total views at third place. Second place went to Architecture & Design with 75 million views. As for the top sponsors who partnered with creators in Q1 2017, the top three spots go to Disney’s Moana (73 million total views), New York Life Insurance Company (45 million views), and Walmart (37 million views).
As for the sports genre on Facebook, that sponsored topic saw 1.1 billion total views from January to March of this year, beating out the third-place genre of food and drink by 244 million views. Bleacher Report was the best-performing partner at 90 million total views, with Red Bull — a brand already well-known in the digital video world — coming in second with 59 million views on its sponsored content. The National Football League (NFL) was pacing to beat Red Bull with 58 million total views. These creative partners and more helped action camera brand GoPro become the top sponsor in Q1 with 60 million views across all its paid content; Pepsi wasn’t too far behind at 54 million total views, and PokerStars rounded out the top three sponsors at 22 million views. Clearly, Facebook users are interested in a variety of sports and the brands and creators who generate content about them.
Sponsored content on Facebook followed in YouTube’s footsteps in that the top genres for views weren’t necessarily the top genres in terms of view performance. That honor instead goes to food and drink with a 621k V30, with home and DIY sponsored content coming in second with a V30 of 454k. The top three creative partners who helped contribute views to food and drink’s performance in Q1 2017 were BuzzFeed’s Tasty property (with 331 million total views), Tastemade (28 million), and Cooking Panda (27 million). And the sponsors who benefited most from their branded content the first three months of this year? That would be hot sauce brand Frank’s RedHot (39 million total views on paid content), Campbell’s (37 million views), and Google (30 million views).
As for the top-performing sponsor on Facebook in Q1? That would be A Plus, a media company which focuses on positive journalism and garnered 169 million total views from January to March. A Plus only partnered with two creators, music and dance brands Lil Wayne and Young Money, who both uploaded a total of 31 videos ranging in content from inspiring quotes from celebrities to funny moments with animals. The most-watched clip out of all of these was a video which pulled in roughly 103 million total views and featured an Australian Shepherd who does everything her owner does, including yoga.
The rise in popularity of sponsored content over the last year isn’t something brands can afford to ignore if they want to stay ahead in the digital video game. Audiences around the world have proven they will give their attention to quality creative content paid for by their favorite brands and produced and distributed in collaboration with top media partners and creators around the world. This is an opportunity a lot of different companies can take advantage of, not just the ones in industries mentioned above (though it can’t hurt if you are).
Interested in learning more about Tubular’s sponsored video content findings? Click below to download the report!