Exploring the New World of YouTube with Generation C

Exploring the New World of YouTube with Generation C

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YouTube has altered the map of content, search engine, and social media marketing, but have we caught up with the new model? A couple of days ago, I was one of the keynote speakers at BE-Wizard! 2014, which was held at the Palacongressi in Rimini, Italy. Actually, I was the fourth out of four keynote speakers at the real-time web marketing conference, which was oddly appropriate because the theme of my presentation was Toby Lester’s book, The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name. This may not be a familiar theme for others exploring the new world of YouTube, so let me explain. 

YouTube Altered Everything

Christopher Columbus died in 1506 convinced that he had sailed to Asia. But, in 1507, two scholars working in the mountains of eastern France came to a startling conclusion. After reading about the Atlantic discoveries of Amerigo Vespucci, Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann decided that Vespucci had reached a New World surrounded by water and distinct from Asia. To celebrate Vespucci’s achievement, Waldseemüller and Ringmann printed a huge map, which showed this New World for the first time. And, in Vespucci’s honor, these scholars gave this New World a name: America.


I used Lester’s story behind that map, a thrilling saga of geographical and intellectual exploration, full of outsize thinkers and voyages, to make a similar point. Which is:

Most marketers are still using Harold Lasswell’s model of communication from World War II. In his 1948 article, “The Structure and Function of Communication in Society”, Professor Lasswell wrote that “a convenient way to describe an act of communication is to answer the following questions:

  • Who
  • Says What
  • In Which Channel
  • To Whom
  • With What Effect?” 

1 - laswells_model (2)

More Effective Video Marketing Metrics

Unfortunately, most agencies aren’t measuring the effect of communication. In the late 1980s, my father was the director of marketing at Oldsmobile. He launched the classic ad campaign, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” But sales fell from 900,000 in 1987 before the campaign to under 450,000 in 1991. So, he asked his ad agency, Leo Burnett, how they were measuring the ad campaign. “Gross Rating Points”, they replied. So, my dad asked, “How many GRPs do we need to sell a car?”

In other words, his agency didn’t realize that GRPs measures the channel of communication, not its effect. There’s another problem with Lasswell’s one-way model of mass communication, which has also been called the hypodermic needle model. It doesn’t explain newsstands or the internet.

In the 1990s, I was the director of corporate communications at Ziff-Davis. In 1991, I helped launch PC Magazine and PC Direct in the UK; PC Professionell and PC Direkt in Germany; as well as PC Expert and PC Direct in France. We broke the records for single-copy sales of the premiere issue of a magazine in all three countries. In 1996, Ziff-Davis and Yahoo! created a joint venture and I helped launch Yahoo! Europe. And Yahoo! was leading Internet guide in the UK, Germany and France during the 1990s. But I didn’t use Lasswell’s model to craft my strategies.

When people have lots of options, I realized that marketers couldn’t push people to pick up their magazine from a newsstand or visit their website. They needed strategies that pulled them to their channel of communication. Perhaps, this explains why I discovered YouTube search reversed Lasswell’s model of communications. In the first edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, which was published in August 2009, I wrote, “Maybe we need to reverse Lasswell’s old model and ask:

  • Who
  • Seeks What
  • In Which Channel
  • From Whom
  • With What Effect?” 

2 - search_model-1 (2)

I added, “These may appear to be minor edits, but they represent a major paradigm shift.”

The first edition of my book includes an example of how I applied this model earlier that year for Yell, the international directories business. Yell was launching its first ever stand-alone TV ads for its UK business directory enquiries service 118 24 7 based on the signature tune of cult internet cartoon character “Magical Trevor”. We conducted some keyword research and discovered there was much more web search interest in Magical Trevor than in 118 24 7, 118247, or 118 247.

But, we weren’t the only ones involved when Yell launched its integrated marketing campaign from March 19 to 22, 2009. “Magical Trevor” created by Jonti Pickering. The TV commercial produced through Tomboy Films. The TV campaign was developed by Rapier. The campaign was supported by radio ads. The team built campaign page, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel. Yell’s PR department handled traditional media relations. And my firm, SEO-PR, handled the optimized press release, blogger outreach, and social media marketing.

We embedded a 30-second YouTube video of the “Magical Trevor” TV commercial in an optimized press release, which ranked #1 for Magical Trevor in Google News UK.

So, what were the results? We got 1 mainstream news story and 29 blog posts in the first month. We got 254 tweets about Magical Trevor and 118 24 7 in the first month. 30-second YouTube video got 220,000 views. A 60-second version of the YouTube video was embedded on the campaign page and got close to 30,000 views. The campaign page asked visitors to rate the video and 82% loved it and were then asked to email it to their friends. But here’s the real effect: Yell extended the ad campaign after recording a 70% increase in call volumes to its UK call centres.

Right after the first edition of my book was published, I discovered that YouTube uses a two-step flow model of communication. As I explained in the second edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, which was published in November 2011, “If you start in the center, here is how you would phrase the five key elements of the question on the left side of the model:

  • Who
  • Says/Seeks What
  • In Which Channel
  • To/From Whom
  • With What Effect?” 

And starting starting again in the center of my new model, here’s how you would phrase the five key elements of the questions on the right side of the model:

  • Who
  • Shares What
  • In Which Channel
  • With Whom
  • With What Effect? 

3 - search_and_social_full (2)

My discovery was made after a friend told me the story of the launch of the “PiperSport”.

On January 13, 2010, Piper Aircraft had inked a licensing deal with Czech Sport Aircraft to bring their light sport aircraft to market in the US. The PiperSport cost $140,000 and was targeted at young pilots and flight schools. The company wanted to unveil the new plane 8 days later at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo on January 21, 2010.

Piper Marketing Director Jackie Carlon commissioned Michael Kolowich of DigiNovations Video Production Services to create:

  • PiperSport Light Sport Aircraft channel on YouTube.
  • PiperSport Light Sport Aircraft page on Facebook.
  • PiperSport feed on Twitter. 

DigiNovations created these channels in a week. Kolowich, in turn, engaged Janice Brown of Janice Brown & Associates to create the initial original content for the Facebook and Twitter channels. It’s worth noting that there was no web search interest in PiperSport until after its launch in social media.

In the first 90 days,

  • Videos on PiperSport’s YouTube Channel got 43,547 views.
  • PiperSport got 8,204 fans (“likes”) on Facebook.
  • PiperSport got 101 Twitter followers. 

And a Google search for PiperSport found the company’s website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube videos, and photos in 7 of the top 10 search results. But here’s the real effect: Piper Aircraft got its first order for a PiperSport a week after the launch and 15 orders for PiperSports at an average order size of nearly $140,000 each in the first 90 days. That’s a total of $2.1 million in orders – before the light sport aircraft was even available in the US.

Piper Aircraft was also able to calculate that the company had gotten a short-term return on marketing investment (ROMI) of 24.2. Here’s how it made the calculation:

  • The Company spent under $50,000 on social media marketing. This included strategy development, content development, video production, content implementation, social media channel management, media placement, and promotion.
  • The Company got over $2.1 million in airplane orders in 90 days. Customers ordered 15 new PiperSports at an average order size of nearly $140,000 each. Buyers made $10,000 deposits through PayPal.
  • Piper Aircraft’s return on marketing investment was 24.2. The formula for this is: ROMI = / Marketing Spending ($50,000). It’s worth noting that Nielsen Analytic Consulting has found average short-term ROMI is 1.1.

YouTube and the New Influencers: Gen C

Going forward, we need to find the influencers who are at the center of the process of discovering new videos and sharing them with others. YouTube calls these influencers “Gen C.” And 76% of Gen C visit YouTube weekly, and 36% visit daily. 56% of Gen C have taken action after watching ads for a product or service on YouTube. Gen C are up to 3.6x more likely to purchase products and services. Gen C are 1.8x more likely to be influencers, agreeing that “people often come to me for advice before making a purchase.”



We also need a map of our influencers, their audiences and how content flows. Fortunately, Traackr has introduced an Influencer Network Analysis map specifically shows you how your influencers and their highly connected communities relate to each other within a topic.

Finally, we need to understand that there’s more to discover. Eric Enge, the CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, predicts we’ll see changes to search results related to Author Rank in 2014. Specifically, he says, “We will see one or more new changes to the search results related to Author Rank. What we won’t see however is some huge shift in the search results based on Author Rank. The use of this signal will likely come out as part of some specific features or scenarios. An example scenario might be an Author Rank specific ranking change in personalized results that shows up as some type of new presentation of authors you follow.”

By understanding that YouTube alters the map of content, search engine, and social media marketing, we may also discover that influencers don’t revolve around us, but vice versa.

Illustrations © Kelsey T. Jarboe


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