YouTube sponsorships are advertisements embedded in individual videos, promoted by YouTube creators with a sizable number of channel subscribers. These YouTubers have built a reputation usually around a specific niche/topic and have gained a loyal follower base - people that tune into their content because of their knowledge, authenticity, and trust in their opinions.
According to reports, brand collaborations with YouTube creators are 4X more effective in building brand familiarity than those with celebrities. 49% of customers said they relied on content creators for product recommendations and 42% of people who saw a product promoted by a creator ended up purchasing the item or service. According to McKinsey, 57% of shoppers say that YouTube has influenced their buying decisions.
Here are just a few reasons why YouTube sponsorships are so effective:
But where do you begin? At ThoughtLeaders, we’ve run hundreds of YouTube brand sponsorships for our clients, with some well-known YouTubers. That means that we’ve picked up a few tips over the years for how to put together a YouTube brand partnership that works:
The most obvious way to find YouTube channels that align with your brands target audience is by searching via keywords/topics on the platform. For example, if you are a protein bar brand, you may search for fitness-focused creators that create content around ‘gym bag must haves’, ‘gym essentials’, ‘gym tips’, ‘pre/post workout meal’, ‘gym diet’.
Another way to find potential creator partnerships is by checking out where your competitors are sponsoring. This tactic may lead you to consider niches you didn’t initially think about, opening up the doors to even more channels.
Using the ThoughtLeaders platform, you can specify keywords and content categories in order to put together a list of potential YouTube creators. You can also check out brands and the channels they have sponsored in the past in order to give you an even better idea of where you should be focusing your marketing efforts. Similarly, if you see a brand like yours that had one splashy partnership with a creator, and then never appeared there again, you’ll know that might be a channel you want to stay clear from.
Once you’ve decided which channels you are interested in using to promote your brand, you can start listing the YouTube creators in our YouTube sponsorship planner to start collecting more information about the ad rates.
It’s important to align expectations and make sure you are using your budget on integrations that will deliver results. The best way to do this is by calculating expected results according to rates you can offer to the creators. The key criteria you should pay attention to are your cost per mille (CPM) and maximum cost per view (CPV) for your campaign budget. It’s also a good idea to consider your landing page conversion rates, to make sure your campaign goals are realistic. (See below for some tips for optimizing your landing page for best results.)
Once you’ve set out these budget parameters, it’s easier to keep track of which partnerships will help you achieve your KPIs. You can use our YouTube sponsorship planner to keep track of these budget requirements and make sure you don’t get distracted by over-the-top channels that won’t deliver the results you are looking for. Keep in mind, there are a variety of factors that will affect the rate of a channel including the number of subscribers, average views, placement of the ad in the video, length of the video, and maybe even the date you are expecting the video to go live.
After listing your ideal channels and deciding on your campaign goals, the negotiation process begins. Negotiating is a tricky business, so it's important to have all the information - both your KPIs and what they can offer - channel subscribers, average views, number of videos, and of course, the price. Download our YouTube sponsorship planner to arrange all of this data and work out which of the options will make the most sense for your campaign.
Once you have the channel’s offering sorted, you have a clearer understanding of the expected results that are possible to achieve - the expected CPV for each partnership. Our YouTube sponsorship planner will calculate all of this for you so you can easily see which publications are most likely to hit your campaign goals.
If there’s a creator you think would align perfectly with your product/service, but the numbers aren’t quite lining up for you, feel free to negotiate. When it comes to YouTube creators, some will be open to playing with the numbers while others, especially those managed by an agency, will have less wiggle room. However, with YouTube sponsorships, there is the option to offer multiple videos or ask for a minimum view guarantee in order to make sure the campaign reaches the brand's goals. Give it a shot!
YouTube sponsorships work best when they seamlessly integrate into the creator’s content - the product/service is relevant to viewers, it is explained in a way that resonates with the intended audience, and KPIs are met.
When someone tunes into a video on YouTube, they didn’t choose that specific video because of the sponsored product/service. They want to see their favorite YouTuber and hear what they have to say. As a marketer, in order to make sure your brand and product is digested properly by viewers, you have to ensure that it aligns with the creators values and content.
There’s a reason why hundreds of thousands of people tune into this specific creator. Don’t try to fight it. Instead, ride the wave. It’s important to send the creator specific text you want them to say about the product/service, keeping in mind that they will adjust accordingly to accommodate their tone and style (you should trust that they know what their audience likes and what will ensure the highest engagement).
The key difference between programmatic advertising and sponsorship advertising is the human touch. Instead of a brand promoting their products to a general audience, creators have the ability to advertise a product/service in a more creative, engaging way - touching on aspects that they already know their audience enjoys.
For example, instead of Casetify rambling on about their beautiful, protective phone cases, they partnered with a number of YouTubers who prove just how protective the products are. Casetify integrates with creators in different niches (mothers, fitness gurus, tech geniuses, etc), ensuring their products get promoted in the most engaging way possible - mother creators focus on the baby-throwing-the-phone aspect while fitness gurus may highlight the sweat-resistance aspect.
So what makes a successful YouTube sponsorship? Well, there is no cookie-cutter answer because each brand partnership is different. It’s important to determine your own goals for your campaign - what does success look like and how will it be measured?
There are so many metrics you can choose to measure the success of your campaign, but the key is to pinpoint the ultimate goal. For example, if the goal is to increase sales, you may want to offer the creator a promo code which can also help you track sales (and see if this creator helped lead the brand to success). If you are more interested in general brand awareness, then tracking individual conversions will be less crucial.
YouTube sponsorships can be placed at any point in the video - beginning, middle or end - and their placements usually require different rates. Here’s a breakdown of the different YouTube sponsorship placements:
This is when the creator promotes the brand/service at the beginning of the video.
Here's a great example of a pre-roll YouTube sponsorship:
This is when the creator promotes the brand/service in the middle of the video
Here's a great example of a mid-roll YouTube sponsorship:
This is when the creator promotes the brand/service at the very end of the video
Here's a great example of a post-roll YouTube sponsorship:
This is when creators dedicate an entire video to promoting the brand/service:
Here's a great example of a dedicated video YouTube sponsorship:
Here are a few strong YouTube brand partnerships that you can learn from for your campaign:
Kara and Nate are full-time travel vloggers with close to 3M subscribers - people that tune in to see their travel adventures, as well as travel tips and tricks. So, when it comes to their YouTube sponsorships, they often partner with products/services that can help them and others travel safely and easily.
In this video, Kara and Nate are trying to travel back to the USA - which requires connecting to public wifi to book tickets and of course, upload their videos. The pair explain the dangers of sharing personal information on the web and how Surfshark, a VPN service can come in handy (also mentioning the wonderful way VPNs can help you get access to content that may not be available in the country you are currently in).
Over the last year, Surfshark, a VPN service, sponsored their channel 4 times.
An average of 34K people, both book lovers and not, tune into PeruseProject for all-things book content. So, her YouTube sponsorship with Book of the Month - a book subscription service, is a seamless fit.
In this video, HUGE Book Haul, Regan covers all the books she recently bought or received for the month of January, highlighting how Book of the Month has not only helped her add even more interesting reads for the month but helped her dive into genres/topics she may have previously skipped.
Remember, you can customize and optimize your landing page for each YouTube placement, to deliver the best results and help personalize the message for your site visitors. For example, when Skillshare partners with a YouTube creator, they personalize the landing page for that specific audience, welcoming visitors with custom messaging like ‘Adam Ragusea has given you 1 free month of Skillshare’. This helps your visitors to feel like they are in the right place and creates a more seamless conversion experience from YouTube to your website.
YouTube sponsorship can be highly effective in helping you to reach engaged audiences. Download our YouTube sponsorship planner to get started and keep your campaign on track with your KPIs. If you need any help deciding which creators will be the best fit for your current messaging, get in touch and our team can help you look at the data and design a successful YouTube sponsorship for your brand.