Why Now Is The Time For YouTube Shorts Branded Content

Editition #28

Happy Friday! It’s been an exciting week for us at Mavrck! First, we announced that we’re an official TikTok Marketing Partner. Our platform now integrates with TikTok Creator Marketplace, enabling marketers to find and activate TikTok creators at scale and track their performance in real-time. We also announced a partnership with Rakuten Advertising that will help marketers bring the best of both worlds together — influencer marketing and affiliate marketing.

Last night, I also had the opportunity to be a guest for Justin Moore's Brand Deal Wizard course, where he helps creators of all sizes secure branded content deals. During the session, I talked about how influencer marketing platforms work, why brands use them, how creators can make themselves more discoverable, and best practices for increasing their chances of being selected for campaigns. I wrapped it up by answering questions from creators. I love opportunities like that because they help build more transparency and trust between marketers and creators, which I believe is key to continuing to move the needle for influencer marketing and, overall, the creator economy.

On a more personal note, I'm getting married next week, so I'll be taking a few weeks off to celebrate the beginning of this exciting new chapter. The next edition will be on July 29th. In the meantime, please consider sharing the newsletter with your fellow marketer or creator, and more importantly, send your marriage advice my way!

Today’s Edition:

  • YouTube offers new Shorts branded content packages

  • Instagram starts to roll out the Reels API

  • Twitch announces Guest Star for Just Chatting streamers

YouTube’s New Shorts Branded Content Packages Reveal The Future Of YouTube Influencer Marketing

Fresh off revealing that 1.5 billion monthly logged-in users are consuming YouTube Shorts, YouTube is now offering new branded content packages to help brands tap into Shorts content produced by creators.

Short-Form Focused Branded Content Packages

The offerings come through BrandConnect, YouTube's influencer marketing platform, and currently feature a Branded Shorts-only package or a Dynamic Branded YouTube and Shorts package. As it sounds, the former focuses solely on Shorts, and the latter includes Shorts and YouTube's traditional long-form video.

Successful Pilot Campaigns

The launch follows recent successful pilots that YouTube conducted with over 13 brands, including Kellog's MorningStar Farms and TurboTax.

For example, MorningStar Farms launched a campaign to drive recall and purchase intent for its vegan and vegetarian products and partnered with food Shorts creator Lisa Nguyen, who has over 3 million subscribers. Through two sponsored videos featuring its products, Nguyen drove nearly 2 million views, a 153% lift in recall, 5.53 million total minutes of watch time, and a 1,933% overall search lift on Google.

Why It Matters

Why are YouTube's successful pilots and packages noteworthy? They reveal what we should expect to see when it comes to branded content on YouTube going forward. YouTube has long been a space for brands and creators to collaborate on long-form videos. With the emergence of Shorts, brands are now experimenting with short-form video branded content on YouTube - a trend I predicted at the beginning of the year.

With YouTube's established presence for both types of videos and an unlimited number of creators and audiences that cross generations, brands can take advantage of their respective benefits and take a full-integrated approach with their branded content initiatives. By working with creators on Shorts, they can maximize awareness and reach through snackable, culturally relevant content. Working with creators on traditional, video-on-demand allows them to share deeper messaging over a more extended period that can convert viewers into shoppers.

First-Mover Advantage

Right now, branded Shorts content is minimal, so brands still have the opportunity to benefit from a first-mover advantage. Six months from now, it may be a different story, considering the increased interest in Shorts from marketers and creators, the new features that YouTube is building, and a greater emphasis on platform diversification for influencer programs.

How To Get Started

So my advice for brands — get started now. The great thing is that it can be easy to get started. Brands already activating creators on YouTube for long-form content should consider having their creator partners produce sponsored Shorts to go along with their standard deliverables. Brands also can seek out Shorts-first creators as there is a growing pool of new creators strictly building their YouTube presence off of Shorts’ content. Since there aren’t a significant amount of brand deals across Shorts right now, the chances are that rates will be more cost-efficient than long-form video.

Regardless of the approach, brands should let creators own the creative ideation as they will know best what resonates with audiences and how to produce content native to YouTube. Outside of general practices such as trying to capture attention early, featuring one key brand message, and leveraging trends, creators should be able to do what they do best. As seen when TikTok first launched and when brands started to get involved, they did so through creators, and this isn’t anything different.

Lastly, work with creators on multiple activations. Short-form video can be tricky, especially on platforms not named TikTok. By engaging creators to create sponsored videos on several occasions, brands can get a better idea of the feature's value and build out initial performance benchmarks to measure against other similar platforms and channels.

Industry News

Instagram has started rolling out the Reels API. Starting this week, Meta is giving developers access to Reels API. The rollout will be gradual, with all developers getting access by July 6th.

Through the Reels API, third-party apps can integrate with Instagram for content publishing, insights, comment moderation, hashtag search, mentions, and more. This will allow users and developers to schedule Reels content in advance, get social interaction metrics such as comments and likes, reply to comments, find public Reels tagged with specific hashtags, and identify Reels based on accounts tagged or mentioned.

API support for Reels has been the missing piece for Meta, which has been going all-in on its short-form video feature. According to Meta’s Q1 2022 earnings, Reels make up more than 20% of the time users spend on the app, revealing the significant role that Reels is playing today in the Instagram experience.

Due to Instagram prioritizing Reels in its algorithm and an overall shift toward snackable video content across social media, more creators and brands' Instagram strategies revolve around Reels.

This has created the need for more tools and support for the short-form video feature. As a result of the availability of a Reels API, creators and brands will be able to leverage it across social media in a multitude of ways, including the following:

  • Brands and creators can plan and streamline their Reels content calendars by scheduling their backlog of Reels to be published at future dates using social media scheduling tools

  • Influencer marketing platforms and their brand partners will be able to track and report on the performance of sponsored Reels in real-time

  • Marketers can expand their social listening to Reels to identify the conversations happening across their brand, competitors, and industry on short-form video

Twitch announced Guest Star. The new tool allows streamer hosts to invite up to five guests to participate in their streams. Streamers can use the tool from the Twitch desktop or mobile experience and host and manage guests within Twitch Studio and other tools.

When streamers bring on guests, they can invite them directly or toggle on a setting that allows viewers to "raise their hand" to indicate they want to join. Twitch will then notify guests via a pop-up which will allow them to join and be part of the stream.

Guest Star also features several safety tools. Hosts have complete control of who is invited to join a stream; they decide whether guests can turn on their camera or audio-only, and hosts can remove guests at any time. Streamers also can receive notifications from Twitch of suspicious users. Then, they can see how long users have been a follower and view any past chat messages.

The feature is in testing with a small group of streamers, who are actively part of the Just Chatting category, which is the most popular category across Twitch. More streamers will be able to access the tool this fall by signing up for a beta, and then all will have access to it by the end of the year.

As the first official feature specifically built for the Just Chatting category, Twitch acknowledges a rising trend in more streams built around the talk show format where streamers answer questions, provide advice, interview others, or host game shows. This behavior has been happening on Twitch for a while but requires streamers to leverage third-party apps that sometimes can be challenging to set up or, in some cases, unsafe since they don't fully integrate with Twitch.

With Guest Star, Twitch makes it easier and safer for streamers to continue to host these types of streams and lowers the barrier for new creators to participate. Not only do I think this will drive more types of content to pop up across Twitch, but it will give streamers another way to interact and engage with their communities. It will also be a potential opportunity for brands to tap into those communities with branded streams.

Twitch has historically been a place for gamers, but over the last few years, specifically during the pandemic, its creator community and userbase have exploded and diversified. Just Chatting has significantly benefited from this and looks to be a key driver in getting more creators and users onboard the Twitch train.

TikTok added new creator discovery features for the TikTok Creator Marketplace.

TikTok added TikTok Match, which provides brands with an automatically AI-generated list of recommended creators based on the creative brief they enter while setting up a campaign.

Additionally, it added new filters to search for creators, such as engagement rate, brand experience, and follower growth. This gives brands access to data about content engagement. It also allows brands to see whether creators have experience working with brands and whether the creator has seen explosive follower growth in the past 14 days.

Finding the right creators to partner with on branded content can be time-consuming and challenging for marketers, especially when working with creators for the first time. Providing marketers with a list of recommended creators based on their needs can help speed up and simplify the process of branded content creation. It also empowers more brands to collaborate with creators even if they lack the necessary people resources.

TikTok Match also foreshadows where influencer marketing is heading — a more data-backed and AI-powered approach to identifying and selecting creators for campaigns. Whether working with influencer marketing platforms and agencies or running influencer marketing in-house, finding the right creators for a campaign is relatively subjective and requires a human approach.

As more brands want to ensure they achieve their desired ROI when working with creators, platforms and creator marketplaces will automatically surface creators who are the best fit. This will help speed up campaign workflows so that brands can activate creators more quickly and spend more time on aspects that can't be automated, such as program strategy and creator relationship building.

Snap launched a new accelerator program for Black creators. Over the one-year program, Snap will provide 25 emerging Black creators, who are in the early stage of their creator journey, with mentorship and financial resources to help them become full-time, professional creators.

With partnering sponsors like Google Pixel, UNCMMN, and Westbrook Media, creators will receive new devices, hands-on experience, and financial backing. Each creator will receive $10,000 per month over the program for their creative endeavors. They also will be able to Beta test new features.

For consideration, creators can apply by filling out an application before August 12th. Snap will select creators based on their unique voice, alignment with Snap's values, and vision for their career. The program serves the latest installment in 523, the company's ecosystem of accelerators for companies and creators from underrepresented groups.

It's not a secret these days that the barriers and issues that Black creators face are plentiful, such as compensation and crediting disparities and toxic experiences. In recent years, social media platforms have come to acknowledge this and, in response, launched initiatives such as dedicated accelerator programs to give Black creators access to the necessary resources to succeed.

The program comes at the heels of Khaby Lame, surpassing Charli D'Amelio as the most-followed person on TikTok. Despite this notable feat, Lame or other popular Black creators were missing from Forbes' highest-paid lists for TikTokers and YouTubers. It further proves that even as Black creators rise in fame, their monetization opportunities are far less than their White counterparts. Lame's, combined with more programs dedicated to helping Black creators, has the potential to change this down the road.

Facebook announced it's testing new features for Facebook Groups. They include new ways for users to organize Groups and new ways for users to connect with each other in smaller settings.

First, Facebook is testing a new sidebar where users can find Groups and pin their favorite ones to the top of the sidebar for easy access. The sidebar will list Groups and the latest activity, such as new posts and chats. The Group organization is also updated through a new menu, where users can see events and shops.

Second, Facebook is testing the ability for admins to create channels, which are smaller settings where users can have discussions around specific topics. There are currently three types of channels: chat, audio, and feed.

  • Community chat channels: Members can chat with each other in real-time through Facebook Groups and Messenger.

  • Community audio channels: Admin and members can jump in and out of audio conversations in real-time.

  • Community feed channels: Members can connect when it’s most convenient by browsing activity based on their selected channel, similarly to Facebook’s standard feed.

These test features bring a Discord-like feel to Groups. Similar to Discord, Group moderators can better organize their communities based on specific topics and formats to make it easier for their members to find more of what they want in the format they want such as audio.

Last week, Facebook announced Interoperable Subscriber Groups, which let creators provide off-platform subscribers with access to subscriber-only Groups. These additions can help increase the adoption of the new subscription offering, primarily since it supports many of Discord's functionalities, which has been a go-to place for creators to build communities for their supporters.

Facebook’s investment in Groups is also reflective of more people’s desires to connect with like-minded people with similar interests and passions. Hence, the reason why Discord, Reddit, and other new platforms for communities are growing in popularity.

TikTok launched flexible attribution windows for advertisers.

Through a new Attribution Manager tool available in TikTok Ads Manager, advertisers can create customizable attribution windows (the number of days before someone views or clicks an ad and takes an action such as a purchase) for web and app campaigns using the TikTok Pixel or Events API. Advertisers can choose from one to 28 day attribution windows for click-through attribution (CTA) and up to seven days for view-through attribution (VTA).

The Attribution Manager will be a welcome addition to advertisers since it lets them choose the attribution window that best aligns with their business and marketing goals and drive them towards their desired performance. For example, advertisers running campaigns for products or services that have a shorter consumer journey, such as CPG, would likely want to choose a short attribution window, while for products or services that have a longer consumer journey, marketers would want to maximize the attribution window.

TikTok has been beefing up its paid media advertising capabilities in an effort to drive more revenue. To get more advertisers onboard, it recently revealed plans to provide more contextual targeting options. This will help eliminate the impact of Apple’s privacy changes. It also says it will expand the platform’s review tools for ads to help increase brand safety for advertisers.

Snap launched its new subscription service, Snapchat+. Through Snapchat+, subscribers get access to a set of exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features for $3.99 per month. Currently, available features include the ability for users to change the app’s icon, see who rewatched their Story, and pin one of their friends to the top of their chat history.

According to Snap’s SVP of Product, Jacob Andreou, some features will remain exclusive to Snapchat+ while others, such as features that rely on interactions will eventually be released to the greater Snapchat community.

Right now, Snapchat+ is available in countries such as the U.S, Canada, the U.K., France, and Germany, but will be expanded to more countries over time.

Snapchat+ charts a similar path as Twitter and Telegram, which have recently launched subscription offerings for their power users in Twitter Blue and Telegram Premium. Like both, Snap sees Snapchat+ as a new avenue to generate revenue outside of advertising dollars.

Given the current trends, we could see TikTok and Instagram potentially launch subscription services to users that could unlock exclusive features currently in testing.

Reddit recently revealed its roadmap for the year. Reddit's Chief Product Officer, Pali Bhat, recently shared what he and the rest of the product team are building. Among the upcoming features, tools, and experiences on the roadmap are:

  • Curation Of Communities: Making it easier for users to discover communities they care about by exploring posts and curated recommendations.

  • Posting Experience: Highlighting a community post requirements to ensure users know what is or isn't allowed to be posted in different communities.

  • Real-Time Conversations: Improving and expanding how chat works, such as building out chat posts within communities that can be used for Q&As, breaking news, and more.

  • Video Creation Tools: Adding new creation tools and strengthening the video player by making commenting easier and improving video performance.

  • Community-Powered Machine Learning: Extending its community-driven model for machine learning by incorporating more signals and allowing users to provide direct feedback to make algorithms more personalized to surface better recommendations.

  • Moderation Support & Tools: Providing moderators with more tools and support such as bringing Mod Notes, a feature, where moderators can leave notes about people’s actions in their community, to mobile.

There have been a lot of changes on Reddit over the last year and a half. Since the end of 2020, it has made several updates across the platform, such as revamped creator profiles, new content formats like live audio, native editing tools for photos and videos, and improvements to search and content discovery. In addition, it revealed its daily active users for the first time, which is significant because its a metric that Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat often share to indicate its growth.

These have started bringing Reddit closer to traditional social media platforms. This trend looks to continue based on its 2022 roadmap. Much of what Reddit plans to work on and deliver focuses on content and community curation, engagement, creation tools, smarter algorithms, and moderation. From product enhancements to these areas, Reddit users will be able to easily find relevant communities, engage and interact with others in real-time, natively share content across various forms, and better moderate their communities.

A question that remains in the back of my mind as Reddit brings more aspects of traditional platforms and grows its userbase is: What does this mean for brands and creators?

Pinterest appointed a new CEO. The company announced earlier this week that long-time co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann would transition to an executive chairman role, and Bill Ready would take over as CEO. Most recently, Ready was Google's President of Commerce, Payments & Next Billion Users. Previously, he was CEO of Braintree and Venmo.

In one of his first interviews since assuming the role, Ready told CNBC’s Mad Money that he believes there’s a lot more Pinterest can do to help users take more action on the platform including things outside of making a purchase.

Ready's experience in e-commerce and payments will prove valuable to Pinterest especially since Pinterest functions a lot like his former employer, Google. It will be a matter of building upon Pinterest’s current ecosystem and shopping capabilities and creating a more frictionless, consumer purchasing journey.

The addition of Ready to the company is the latest in a growing list of notable moves from Pinterest in recent months. Other notables include acquiring AI-shopping platform The Yes, launching new ad format Idea Ads, and joining forces with Tastemade for a massive content partnership.

What I’m Reading

  • 7 key Innovations in the last 7 years (YouTube)

  • How an OG YouTuber creator thinks about the rise of TikTok (Hollywood Reporter)

  • Even top creators find that star power is fleeting (Hollywood Reporter)

  • Fortnite creators are making studios to build ambitious — and branded — worlds (The Verge)

  • How Popchew is helping creators and restaurants launch food brands (Modern Retail)