Multi-Channel Media Mavens: Vloggers and the power of influence

Millennials media consumption preferences are changing. No longer restricted to preset airing times, multi-screen Internet video streaming has displaced television and cinema films as the Millennials preferred medium for entertainment. The flexibility to watch what they want, when they want it, and on-the-go access has completely changed the way Millennials create, consume, and engage with media.  YouTube, the revolutionary video platform that literally grew up alongside Millennials, recently passed the milestone of 1 billion unique visitors every month and boasts more young adults viewers than any cable network.

This media upheaval was lead by the Millennials themselves. Equipped with only a simple camcorder and webcam, these amateur artists and performers were able to win over their fellow peers with their unpolished charm.  YouTube creators built up audiences of millions by uploading simple videos on everything from funny video diaries,and make up tutorials, to video game play throughs and cat animations. Distributed across their many social network channels, Multi-Channel Media Mavens like Jenna Marbles, Jacksgap and PewDiePie have captured the attention of Millennials with their zany snackable content. Their ability to connect with their audience and has also allowed them to become major influencers in both the media and consumer space. And while brands were concerning themselves with celebrity endorsements and product placements in big summer blockbusters, savvy brands knew that Millennials eyes were looking elsewhere for inspiration.

Ultimate brand ambassadors: Famous Vlogger twins Jack and Finn of JacksGap show their love for Penny skateboards


To better understand why Millennials respond more strongly to Vloggers and Internet personalities than celebrities we first need to look at the techniques and personality traits that Multi-Channel Media Mavens have used to win over their audiences. According to a YouTube study conducted by Columbia College Chicago, the most successful YouTube stars have three things in common, four-minute long videos, consistent episodic content, and a 10% view to comment ratio. What this means is that contrast to the stereotypical YouTube one-minute video, YouTube viewers prefer longer quality content, with a reliable if not daily upload rate, and a high level of performer/ audience interaction.

jenna marbles

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Audience engagement is perhaps the most revolutionary element of YouTube and its contemporary social media platforms. Unlike the passive format of television and film, YouTube allows creators to build rapport and with their audience and interact seamlessly. Successful Internet personalities have involved their audience in the creative process inviting them to answer questions, pitch plot ideas and in turn highlight their fan’s response and fan works.  This direct connection creates a sense of intimacy and familiarity among their viewers, deepening the fan’s affinity and trust. On top of being perceived as more real and accessible than celebrities, they are noted as friendly, funny, and genuine, allowing fans to view them as a virtual best friend.

PewDiePie mega popular “Let’s Play” videos show Millennial’s interest in collective gaming experiences

Given the influence of such Internet personalities, partnering with these Multi-Channel Media Mavens seems like a brand’s dream come true. In fact many Internet personalities are open to these partnerships and so are their audiences. For many Internet performers creating content is their full-time job and rely on advertisements to generate their income.  Although their fans do not enjoy the interruptive advertising, they know that their favorite performers rely on these opportunities to give them the financial freedom to focus on creating content.

 Case Study: Target Bullseye University

Brands have been experimenting with enlisting YouTube stars and other Internet personalities for some time. Target recently launched an interactive  “Back to College” campaign called Target Bullseye University where they housed five YouTube stars in simulated dorm rooms for three days [15].  The YouTube stars broadcasted live from the set of Bullseye University, partaking in numerous fun stunts and activities and highlighting the range of college dorm products available at Target. Despite the branded content featured in the YouTube stars videos, the reaction from vlogger’s fans was surprisingly positive. Target branded videos had comparable views to non-branded content, and received just as much feedback as their non-branded videos.

The Bullseye University campaign is a great example of how brands can harness the power of fan communities. Understanding Millennials preference for digital media content, Target was able to reach their target demographic and inform college students about their back to college products. The overwhelmingly positive response from fans proves that Millennials are open to tasteful product placements and sponsorships, if it is authentic and relevant to their favorite vloggers story.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make sure your partnerships makes sense. Fans can smell a forced content partnership from a mile away. If you falter, you credibility will be damaged and made fun of. Instead, find multi-channel media stars who are already fans of your brand, or at least whose values and interests are comparable.  They will be much more enthusiastic about featuring your product.
  • Don’t just look at which Internet personalities have the most followers and views. Smaller, up-and-coming creators are more open and eager for the opportunity to work with brands and will often put in far more effort.
  • Multi-channel media mavens don’t really need you, so don’t expect them to promote your brand for free. You need to make sure that your brand partnership is mutually beneficial. This is an opportunity for the both of you to grow your fan base, and it requires an equal effort and level of support.