Danielle Startin
Danielle Startin
Junior Planner
16.10.14

YouTube, You’re Light Years Ahead

On the 1st October, YouTube started advertising at Piccadilly Lights, an ad space that will cost them around £2m per year in return for 71.8 million impressions. Impressive stats, until you consider that YouTube generates that many video views per minute, leading to speculation that they’d lost the plot.

Social networks have traditionally grown without big budget advertising campaigns – the Pinterest founders, for example, went into Apple Stores and left the site open on the display Macs to attract their first users.

But, even though the established social networks are giants, institutions even, that many cannot imagine being displaced, so is Coca-Cola, and their annual global ad budget is in the billions. Why? Because, without advertising they’d struggle to attract new generations to the brand – just as Facebook is losing market share among younger users in the US.

If the dominant social networks want to cement their position, they should be following YouTube’s lead. Indeed, YouTube is, in my opinion, the social network that least needs to promote itself; if you asked me which current social network would still be around in 10 years I would, without hesitation, answer YouTube – the content rich platform is the world’s second largest search engine, and is owned by the first largest.

I have less faith that the other networks in Social Media’s ‘Big 3’, Facebook and Twitter will be around in 10 years – which leads to the question how should these be promoting themselves? Thinking of the Piccadilly Lights ad space specifically, gives me the following ideas.

Twitter could implement a digital billboard, pulling in moderated tweets mentioning #PiccadillyCircus, giving Twitter users the chance to see their 140 characters up in lights. Move over 15 minutes of fame, this campaign would be all about 140 characters of fame.

Facebook wants to be the Social Newspaper – hence the launch of Newswire, changes to the News Feed Algorithm and the introduction of trends. They could support this with the world’s first digital newspaper billboard – an ever-changing display of the best and biggest news from the platform, much like the Newswire stream, with prominent Facebook branding.

Whatever Facebook and Twitter do, they need to do something. YouTube are advertising – and if they don’t want to be left behind the other networks need to jump on board, and quickly.

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