My batting average for making predictions is not 100% but my track record for predicting market trends, marketing tactics and consumer behaviour is (humbly) better than most. Not because I have a crystal ball or some magic expertise at guessing, but because I am a full-time researcher. I love to learn and follow trends like my life depends on it…. and technically my role as President and CEO of ChizComm does. Our clients rely on it and our business depends on it.
This week, YouTube has been cracking down pretty heavily on channels that they deemed inappropriate for kids. They have removed hundred of accounts, thousands of videos, demonetized videos and switched off commenting across a host of channels. No one will argue that inappropriate content needs to be removed, but key toy industry influencers are being caught in the crackdown. Just today we’ve heard from 4 of our contacts who’ve been affected and can’t explain why their content is no longer considered safe for children to view. This deeply affects the toy industry – particularly impacting companies who have gone “all–in” on paid influencer campaigns.
We’re seeing videos in protest of the changes popping up, and starting to see media coverage chronicling the shutdown. Influencers we deal with are incredibly worried, if not already put out of business, and while the urgency at the moment feel very sudden, the direction this has gone isn’t a total surprise. Those who read this blog and subscribe to my ChizComm Daily News will certainly have seen the increased headlines in recent weeks on this topic.
In January, as we were meeting with clients in Hong Kong, and throughout the first quarter, we started advising clients on what I predicted would happen in the world of paid influencers. Relying too heavily on sponsored unboxing videos was starting to feel risky, not to mention pricey. As a marketer, I have always believed in the importance of well rounded campaigns that feature, in large part, earned media, experiential marketing, PR, social media and a paid media mix heavily weighted in TV advertising, digital and social media and just a seeding of paid influencer marketing.
My predictions may have seemed exaggerated, but the playing field has indeed changed and thankfully at ChizComm we rely on building relationships, research and old school pitching, even in this new age of media. It is effective and it works.
Many questions remain on the YouTube front – how do we as an industry recoup lost marketing dollars invested in de-sanctioned channels? How do influencer sponsorship deals and contract terms change? How do we ensure we are picking influencers that YouTube will deem appropriate and authentic?
While we have no crystal ball and don’t know exactly how the issues around paid influencer and marketing to children will evolve, we are going to continue to stay on the pulse and advise our clients to trust in well rounded campaigns that consider all of the critical elements to reaching to the consumer.
Personally, I applaud YouTube for getting ahead of this current crisis and for being proactively self regulating. I am excited for the future where strategy and hard work will win. Let the games begin!
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