Google likes to brag that YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine (in your face Bing!), and when you look at it that way, you realize the magnitude of the opportunity on YouTube. When I think about my own online behavior, I probably watch at least 15-20 YouTube videos every week, and I suspect most people fall into this camp. And yet, of the 40 clients with which we are currently working, only a handful have given anything more than lip service to creating a marketing strategy around YouTube.
I suspect that the main reason for this is that video is a lot more complex to set up than a blogging strategy or buying text ads or even throwing up some nice display ads. And of course, video is not a direct-response medium – it is definitely a top-of-the-funnel “demand creation” strategy. When you look at the sheer size of YouTube, however, and combine that with the fact that most marketers are not investing much or anything in video marketing, it makes you think. For this reason, I think that YouTube marketing represents an arbitrage opportunity for marketers, in the same way that I feel these arbitrage opportunities exist with mobile and Facebook advertising.
To be sure, YouTube is a high risk/high return play. You might spend $10K producing a series of slick videos and get 20 views; you might also hit a nerve with your target audience and become an overnight sensation. Most likely, you’ll fall somewhere in between. My general feeling, however, is that there is still a lot of opportunity to make YouTube successful, and ROI might be lower in the future as more marketers catch on to this channel.