Video Marketing Blog

From Airsoft to Parkour, a look inside the (head-scratching) content building some of the largest YouTube audiences in the world.



As you know by now, our Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports report is mind-blowing (if your brand plays in this category, you need to see it!). For a number of reasons: First, it’s a treasure trove of data and insights on every major YouTube channel in the category, from BMX Riding to Camping and Hiking, Skateboarding to Windsurfing. But it also shows enormous, fanatical audiences for content on outdoor and adventure activities that some (many!) of us have never heard of.

For example, there are more than 1.7 billion YouTube views on Airsoft, Bushcraft, Geocaching, Parkour, Slacklining, and Tricking alone. Wow! What? YouTube viewers are flocking to channels on Frisbee and Freerunning. Who knew? And eight of the top ten channels are on Skateboarding or Parkour (yep, we had to look that one up too).

The sheer volume of niche conversations taking place every day on YouTube is enough for marketers to stop and dig deeper. It’s the reason Red Bull doesn’t push beverage videos, DC Shoes has a top Skateboarding channel, Andy Schrock has a nearly perfect TVi Score, and why more than 29 million people subscribe to content in this category.

We took to the streets to see where this audience is coming from and learned that the NYC passerby is a little perplexed as well. What this tells all of us, particularly brand marketers, is that there’s a tremendously active audience on YouTube viewing and sharing content that might tie in really well with your brand, and you don’t even know it. The point is: your competition is likely not who you think it is (and tracking), but rather a guy with a skateboard and a great sense of humor.

Here’s what we do know about the category, and what brands can do not only to participate, but also to ensure their channel is in top shape to compete there. And this applies to every brand channel inside and out of the Adventure conversation.

  1. Outdoor and adventure channels gain TV-level audience with exciting content and structured audience building. Red Bull and GoPro are known for their killer YouTube channels approaching a billion video views, but they’re also masterful at converting views to subscribers. When brands reach this level of engagement on YouTube, they combine scale on par with TV-like viewership (but with higher loyalty). Their formula works because they work the full YouTube formula and don’t rest on numbers like videos, views, and subscribers alone. Market your channel to reach and stay on top.
  1. Learn from top brands and YouTube stars. Not only can brands learn from DC Shoes and Original Skateboards, but they should also be looking at Scout the Doggie and Brodie Smith, the top two YouTube stars in the category. These guys know how to build organic audiences and connect authentically with fans — and they also make strong partner targets, much as Michelle Phan and Bethany Mota changed the face of beauty and cosmetics marketing. Our full report shows which YouTube personalities are best at connecting and building the outdoor enthusiast audience you crave.

  2. Tricks and motion rule with fans. The most successful channels in this conversation category entertain and inspire sharing with astounding tricks and artistic camera angles. In fact, “Tricking” is an active topic on its own, with more than 52 dedicated channels. Skateboarding and Longboarding combine to own the content of six of the top 20 channels in the overall category. Brands, take note: viewers have a thirst for thrills. Don’t be so literal by wrapping every video with brand messaging or (heaven forbid) just repurposing other marketing videos for YouTube. When it comes to developing your own content, think interest and action – show as you tell.
  3. YouTube competition is wider than retail competition. The Outdoor report reveals true channel competition in the category, from competing brands to the many YouTube personalities who are mastering the art of audience. The report gives brands the data to learn from successful YouTubers and see where they stand vs. traditional competitors in every measure of audience. Your competition on YouTube is likely not who you think. Know the conversation and you’ll see who’s taking your share.
  4. Brands who know audience know how to get it right. Unlike the beauty category, where YouTube stars snuck up and took the conversation away from many brands, those in the Outdoor Adventure conversation know how to thrill their audiences. More than 800 brands and retailers are involved in the conversation and are providing the kind of content consumers want. They’re succeeding because they talk less about themselves and more about the tricks and thrills their audience craves. For other brand categories, pay close attention to what the audience wants to see. Don’t pat yourself on the back for views and viral breakouts. Success goes much deeper, with organic views, subscriber conversions, consumer passion and the other metrics that matter – like TVi Score.

You can download our free report here.

Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics

The Secret to Winning on YouTube - It's Not Just About Views

By now we all know Red Bull has one of the hottest YouTube channels and knows how to grow an audience, landing more than 826 million video views and 3.6 million subscribers so far. But as our Touchstorm Video Index™ (TVi) has shown over the past year, views are not enough and is not the most important metric for measuring channel success. Now don’t get me wrong, Red Bull is killing it on YouTube, but even they can build a more authentic and rabid fan base if they tweak their strategy even a little bit.

Marketers need numbers to analyze their success, help them set strategy for the next campaign, and compare traction against competitors. YouTube’s API directs marketers toward views and subscribers as a great way to do this, but their view counts include those from both organic views and :15 and :30 pre-roll ad spots, mashing them all together to present one number of measurement. It’s an apples to koala bears comparison, which has always bugged us a bit. And so we’ve done something to clean it up and improve the way marketers view and measure their YouTube presence.

We’ll use our latest Touchstorm Video Index Special Report — Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports to highlight those brands and channels doing it right vs. doing it with a lot of marketing spend. Here’s a look at the most common measurements vs. those that really matter for brands:

Views are the most common way channels are judged — the more the better, right? Including all nine producer types, Red Bull is the undisputed leader, followed by Discovery Networks, GoPro and DC Shoes, who all master YouTube in views. But… these view numbers include purchased pre-roll — you know, the short ads you’re forced to watch before the one you want. Mixing content apples with advertising koalas (to ride that metaphor to death) makes it difficult to tell who’s generating genuine consumer passion and loyalty vs. those who buy YouTube to gain exposure for their TV spots. Both are excellent uses of YouTube, but view counts in isolation obscure the social media strength of YouTube by hiding what consumers are naturally responding to. This is one of many reasons why it’s important to look beyond views when judging channel health.

Top Five Channels in Views: Red Bull, GoPro, DC Shoes, Original Skateboards, Loaded Longboards


A better measure? Conversion!

Conversion is an expression of how many subscribers a channel is able to generate for every 1,000,000 views. The Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports conversation achieves significantly higher conversion rates than most others in the TVi. Across all of YouTube, any conversion number over 2,100 is above average. In Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports, the average conversion rate is 3,715! This means that for every one million views the channels in this report get, 3,715 subscribers are added. While the top five channels based on conversation may not have the massive numbers, their ratio of converting views to subscribers is awesome! Look what happens to the top five when you view through a more relevant lens:

Top Five Channels by Conversion: Krooked Skateboards, Original Skateboards, Grizzly Griptape, Antihero Skateboards, The Bug Out Channel, Odyssey BMX


The best measure? TVi Score!

TVi Score measures a YouTube channel’s health in two major areas: 1) how well it manages its channel according to best practices, and 2) the quality of its content strategy. It identifies channel health based on a blend of metrics that matter — Views, Subscribers, Conversion, Positive Passion, View Density, New Content Activity, and more. It weights these key metrics according to their impact for a top score of 1000. The TVi Score neutralizes anomalies such as the biggest-budget wins and one-hit wonders, recognizes good channel management and audience impact, enables comparisons between any channel in a conversation with others in the same conversation (or across the board), shows brands and channel owners how to compete, and shows advertisers where to put ad dollars. Whew! That’s a lot more specific than “Views.” Now look what happens to the list:

Top Five Channels by TVi Score: Metro Skateboarding, Wilderness Outfitters, Adidas Skateboarding, Nike Skateboarding, Loaded Longboards


Notice that when we went from Views to TVi as the core measurement we see only one consistent brand. Props to Loaded Longboards for keeping those views high, and that fan engagement even higher!

There’s a great opportunity for brands to maintain a strong advertising strategy but then separate their metrics around building authentic connections with audiences by checking their strategies against the TVi Score metrics above.

With this new measurement in place, you can look inside the full report for who’s doing it well and who needs to tighten the strategy reigns a bit. It’s an important exercise for channel managers to go through, as authenticity is the tortoise who will eventually win the race. And we can help you get there.

Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics YouTube Analytics YouTube Ratings

Deconstructing Honda Stage's YouTube Strategy: How They (Or Any Channel) Can Build An Audience of Their Own

The new Honda Stage YouTube channel has been lauded in the trades lately, with AdWeek previewing it in early June and  Fast Company featuring it in their July article on YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

We took a look at the channel, using Touchstorm’s Voot® software, in order to get a first-hand look at how Honda’s channel is performing. The Wall Street Journal mentioned a couple of the insights we surfaced, but we wanted to share all of what we found, and a few thoughts on how Honda might use this channel to build an audience of their own. Many of these insights and strategies are applicable to any channel – not just a large automotive brand – and you can find data on your own channel using our Touchstorm Video Index


Is Honda Stage worth the hype? Why are people talking about it? Let’s take a look at what it is, what’s it’s trying to do, and then put some odds on whether we think it’s going to work.

  • The Honda Stage channel was started recently, June 10. The channel is a near-empty vessel, waiting to receive content that will spew from three Clear Channel music tours that Honda has agreed to sponsor. One of those tours kicks off August 10, so we’ll likely see some action on the channel soon. (Nothing yet, as of this writing.)
  • Since erecting the channel, Honda has uploaded eight videos. The first six went up immediately when they started the channel. A month later, in early July, they uploaded two more. The current content teases the tour(s), and it’s all quite short, all less than two minutes long.
  • The teasers are a mix of band interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and some performance footage. The bands featured are similar: indie rockers with what we’d call an “anthemic” feel. The bands don’t have huge audiences on YouTube themselves; none of them exceed 50 million views. Grouplove, for example, which has about 28 million views on YouTube, had an iTunes hit a few years back and is still slugging it out… as we all do on that road to the top! American Authors has a very similar sound and has nearly 40 million views on YouTube. It would appear that Honda is trying to catch a rising star with this mix of bands.
  • At this barely-there start-up point, Honda has about 48,000 views and no subscribers. (Hey Honda: whomever put up your channel needs to go back and subscribe, as does everyone at the record company, Clear Channel and Honda!) As for the 48,000 views, it’s not a bad number of views for a new channel. However, the lack of subscribers leads us to believe the views were purchased. Nothing wrong with paid advertising; they need a way to kick this channel off. But now the contest begins.
  • We calculated Positive Passion for the Honda Stage channel. Positive Passion represents the percentage of viewers who click the Like Button. Honda Stage is generating Positive Passion of .53%. That’s about the same as a banner ad, and, interestingly, that’s just a little higher than the Converse channel’s Positive Passion rate; another brand using the Honda Stage strategy. According to the Touchstorm Video Index, that’s very low Positive Passion for a music channel, which means both Converse and Honda have a lot of work to do. When Honda uploads actual tour content, this will be an important figure to watch.
  • So far, Honda has little to no brand integration on this channel. The name of the channel is the only place you see Honda. The main Honda channel does have a playlist featuring the Honda Stage content. Those views will accrue to the Honda Stage channel.


So that’s what’s happened so far. Now what? Is this a good strategy for Honda?

  • It is a great strategy, but only if executed right. And that’s exactly where so many sponsorships in general, and YouTube channels specifically, fall flat.
  • Music should be an obvious win. It is such a powerful way to engage and build an audience. That’s why music tours exist – fans love them. A brand sponsoring a music tour is saying to millennials, “we like the things you like, and we help make sure you can enjoy them.” The affection and connection should come part and parcel with the deal. Besides, what else is a car going to talk about on YouTube… its airbags? The right strategy for YouTube is to put up content that isn’t about the brand, but instead aligns with what their consumers care about – no matter what kind of brand you are. So big points on this for Honda.
  • But, to make any of this work, you have to execute… really well. Starting with the concert tour! We shouldn’t judge Honda’s YouTube channel as if it’s something unto its own. It’s part of a much bigger sponsorship where Honda will surely get other benefits. We can all hear in our heads the live radio remotes that will offer free concert tickets for “comin’ on down for a test drive.” We can visualize the Hondas on display as we make our way from the ticket gate to our seat. These tours will surely have all that, plus signage and media, and for the Honda marketers they’ll have their fair share of standing in stifling tents plucking jumbo shrimp from bowls of melted ice while wearing matching t-shirts and name tags.
  • The concert sponsorship formula is written, but not on YouTube. At least, not by the brands. YouTube is the vehicle that will make sure this concert sponsorship gets noticed by the heavier half of people who will never attend the local concert or notice the local media. There’s an adage in the sponsorship world that says, “for every dollar you spend on a sponsorship, you need another dollar to activate your sponsorship.” Rarely do sponsors achieve that 1-to-1 ratio, but now, when you can rely on YouTube to really crank up the marketing heat, brands need the extra dollar more than ever. Executing on YouTube isn’t about posting and praying. That’s how you lose.
  • Let’s look at and learn from others who have gone before. There’s a long list of brands to go before Honda, sponsoring a music tour and building a YouTube channel around it. But let’s take note of Converse’s concert tour-focused channel. Converse competes with DC Shoes. DC Shoes’ YouTube channel is more than 22x the size of Converse. DC Shoes features skateboarding content; Converse features music. Is skateboarding content more popular than music? No, music is far more popular on YouTube. So what’s the difference? Execution. How about Mountain Dew’s “Green Label Sound” YouTube channel? Mountain Dew competes with Monster Energy drink. Monster’s YouTube channel is 5x the size of Mountain Dew. Monster features various adventure sports; Mountain Dew features music. Are adventure sports more popular than music on YouTube? Not even close. So what’s the difference? Execution.
  • The most popular music publication is Billboard. It has more than 404 million views. Converse has 15 million views. Mountain Dew has 14 million views. Honda may not care to think of Billboard as a competitor, but Billboard shows what’s possible for concert and music-related footage because their execution is spot on.


The bottom line: Here’s what must happen for us all to be lauding Honda Stage one year from now as a marketing success vs. the pre-launch hype-ster it is now:

  1. Honda Stage needs to market its channel. “Market” is not synonymous with “buy pre-roll” for it.” What we mean is act like a YouTuber if you want to get the results YouTubers are getting. Act like a publisher. Care about growing a YouTube audience. YouTube Audience Development is an entire discipline that many marketers haven’t yet figured out exists, but that’s where the organic views come from. Will there be a place for paid advertising on YouTube? Absolutely. But if Honda wants its advertising spend to be efficient, pre-roll is the follow-on tactic, not the lead horse.
  1. Honda needs to create truly original content from these tours. YouTube is overrun with music content, particularly when it comes to bands that strum in this part of the musical stratosphere. There are hundreds if not thousands of those middlin’ indie bands, all with their own channels, all with fan sites, some with VEVO channels (signed artists), all being covered by the music press. Because video content is free promotion for the band, when fans steal it for their own channel, record labels have a spotty record of protecting their content rights. Therefore, when it comes to band interviews, band footage, and even pirated non-VEVO music videos, they are everywhere you look on YouTube. This means it’s going to be very important for Honda to create truly original content from these tours. Backstage interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff of almost-famous people only goes so far.
  1. Honda also needs to take the promotional assets that come with the concert tour and use them to drive organic views on YouTube. Do ticket giveaways, for example, and advertise those giveaways through the copy block on TrueView InSearch/InDisplay ads.
  1. Last and hardly least, Honda needs to market the Honda Stage channel through excellent YouTube playbook practices. This includes cross partnerships, proper content cadence, tight ties to Facebook, content distribution, and all that other good stuff. Running this channel is serious business, particularly given all the money that’s being put into these sponsorships and media. Let’s hope it’s being run by a YouTube pro – after all, we’ll know because the data will tell us.
Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics YouTube Content Strategy

How to Win Fans and Influence People: The Top 30 YouTube Channels and What They're Doing Right

Touchstorm evaluated every video in the Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports conversation on YouTube to determine how often viewers push the “Like” button when watching a video.

When we look at the top channels and brands with the most "Positive Passion," we can see some trends emerge, which are useful for companies working to create branded content people will actually…Like!

Here’s how we did it: We set the average Likeability for each video to 100*, which allows us to index all videos and channels against each other. Channels that index higher than 100 have content that people like so much they say so with the “Like” button, and the result is better-than-average “Positive Passion” for the channel.

Props to the top 10 channels for landing scores of 300 or higher in Likeability for their videos:

  1. The Bug Out Channel – Bushcraft
  2. Diver Sur – Longboarding
  3. Valhalla Longboards – Longboarding
  4. Metro Skateboarding – Skateboarding
  5. Petan Bikes – BMX Riding
  6. Blackhawk Paramotor – BMX Riding
  7. Welcome Skateboards – Skateboarding
  8. Krooked Skateboards – Skateboarding
  9. Simple Longboards – Longboarding
  10. LZ BMX – BMX Riding

What are they doing right?

  1. Tricks and motion rule – keep the action coming (especially if it’s on a skateboard)
  2. Give them tips that help fans master the sport – YouTube is hot for How-tos
  3. Talk to them directly – make them feel a part of your inner circle
  4. Don’t aim for perfection – show off the bloopers and crashes
  5. Get behind the scenes – take video of your video, let them see how you created it
Channels with the Best Liked Content



Take a look at the full report on the Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports conversation on YouTube – including the top 10 channels in all 38 topics, from Bushcraft to Camping, Skateboarding to Surfing.


* The average “Like” score in this conversation is .049, a little less than half of one percent, which is a similar rate to the average CTR of a banner ad.



Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics YouTube YouTube Content Strategy