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Sean Womack

Recent Posts by Sean Womack:

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

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

Do You Know Who Andrew Shrock Is? This Free Report Proves Why You Should

Just as Michelle Phan and Bethany Mota—each with more than six millions subscribers—redefined video marketing in the beauty category, our latest report shows YouTubers building massive audiences in the outdoor category, such as rising star skateboard master Andrew Schrock. These YouTube stars in the Outdoor Adventure category are ripe for brand marketing.

It’s that time of year when thrill seekers and action sports fans hit the trails and waterways to get their adventure on, and a lot of their inspiration comes from the tricks and motion they see on YouTube. There’s a massive Outdoor Adventure conversation taking place on YouTube, with more than 3,100 channels on the topic, and more than 8 billion video views. Many of these views are going to some of the top YouTube stars in the Outdoor Adventure category. We can introduce you to these new stars in our new report.

We’re excited to share this latest report with you, the Touchstorm Video Index Special Report—Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports. It gives you insights on channels and categories that you’ve never seen before. We unwrap the brands, retailers, media properties, YouTube personalities and everyday users creating the kinds of exhilarating content audiences are searching for online.


After diving into the Outdoor Adventure conversation, you’ll see the topics, channels, leaders and trends that will help anyone—particularly brands—succeed on YouTube. It shows where a channel ranks within a given topic, with whom they’re actually competing (it’s likely not who you think), and ideas to take away and learn from others.

And the report is FREE! Wahoo! Here’s a snapshot:

  • Analysis across 3,166 channels in the Outdoor Adventure category conversation.
  • Channel scrutiny and Top 10 rankings across 38 activity topics—from Airsoft and Backpacking, to Skateboarding and White Water Rafting.
  • The first comparative look at the true competition on YouTube—not only in the Sports category generally, but also in Hunting & Fishing or Boating & Sailing specifically.
  • How brands like Red Bull and GoPro might dominate in views, but the most important metrics show the real winners are smaller brands and YouTube personalities.
  • The 80+ YouTube stars building some of the most active audiences. Take note: there is a Michelle Phan of Skateboarding (and AirSoft and Fishing and Frisbee and…)
  • Tricks and motion are the way into the thrill-seeker’s heart, with 8 of the top 10 channels on either Skateboarding or Parkour (it’s okay, we didn’t know what that was either).

There are so many useful insights behind the report that we’ll pull out some and share them with you here. We can help you decide what to do with all of this analysis so you’re rising in the rankings and exciting more fans (and not relying on paid views and subscribers). Contact us if you want help with your channel. We’d love to make you the Michelle Phan of your conversation and topic.

In the meantime, you can find the full report here. Let us know what you think, and enjoy the ride. There’s a lot more to come!


 What the heck is a TVi Score? Check it out:

Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics YouTube YouTube Analytics YouTube Ratings

Do You Really Know Who Your YouTube Competition Is?

At point of sale, brands compete with each other for market share.  In advertising, brands compete with each other for share-of-voice.  But in YouTube marketing, brands compete with all manner of folk who, by the way, don’t play by the same rules as brands.

For example, vying for attention in the Personal Finance conversation are financial advisors, tax preparers, moms who’ve turned themselves into family budget and college savings masters, government entities like the IRS and, banks and credit unions, celebrities like Suze Orman, insurance providers, wealth managers, non-profits like the AARP, TV networks/TV shows like CNBC Fast Money, in-vertical publishers like Money Magazine, technology providers like Intuit, comedians and celebrities who have something to say, economists and news organizations releasing new information on the topic, and documentarians and film-makers who are adding longer form educational entertainment to the conversation. Wow! Yes, that’s a lot of competition.

Screen Shot 2014 03 25 at 4.08.59 PM

So, which of those entities is actually a true competitor? And how are you doing against it in comparison? Consider the value of building your YouTube audience when you know where your customers are going for information and entertainment. If not you, then who?

You can run a much cleaner and more effective video marketing campaign when you know if you’re losing audience share to other brands, YouTube personalities, or publishers. There may even be an untapped market for your products in Spain or Singapore because certain international channels are killing it in your category. Every “conversation category“ has many voices competing for share, and rarely is a fellow brand the audience winner that you want to chase.

We’re working on a little something that will reveal the YouTube conversations that really matter to your brand. The results will surely surprise but your new video marketing insights will change the way you view and develop your audience on YouTube.

Topics: YouTube YouTube Content Strategy

First Kiss: How Viral Videos Can Be Missed Marketing Opportunities


At Touchstorm we spend a lot of time analyzing videos (and making, and editing, and developing strategy around…) and there’s a lot of knowledge here about how to turn a great video into a successful marketing campaign that builds audience. This is what Tube Tuesdays are about.

Every Tuesday, we’ll pick apart some of the most popular videos of the week and break down what’s working and how to better turn that smash into a sales tool. It’s not just about views and shares, it’s about the brand’s ability to build an audience around the video, a dedicated fan base that says “I want to see more. Share with me. Even subtly market to me. I’m in!”

Audience makes the difference on YouTube and we’ll show you how to build one. So let’s start with THE video of the past week. In the past seven days, viral video “First Kiss” has been shared 1.3 million times, amassing more than 60 million views. The concept and its authenticity are perfection, and such is the viral formula.

The problem is you never know what will become viral, so it’s critical that you have the pieces in place surrounding it when it does!


But we can’t just sit back and admire a great concept. We have to make everything better. Here’s how Wren (did you know that’s the brand behind it?) can turn their smash into a brand success.

1. Brand visibility

Part of the mystique comes from the lack of brand visibility, using more of a product placement than promotion strategy. However, there’s always room for brand visibility if done well. Filmmaker Tatia Pilieva wins as the YouTuber responsible for the piece, but Wren misses by including just a link to their site below the “Show More.” A description of Wren, more prominent link and, most importantly, their own YouTube channel is how they connect with their new audience and keep the relationships growing for the brand.

2. One-off vs. campaign

The video creates tension and suspense, but how is the brand using that to deliver to an audience anxious for more? An effective pre-buzz strategy might have included pulling each couple apart and teasing one kiss at time, rolled out over time. Or perhaps we’re in for a series of follow-ups that build a story about the piece, go behind the scenes, or develop the characters further. This piece presents a “what’s next” emotion, and hopefully Wren will capitalize.

3. Audience engagement

There is no brand engagement with the audience through comments, yet a lot of interest for more. Wren and Pllieva should be engaging with their new fans by revealing more about the film, the concept, the actors, the clothing and inviting a relationship with the brand.

4. YouTube as the platform

Don’t just invite your audience to your site to view your products, bring your products and content to YouTube. Millions of new customers are receptive to more from Wren and Pilieva. Bring it to them, engage with them and subtly market to them where they want to be, not where you want them to go. The video and newsletter sign-up on the Wren site is the right strategy, but more should be done where the audience lives.

5. Subscribers, not views and site hits

A successful strategy starts with views and shares, but doesn’t end unless you’re developing an audience. First Kiss brought 67k subscribers (and counting) to Tatia Pilieva, so she’s converting well, but let’s hope Wren saw as many subscribers to their newsletter, as that's where they placed their marketing bets.

Topics: Video Content Strategy YouTube

The Oscars According to YouTube: Why "Gravity" and "American Hustle" Would Take Home Statues

academyawards resized 600

And the Oscar goes to...

The next major video event is here with the red carpet rollout this weekend. And we’ve been tracking the top films of the year beyond the box office to see what’s happening on YouTube. Thousands of videos to support each film are making their rounds through YouTube views and (of course) we’ve analyzed them all.  And you can watch all Oscar-related videos on Touchstorm's YouTube channel

When you think of checking out a film you look for the trailer on YouTube. It helps us weigh the $20 theatre trip vs. the patience of on demand. But film promoters are pushing a lot more than trailers, with short clips, reviews, behind the scenes cuts, celebrity interviews and even fan videos to support their films and stars. This is the right strategy, which we saw work well for Super Bowl advertisers. 

Our analytics engine VOOT dug deep into thousands of videos related to the top six Academy Award categories this year. Based solely on view count, an indicator of popularity, YouTubers might announce that the Oscar goes to...

  • “Gravity,” Best Picture
  • Martin Scorsese, Best Director
  • Christian Bale, Best Actor
  • Sandra Bullock, Best Actress
  • Bradley Cooper, Best Supporting Actor
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Best Supporting Actress

The full report on our Touchstorm Video Index: Academy Awards Edition breaks down the winners in each category, and reveals insights worth noting, which apply equally to brands managing their own YouTube strategies: 

  • Supporting content matters. Just as we saw with the Super Bowl, a mosaic of great content to support the featured video helps build momentum and buzz.
  • While trailers are the hot view for most YouTubers, interviews accounted for most of the views for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, while film clips accounted for many of Amy Adams’ 63m views. 
  • Success begets success. As you’ll see in our full report, each of the individuals got a big boost in views because of their lift from previous work. 
  • The combination of “American Hustle” and “Silver Linings Playbook” catapulted Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in audience views. While the “Dark Knight” trilogy helped Christian Bale land more than 140m views. 
  • Know what your competition is doing. By looking at the category—in this case the Oscars—these stars can see how they compare to their fellow nominees in views. The same benchmark applies to brands. 
  • With tight races in many categories, the exceptions (again) are Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper who are ahead of fellow nominees by three-times the view count.

Our latest report is a fun look at how the Academy might select if YouTube was the stage. But there are more factors than views to consider, and the goal should be building an audience, not just popularity. 

Keep an eye on our Video Index as we continue to analyze major video events and what they mean for marketers and brand strategy on YouTube.

Topics: YouTube Channel Analytics YouTube

#AmericaIsBeautiful: How a Controversial Coke Ad Won the Big Game on YouTube

SuperBowl2014chartSince the Coca-Cola America Is Beautiful ad ran during the Super Bowl, it ignited a media and consumer firestorm. And it’s been fascinating to watch the ad unfold behind the scenes on YouTube, which is what our Video Scoreboard reveals.

The Coke ad now tops the chart in Effectiveness for the brand, displacing the Budweiser Puppy, RadioShack, Microsoft Empowering and others. But it still lags in views. How’s that?

Unlike most other Super Bowl ads that kicked off their mega campaigns prior to the big game, building views and momentum along the way, Coke held the ad back, revealing it first during the game. These are two different campaign approaches and our Video Scorecard is revealing which is the most effective strategy.

Given its late start, Coke is still middle of the pack in Views, a measure most people have been using to anoint the Super Bowl ad champion. But what’s most telling, is the Coke ad is now #3 in Likeability (compared to all others in the Super Bowl category), and #1 in Velocity. The true measure is Effectiveness, however, and it shot into the #1 slot today.

The Effectiveness metric is the coveted one, as it blends all key metrics—Views, Likes, Subscriber Conversion and Velocity—with a formula that presents a numerical ranking of the most effective ads at building audience for the brand.

Views and shares are fine, but those can be bought. Genuine audiences are built based on true ad success, and Coke has the right stuff.

Keep checking back to see how it climbs. The data is changing every day!

Topics: YouTube Video Analytics YouTube

Stay Relevant: How to Keep People Watching with veeseo

We're excited to announce our latest venture, veeseo North America, which will change the face of publishing—really! veeseo is the first video relevance engine, matching publisher videos to editorial stories based on the relevance of the content—without any effort. 

Here's how it works: Imagine you're reading an article and the video is perfectly aligned to the story—it's timely, topical, relevant, not just a "top video of the day." As an editor, you didn't have to do a thing to add highly relevant video to your story, so you place it mid article. As a publisher, you've unleashed your video archive to give your content more visibility, and greater clicks ($) that stay on your site, not out to others. As a reader, you're happy to see video that interests you now, not about something you were researching online last week. There are so many wins we stopped counting. 

Watch our latest video that tells the story of veeseo, and see what MediaPost and Adotas have to say. If you're a publisher or editor and you'd like to try veeseo on your site, please contact us and we'll get it going.

Topics: Video Content Strategy

3 Tips for Making Your Best Brand Video: A Shutterstock Case Study

Everyday People

Some music stands the test of time and finds an audience of new listeners in every generation. Online video carries the same power.

Recently, Shutterstock and Sony teamed up to re-imagine a video for the Sly and the Family Stone classic, "Everyday People." Exclusively using stock footage from the Shutterstock collection and some animated vintage photos to shape the narrative of the video, producers rediscovered not only how relevant the song remains today, but also how meaningful its message remains. (Read more about the making of the video, and watch the final product below.)

The combination of an iconic tune and compelling imagery makes it so sensational. "Using clips of everyday people doing what they do, being who they are, and living life across cultures really drives home the essence of Sly's lyrics," said Adam Farber, Project Director for Legacy Recordings.

For companies searching for new ways to incorporate video into their overall marketing strategy, yet might not be in line to partner with a music company to attain rights to reproduce a song, there are other more far-reaching lessons to take away. Once you come up with the right approach to put your brand on the map, here are some suggestions of how to proceed:

1. Hire the right producers. Find people who have both the experience and passion to make your vision come alive. That passion will be reflected in both the first cut and the final cut.

2. Storyboard everything. It can be time-consuming and expensive to make a video. You can eliminate unnecessary hurdles by outlining the approach and process ahead of time. This will make for swifter turnaround times, too.

3. Get experimental. Just because you have a process in place doesn't mean you should entirely dismiss improvisation. Some of the best ideas come to you while making edits or putting the finishing touches on. Check out some of the more exotic clips in the "Everyday People" video, below.



Guest post by Danny Groner. Danny Groner is the manager of blogger partnerships and outreach for Shutterstock

Topics: Video Content Strategy