Vinja was founded on the premise that video is the cusp of transformation; and our mission is to accelerate and shape that transformation on behalf of our business customer. But we recognize that other companies are building software that provides brands with data and insights to make a significant impact on their videos’ performance on YouTube.
For example, Pixability is an ad buying and video marketing platform for YouTube. We have been big fans of their industry studies since the first one was published in August 2013. One of Pixability’s latest industry studies takes a close look at the top 100 retail brands over the 2014 Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend. The biggest winners and losers on YouTube might not be who you’d expect.
Overview of the top 100 Retail Brands’ Performance
The top 100 retail brands added more than 76 million views from Nov. 19 – Dec. 2 (Black Friday/Cyber Monday), vs. only 24 million in the first weeks of November. More than 64,000 new brand subscribers were won. There were 1.1 million total Black Friday engagement instances across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube likes and comments.
Two-thirds of all Black Friday/Cyber Monday views went to just two channels: Walmart and Foot Locker. Only 19 of the top 100 brands published highly successful (>100k views) videos during the Black Friday / Cyber Monday retail period.
Brands still compete aggressively for Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales
As anticipated, cost-per-view (CPV) spikes coincided with both Black Friday and Cyber Monday as brands competed for scarcer consumer dollars this Thanksgiving. A representative fashion retailer, shown in the chart below, experienced a 51% spike in CPV on Friday and a 70% spike on Monday relative to the prior week average, due to the weekend’s popularity.
What type of videos performed this Thanksgiving period?
60% of the most highly viewed videos were those published after November 1st, but some months old legacy content picked up 100k+ views. Not all popular content was holiday-centric: Foot Locker, Dunkin’ Donuts, CVS, and HEB all enjoyed strong channel performance, even with their lack of specific focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. How-to videos enjoyed strong resurgence and long shelf lives – surprise hits were Michaels’ arm knitting video from 2013, and Nordstrom’s scarf advice video classic from 2012.
Did different industries experience dramatically different performance?
Big Box Retailers: Walmart was a dominant force this year, but Target and Kohl’s also gained significant amounts of new views, subscribers, and shares. Amazon’s channel performance during just the first two weeks of November matched Target’s overall performance for the month, including Target’s holiday-specific efforts.
Fashion and apparel: Victoria’s Secret, Gap, and Foot Locker all performed strongly this year.
Food: Dunkin’ Donuts represents a fascinating outlier in the 2014 dataset. DD ranks among the most viewed channels and is the only restaurant brand in the top 20 for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Rival coffee chain Starbucks stayed out of the fray.
Walmart was the big winner
Walmart ranked first with 39 million views (3 times more views than the second-place channel), 11,000 new subscribers, and 13,000 Facebook shares of its top 14 videos. A comprehensive strategy with varied content contributed to success. This included a national campaign-linked video, Walmart-centric content, gift-buying advice, and in-depth product discussions and demos.
Walmart successfully capitalized on YouTube’s versatile format with varied video lengths, embedded links, social media, flyouts, and the other engagement-drivers below:
- Banners pushing subscriptions + subscribe button
- Flyout with link to www.walmart.com
- Long-format capitalizes on pay-per-viewer pricing
- A huge library of holiday content – not just ads
- Rich metadata with links to brand’s homepage
Foot Locker’s celebrity campaign generated huge interest
Foot Locker was this year’s surprise comeback king with 12 million new views earned during led by four wildly popular “Week of Greatness” videos. The retail brand also generated best-in-class engagement: 9,500 new subscribers and 350,000 Facebook shares amplified its impact.
In fact, Foot Locker led the top 100 retail brands for the period in Facebook shares, Tweets, and comments. It’s worth noting that Foot Locker ignored holiday-specific ads and focused on demand gen for its core audience.
Some brands that you wouldn’t expect invested heavily in Black Friday 2014
Dunkin’ Donuts was the third most-viewed channel of the brands reviewed for this holiday period with 4.3 million new views, but the limited diversity of its content (product-focused TV spots) led to non-existent engagement on those viewed videos.
HEB, a grocery chain located in Texas and Mexico, picked up 1.2 million new views by posting ads starring the San Antonio Spurs. In contrast to Dunkin’ Donuts, HEB enjoyed solid Facebook shares and likes, meaning its celebrity content was strongly engaging the brand’s viewers.
CVS gained more than a million views during this year’s big retail weekend, although the timing may have been coincidental; the majority of the views were of ads publicizing the company’s recent decision to stop selling tobacco products in stores.
Classic brands got organic views over the weekend
Apple enjoyed strong channel performance with 2.8 million new views, the 9th strongest-performing brand channel according to views gained. Apple’s highest-performing content was a series of TV new ads plus older videos promoting phones and tablets now once again relevant to shoppers.
Victoria’s Secret gained 7,600 new subscribers for its channel, making it the 6th most viewed channel during this Thanksgiving period. The company’s strongest piece of content? Highlights from last year’s VS Fashion Show, posted in December 2013.
Relevant product news performed well; forced seasonal content, not so much
In contrast to most of the other brands who built up to a Black Friday-specific campaign, Amazon had its strongest view gains (over 2.4 million views) in the first weeks of November, coinciding with its introduction of Echo. Amazon’s new ad for the Amazon App also performed well, debuting to more than 300,000 views in the holiday period.
However, Amazon did not invest in retail holiday-specific videos or advertising in 2014. The company has made a lukewarm effort with regards to other date-specific content, including Thanksgiving how-to videos, but content completely unrelated to what Amazon doing what Amazon does best hasn’t been overly successful for the online retailer powerhouse.
What might happen if a retail brand combined their data and insights with our software?
According to eMarketer’s first-ever forecast of retail ecommerce sales worldwide, retail products and services purchased on the internet are $1.316 billion in 2014. By 2018, retail ecommerce is forecast to grow to nearly $2.5 trillion.
We recently shared the story of how ULTA Beauty, a global leader in consumer cosmetics, was using Vinja’s cloud-based software to create “Shoppable Video.” Imagine what might happen if they and other retail brands combined Pixability’s data and insights with Vinja Video’s ability to segment their YouTube videos into product-oriented “chapters” with synchronized links to product purchase pages that let viewers continue to watch the videos while they browse the product page. Now, that would be an interesting development that all of us should be looking forward to seeing in the coming year