YouTube is a cultural force that has redefined entertainment and helped elect Barack Obama president, but the online video powerhouse is just getting rolling in the world of brand/product advertising. YouTube is getting serious about creating original content by sponsoring a program that helps content creators get better equipment and today announcing the acquisition of NextNewNetworks, a company that is focused on creating the TV stars of tomorrow.
In a world where product design is a hobby it is inevitable that innovation in advertising will follow. There are two trends at work, one is that video production equipment costs are approaching free. The other is that YouTube is a perfect platform for experimentation. Small time advertisers can now experiment with weird content, atypical formats, rich interactivity, and a variety of variables to help sell their product.
A great practical example of this is OraBrush, a toothbrush like device that scrapes gunk off your tongue to help reduce bad breath. It seems like a nice product, surely something an entrepreneur with basic CAD skills and a 3D printer could imagine, but the most impressive thing about the company is that they have generated more YouTube views than Apple and BMW. Television advertising wouldn’t be economical for OraBrush, but this tiny company with a niche product can out advertise the greatest brand company the world has over known.
OraBrush is able to have this impact with production values that are no better than what you’d find in a community theater. However, content, format, channel, product and other elements work perfectly together and provide a glimpse as to how consumer packaged goods will be sold over the next decade. YouTube is going to be a huge part of the future of television and ads, content, and product are going to continue to merge.
Consumer products like toothbrushes aren’t usually hot beds of innovation, but between the experimentation that tools like 3D printers offer, the funding potential on KickStarter, and the promotional opportunities via YouTube there is the potential to upend staid old companies like Proctor & Gamble. While it may not seem as exciting as a music startup or social networking site, the last big innovation in the Toothbrush category made its inventors half a billion dollars.