Branded content: working with advertisers
More and more brands are looking for opportunities to partner with YouTube creators. Get ready to build effective relationships with brands using these industry tips.
Brand deals defined
It's becoming common for YouTube creators to partner with brands. Videos or other types of media assets you develop with a brand are called “branded content". A “brand deal” is the term for working together to produce branded content.
Typically, brand deals are mutually beneficial. Creators can benefit from an alternative source of revenue and brands benefit because they’re able to reach a specific audience (your audience) with their product. Oftentimes, brands approach creators because the target audience for their product is similar to a creator’s channel audience.
Branded content varies depending on the way the product or brand is presented. Here are four popular types:
- Passive placement: the brand is shown in an indirect way, like in the background.
- Active placement: the brand is prominently displayed.
- Storyline integration: the brand is made a part of the story.
- Custom video: the brand inspires your content.
Find examples of branded content on YouTube that you enjoy. What about those videos keeps you watching?
See it in action
Align with your mission and community
The relationships that YouTube creators build with their communities are special. So when you start to think about partnering with brands, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. Consider your values and what motivates you to keep making videos when creating relationships, content for, or deals with brands.
Creators have found success in creating branded content that aligns with their channel mission or goals and audience. Before agreeing to develop branded content or approaching an advertiser about your channel, it’s a good idea to research the brand and understand their values. It could be helpful to find out which other creators have worked with the brand in the past and the type of videos they’ve produced.
Remember, you want to protect the trust and authenticity you have with your community by offering relevant videos on your channel. In other words, you don’t have to work with every brand who wants to work with you. Try to ensure the brand will be a good fit with your audience before agreeing to a brand deal.
Actions you can take:
- Know your mission statement and channel brand. Haven’t made a mission statement? Learn more.
- List what types of brands would be a fit with your audience.
- Search for the mission statement of brands you may want to collaborate with and see how close it is to yours.
Communicate your value and create a pitch
There are lots of opportunities to connect with brands -- like attending conferences, working with ad agencies, or contacting brands directly.
But before reaching out, it’s a good idea to prepare your brand-friendly story in a marketing deck or presentation explaining who you are and why a brand would want to work with you. The structure could take on many forms, but think about including:
- statistics on your audience from your Demographics and Subscribers reports.
- your accomplishments.
- examples of your best content.
- highlights of what you uniquely bring to the table.
You might want to treat this process like a job interview since your goal is (most likely) to have a company pay you to produce content on their behalf that represents their brand well.
Once you’ve connected with a brand, it’s time to develop a specific “pitch”, or proposal of your project. A pitch usually addresses the brand’s needs and ensures your goals and vision are aligned with theirs. Your pitch could include the core messages you plan to deliver, enticing statistics on your reach and audience, and a few options for how you would execute it. To learn more about creating a compelling pitch, check out our Creator Academy lesson.
Go from idea to contract
Once a brand deal is official, it’s important to set expectations of how you and your partnered brand will work together. Here’s a suggested list of steps you can follow to take your idea to the next level:
- Create a realistic timeline and list of deliverables that allows you to develop your best content and make the partnership a success. One strategy is to start planning your timeline and deliverable from the final product then work backwards. As you write this, consider adding details about what exactly you will deliver, how many rounds of review the brand will receive, and at what stages of production you will need brand approval (scriptwriting, storyboarding, etc.) Help the brand understand the level of commitment required of them to stay on track with your project.
- Set creative parameters and share your vision with the brand. Remember it’s up to you to guide the creative details because the end result is going to live on your channel. Sponsored or not -- you want to be sure the video will sit well with your loyal viewers. But because you’re partnering with a brand, they’ll usually provide input too. Remember, this is a partnership so it’s important to consider their requests while staying true to your brand.
- Create a budget. Typically, creators play many roles (scriptwriter, editor, actor, etc.) so try to account for all of your time. Click here to learn more on budgeting.
- Negotiate what you will deliver and consider bringing in a lawyer to help you with details of the contract like: deliverables, timeline, intellectual property rights, length of commitment, exclusivity, and worst case scenarios (e.g., cancellation fees).
- Create a great video and inform your viewers. When uploading, check the “content declaration” box in advanced settings to let YouTube know it contains branded content. Checking this box does two things; we may replace an ad that conflicts with your brand partner with an alternative ad and we will remove your video from the YouTube Kids app in line with our existing policies. You can also choose to visibly inform viewers by selecting a visible text overlay disclosure that appears for a few seconds on your video.
Note: Even if you use the paid promotion disclosure feature, keep in mind that there is no global disclosure standard, creators and brands should check and follow applicable laws as they may vary greatly by region. Learn more.
- Plan to promote the content.
- Keep track of your metrics early and often so you stay on track to hit your goals. Review your Audience retention report in YouTube Analytics to see how engaged your audience is.
Become a trusted partner
Once you’ve landed the deal, delivered on your promises, and shared it with the world, you may want to think about future partnerships. One way to do this is by sharing your learnings of the experience in a post-project report that highlights successes and lessons learned. Help the brand understand the benefits from your end and why it’s important for them to continue working with creators to reach an audience on YouTube.
The report could include:
- an overview of the program.
- a snapshot of performance data (e.g., reach).
- how you added value.
- quantitative results (YouTube Analytics and more).
- qualitative results (e.g., comments from your community).
- key learnings.
If the content didn’t do as well as you expected, you could highlight ways you would improve on it in the future.