April 02, 2013

YouTube Live Streaming is Brilliant Marketing Strategy #BestVideo

By Bern Rexer

On March 31st Google began promoting it's annual April Fools Day pranks for many of it's products. It seems that each Google program try's to outdo themselves with the most over the top gimmick.

YouTube got in on the act by live streaming a Nominee Announcement Ceremony. The description from the live event Watch page said:

Every video uploaded over the past eight years is under consideration to win YouTube. Our presenters will be announcing all the nominees for 12 hours every day over the next two years. 

Many hours before the live stream started, scheduled at Noon EDT, it was apparent YouTube was on to something. The audience engagement began after the Watch page URL, where the video is displayed, was posted from a few promotional links.

Promotion also came from a teaser video which displayed over 3 million views before the live event started.

Audience engagement included a few thousand concurrent viewers, according the the Watching Now stats, interacting through the comments section several hours before the event began.

I found the link after my daily perusing of the YouTube Live listings. And noticed right away the large viewing Watching Now count before the event began.
Large view counts are intriguing for any videos on YouTube. And it is hard not to click through a live event with a large Watching Now audience to discover what the attraction is.
So I clicked and as the page opened - a black slate appeared with a countdown clock and there was the comments section updating frequently. It was the comments that everyone was drawn to. You can build your audience engagement before the event begins by enabling and encouraging comments.

Promoting the live event included YouTube sending out a few Tweets with the hashtag #BestVideo and a Google+ Post

If you aren't a Google+ user yet your are missing out on hyper charged rankings from your posts and some neat data called Ripples which show how a G+ post spreads over time and offers a nice graphic representation. +Larry Page was one of the big influencers for the live event post.

Google+ Ripples

As the show began we were introduced to YouTube's Submission Coordinators Donald Hurley and Kendra Fuller. (Donald looks too young to be the dad of +Chad Hurley don't you think?)

Donald Hurley and Kendra Fuller
And for the next twelve hours they started to read from red cards with the YouTube logo, each video which had been submitted to YouTube since 2005. They didn't even leave the set during breaks which were scattered through the show as interstitial playbacks of Nominee Spotlights.

Various lower third and other graphics were used throughout the show including the Twitter feed hash tag. There were suggestions from the graphics encouraging the audience to vote if Kendra or Donald would eat spaghetti or hot dogs for dinner. But there were also suggestions to submit your video using the hash tag. The results were impressive. The YouTube Live Event topped trends on on all social networks and flooded the Internet with YouTube links which were submitted from YouTubers in hopes of getting their videos mentioned during the live stream.  If you have a video on YouTube this show made you think about it.

The webcast appeared to use the newly introduced live streaming experience known as the New Platform, which offers YouTube live streaming producers multiple bitrate selections up to 1080p transcoded from one encoded stream. It also offers DVR capability where the viewer can scrub back to the beginning or any previous spot of the broadcast. This was a nice feature if you wanted to go back in time to see if your YouTube video had been read - I'm still searching if my old YouTube video got mentioned. If the DVR option is enabled when producing a live event, then the archive is available almost immediately after the live event is complete. I noticed this event after being twelve hours long was available as an archive within a  few seconds after conclusion - same watch page with view counts and comments intact.

One of the many funny moments during the live stream, and a break in the routine towards the end, was Donald Hurley thanking his family and that he wouldn't see them for the next two years at the 11:12:45 mark.

The live event concluded with weary Kendra and Donald being tucked in to cots on set by a stage hand so they could awake April 2nd to begin again. But I didn't see the event listed from the YouTube Live page today. Maybe this really was a joke.

Some notable stats I observed:
Over 400K (and counting) comments from the Live Event Watch page.
Over 50K new subscribers to the YouTube channel page.
Concurrent views up to 25K and over 500K unique views. The archive will surely top 1 million views before the end of today.

I'd consider this live Internet broadcast a historic YouTube event for many reasons including the duration and the numbers. But also because it set a great marketing precedent of how to use a live event to build brand awareness and created audience engagement. I think the event it is an advertising case study for utilizing live streaming to market your brand or message.

YouTube continues to solidify it's ubiquitous brand for video consumption. Nice job YouTube for 'winning' the Google April Fools competition. I'm looking forward to watching next year!



Some takeaways if you are an internet marketer or event producer:
  • The audience feels connected to each other through the event and the live event can produce tremendous audience engagement while it all happens real time. 
  • A live event is a single time and place where a group of people come together to talk about the same thing. Live streaming brings the event to each remote online viewer.
  • Real time messages during live events are powerful - you know your audience is present and listening.
  • Viewer profiles who posted via YouTube comments, Twitter, G+ or any profile based social network can be logged for future marketing efforts.
  • Crowd sourcing link submission during a live event from your audience is a way to get your domain links online. 
  • A well produced annual or serial event will seed your audience for the following event. 


  • Do you think because of the thousands of additional YouTube videos posted by users during this live event - YouTube gained ad revenue?
  • Do you think they gained additional brand awareness?

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