We're on the advent of a historic first. YouTube is about to have its first 400,000,000 viewer video. In a little over a year, Justin Bieber went from obscurity to the reigning king of You Tube downloads. I'm pretty sure most of us know the story how the Biebs was discovered (by accident) on YouTube by Scooter Braun. But, Biebers isn't obscure anymore. He owns the most downloaded YouTube video of all time- and there isn't a video on the horizon that is close to catching up.
BIEBER: 400,000,000 views (Rank:1)
The Bieber phenomenon - and other You Tube data points, can tell us quite a bit about a lot of things about online marketing and YouTube visitors. By counting down the top 5 most downloaded YouTube videos - and cherry-picking a few examples, let's take a look.
The Titanic Effect is alive and well
The teenage heart-throb's main audience is tween girls. So, Biebs is likely benefiting from the Titanic effect. The Titanic ruled the box office (until Avatar came along), not so much because the masses loved it- but rather because the tweenie girls went to the show over and over. Titanic was LOVED by a narrow audience. I'm speculating here that the Bieb's YouTube reign here can be at least partly attributed this this phenomenon.
Entertain Me Effect
Four of the five most downloaded videos on YouTube are pop-music based: Bieber, Gaga, Shakira, and Eminem/Rihana. This next point is pretty obvious. People who are going on YouTube are going primarily for entertainment purposes. Note the disproportionate weight of musical entertainment.
GAGA 310,000,000 views (Rank:2)
SHAKIRA 245,000,000 (Rank:4)
EMINEM 215,000,000 views (Rank:5)
The Awwwe Effect works online
There are some videos that just "go viral". Generally speaking, these are feel-good videos like the Charlie finger bite, the JK wedding or the dramatic chipmunk. Unlike their pop music counterparts, these videos are not made by celebrities with existing brand equity. These videos tend to be the "slice of life" videos that get posted on social networks. These virals tend to have a universal emotional appeal (the "awwwwwwwe" factor). (This "awwweee" effect reminds me of a line from my old advertising mentor who said, "When in doubt, stick a cute puppy in the ad. At least you get the warm fuzzies...")
CHARLIE 250,000,000 views (Rank:3)
WEDDING 60,000,000 (plus 10,000,000 in other formats)views
Traditional Media Support helps
We just seen multi-platinum videos. Anyway you look at it, the highest viewed YouTube videos all receive traditional media support. Just think of the PR Gaga gets on MTV, Opera, TMZ and Access Hollywood type programs. Even the JK wedding video is not entirely an internet phenomenon. YouTube views skyrocketed after the video appeared on national morning shows.
15 minutes of fame and the new celebrity
The YouTubes and MetaCafes of the world have facilitated a new type of journalism: video blogging. A lot of the video journalists get their "15 minutes" of fame by posting up something very timely. Take this example. This young man was among the first to post up commentary on the Kanye/Taylor swift fiasco. When word-of-mouth spread about Kanye's "sorry Taylor but Beyonce had the best video of all time" line, this blogger, by virtue of being first, had already gotten a jump-start on YouTube and Google rankings for "kanye west taylor swift" searches.
But video bloggers can become celebrities in their own right. Take Zuzana from BodyRock, for example. Her routine posts on fitness receive millions of downloads each, making her a contender for the most popular video blogger. While my trainer goes to BodyRock for grueling work-out ideas, I suspect that Zuzana's fan base is mostly there to be entertained.
A couple surprises
You'd expect that a lot of young guys would tune in to YouTube to catch key highlights of the Victoria's Secret fashion show. Yet, Zuzana the trainer receives millions of viewers more for her weekly work-outs than the much-hyped annual fashion show featuring some of the "best looking women" of one of the strongest brands. I'd like to hear my readers' thoughts on this.
VICTORIA'S SECRET 3,000,000 views
In 2008, we witnessed one of the most historical presidential elections in American history. President Obama was elected. His election victory was largely attributed to his use of online campaigning. But, for some reason, this did not translate into high viewership of his acceptance speech on You Tube. Why not?