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Content Creator’s Take: An Interview with Kenyon Salo


The best kind of content tells a story. More than just a distraction or a way to fill up a few minutes, truly great content is the reason you go online. It makes you feel something; induces you to take action.


Kenyon Salo founded The Bucket List Life to help and inspire anyone and everyone to take action, to tackle their dreams, one checklist item at a time.


What makes his content so powerful is that it's not so much about putting ideas onto a page, but rather recording meaningful shared experiences. It's a movement that he's taking global, and with a Facebook fan base already over 104,000, Kenyon's seeking sponsors to help further his mission.


Of course, that's what we think makes for a brilliant marketing match: when a brand enhances our experiences, rather than merely interrupting us with ads. Here's my interview with Kenyon on what makes The Bucket List Life special, and it's unique positioning when it comes to brand sponsorships that help create truly meaningful experiences.



Follow The Bucket List Life on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or get the podcast on iTunes.


Let us know what you think about the interview and if you have any thoughts or questions for Kenyon, please leave them in the comments!


7 Ways Smart Brands Are Killing It On YouTube


In 2005, when YouTube launched its fledgling video channel, few knew that it would change the world in such a profound way. But change the world it has. Earlier this year at Vidcon, Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted that within five years, YouTube would become the largest media channel in the world, bar none.


On the surface, that sounds like a bold prediction. Consider, however, that viewers spend 6 billion hours on YouTube each month, and that 300 hours of new video are being uploaded every minute to the behemoth. Suddenly Katzenberg’s prediction of YouTube’s dominance looks not only possible, but likely.


If you’re over 30, you’ve most likely spent time on YouTube. But few of us non-millennials really know what’s going on. The platform is literally changing the way that today’s younger generation of millennials are consuming content. Ask anyone with children old enough to get online and they’ll confirm that they have to pull their kids away from it. YouTube is to them what TV was to generations X and Y. But with a twist.


Unlike TV and film stars, whose popularity is derived from their mystique and scarcity, YouTube stars share a genuine connection with their audiences. As Tad Friend wrote recently in the New Yorker,


The viewing relationship is bilateral—digital stars take fans’ programming ideas and regularly answer their questions—and its promise is “I’m just like you.” Stardom used to be predicated on a mystique derived from scarcity; you don’t really know much about George Clooney. Now it’s predicated on a familiarity derived from ubiquity. As the teen-age beauty vlogger Bethany Mota exclaimed at VidCon, referring to her legion of subscribers, “I never thought I would have over six million best friends that are all around the world!


YouTube stars’ authentic connection with their audience gives them tremendous power, making them among the most powerful influencers on the planet. And brand integration is one of the best ways to leverage that influence.


For those unfamiliar with the term, brand integration refers to a kind of advertising in which advertisers pay to have their brands become a part of someone else’s content. In this case, advertisers pay YouTube stars to include their brand, product or service into their videos.


So rather than simply inserting a pre-roll video ad that interrupts the viewing experience, brand integrations create what we like to call, embedded brand messages. Here are seven brand integration examples that provide a framework to work with YouTube stars for maximum impact.


Sponsored Video


Perhaps the simplest of all YouTube brand integrations is the 'Sponsored' or 'Brought to You By' format. With sponsored videos, YouTubers typically give sponsoring brands a verbal shout out to the tune of “This episode of Thug Notes was brought to you by Slugbooks.” They’ll go on to describe the way the service works and will usually include the brand’s desired url on the screen.

These are fairly easy for YouTubers to pull off because they don't require a full integration of video subject matter, making it relatively simple way for brands to scale this form of brand integration.




Unboxing videos give the viewer a chance to capture a YouTuber’s reaction as they open up the packaging of a given product, remove its contents, and comment aloud as they’re doing it. These videos give target consumers a glimpse into what its like to ‘experience’ a product at first contact.


In some respects, the unboxing is the real action that attracts viewers in the first place. Never mind that it's a vicarious experience-- people love opening new packages and playing with what's inside! Tech products like new phones are popular unboxing subjects, but just about any kind of consumer packaged product can do.


Product Haul


Not unlike an unboxing video, product hauls are all about the YouTuber's actual experience with actual products. The formula goes something like this: "Look at all this stuff I got at RiteAid and look what I did with it! And by the way, if you want to grab any of the items, there are special discount codes listed below."


We all have at least one friend who is the shopping maven, who finds the cool new stuff, gets the best deals and shares them with everyone. That's what product hauls are all about. Typically, each product gets it's own screen time with a description highlighting features, price and where to get it.


Branded Videos


Branded videos often work like extended commercials, with one key difference: the YouTube star.


While Dollar Shave Club has done a good job of creating fun advertisements that get a lot of views and work more like "branded entertainment," few brands can effectively promote themselves through their own channels. No one wants to sit and watch commercials.


However, when a YouTube star applies his style and creativity to making a video with the brand's product as a featured part of the plot, viewers are treated to the same experience they've come to expect of the channel. In addition to eyeballs, the brand captures some of the credibility and good will that viewers already assign to the YouTuber. As of this writing, the video above received over 4100 thumbs up and just 56 thumbs down from viewers-- that's amazingly positive sentiment for an ad!




Also known at "My Favorites," an Obsession video is just what the name implies: a review of stuff they love. Of course, YouTubers can include whatever they want, but because they want to get paid, it's handy to feature recent items they've received from advertisers.


As always, authenticity still matters, so if viewers spot some product plugs that really don't fit with the YouTuber's taste or usual product focus, they'll call it. Good channels will only call a product an actual favorite if that's true, so brands shouldn't expect to simply pay for the opinion they want.


Product Reviews


A product review is when a brand sends a YouTuber a product in exchange for an honest review. Typically, product reviews don’t involve payments to the YouTuber. Sometimes, YouTubers will review products just out of curiosity, whether the brand provided it or not. Because YouTubers aren’t paid for product reviews, the YouTuber is under no obligation to give unwarranted praise to the product(s). Then again, popular YouTubers are popular precisely because they’re authentic.


Many of the above examples contain elements of product reviews, but a dedicated review video usually follows a template that includes a battery of thorough tests and arrives at what feels like a sound, impartial conclusion about the product's usefulness.




Giveaways get a lot of attention because there's more in it for the viewer: actual free product. The prospect of free products or subscriptions can create a huge spike in commenting and overall engagement with the brand. In most videos, the YouTuber remains the star, and that's appropriate. In giveaway videos, however, products gain more attention and brands stand a good chance of capitalizing on the exposure with a highly engaged target audience.


YouTube is growing up, and smart brands are using it to their full advantage. Don't let the amateur nature of the content fool you. 


Have you seen other examples of brand integrations on YouTube that we missed? Any that you love or hate? (Or love to hate?) Please let us know in the comments!


Sponsored Content Pricing: Are You Getting Ripped Off?


Sponsored Post Pricing

What should a sponsored post cost? How much is fair for a publisher to be paid? What are other brands paying? And what do they get for their money?

Price transparency is one of many factors keeping sponsored content marketing from reaching scale. Unlike display and text ad buys, few opportunities exist for brands or their agencies to define a content marketing objective, target an audience, set a budget and let her rip. Reaching a highly fragmented audience with distributed content therefore, remains a significant challenge.

And the problem isn't isolated to the marketing side of the equation. Blog publishers, who command the attention of the audience that brands require, are no better equipped to take advantage of the push toward sponsored content. By and large, their available inventory of publishing real estate remains hidden to any given brand, mixed in with millions of other sites. When opportunities do come, many blog publishers find themselves at a loss for how to properly price a sponsored content placement.

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Viral Sponsored Content is a Terrible Marketing Strategy: Here’s 5 Reasons Why


Your Viral Content is a Bad Idea

Content marketing works for two very specific reasons. It's created for the purpose of providing value to your audience, and it's published in the places they frequent. Good content is attractive and intrinsically engaging to the people you want to connect with, like the most charming guest at a dinner party.

Good content isn't viral by definition, because it serves a niche. "Viral content," on the other hand, is likely to be seen as the obnoxious party-crasher (or like Dr. Evil's 'cool dad' impression in Austin Powers). Marketing with what's supposed to be viral content just looks clumsy, and in the process, ends up failing to reach a wider audience while annoying one's target audience in the process. Native advertising is quickly earning well-justified ire for advertisers who overreach with their content choices, but it doesn't have to be that way.

No doubt viral advocates reading this are scoffing at my fuddy duddy attitude, while buttoned up brand advocates are nodding and smiling and wishing those viral people would leave already. Kinda like nerds vs. cool kids. Who's right? Unless your brand is built on attention from the cool kids, stick with your nerd friends-- their loyalty is worth it. Sponsored content works when you respect your audience.

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