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For advertisers, true YouTube rivals are few and far between

Matt Kapko | Oct. 16, 2014
YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream celebrities among U.S. teens, and the platform drives more sales than any other social platform today, according to recent research. YouTube has a commanding lead in the majority of categories, and nearly every company that's trying to give YouTube a run for its money is lost somewhere in the fog.

YouTube is the only or last touch point in the path-to-purchase funnel 14 percent of the time, according to new research from AOL. The platform is also first in the funnel position by social network 18 percent of the time.

YouTube Competitors Face Uphill Battle

Facebook isn't far behind YouTube, and it introduces new products and closes sales at rates of 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Twitter ranks at the bottom of the pack based on data from 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions.

From the AOL report:

"Social media is much more likely than any other marketing channel to serve as a middle touch point (87 percent) along the path to purchase, which is an important part of the customer awareness and consideration of a product." 

"While organic social advertising is usually a middle touch point that marketers can leverage to keep the consumers engaged and accelerate conversion, paid social advertising definitely works for new customer acquisition tactics, appearing many times as the first or only touch points."

So with so much going right for YouTube, who will finally give it a run for its money? The most frequently mentioned competitors, including Facebook, Instagram and Vine, all offer something special, but nothing that rises to the level of YouTube.

"Honestly, I don't see who is going to be jumping up to compete against them directly," Holland says. "When people are scrolling through their Twitter feeds and they come across a video, it's a short video to begin with and they're pretty much unwilling to watch a video advertisement."

"When you're in that casual couch-surfing browse behavior of scrolling through your Instagram feed, that willingness to stop and be interrupted by an ad is not there," Holland says. "It's not to say that super short-form content providers like that can't get it right, but they're fighting that battle."


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