Media player eager to reach out to businesses, large and small

From left: Lucy Banks, Andy Castell, Lucy Wood, Gavin Sherratt (Creative Kitchen)

Media giant YouTube is working with the North West creative industry to showcase how its video-sharing technology can grow businesses, large or small.

The US group joined with Liverpool-based digital champion Creative Kitchen, a not-for-profit support group, last night (August 13) for the first business-themed presentation of its type in the UK.

Staged in workspace provider Avenue HQ’s Liverpool offices in the St Paul’s Square business district, it drew 50 guests, from start-up entrepreneurs to retail discount giant Matalan, who were eager to learn how they could use YouTube to promote their brands and businesses.

Lucy Banks, YouTube head of content for brands, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the inaugural event was a forum for ideas and how to engage with companies.

She said Liverpool was the ideal city to launch the initiative: “This is the first business-themed presentation we are doing. We chose here because there is a lot of strong creative ideas and businesses in the North West.”

Lucy described YouTube as “a positively disruptive platform” for businesses to exploit.

“All you need is a phone, an internet connection and an idea.”

And she insisted the medium can fit both small and large businesses, contrasting the likes of Matalan and sportswear brand Adidas with individual YouTube creators, such as Andy Castell and Lucy Wood, both from Liverpool, who were part of a live panel.

Andy, known as AJ3, boasts 1.45 million subscribers, and is a FIFA Creator who posts his animated and entertaining pack openings and FIFA battles against the biggest members of the community, while Lucy (181,297 subscribers) comments on the fashion industry from the point of view of “in between size girls” and on body image and self-confidence.

Lucy Banks said they are great examples of creating a very engaged community around a business.

“YouTube is a completely level playing field. If you are starting up as a brand you probably have more of a chance than the established business brands, because what works on YouTube is when someone is passionate about what they do.”

She added: “New businesses come through who aren’t following the rules. People don’t care if it is a big enormous brand or not.”

But she said this can work for established businesses, too: “Adidas now thinks of digital platforms, not traditional media.”

Recent figures show that YouTube heads the media pack, including the BBC, in ‘watch time’ for its video content.

The channel averages one hour and four minutes watch time per day for the 18-34-year-old age group, and 34 minutes per day for over-18s. Lucy said: “That’s an enormous amount of users.”

YouTube is also growing in popularity with female audiences. She said female watch time has doubled year-on-year.

And businesses can also scrutinise the impact and effect their broadcasts are having. Lucy said: “You can even see, frame by frame, when people drop off the video.

“For businesses, this sort of back-end tool is gold dust because we are an attention economy. You have to grab peoples’ attention.”

Another fast-growing platform on YouTube is education, she said, using a UK teacher’s channel as proof.

“Mr Bruff put his lessons on YouTube because pupils weren’t turning up to class, but they engaged on YouTube.

“He does rap, but he makes it so easy to remember. He takes stuff some young people have been struggling with and creates a ‘Kanye West-style’ rap and they are engaging.”

YouTube is eager to connect more with businesses, and with the regions as part of a travelling roadshow. Lucy said: “We are now talking of how can we provide some support for businesses. We’re thinking about creating pop-ups to show people YouTube skills, like editing.”