If you watch any successful vlogger on YouTube, they’ll often say ‘it’s not about the fancy, expensive equipment, it’s about telling a story.’ ahem… Casey Neistat. Well I call bullsh*t. If it’s really all about the story, then why is it that you have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fancy equipment?
There’s a lot of money in the gear that these vloggers use. Cameras, lenses, underwater casings, gopros, go pro accessories, drones, editing software, microphones, batteries, sim cards, tripods… you get the picture.
The Camera Technology Market worth $6,080.03 Million by 2020 (Markets & Markets)
Some YouTuber’s most popular videos are ‘What’s in my camera bag?’ videos. Ben Brown flaunts his equipment below.
So what – a vlogger uses lots of fancy equipment. Where this really becomes interesting is through brand sponsorships and deals that are created in partnership with these influencers.
‘Sponsored activities can largely be found under three forms: 1 explicit sponsorship, where the sponsoring company pays the YouTuber a flat fee, or a specified amount per number of views on a video specifically created to market a brand or product, (2) affiliated links where purchases made through the link, or coupon code provided by the YouTuber will help the YouTuber earn a commission on the sale, and (3) free product sampling where companies send products to YouTubers with the hope that they will create product reviews, advertorials and just general exposure of the product’ (Wu, 2016, pp. 61)
Whilst there are some regulation and legal requirements of YouTubers to respect these guidelines, it is not always clear to the consumer whether or not something is sponsored.
A reason why companies tend to reach out to YouTubers is because of the profound level of trust that viewers put in YouTubers. YouTubers, especially daily vloggers, share anything and everything about their lives, and therefore if they begin to recommend a product, or start using an item, viewers interpret this as a genuine recommendation from a friend or sister-like figure (Wu, 2016, pp. 69) (Berryman & Kavka, 2017). Therefore, highlights the enormous market that’s being tapped into by companies.
Casey had a Canon camera lens which broke and they refused to fix it as it wasn’t covered under warranty. It is videos like this, where he openly criticising a prestigious and established brand, and then proceeds to compare it to its rival Sony, that can have long lasting, damaging effects on the image of a company like Canon. With over 7million subscribers, that’s a lot of negative publicity.
One of the biggest examples of just how influential brand sponsorships can be, is illustrated in the 60 second Samsung Commercial that was aired during the Oscars this year. Not only is it highly emotive, inspirational and focuses on a new form of media (YouTube), but it’s proudly sponsored by Samsung.
These are only a handful of examples. If you scroll through any big YouTuber’s account, you are guaranteed to see them flaunting their new, shiny, fancy equipment. Yet we must remain critical and ask why we’re seeing what we’re seeing and why they want to emphasize showing us a certain product.
An example which I’ll be discussing in the weeks to come is the introduction of drones into the daily travel vlogging sphere and how an expensive bit of gear is changing the YouTube and travel sphere.
The following post lists each of Casey Neistat’s tech items and his set up.
The following video talks about the truth of YouTube Sponsorship
Berryman, R & Kavka, M 2017, ‘I Guess A Lot of People See Me as a Big Sister or a Friend’: the role of intimacy in the celebrification of beauty vloggers’, Journal of Gender Studies, viewed 21 April 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2017.1288611
Wu, K 2016, ‘YouTube Marketing: Legality of Sponsorhip and Endorsements in Advertising’, Journal of Law, Business & Ethics, Vol. 22, No. 59, pp. 59-92