Editor's note: The following is a guest post from Josh Niederriter, head of programmatic at agency Fetch.
YouTube's announcement to share videos within its app in August was met without much fanfare. Perhaps marketers were growing numb or cynical to another announcement from the social media world? If so, they're missing out. YouTube's in-app sharing holds a potential wealth of features that may easily extend the ability to collect actionable data.
Data, data, data
At first glance, the addition of sharing within the app may only seem like a benefit to consumers, but this very strategic move by YouTube has positive implications for marketers. By encouraging people to share directly within their app, YouTube is trying to keep users in their app while bolstering its capability to track audience conversations around videos. This valuable data is a potential goldmine for marketers. Whether they're videos directly from a brand, a competitor or on an industry topic in general, all of this data about how the information is resonating with real consumers — not bots — is now available. Whether YouTube decides to share that data with marketers is yet to be determined. Google and Facebook, the "walled gardens," are notorious for withholding consumer data from marketers, so if one of them decides to change that, it would certainly attract marketers.
More meaningful conversations
The ability to now easily share and discuss videos with other users will likely increase the amount of meaningful conversations happening around videos on the platform. As opposed to getting into debates in comment sections with the ever-present internet troll, users now have the option to communicate with friends, family and other users about video content in private, closed forums. This is a much-needed win for brands as conversations in the comment section can quickly boil over, shifting focus away from the purpose and message of the branded video. By decreasing these opportunities for derailment, brands can uncover deeper, more accurate insights into how people are connecting with and perceiving video content and the brand overall.
YouTube as a social network
Prior to YouTube's latest announcement, there were people who questioned the platform's status as a "social network," likely due to the fact that sharing was not an option within its app. Sharing is a key component for social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially on mobile. With its new feature, though, YouTube is entrenching itself alongside traditional social networks, and more importantly, it gives consumers a reason to spend additional time in the app. This would also increase opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers, either through the actual videos they're viewing or traditional display advertising on the video platform.
While YouTube's in-app sharing feature may have felt like a sole benefit to consumers at first, if you look deeper, there's certainly potential areas marketers can get excited about. The biggest takeaway is that YouTube, an already powerful player in terms of platforms that are dominating consumers' time and attention, is becoming even stronger and more important for this group. Making it easier for users to share with each other in its app allows the video platform to keep users engaged on its site and mobile app, which, in turn, gives marketers even more opportunities to meaningfully connect with consumers. Instead of chalking up YouTube's latest announcement as just another press release, marketers should recognize the huge opportunity it represents. This important, albeit small, tool could unlock more information about key audiences and the types of video content that resonates most with them faster than we have seen in the past.