1. Unskippable pre-rolls and pause-ads
Both Youku and Youtube have implemented pre-rolls. But while Youtube also uses pre-rolls, longer pre-rolls on YouTube can be skipped after just 5 seconds.
- This forces brands using Youtube to gamble on the first few seconds on being able to hold the viewer’s attention.
- Youku however, removes the ability for most users (except for a small number of paying VIP users) to skip the ad, forcing viewers to let the ad run for its full time.
- Youku’s unskippable pre-rolls gives brands a longer window of opportunity to be able to convert viewers into customers.
Along with unskippable pre-rolls, Youku has also included a new feature named pause-ads. During an ad or video, when users press the pause button, Youku opens up an advertisement that stays onscreen as long as the video is paused.
- The pause ads are typically images with a simple layout and highlighted key words, and can be used for a range of purposes, whether to promote a campaign, pique the viewer’s interest or simply advertise the brand.
2. E-commerce support through corner logos
When the Alibaba Group acquired Youku in 2015, the site began to combine online video and e-commerce in new ways.
- The new shift included one function in particular: allowing original video creators to add matched stores or product ads in the right corner of videos
- When users click the corner logos, it opens up T-mall (or alternatively, brands can choose to link logos to their own Taobao store).
Though YouTube also has this function, they lack close cooperation with e-commerce platforms like Amazon, so ads on YouTube only link to a brands’ official website.
3. Functionality for Brand Channels
While Youtube and Youku both offer brands the ability to create their own channels, along with supporting it with many different tools, the Chinese platform provides more utility for brands in terms of functionality, including:
- Adding a short promotion or campaign video after an ad
- Original content verification
- Adding a text layer to videos (Youtube can also do this, albeit to a weaker degree)
4. Immediate purchasing, ‘See Now, Buy Now’
One of the biggest differences between an official Youtube and Youku channel is the ability for brands to set up an online store in the menu bar on Youku.
- The online store allows users to buy what they see in the videos immediately, imitating a ‘See now, Buy now’ approach.
One company that is currently implementing this feature is GoPro. Their official account on Youku has over 2 million video views and 12,000 fans. The menu bar has a button for their online shop, where products are displayed. The orange button “Buy Now (立即抢购)” at the bottom right of each product links to GoPro’s official T-mall flagship store.
5. Cooperation with Weibo and Alibaba
Although brands are able to conduct marketing campaigns on both Youtube and Youku, due to the cooperation of Weibo and Alibaba, campaigns conducted through Youku have significantly greater scope and influence.
In early 2013, Youku and Weibo (think, China’s Twitter) began cooperating so new users can view Youku videos directly on Weibo, providing users with a new channel and viewing experience.
Last year in March, Pizza Hut conducted a Youku/Weibo video campaign called “Sharing love is natural (天生爱分享)” , using celebrity Hu Ge.
- Hu Ge, a Chinese actor, shot a 3-minute video to show how ordinary people love to share in their daily lives.
- The campaign also invited KOLs to shoot their own related videos and share them on Youku.
- People were encouraged to submit their short videos and share their own stories.
In only 3 months, the videos had tallied more than 800,000 views.
6. Live streaming + E-commerce
Now owned by Alibaba, Youku has more opportunities to convert users to consumers. Brands can live stream campaigns on Youku to promote products or services.
For example, in June 2016, Lin Yilun, a Chinese singer and actor, held a 2-hour live stream on Youku. During the live stream, he introduced a chilli sauce. The live stream got over 7 millions views and more than 3 million jars of chilli sauce were sold.
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