Spielwarenmesse: Unboxing videos on YouTube: the next advertising channel for toy brands?

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Unboxing videos on YouTube: the next advertising channel for toy brands?

from Mark Buissink

While the major unboxing channels, like Disney Collector, started around 2011 in the US and Australia, the real popularity of “unboxing” started in 2013. Millions of views per video and over 100,000 subscribers: many companies dream about this. But for a bunch of the unboxing channels, it is reality. What is unboxing? 

How it all started

As a father of two young daughters, I noticed 2 years ago that the TV could not entertain them anymore. Growing up with the iPad and iPhone, they learned that they could watch whatever they wanted and whenever they wanted. So in the case of my 2 kids, YouTube was the answer for them and not TV like it was for us when we were young. That’s the reason why I started my YouTube Channel “Family Toys Collector”.

Although I speak Dutch in all of my videos, they are watched by kids from all over the world in more than 180 countries. Because for kids it is not about the language, it’s about the toys. So language doesn’t form any barrier.

When looking around me nowadays I notice that most of the young parents have bought an iPad for their kids to entertain them at certain moments. On YouTube you have 3 categories for kids. The regular TV shows, educational programs and unboxing videos. About the latter I want to talk about.

What is unboxing?

While the major unboxing channels, like Disney Collector, started around 2011 in the US and Australia, the real popularity of “unboxing” started in 2013. Millions of views per video and over 100,000 subscribers: many companies dream about this. But for a bunch of the unboxing channels, it is reality. What is unboxing? Unboxing videos usually show 2 hands unboxing one or more toys in front of the camera. Some YouTubers talk during the session, some only play music. But the format always remains the same. Unpacking toys in front of the camera and kids love it! They easily spend one hour in front of the iPad watching these videos. Sometimes parents feel guilty for allowing their kids watch these unboxing videos. However, according to a psychologist in the Netherlands, kids haven’t fully developed their self-reflection yet. So when they watch these unboxing videos and see the hands of an adult opening the toys, it feels like playing with them themselves. So to the parents out there: don’t feel guilty, it’s just a new way of playing.

New marketing channel

With an average watch time on my channel of 2:50 minutes and having the dedication of the kids focusing on the toy, this is pretty unique. Unlike a TV commercial for example, where you have 30 seconds to engage and entertain the kids and can only hope they watch at that time, unboxing videos have the potential of a great marketing channel. It’s active versus passive. On YouTube, they choose what toy to watch, on TV they have to consume the commercial at a specific time.

During my correspondence with several toy manufacturers as one the largest unboxing channels in Europe, I got the feeling that they do not seize this opportunity completely. Without having to persuade the kids in the unboxing videos, toy brands could use these kind of videos to promote their new and existing toys. And compared to TV, YouTube has more real time statistics. Average view time, feedback of the viewers, likes and demographics.

My best performing video

My best performing video at this moment is the "Hubelino marble run" with over 2.3 million views and an average watch time of 3 minutes. Can you imagine to reach 2.3 million kids watching your product for over 3 minutes? That’s reality on YouTube.

Hubelino marble run

How to identify, address and reach potential YouTubers?

Every day a lot of people start unboxing channels. The big difference, however, is who has enough stamina and who is reliable. How do you recognize these channels? They have to exist at least for more than one year, post a minimum of 2 videos per week and must have over 10,000 subscribers.

How can you reach and address these YouTubers? You can easily find their e-mail address on their YouTube channel. Some YouTubers are also connected to a MCN (Multi-Channel Network) and they set up the deal. But you are always free to contact the YouTuber directly.

There are different kinds of agreements you can make with an unboxing channel:

  • You can provide toys for free to review,
  • you can pay a fixed price and provide the toys for free or
  • you can pay a certain fee per 10,000 or 100,000 views and provide the toys for free.

The advantage of paying a certain amount of money is that it makes it possible for the YouTuber to upload a video where product placement applies on. In that case, YouTube will be more selective with advertisement. If you are Playmobil, for example, you do not want to have a LEGO banner on your video. So YouTube will make the decision if and what kind of advertisement is shown on the video. Ultimately, it all depends on the agreements you have with the YouTube channel. Because when you are providing toys for free only, the YouTuber depends just on advertisement income and will be less eager to feature your product.

Checklist

  1. determine if you want to be present on YouTube in addition to your regular channels
  2. set your goals: are you providing the toys for free only, or are you also sponsoring the YouTuber and make sure there is no advertisement from competitors on the video
  3. make sure you contact a YouTuber who is reliable and matches the criteria mentioned above
  4. just start experimenting and see if it works for your brand

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