Youtube Influencer Marketing Report: 2020 Year In Review

NeoReach returns with its Social Intelligence Insights Report for a 2020 Year In Review analysis. Bringing to Influencer Marketing Hub an extensive report filled with thoughtful research, industry insights and groundbreaking analysis to dive deep into the state of influencer marketing and how it has evolved over the past 12 months.

The report analyzes data from over 31,300 YouTube videos. The data set of qualifying videos all were required to adhere to the following guidelines. (1) The video indicated brand partnership or sponsorship in line with FTC regulations. (2) The YouTube video received over 10,000 views. (3) The video was sponsored by a United States or Canadian brand. (4) The video was published within the period of January-December 2020. 

The results of the data analysis are visible in the following report to deliver industry-leading insights into influencer marketing through the behavior of the top spending brands on YouTube through sponsored influencer campaigns.

Included with the results of this research, we incorporated additional statistics relevant to influencer marketing across all industries. The data and conclusions presented in this report are thanks to our partner NeoReach, an influencer marketing agency and data insights provider for the world’s leading brands. NeoReach’s data is collected using their best-in-class software, Social Intelligence API, which is available for free and paid subscription access for brands and marketers. The platform provides data to guide campaign strategy and influencer selection, capable of building effective campaigns at scale for a desired campaign objective.

Despite the downfalls from COVID-19 beginning in March 2020, sponsored YouTube videos and influencer-brand partnerships continued to drive results and revenue for creators and brands with their ability to capture highly targeted, engaged audiences.

This article covers the detailed results from NeoReach’s 2020 Year In Review: Social Intelligence Insights Report along with the downloadable report. It includes a thorough analysis of the data accompanied by a range of statistics and findings on the state of the influencer marketing industry as it pertains to YouTube spending.

Youtube Influencer Marketing Report:

Important Takeaways

  • 2020 saw a record high 4,449 brands activate influencer campaigns across YouTube. 
  • This year 16 brands joined the Supernova club. This means they each earned over $10,000,000 in Influencer Media Value (IMV), with a combined total of eclipsing $449,000,000. 
  • $35,549.00 was the average Influencer Media Value (IMV) 
  • Honey was the #1 brand of the year across all of YouTube. By activating 151 unique influencers, 234 total videos, and over 866M views; They stood out above all others. Each video averaged 3,702,503 views! Just incredible value. 
  • MrBeast was 2020’s the top performing influencer for 2 of the top 5 brands on YouTube. Honey & Epic Games definitely got amazing value for partnering with him.
  • YouTube OR Super Bowl?: This past Super Bowl had a $76.38/cpm. The average spend for the 56 advertisers was ~$8.5M. Which means each brand received ~111,000,000 impressions. While this is America’s stage and is lauded as an advertisers dream, allocating just 10% of that Super Bowl budget would result in nearly 5x the amount of impressions across YouTube. Keep in mind, YouTube videos live on forever. 
  • It’s not too late! Even with a record number of brands and over 9 BILLION sponsored views, YouTube Influencer spending is still 1/50th of the traditional TV budget allocations.  

youtube brand marketing landscape

Research Methodology

The data presented in this report was collected from over 20,000,000 YouTube videos. All of the YouTube influencer data that is contained in this report was captured by the NeoReach Social Intelligence API. Videos were required to comply with proper FTC disclosure regulations. Our analysis included sponsored YouTube videos posted between the months January through December 2020. We further refined this data to target YouTube videos of influencers located in North America, solely in the United States and Canada.

Of the selection of YouTube videos which met these criteria, this report showcases only those brands and companies that activated campaigns with sponsored content achieving at least 10,000 views. The resulting data set consisted of over 31,300 YouTube videos.

Therefore, the following report does not include all sponsored content on YouTube during the 2020 calendar year. However, it does include the top spending brands and industries for influencer marketing on YouTube for the 2020 period.

Influencer Media Value (IMV) is a calculated value used to determine the return on investment of influencer marketing campaigns. The NeoReach Social Intelligence API automatically retrieves, evaluates, and scores sponsored posts against standard industry benchmarks. These standard industry benchmarks are determined from a collection of data from all types of marketing channels. The software looks at factors such as past campaign performance, paid media channels, industry surveys, market reports, and other performance-tracking analytics. IMV compares the reach of sponsored posts, with each post reviewed for quality, to the previously explained industry benchmarks. The result is the specific IMV representing the cost of generating an equivalent engagement level using another form of paid media.

Social Intelligence Insights

Top Industries on YouTube

Nearly 4,500 qualifying brands activated sponsored videos on YouTube in 2020. Brands included in this data were confirmed to use proper FTC disclosure of advertisement, ad or sponsored in their influencer videos. This report analyzes the highest spending industries. NeoReach has compiled all four quarters of 2020 into a holistic year-end review report for in-depth insights from the data on YouTube influencer marketing on YouTube. Over the past year, the state of influencer marketing has greatly changed and grown – from the impact of the global pandemic to the thriving online marketplace – for brands, marketers, and creators.

Top Industries Metric Breakdown

In 2020, the qualifying brands in the top 19 industries spent a combined total of over $1.1 Billion. Amassing nearly 9 Billion views and reaching 51.5 Billion users, the top spending industries are climbing the charts.

If you’ve been reading our previous quarterly reports from 2020, you’ll also notice that the top 3 spending industries remain Tech, Gaming, and Food & Drink. 

Of the 31,317 sponsored videos that qualified for analysis in this data set, engagements approached 52 Billion. With 4,449 brands participating in YouTube influencer marketing in 2020, the industry saw a 4x increase since Q2 in the number of brands who sponsored videos.

Top Industries on YouTube: Closer Look

Isolating the top 5 industry spenders – Tech, Gaming, Food & Drink, Beauty, and Fashion – Tech, once again, is responsible for just short of half with 44% of the total IMV. Tech spent nearly twice as much as the #2 spot Gaming and achieved 1.8x more views over the course of 2020. Altogether, these top 5 industries spent $825M on YouTube sponsored videos and racked up 6.4 billion views

Campaign Objectives

To better analyze influencer marketing campaigns on YouTube, we identified each sponsored video as one of four campaign objectives – Branding and Awareness, Contest/Giveaway, Download or Install, Limited Time Offer. The data included was from the top 10 brands overall. A majority of campaigns were Limited Time Offer and less than 1% were promoting a contest or giveaway.

Calls to Action

The data for analyzing campaign calls to action was analyzed in the same way as campaign objectives. Almost 100% of sponsored videos used a call to action of Click Link in Bio or Direct Purchase Page. Continuing the quarterly trend we identified in past reports, the data supports that brands favor direct calls to action with the ability to track and measure return on investment of influencer marketing on YouTube. 

Content Types

Out of the 6,335 qualifying videos, integrated content continues its winning streak as the dominant content type appearing in 59% of videos from the top 10 brands. Coming in second, intro cards are less than half as popular as their #1 counterpart. Gaming and Food & Drink, however, used almost exclusively one type of content. Gaming favored dedicated videos and Food & Drink favored integrated content.

Top Brands Highlight

Ranking in the highest spending category, Supernova, are 16 brands who spent over $10M in influencer marketing on YouTube in 2020. 907 brands spent more than $100K over the course of 2020. Each influencer tier contains brands from a variety of industries, proving that influencer marketing is a viable strategy in any economy for everyone.

Top Brand Spenders on YouTube

The highest spending brands displayed here invested a combined $368 million in YouTube influencer marketing.  The top 10 brands reached over 17.7 billion in 2020. Their sponsored videos amassed 3.2 billion views  from 1,838 influencers and 6,525 videos.

Top Brand Spenders on YouTube: Closer Look

At the highest spending spot, Honey invested $62.7M or $45M more than the number ten spot, Squarespace. With the top 10 brands spending over $366M, these heavy hitters only account for 33% of the total annual spend on YouTube sponsored videos. 

If you’ve been downloading our quarterly reports, you will recognize these brands who have been consistent high spenders throughout the year. Most of the brands appearing on this chart are from the top 3 spending industries. 

The trend continues to support the positive growth influencer marketing plays for brands. With expertly placed sponsorships and highly targeted audiences from proper influencer selection, brands are skyrocketing in their industries. Just take the Bang Energy case study as the prime example!

Viral Breakdown

What makes a video go viral? Brands like Honey, Mattel, ExpressVPN, and Com2us cracked the code with their influencer marketing sponsored YouTube videos. Check out these stats from their success in 2020. 

Ad Lengths for Top 5 Spenders

Epic Games, by far, sponsored videos with the longest ad length for a total of 322,339 seconds in sponsorship across all of its videos. That makes up 84% of the total ad length of the top 5 spenders of 383,454 seconds.

Brand Showcase

Honey has been a consistently high spender throughout 2020, but this brand is the #1 highest spender for the entire year. We’re breaking down the campaign strategy for Honey to dissect what types of content, calls to action, and campaign types were used that drove the most success from this massive influencer marketing investment on YouTube.

Breakout Creators

Breakout creators for 2020 were used in multiple YouTube sponsorships with many different brands. They have established a name and brand identity among their loyal audiences. These five creators achieved a total of 972M views on 176 videos with 50M engagements. Collectively, these results came from $129M IMV.

Brands to Watch in 2021

We identified the top 5 brands that experienced a significantly high growth in IMV and views over 2020. These are the fastest-growing brands breaking into the influencer marketing space as part of their social media marketing strategy. Kiwi Co had the greatest jump in IMV from Q1 to Q4 2020 with a 2047% increase in spend and 1840% growth in views on sponsored content.

Top Sponsored Videos of 2020

Our nominations for the top sponsored video of 2020 are from a diversity of brand spending levels in three industries – Tech, Toys and Gaming. Each of these individual videos attained an estimated IMV between $5-6M and sponsored views between 39.3M and 72.9.

CPV Campaign Feature

Competing for the top campaign of 2020 spot, we wanted to look into the calculated CPV for brands activating influencers based on our Social Intelligence API’s IMV calculation. Displayed are the top 5 and lowest 5 campaigns ranked by estimated cost per view. We then calculated the estimated CPV, cost per 1000 views. We also included a couple of recognizable brands with extremely low CPV values to compare to the industry average.

Best Brand Sentiment

Which brands had the best response from their audiences? Best brand sentiment was determined by taking the average like to dislike ratio for brands in the top 5 industries. Clearly, Curious Dragon Animations was the most positively viewed sponsorship with a like to dislike ratio of almost 1100.

Industry Winner

Fashion vs Tech vs Gaming, of the top 5 industry spenders, who won the YT sponsored game for 2020? Expanding on the industry data we shared earlier in the report, we are looking at all of the industry metrics side by side to see where the winners break away.

Brands’ Social Media Growth

Taking our top 10 brands overall, we are looking at their social media following growth over the 12 month period from January to December 2020 on Instagram. ExpressVPN experienced the biggest increase with a 209% growth in following. However, Epic Games grew to the greatest number of followers with 5.5M followers.

Monthly Top Spenders

NeoReach ranks the Top Spenders on YouTube every week and we’ve taken that data for all 52 weeks of 2020 and chosen the top spender each month. NordVPN is the highest monthly top spender in August with $12.6M for the month. Following closely in second is ExpressVPN with an IMV of $12.1M in June. October experienced the lowest top spend at $4.5M from GFuel.

The highest spending brand for each month of 2020 achieved a combined IMV of $102.6M

Year in Review

Among the top 5 industries of 2020, it is no surprise that over the course of the year Tech is above the rest as the reigning highest spender – bringing in the most views, having the greatest reach, and attributing the most brands to activating influencers on YouTube. Total IMV and Sponsored Views show a strong positive correlation for all industries. 

Top Recognizable Influencers

In this report, we wanted to highlight 5 of the most recognizable channels from sponsored videos on YouTube. Brands have activated some of the platform’s best talent with a total net worth of $113M. But the key is to match your brand to an influencer’s audience. We’ve included a look into the audience demographics of these YouTube mega influencers.

Quarter Over Quarter Comparison

Looking shoulder to shoulder across the four quarters of 2020, we see a steady increase in total IMV. Growth was nearly $90M from Q1 to Q2, and then another $15M and $12.5M for the next two quarters respectively.

Total sponsored views, on the other hand, saw fairly consistent numbers from Q2 forward. Once again doubling after Q1, sponsored views remained around 1.3-1.4 million for the remainder of 2020 across the top spending brands’ sponsored videos.

YouTube sponsored campaign reach tripled over 2020 from Q1 to Q4 with double the number of videos. With $177.5M greater IMV, brands ended 2020 with stronger faith in influencer marketing on YouTube than they started the year off with.

Tech Industry Overview

All year long, Tech has held the #1 spot as the highest spending industry on YouTube influencer marketing with a grand total IMV of $336.4M. Let’s take a look at how the year panned out for brands in the technology space.

Tech was able to reach 17 billion users with their 7,396 sponsored videos. That equates to an average reach of nearly 3.3M per video. 

Our top industry spender accounts for one third of the total IMV on YouTube in 2020. If you are a brand or marketer in the Tech space and haven’t been spending on influencer marketing, you are really missing out. 

Top 5 Tech Spenders on YouTube

No surprise here that the top 5 brand spenders in Tech have been featured in our quarterly reports before. This handful of brands invested more than $196M in YouTube sponsored videos – over half of the industry total IMV. 

Amassing nearly 1.5 billion views, these top spending brands also account for over half of the total Tech industry views. Surpassing 50% of both IMV and views collectively, Honey, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Raycon, and Squarespace are leading the industry with influencer marketing as their not-so-secret weapon.

Tech: Compare Q1-Q4

Breaking down the Tech industry’s success quarterly, we can see that a fairly consistent number of sponsored videos each quarter after Q1 yielded interesting results. While total IMV, sponsored views, and number of videos  remained within a slim window from Q2-Q4, total reach saw a spike of over 3 billion.

Top Tech Spender Spotlight

Honey is the Tech Brand Spender Spotlight for 2020. With the highest overall investment in YouTube influencer marketing, Honey spent $63M on 234 videos. With 17% of the Tech industry total spend, Honey also achieved over 30% of the total sponsored views.

Top Influencers: Tech Industry

The Tech industry activated some of the largest creator accounts for its campaigns. These top 5 influencer channels have a combined reach of 244.6M. But even with a mega reach like that, this roster of influencers is only 1.5% of the Tech industry’s 17 billion reach for the year.

Gaming Industry Overview

Coming in at number two overall, Gaming is the second highest industry spender of 2020. Surpassing 10 billion in reach, the Gaming industry spent just over half of in total IMV compared to Tech and gained some pretty impressive results.

Sponsoring 18% of all influencer marketing videos on YouTube in 2020, Gaming achieved the same percentage of total views. Interestingly, Gaming as an industry is solely responsible for 17% of all comments posted to sponsored videos in 2020.

Top 5 Gaming Spenders on YouTube

The top 5 Gaming brands who spent the most on YouTube influencer marketing throughout 2020 are, once again, repeat high spenders making an appearance in this report. Together, Epic Games, Raid Shadow Legends, Ubisoft, Arkade, and Monster Legends deployed $73.5M on sponsored YouTube videos.

In the top spender spot, Epic Games is responsible for 52% of that investment. Clocking in at a grand total of over 304M views, Epic Games accounts for 54% of the five brands’ cumulative 564M views in 2020.

Using tools like the NeoReach Social Intelligence API, Gaming brands can identify the best channels for their influencer activations and dominate the industry with the highest return on investment.

Gaming: Compare Q1-Q4

IMV in the Gaming industry was consistently within the $32M range from Q2-Q4 of 2020. With a similar spend each quarter during that period, views also stayed between 214M-242M

Reach, however, did shift quarter over quarter as much as 664M. Gaming sponsored the most number of videos in Q1, ranging quarter to quarter over a difference of 594 videos.

Top Gaming Spender Spotlight

Epic Games continues its reign as the highest Gaming spender of 2020 with $38M invested in YouTube influencer marketing. The brand sponsored an even 600 videos and reached an audience of over 1.5 billion. Epic Games’ IMV and total sponsored views are each almost 30% greater than Raid Shadow Legends’, the #2 top brand spender for Gaming. 

Top Influencers: Gaming Industry

Gaming’s high scoring YouTube channels have a combined reach of 84M users on the platform. Channels like PDK Films, Dude Perfect, and Matt Stonie not only have a massive reach, but they also drive high views and exceptional engagement among their audiences to drive knockout success for brand partners.

Food & Drink Industry Overview

Whether you are interested in healthy food or fast food, prefer take-out or dine-in, or have a sweet spot for confectionary goods, the Food & Drink industry has it all...and they’re all on YouTube.

This diversity of brands invested $130M in video sponsorships. Even though this is only 40% of the top industry’s spend, Food & Drink boasts more than 8 billion in reach and 47M engagements

Top 5 Food & Drink Spenders on YouTube

Four out of the top five brand spenders in the Food & Drink industry were on the list for the entire second half of 2020 – Bang Energy, Reese’s, G Fuel, and Hello Fresh. These 5 brands spent more than $94M on YouTube sponsored videos, equating to 72% of the entire Food & Drink industry’s IMV. They also accumulated 724M views with 62% of them coming from Bang Energy alone. 

Food & Drink: Compare Q1-Q4

IMV in 2020 is book-ended by quarters of lower spending surrounding the middle two quarters of $25M+ IMV. Sponsored views experienced a similar trend, lower spend resulting in fewer video views. 

After Q1, reach was consistently within the 2B-2.3B range for all subsequent quarters. The number of sponsored videos, however, more than doubled from Q1 to Q4, with the highest quarter being Q3.

Top Food & Drink Spender Spotlight

Bang Energy takes the trophy for 3 of the 4 quarters of 2020 as the top brand spender in Food & Drink. Responsible for 45% of the industry IMV and sponsored views having only sponsored 26% of the videos, Bang Energy is a standout brand among its competitors. 

Top Influencers: Food & Drink Industry

You’ll recognize a couple, if not all, of these channels as standout influencers among multiple of the top industries. Food & Drink’s top influencers of 2020 represent a total reach of over 137M. Not included on this list are an array of family, Gen Z, and Millennial influencers who are powerhouse accounts for this industry.

Get in Touch

Ready to launch your most lucrative influencer marketing campaign ever? Are you prepared to go viral with your biggest powerhouse influencers on YouTube. NeoReach has the software and data capabilities for your brand to tap into the most strategic influencer initiatives. Discover how the NeoReach Social Intelligence tool can help your brand reap the benefits of influencer marketing. (P.S. We now offer a free version!)

To learn more, email us at [email protected] to schedule time with our influencer specialists for out-of-the-box influencer campaigns, custom reports, and more!