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Youtube Being Utilized by Retailers and Small Businesses in Canada with Success in Creating Audiences [Interview]

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A report by Oxford Economics indicates YouTube’s creative ecosystem contributed $1.1 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2021 while supporting 34,600 full-time equivalent jobs in the country.

In Canada, the number of YouTube channels making $100,000 or more in annual revenue is up 35 per cent year over year and over 550 channels have over one million subscribers, which represents growth of more than 20 per cent year over year.

Hamilton Galloway

In its report, From Opportunity to Impact, Hamilton Galloway, Head of Consultancy, Americas, Oxford Economics, said Canada has found in YouTube a valuable way for its creators, artists and entrepreneurs to gain visibility and contribute to the nation’s distinct cultural identity and economy. 

“YouTube helps businesses connect with more customers at home and abroad—increasing reach, driving revenues and supporting jobs. YouTube also supports businesses in other ways. For example, YouTube provides a cost-effective source of staff training and helps businesses adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19,” said the report.

From opportunity to impact – Assessing the economic, societal and cultural benefits of YouTube in Canada in 2021

“When business owners of all sizes share content that informs, educates and entertains, it helps them build an organic audience that they can then convert into customers. And rather than just read product and service reviews, YouTube users can seek out specific content, watch tutorials and hear directly from the business owner.

“In addition to helping existing businesses grow, YouTube is enabling creators to launch entirely new businesses.”

Andrew Peterson, Head of Canada at YouTube, said the platform’s mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world as an open platform.

Andrew Peterson

“And what that means is anyone with a story to tell can take their smartphone, create a video and upload it to the platform. But what starts as a hobby we have seen over the years can fast develop into a thriving business,” said Peterson. “And so for us we really wanted to understand what was the cumulative impact of all these creators starting these businesses. 

“And that’s what we refer to as the creator economy because it’s not just someone on their own creating videos, it’s someone who’s telling stories and generating revenue and potentially having employees and building bigger businesses around that.”

He said the results of the research were “quite astounding” with an unprecedented number of Canadian creators telling stories and building businesses on the platform.

Peterson said there are more than 4,500 channels with more than 100,000 subscribers. 

He said it’s not just YouTube creators who are building new enterprises but small and medium businesses are also joining in on the action as well.

“For SMBs specifically, YouTube’s really a place that helps them connect with more customers at home and abroad as well as driving new sales . . . 80 per cent of small and medium businesses with a YouTube channel agree that YouTube plays a role in helping them grow their customer base by reaching new audiences,” said Peterson. “But going one step further, 69 per cent of SMBs with a YouTube channel agree that YouTube played a role in helping them grow their revenue.

“What I’m not saying is YouTube is the right solution for every business but there are a substantial number of businesses where it does make sense, that are driving really meaningful results from the platform.

“The other side of that is in addition to the SMBs coming onto YouTube is the SMBs that are basically being created on YouTube.”

Here are some interesting numbers from the report:

  • In Canada, the number of YouTube channels making $10,000 or more in annual revenue is up 25 per cent, year over year;
  • 78 per cent of creative entrepreneurs agree that YouTube helps them export their content to international audiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to;
  • 76 per cent of SMBs who use YouTube agree that YouTube has helped them sustain their business during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • 67 per cent of SMBs who advertise on YouTube agree that YouTube ads have helped them grow sales;
  • 76 per cent of SMBs who use YouTube agree that their use of YouTube during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped their organization adapt;
  • 71 per cent of SMBs who use YouTube agree that YouTube is a cost-effective way of providing staff training; and
  • 65 per cent of SMBs who use YouTube agree that YouTube is essential to their business growth.

Peterson said there are many different mediums where people can tell stories. The thing about video is the connection someone can make with their audience.

“So you will often see YouTube creators not refer to their fans, they will talk about their community,” he said. “This is the incredible thing about YouTube. Niche has become the new mainstream.

“If you’ve got a great story to tell with very little cost beyond the phone you have in your pocket and a great idea and the tenacity to create something out of thin air, you can upload that to YouTube and it’s so common in terms of so many of the biggest and most successful YouTube creators in Canada all have a similar origin story. They never intended to become superstars with audiences of millions or tens of millions of people. They just had a story to tell, uploaded a video.”  And discovered there were people out there that wanted to engage with those stories. 

YouTube has also launched a new partnership with Shopify giving all eligible creators access to live shopping tools. It enables creators and merchants to easily feature their products across their YouTube channels and content. Eligible creators can link their Shopify store to their YouTube channel in a few steps.

“There are actually 10 ways to monetize on YouTube and everyone is pretty familiar with the advertising element of the platform and the creators with the YouTube partner program receiving the majority share of that revenue,” said Peterson. “But one of the other 10 ways for creators to monetize their content and their channels is actually shopping. This has been an area on the platform that has existed for a little while but it really feels like we’re still only just getting started.

“We’ve built some great products that allow live commerce. So for creators in a live stream to talk about products, announce a new merchandise range and right there from a live stream purchase those goods. We’ve also been making videos shoppable on YouTube . . . We’ve also done some experimentation with shopping using short-form video and product on the platform.”

Now, it has an integration with Shopify where any Canadian creator who has a Shopify store can now integrate that store into the YouTube channel and seamlessly display and sell those products from their store whether that be in a live stream, video on demand, or within short-form video.

“We think this really unlocks an incredible opportunity with a large number of creators to further drive awareness of their merchandise or any other products that they are creating and sell them seamlessly within YouTube, removing a lot of the friction of e-commerce and making it seamless for their community to purchase from them right within the YouTube environment,” said Peterson.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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