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The 13 Most Popular Types Of YouTube Videos
UPDATE April 16, 2018 — Since our last update, YouTube has continued to grow and evolve. As of Q4 2017, YouTube now has 1.5 billion MAUs with 50% of video views coming from mobile devices alone.
Every day, billions of YouTube users watch billions of hours of video. Those watching aren’t limited to Western countries either. YouTube now offers localized versions of its video sharing platform in 90 countries and 80 different languages. Its YouTube Go app is also set to expand to over 130 countries.
In the interest of keeping the following information as current as possible, we’ve added new information where it applies and preserved the original text.
Between 2015 and 2016, the amount of time users watched TV channels on YouTube increased by 50% and the amount of time users spent watching YouTube content on television screens doubled. What’s more, YouTube is capturing more prime time viewers in the 18-49-year-old market than any TV network. The most popular types of YouTube videos are being watched by more people in more ways than ever before.
In an effort to keep the information in this post as up-to-date as possible, we’ve added new information. We’ve preserved the original text of the post and added clearly marked updates beneath select passages.
When YouTube came onto the scene ten years ago, no one expected the video-sharing platform to completely change how we consume digital video content. Today, YouTube has not only revolutionized how we consume and interact with online video, it has also spawned completely new video genres and hundreds of pop culture icons unique to itself. From vlogs to unboxing videos, top YouTubers in YouTube’s creative community have completely redefined entertainment, learning, shopping, and more.
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1. Product Review Videos
Marques Brownlee’s “Apple iPhone 5s Review”
EvanTubeRaw’s “Slushy Magic Product Review & Demo”
Today, YouTube is one of the first places that people go when making major purchasing decisions, and product review videos have become popular as a source (and sometimes the most trusted source) of consumer information. Think with Google discovered that 62% of consumers utilize YouTube reviews to learn about impending purchases, while that same percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds would try a product endorsed by a YouTuber (ReelSEO). For mothers, 69% go to YouTube first to learn about products or service (Google).
Another poll, which surveyed YouTube viewers between the ages of 16 and 45, found that consumers were 52% more likely to purchase a product featured in a YouTube product review video. The survey also showed that 25% of people use YouTube product reviews to learn about products a few times every week (Adweek).
While product review videos may include elements of unboxing videos (another popular type of YouTube video) and are commonly referred to as “first impressions,” a product review typically includes a YouTuber’s assessment, critique, and personal feedback regarding the product. In light of the 40% year-on-year growth of product review views, YouTube launched Shoppable Ads in the later half of 2015 which let viewers click and purchase the product being reviewed while the YouTube video is playing (YouTube).
2. How-To Videos On YouTube
Kipkay’s “How To Escape From Handcuffs”
Matthew Santoro’s “How To Be Popular”
“How-to” searches on YouTube have increased 70% year-on-year (over 100 million hours of how-to content watched in 2015), and 91% of smartphone users watch YouTube how-to videos when completing and executing tasks (Think With Google). While all demographics are searching for how-to content on YouTube, Millennials—an age group marketers spend 500% more on than all other demographics combined—watch YouTube how-to content the most (Adweek).
Though educational in nature, how-to videos are often task-specific (as opposed to “educational” videos, which seek to provide topical information). Due to their recurring-watch nature, how-to videos present brands with unique sponsorship and advertising opportunities. While beauty and home development brands have traditionally been prolific how-to video sponsors, more advertisers from all categories (e.g. tech, travel, automotive, and e-commerce) are sponsoring top YouTubers and YouTube channels for how-to content.
3. Vlog-Style Videos
Bethany Mota’s “Valentine’s Day Vlog: Target & Starbucks”
Casey Neistat’s “The Greatest Year Of My Entire Life”
Vlogs or “video blogs” capture a YouTuber or vlogger’s (video blogger’s) everyday life much like a video diary. Some YouTubers like Casey Neistat opt to vlog each day, while others vlog on a weekly basis. Vlog content can vary from each YouTube channel or even from vlog to vlog. Some YouTubers or YouTube channels will feature “vlog series” chronicling current events, seasons (e.g. “Vlogmas”), travel, or specific content angles from their livelihood (e.g. workout vlog).
Many top YouTubers have millions of subscribers who tune in daily or weekly to watch their vlogs, often in place of a TV show or series. As Variety shows in their annual YouTuber study, top digital influencers continue to displace traditional celebrities in many regards in the eyes of today’s millennial audiences. Due to each YouTuber’s reach, relevance, and engagement with millions of viewers, brands now realize the importance of advertising with social media influencers as part of a comprehensive multi-platform marketing strategy to reach today’s audiences.
4. YouTube Gaming Videos
As part of a $100B gaming industry, mobile gaming is seeing some of the highest rates of growth, increasing by 24%, year-on-year, according to Newzoo. While only 17% of U.S. households own an 8th generation gaming console, 92% own mobile or tablet devices. As such, YouTube gaming (with its own platform/app and available on each mobile or tablet device) is well-poised to receive much of this mobile gaming traffic. Business Insider reports that over half of the world’s top YouTubers are gamers (including the most followed and richest YouTuber, PewDiePie) or make YouTube gaming videos.
While there are many different types of YouTube gaming videos, Let’s Plays remain one of the most popular gaming videos for YouTubers, fans, and brands alike. A Let’s Play is a video screen recording of the user playing a game while providing on-going commentary. Because content creators’ personality is on display during these popular YouTube gaming videos, Let’s Plays are adept at reaching billions with unparalleled levels of community engagement.
Let’s Plays and other popular types of YouTube gaming videos tap into a much larger gaming lifestyle with vast, engaged communities. As such, both gaming and non-gaming brands are keen to advertise within the YouTube gaming community for effective branding and direct-response initiatives.
UPDATE — YouTube Gaming and YouTube Live becoming a bigger and bigger part of gaming culture on YouTube. With livestreams, tipping systems, Super Chat, and more, YouTube is looking to go head to head with the current reigning champion of gaming: Twitch. In a Q1 2017 analysis of Twitch and YouTube Live, Streamlabs found that in the six weeks between the week of March 11 and the week of April 15, YouTube Live saw an uptick in weekly streamers of 36.6% where Twitch saw an increase of just 4.1%.
UPDATE April 16, 2018 — Gaming and livestreaming continue to be a growing part of YouTube’s strategy. Twitch still outpaces YouTube Gaming in regards to user activity, but YouTube Gaming continues to grow faster than the livestreaming platform. A report found that during 2017, Twitch’s monthly streamers grew by 197%, compared to YouTube Gaming’s astonishing growth of 343%.
5. Comedy/Skit YouTube Videos
Lilly Singh’s “Types Of Kids At School”
Freddie Wong’s “London Brawling”
With over 1 billion active users (nearly a third of the entire internet population), YouTube provides much of the world’s entertainment. Comedy and skits are among some of the most popular YouTube videos, often creating a viral response and generating millions of YouTube video views.
Many top YouTubers, including Lilly Singh (also known as ||Superwoman||) and Freddie Wong, have risen to fame through comedy and/or skit videos. YouTube’s video publishing platform makes it extremely attractive for young, aspiring entertainers to try out experimental content. Comedy and skit videos are a popular genre on the website, and several YouTubers have risen up through the ranks for their innovative comedic videos.
6. Haul Videos On YouTube
Zoella’s “Stationary Haul”
Jaclyn Hill’s “Sephora Makeup Haul”
Closely related to YouTube product review videos, “haul” videos have become synonymous with YouTube’s beauty, fashion, and lifestyle vloggers. These videos feature an influencer showing off their wares (usually beauty products, clothing, or home goods) after a shopping spree. Top YouTubers have been known to drive huge sales for products favorably discussed in their hauls.
While primarily used by beauty and fashion YouTubers, haul videos are becoming popular in other niches (home, tech, health, etc.) as well. Haul videos can either showcase the latest finds, purchases, and highlights from a recent shopping trip or products received and/or accumulated over a season or period of time (e.g. “summer shopping haul”). Additionally, hauls may feature genres or specific brands, such as in “drugstore haul” or “Sephora haul.” Typically, hauls will include a quick first impression or product review in addition to simply presenting the product on camera.
Ryan Higa’s “Draw My Life”
Ingrid Nilsen’s “50 More Random Facts About Me”
TLDToday’s “What’s In My Tech Bag”
As an idea, catchphrase, quote, or activity that is copied and/or adapted throughout the YouTube community, memes videos can be popular and shared quickly among viewers. On YouTube, meme videos (sometimes also referred to as “tags”) are often created by top YouTubers who take their turn producing their version of the meme. Popular YouTube meme videos include: draw my life; 50 facts about me; what’s in my bag; and boyfriend/husband.
8. Favorites/Best Of Videos
Carli Bybel’s “My Non-Beauty Favorites”
Vanoss Gaming’s “Best Moments Of 2015”
Because YouTubers are so trusted, they are often solicited for advice and opinions. This prompted the creation and popularity of the “Favorites” or “Best of” genre of YouTube videos, where YouTubers share their most beloved products for the month or season.
9. Educational YouTube Videos
Vsauce’s “Can Silence Actually Drive You Crazy?”
AsapSCIENCE’s “Amazing Facts To Blow Your Mind”
YouTube has become one of the greatest sources of learning featuring hours of content from established entities like Harvard’s Medical School and the Associated Press. Aside how-to videos (which often teach a specific skill), many top YouTubers and YouTube channels produce educational videos that answer questions, dissect complex issues, and/or provide interesting facts.
As the world’s second-largest search engine (second only to parent company Google), YouTube is consistently searched for educational content and learning material. Due to their nature, educational videos and channels receive high amounts of recurring views and traffic.
Learning channels have found success on YouTube with their thought-provoking, interesting, and/or educational content.
UPDATE April 16, 2018 — Educational videos are still a cornerstone of YouTube. According to Alphabet’s Q4 2017 earnings call, learning-related videos are viewed more than a billion times on the platform every single day.
10. YouTube Unboxing Videos
Unbox Therapy’s “$8000 Robot Unboxing”
Captain Sparklez’s “The Ultimate Google Unboxing”
The cultural and marketing phenomenon of YouTube unboxing videos have been featured in several major media outlets, from The New York Times to the Wall Street Journal. Unboxing videos entail a YouTuber opening a product for the first time and capturing first impressions/reactions. Unboxing videos are experiential in nature—the viewer can vicariously imagine their own item unboxing through the YouTuber’s on-screen user experience.
Similar to YouTube product review videos, unboxing videos are often viewed en route to making a purchasing decision. Because of this user behavior, brands are keen to partner and sponsor YouTube unboxing videos to drive up search visibility, immense amounts of recurring views, and reach millions of consumers at a critical point on their path to purchase.
Related Post: Will Snapchat Unboxing Videos Rival YouTube’s
11. Q&A Videos On YouTube
Rosanna Pansino’s “Sister Q&A”
Psycho Soprano’s “Miranda & Colleen Q&A”
YouTubers have become stars in their own right, partly because they seem more relatable than traditional celebrities. Q&A videos, wherein an influencer answers fan questions sent in via social media, have now become one of the best ways for YouTubers to engage audiences and foster a sense of closeness with their followers/subscribers.
As one of the primary reasons why audiences and brands prefer YouTubers and digital influencers over mainstream celebrities, YouTube Q&A videos provide relevancy and also audience engagement at a level seldom possible in other media.
12. Collection/Guide Videos
Dose of Fousey’s “My Sneaker Collection!!”
Dulce Candy’s “Dulce Candy’s Makeup Collection | 2015”
In collection/guide videos, YouTubers walk their viewers through their collection of a type of product, typically beauty- or lifestyle-related products. Today’s consumers value influencers’ opinions and enjoy seeing the types of products they have chosen to fill their homes with.
As millennial buying power increases, it is crucial for major brands to keep this in mind as they consider their marketing options.
13. YouTube Prank Videos
Prank vs. Prank’s “Couple Prank War”
Rocket Jump’s “World Biggest Ball Pit Prank”
Prank videos have always been popular—first on television, and now on YouTube. These videos show pratfalls and practical jokes and are likely to be shared on various social media sites.
While many of these videos are comedic in nature, prank-style videos differ from comedy/skit primarily in their setup and aftermath. On YouTube, prank videos are incredibly popular—many of today’s top YouTubers amassed the bulk of their audience through prank videos, while other YouTubers have created entire channels dedicated to prank-style videos.