Last month, Touchstorm introduced the first extensive YouTube report on Outdoor Activities & Adventure Sports and the report is mind-blowing for a number of reasons. (If your brand plays in this category, you need to see this!) First, it’s a treasure trove of data and insights on every major YouTube channel in the category, from BMX Riding to Camping and Hiking, Skateboarding to Windsurfing. But it also shows enormous, fanatical audiences for content on outdoor and adventure activities that some (many!) of us have never heard of.

Touchstorm pulled out key category trends from the report and found some real shockers:

1. There are more than 1.7 billion YouTube views on Airsoft, Bushcraft, Geocaching, Parkour, Slacklining and Tricking alone. Wow! What? Why?

2. YouTube viewers are also flocking to channels on Frisbee, Freerunning and Horseback Riding. Who knew?

3. There are some impressive YouTube stars with tens of millions of video views and hundreds of thousands of subscribers each, including Brodie Smith (Frisbee), Andy Schrock (Skateboarding) and Scout the Doggie (Airsoft).

4. Eight of the top ten channels are on Skateboarding or Parkour. (Yep, we had to look up Parkour, too.)

5. Seven of the top ten channels based on TVi Score (Touchstorm’s proprietary algorithm of metrics that matter for building successful YouTube channels) are from YouTube stars, not brands.

Airsoft, Bushcraft, Geocaching, Parkour (pictured above), Slacklining and Tricking are some of the most popular outdoor activities on YouTube, as explained in this video.

The sheer volume of niche conversations taking place every day on YouTube is enough for marketers to stop and dig deeper. It’s the reason Red Bull doesn’t push beverage videos, DC Shoes has a top Skateboarding channel, Andy Schrock has a nearly perfect TVi Score and why more than 29 million people subscribe to content in this category.

We took to the streets to see where this audience is coming from and learned that the NYC passerby is a little perplexed as well. What this tells all of us, particularly brand marketers, is that there’s a tremendously active audience on YouTube viewing and sharing content that might tie in really well with your brand and you don’t even know it.

Here’s what we do know about the category, and what brands can do not only to participate, but also to ensure their channel is in top shape to compete there. This applies to every brand channel inside and out of the Adventure conversation. The point is: Your competition is likely not who you think it is (and tracking), but rather a guy with a skateboard and a great sense of humor.

1. Outdoor and adventure channels gain TV-level audience with exciting content and structured audience building. Red Bull and GoPro are known for their killer YouTube channels approaching a billion video views, but they’re also masterful at converting views to subscribers. When brands reach this level of engagement on YouTube, they combine scale on par with TV-like viewership (but with higher loyalty). Their formula works because they work the full YouTube formula and don’t rest on numbers like videos, views and subscribers alone. Market your channel to reach and stay on top.

2. Learn from top brands and YouTube stars . Not only can brands learn from DC Shoes and Original Skateboards, but they should also be looking at Scout the Doggie and Brodie Smith, the top two YouTube stars in the category. These guys know how to build organic audiences and connect authentically with fans — and they also make strong partner targets, much as Michelle Phan and Bethany Mota changed the face of beauty and cosmetics marketing. Our full report shows which YouTube personalities are best at connecting and building the outdoor enthusiast audience you crave.

3. Tricks and motion rule with fans . The most successful channels in this conversation category entertain and inspire sharing with astounding tricks and artistic camera angles. In fact, Tricking is an active topic on its own, with more than 52 dedicated channels. Skateboarding and Longboarding combine to own the content of six of the top 20 channels in the overall category. Brands, take note: Viewers have a thirst for thrills. Don’t be so literal by wrapping every video with brand messaging or (heaven forbid) just repurposing other marketing videos for YouTube. When it comes to developing your own content, think interest and action -- show as you tell.

4. YouTube competition is wider than retail competition. The Outdoor report reveals true channel competition in the category, from competing brands to the many YouTube personalities who are mastering the art of audience. The report gives brands the data to learn from successful YouTubers and see where they stand vs. traditional competitors in every measure of audience. Your competition on YouTube is likely not who you think. Know the conversation and you’ll see who’s taking your share.

5. Brands that know audience know how to get it right. Unlike the beauty category, where YouTube stars snuck up and took the conversation away from many brands, those in the Outdoor Adventure conversation know how to thrill their audiences. More than 800 brands and retailers are involved in the conversation and are providing the kind of content consumers want. They’re succeeding because they talk less about themselves and more about the tricks and thrills their audience craves. For other brand categories, pay close attention to what the audience wants to see. Don’t pat yourself on the back for views and viral breakouts. Success goes much deeper, with organic views, subscriber conversions, consumer passion and the other metrics that matter -- like TVi Score.

You can download our free report here and see even more findings on our blog.

Sean Womack is Vice President of Marketing and Production for Touchstorm. Sean leads the Marketing and Production teams where he is charged with all brand communications. He is also the executive producer of all videos at Touchstorm. Before Touchstorm, Sean was advising for a wide array of companies on their brand, marketing and content strategies. Previously, he was Vice President of Communication Architecture at Wal-Mart Stores and Chief Creative Officer of Saatchi & Saatchi X.

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