From the Influencers

Why YouTube Celebrities Should Shift to Custom Mobile Apps

May 22, 2017
By Special Guest
Christopher Cooper, CEO of FanHero LLC -

Over the last decade, YouTube has grown into the primary online video platform and thrived where other competitors like Blip failed. YouTube is now a crucial media channel for numerous Internet celebrities whose unique video creations have made them heroes to a generation of viewers.

The challenges of building and monetizing a YouTube brand

While YouTube provides content creators with a great platform for attracting fans and sharing videos, many of the platform’s most influential users seek ways to engage with subscribers and transfer YouTube fame into bankable income. It’s not always as straightforward as one would hope or YouTube would lead one to believe. A few of the challenges these influencers face include reliance on ad revenue, a lack of control over and access to subscriber data, and limited interactions with subscribers on the platform.

Ad revenue is a major source of income for YouTube influencers. Each ad play amounts to pennies or fractions of pennies, but those pennies quickly add up for channels with large fan bases. However, YouTube ad revenue isn’t always reliable. Look no further than the recent uproar around select advertisers pulling their online ad budgets from YouTube, citing concerns that their ads might “appear next to videos containing hate speech, promoting terror organizations, or other obviously unsafe content for their brands to be associated with.” If advertisers start pulling away from YouTube, it will become harder for influencers to monetize videos and earn a living.

To overcome the ad revenue obstacle, many influencers are now looking for new ways to monetize their content and expand their audience reach. However, YouTube only allows users to access a limited set of subscriber data, such as age range, general playback locations and device types. This data is insufficient for influencers working on a more detailed growth strategy.

Influencer growth can also be challenged by a lack of interaction. Over the years, YouTube’s comment section has had functions – including the ability to post a video reply – removed from the platform. Other functions are simply inconvenient or unrealistic, particularly for popular YouTube channels that receive hundreds of comments or messages at a time. The larger a channel is, the more time, energy, and resources it takes to moderate fan interactions.

Influencers on YouTube need a solid, reliable, and transparent way to get the data they need, interact with fans, and monetize their “star” status.

Why YouTube influencers need their own apps

There are several reasons why a YouTube influencer should move away from the online platform and launch their own mobile app.

To start, the relationship between an influencer and fans shouldn’t be held back by a clunky platform. On an individual app, influencers would have absolute control over their relationship with the audience and be able to offer a richer, more engaging experience.

Individual apps would also provide more monetization options for the influencer. The biggest revenue opportunities on YouTube are usually ads that play on or in the video, but modern audiences dislike “unnecessary” ads and will leave the page if ads are too frequent or long. With an app, influencers could build in an online store or paid subscriptions that allow for adless content viewing. This would allow them to make money without the need for advertisers.

Finally, an individual app would allow influencers to own all of their subscriber data. Once an influencer knows who’s watching, where in the world they are and what they like, they can use that data to design better content and attract an even larger audience. This is a key benefit for the existing audience, the emerging audience and the influencer.

Despite the benefits of the individual app, YouTube influencers may still be reluctant to transition from an existing platform to a new app. White label app developers like FanHero have risen to the forefront of the influencer app market, and offer a range of services like in-app monetization platforms, user analytics and a custom growth team to simplify the transition from site to app.

Until these influencers move beyond the YouTube platform, they are always going to be considered a “YouTube star” and could struggle to have any longevity. Their own app, which can evolve as the latest technology evolves, will help them get away from this title.

Once influencers fully understand the value of audience data, enhanced monetization and two-way engagement, we will see them migrate away from online platforms like YouTube and move into the mobile app space instead.

About the Author

Christopher Cooper is the Chief Executive Officer of FanHero, LLC. Christopher has extensive knowledge in the mobile space, and has been creating mobile applications and strategies for an array of verticals ranging from finance to music. As a partner at MSI Mobile Solutions for the past 10 years, he has been responsible for implementing the strategic vision, focus and effective growth optimization of the client’s mobile ventures before and after launch. Some of his clients included Warner Music, Service Finance and SEI. 

Edited by Alicia Young

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