YouTube Levels the Beauty Marketing Field

There are 14.9 billion beauty-related video views on YouTube, and most of those videos are created by the people, for the people. A new study released by Pixability, called “Beauty on YouTube: How YouTube is Radically Transforming the Beauty Industry and What That Means for Brands," reveals a shocking disparity in the YouTube beauty biz — but for once, the little guys are winning.

While "beauty industry" conjures up names of mega-brands like Dove or Pantene, YouTube is an unexpected haven of democracy in an industry owned by advertising slots and promotional material. The study revealed that a mere 3 percent of beauty-related YouTube views belong to major brands, while the remaining 97 percent belong to vloggers, "haul girls" (a weirdly popular type of video wherein consumers, mostly teenage girls, will display, open, and discuss their recent purchases in front of the camera), and other beauty content creators.

When someone wants a beauty video, they don't care about finding an ad for the world's greatest mascara. They want information, not promotion, and so they turn to the wide and varied world of video beauty tutorials. Instead of a disembodied voice promising "sky-high lashes" on a clearly Photoshopped model, they find real girls — like vlogging superstar Michelle Phan — teaching them the best way to apply mascara, whatever the brand.

Big brands ignore the booming YouTube beauty industry at their own risk. From 2010 to 2013, beauty-related content grew from 300 million monthly views to over 700 million monthly views. Now, over 75 hours of new beauty content is uploaded to YouTube every day. That's a huge market, and it's one that's controlled almost entirely by independent content creators.

Lesson here: original, honest, informative content will always win over a sponsored ad. Oh, and never underestimate the power of a teenage girl shopping at Sephora. You never know how many subscribers she has online.