YouTube Honors Businesses as Ambassadors of Success

YouTube invited nine companies from throughout the country to its San Bruno headquarters earlier this month to recognize them as examples of how using one video could launch a business's brand.

ShoppersChoice.com has been around for about 15 years. But in 2006, the owner of the company had an idea about how to better market one of its signature products.

“If people spend $5,000 on a grill, let’s show them how to use it,” Wayne Dryden, the marketing manager for ShoppersChoice.com, recalls the owner saying.

The company launched BBQGuys.com, and the videos weren’t that great when they started off. But then they hired Tony Matassa a few years ago, started posting their videos on YouTube, where Matassa put the grills to the test, and the company’s sales took off.

BBQGuys.com was one of nine companies throughout the country that was invited to ’s San Bruno headquarters earlier this month to be honored as part of the video-sharing company’s first ever YouTube Ambassador program.

All of the businesses are examples of how one video on YouTube, if done the right way, can launch a business to the next level. The trend has been similar to how musicians and actors have been turning to YouTube to launch their careers (anyone heard of Justin Bieber?).

Now that a number of small businesses are turning to YouTube to reach their customers, it shows that YouTube isn’t just becoming another entertainment platform. The company is democratizing the world of video advertising.

“There are more searches on the site for how-to’s than for music videos,” said Crystal Dahlen, a YouTube spokeswoman. “It shows that people go on YouTube to search for information.”

To recognize the businesses and their work in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship on YouTube, the company invited the nine Ambassadors to San Bruno for a two-day summit where they got to meet with executives and learn more online tools YouTube could offer their businesses.

The companies are:

  • Berkleemusic.com, from Boston, MA, which posts video music lessons and deskside chats with professors to give prospective students a true-to-life preview of online music study at the renowned music school.
  • Undercover Tourist, from Daytona Beach, FL, which uses first-person videos to show the rides, shows and experiences offered at their partner destinations in Florida to potential customers around the world.
  • Verypink.com, from Austin, TX, which offers knitting instruction classes and patterns online as a full-time business. Thanks to Google Translate and closed captioning on her videos, owner Staci Perry has students in Greece, Turkey, Thailand, Italy, India and Syria.
  • ModCloth, from San Francisco, CA, which engages fans with how-to tutorials, behind the scenes tours and DIY videos.
  • Richard Petty Driving Experience, from Concord, NC, which records celebrity customers’ reactions after their final lap around the racetrack and uses the videos as compelling testimonials.
  • Rokenbok, from Solano Beach, CA, which encourages fans to upload their own videos using the company’s toys. Those fan videos are then regularly featured on Rokenbok's YouTube channel.
  • BBQ Guys, from Baton Rouge, LA, which showcases their collection of high-end barbecue grills by filming video reviews of new products so customers can get a personal walk-through of all the features and how they perform in action.
  • RevZilla, from Philadelphia, PA, which deconstructs complicated motorcycle gear through simple video reviews, giving tips on sizing and features.
  • Zagg, from Salt Lake City, UT, which puts together engaging scratch test video ads showcasing their clear protective shield for electronics. Their iPhone 4 Scratch Test alone has more than 2 million views.

What makes his company’s YouTube presence work is simple, Matassa said.

“It’s the fact that I’m very sincere, I put in tons of hours of research, and I make sure that what I deliver is what the customer is after and not just fluff,” said Matassa, better known on BBQGuys.com’s YouTube channel as “Chef Tony.”

To show how other small businesses can reach the same success, YouTube today launched a new product called AdWords for video. Similar to search advertising on Google, AdWords for video allows businesses to pay only when someone chooses to watch their ad. Businesses are also offered tools that can be used to create and manage video campaigns.

Additionally, YouTube today said it is giving away $50 million in free Google AdWords advertising to help 500,000 businesses to get into video.

“Traditional ads feel odd in a lot of ways,” said Lane Shackleton, a product manager at YouTube. “What we want to do is say, ‘You should only pay when someone wants to watch an ad.’”

“We’re looking at giving the user a choice,” he added.

To further recognize their Ambassadors, YouTube has given each business a badge for its YouTube channel and retail storefront, and each business will b featured on the YouTube homepage. Each Ambassador will also mentor a nonprofit organization of their choice on how to get started with a video presence on YouTube.

To learn more about AdWords for video, click here.

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