Discount e-commerce fashion sites are using YouTube celebrities to promote their products.

By MediaStreet staff writers.

Internet advertising has become a moving target and these days, it’s moving faster than the speed of light.

Not very long ago Google AdWords and Facebook ads were the rage, supplanting more traditional advertising options on websites, radio, TV and in print media. As smartphones and tablets became more mainstream, social media has evolved into an increasingly popular medium.

AdWords and Facebook are still viable marketing tools but a good chunk of advertising dollars are being shifted to videos and live streams viewed on YouTube and other digital outlets.

Having a well-known face touting your brand on YouTube or a testimonial from a vlogger with a large following has become a viable marketing strategy. For this reason, online fashion retailers are shifting their advertising focus to “net stars” more and more.

In many cases, YouTube celebrities and vloggers are paid directly by major brands. Smaller companies, like Zaful and Sammydress, send products to the “net stars” for their endorsements and compensate them based on the Internet traffic that is created. Sometimes there is a small upfront payment to cover video production costs. Here, they have sent some bikinishave been sent to a vlogger called “Sweetest Peach.”

Pros and cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of advertising. The cost is lower than traditional advertising, which attracts smaller companies with niche products. There is no guarantee, however, that a “net star” will provide a positive review of the product. Over the long haul, this approach is worth the risk and generally yields positive results.

“We see this as a big opportunity to be part of the conversations that are happening naturally and organically in social media,” said Sara Lau, Marketing Director of Zaful. “By tapping into customer conversations about lifestyle and fashion, we feel we can promote our brand. So we’ll continue to seek out v-bloggers and YouTube stars.”

Here a vloggger called Madeofchanel trying on the clothing samples.

Positive results

In 2016, Zaful established a partnership with several well-known YouTube stars, including Tana Mongeau, Kelsey Simone and Jasmine Brown, each of whom have around 1 million YouTube subscribers. This year, Zaful is also partnering with YouTube celebrities in Spain and other non-English-speaking countries.

In the first quarter of 2017, sales generated by net stars represented nearly 10 percent of Zaful’s total revenue. Sammydress, which generates more than half of its sales from repeat customers, has not seen similarly positive results but does report a small spike in overall sales over the past 12 months.

YouTube celebrities for Sammydress include Dymond Goods (310,000 subscribers) and Nury Jimenez (770,000 subscribers).

Other e-retailers, like ASOS and Forever 21, have also jumped on the “net stars” bandwagon, finding that this new approach works. “The way shoppers get information is changing,” noted Sara. “As a smaller market player, we need to be aware of these trends.”