NEW YORK: The combination of Christmas, children and connected devices means that YouTube plays a vital role in seasonal toy marketing.
Paul Solomon, co-chief executive of Moose Toys, maker of the Shopkins range of grocery-themed characters, described the Google-owned platform as "kind of like an online catalogue for kids".
The Shopkins channel itself has some 96,000 subscribers but that is far behind the numbers the top toy-related channels can boast.
According to Tubefilter's chart of the top 50 most-viewed US YouTube channels in the first week of October, the second most-viewed – behind World Wrestling Entertainment – is toy review site FunToyzCollector, with around 5.5m subscribers and 83.4m views in that week.
DisneyCarToys, a channel operating on a similar premise and hosted by Sandra Wells, was in fifth place, with 2.8m subscribers and 62.3m views in that week.
"I doubt every single view is buying a toy," Wells told Reuters. "But it influences what they want for Christmas and birthdays."
Two more toy review sites – Ryan ToysReview and Blu Toys Surprise Brinquedos & Juegos – also made the top ten of Tubefilter's chart and manufacturers have taken note of this trend.
Solomon explained that when the Shopkins brand was first launched 18 months ago it was producing animated webisodes of the toys, but it has since shifted its focus toward fan videos.
"Some we work closely with and we have good partnerships that have grown," he said.
Companies will often supply products for free for review – although Wells claims to buy herself most of the toys she features – and that practice may dilute the effect of largely positive feedback.
As Jim Silver, editor of TTPM, an information resource on toys, pointed out: "There's a credibility factor, and that's something that needs to be earned. Kids pick up pretty quickly."
He also advised advertisers to be sure they were targeting the right market, explaining that "Facebook is strongest for moms, YouTube for kids".
"You have to look at whether Instagram is where people are, or Twitter," he added. "The puzzle used to be two pieces, there are now six to eight pieces."
Data sourced from Reuters, Tubefilter; additional content by Warc staff