Joe Penna, aka MysteryGuitarMan, 24, has the 11th-most-subscribed channel on YouTube, but he's noticed a shift in the audience tuning in for his weekly short films since he started making them in 2006. A resident of Los Angeles and native of Sao Paulo, Mr. Penna now estimates that 30% of his audience is in Brazil, up from about 5% to 10% when he started.
"Lately it's accelerated, especially when I started putting closed captions in Portuguese on my videos," said Mr. Penna, who derives half of his income from being a YouTube partner and taking a cut of advertising on his videos. He says the other half comes from product placements, and he's done several for Brazilian brands like the soda Guarana. In a 2010 video with 3.3 million views, he created a song inspired by a World Cup chant by tapping cans of Guarana together.
Brazil's fast-growing economy and emerging middle class are placing it squarely in the sights of global marketers, who are now starting to tap into Brazilians' appetite for online video to introduce products and drive awareness of their brands.
Limited access to broadband means that just 40% of Brazilians will be online in 2012, according to EMarketer, but YouTube's penetration in the market is already impressive. It has the sixth biggest YouTube audience in the world based on video views, reaches 79% of Brazilian internet users, and has year-over-year growth of 19% in terms of unique viewers and 67% growth for video views, according to ComScore.
The Brazilian government instituted a National Broadband Plan earlier this year, which will likely fuel the growth even more. Under the plan, the government will subsidize the telecom industry with the intention of making internet more affordable in poorer regions and spurring greater adoption by 2014, when the World Cup arrives in Brazil.
Nissan, Burger King, Whirlpool and L'Oreal are among the brands to have run campaigns on YouTube this year, and for the first time in 2011, YouTube's Brazilian domain sold sponsorships for channels live-streaming major events. Volkswagen do Brasil sponsored Rock in Rio this fall and became the most-viewed brand channel in the country in September as a result, while Garnier shampoo , Santander bank and Brazilian phone company Oi co-sponsored a channel broadcasting Carnaval from Salvador, Bahia. YouTube's country manager for Brazil, Fabio Coelho, said that another sponsorship is in the works for Carnaval 2012.
Visa is among the marketers to be making a conspicuous push with online video in Brazil. It launched a campaign earlier this month for Visa Platinum with a series of travel videos shot in Europe and used YouTube's TrueView ad formats -- where an advertiser only pays if a user opts to watch the video -- to seed them on the web and jump-start organic viewership. The first two videos generated about 3 million views, with six left to launch.>
According to Luis Cassio de Oliveira, director of marketing for Visa do Brasil, there are plans in the works for four more campaigns with YouTube in 2012: one pegged to the Olympics and three tied to the idea of "conversion," or convincing customers of the merits of using credit cards, geared toward Brazil's growing "C Class" middle class.
"This test was excellent for us because now we know how we can manage this channel," he said. "It's very interesting because Brazilians are so active on YouTube."
YouTube and other digital platforms are reaching scale for marketers as more Brazilians come online, though digital's total share of ad spending in the country is still tiny. (ZenithOptimedia put it at 4.7% in 2010.) Brazilians are also avid users of Twitter, Google's social-networking platform Orkut and now Facebook, which helps to give viral video a lift. But there's another reason for all the interest in online video, which is the notion that television is embedded in Brazilians' cultural DNA.
"It's quite a video culture," said Gustavo Vanetti Burnier, director of digital operations for Sao Paulo-based AlmapBBDO, which worked on Visa Platinum's current campaign and Volkswagen's Rock in Rio sponsorship. "We have a very, very strong TV media market, and that 's translated into digital."
Notable 2011 Brazilian YouTube Campaigns
Nissan: "Poneis Malditos," which translates to "Damn Ponies," was Brazil's viral hit of the year with more than 14 million views, promoting the Nissan Frontier in an extended version of a TV commercial. In the online version unveiled in July, a singing, animated pony turns evil and threatens to curse viewers so that his song gets stuck in their heads unless they share the video with friends.
Burger King: Fearsome UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva professes his love for the Mega BK Stacker with a rendition of "Lovin' You" in a campaign launched in August. The video has collected almost 3.4 million views on Burger King's Brazilian channel.
Renault: The auto-maker used TrueView in-stream, promoted video and display formats to promote a video introducing the Renault Duster beginning in October. It collected 2.5 million views and also ran on TV.
Whirlpool: Musician Nando Reis did a live performance from a model kitchen to promote Brastemp Built-in products, which aired for an hour from YouTube's masthead on the homepage on Oct. 4. It was viewed by 30,000 people, according to a Whirlpool spokesperson, but the concert's banner on YouTube had 2 million hits the day before.