BLACK+ YOUTUBE CREATOR REPRESENTATION & COMPENSATION ANALYSIS
Updated: Jul 28
January 2020 - December 2022
3-YEAR STUDY REVEALS THAT BLACK+ CREATORS ARE UNDER-REPRESENTED IN YOUTUBE BRAND DEALS BUT BLACK+ CREATORS ARE COMPENSATED AT RATES MORE THAN CREATORS AT LARGE FOR BRAND DEALS
BLACK+ CREATOR STUDY OVERVIEW
In January 2020, The Outloud Group, a leading influencer marketing agency, commissioned a three-year research study to understand:
(1) Black+ creator representation in brand deals and
(2) Black+ creator compensation relative to the creator population at large
This research includes 234 different brands and 74,125 pieces of content, covering influencer marketing deals completed directly between the creator and the brand (often with the involvement of agencies/agents), as opposed to creators being paid through algorithm-driven ads established by YouTube.
This study spans January 2020 through December 2022, with data published twice annually to help with transparency around representation and compensation in the influencer marketing industry. A recent study found that 92% of influencers believed that the #1 way to address the racial pay gap was through transparency, an approach that The Outloud Group has supported through this study over three years.
Two key insights were discovered as part of Outloud’s 3-year study:
Black+ YouTube creators are under-represented in brand deals by 39.6% relative to the US Black+ population as a whole. In other words, if you were to select someone in the US at random they would be 39.6% much more likely to be Black+ than if you picked a creator participating in brand deals on YouTube at random. These figures reflect paid brand deals set up between creators and the brand, often with the involvement of their respective agents/agencies – and do not reflect pre-roll or mid-roll programmatic ads.
Black+ creators were compensated 10.2% higher than the creator pool in general for brand deals during this time period at The Outloud Group.
In short, Black+ creators are less likely to participate in brand deals but when they do participate they get compensated at a higher rate.
BLACK+ CREATOR REPRESENTATION IN INFLUENCER MARKETING
While the US Population is 13.4% Black+, only 8.1% of creators involved in brand deals between January 2020 through December 2022 were Black+, indicating that Black+ creators were underrepresented by 39.6% relative to the Black+ population as a whole during this period.
For the first time in the 3-year history of this study, Black+ creator representation exceeded that of the US population as a whole during the second half of 2022. This marks the first time in this study we’ve seen the percentage of brand partnerships with Black+ creators above 13.4% in the influencer industry. This comes on the heels of Black+ creator representation being at the lowest level of representation in Q1 & Q2 2022 of 6.7%.
Prior to 2022, Black+ creator representation peaked during the first half of 2021 (Q1 & Q2 2021) before decreasing in the following 12 months. However, as shown in Figure 2, there was a significant increase in the second half of 2022 (Q3 & Q4 2022).
BLACK+ CREATOR COMPENSATION
Historical studies have indicated pay gaps between Black+ creators and creators in general, but these studies have focused on algorithm-driven disparities. This study, in contrast, shows representation & pay differences for influencer brand deals that are negotiated directly between the creator (or their agent) and the brand (or their agency).
Data was sourced from 11,398 YouTube sponsorships run by The Outloud Group between January 2020 through December 2022. Over this time period, creator rates, independent of race, have increased significantly (Figure 3).
In comparing Black+ creator brand deals to the creator pool at large over a period of 36 months, Black+ creators were compensated at a rate of 10.2% higher than the creator pool in general. During this time period, Black+ creators were paid a median CPM of $60.44 compared to $54.84 for creators at large (Figure 4).
The compensation difference between Black+ creators and creators as a whole has largely been consistent over time with the exception of Q3 & Q4 2020. The spike in Black+ creator payments in this time period is correlated with the racial unrest in the United States in the months following the murder of George Floyd.
There are many possible explanations for the differences in median CPM over time for Black+ creators. We believe the opportunity for Black+ creators to engage in dialogue over price and value allows for brands and Black+ creators to align on a fair and equitable price, which is in contrast with the algorithmic pricing which does not involve dialogue or non-programmatic considerations.
THE OUTLOUD GROUP REPRESENTATION RESULTS
In the most recent 6-month period (Q3 & Q4 2022), The Outloud Group featured Black+ creators in 10.0% of YouTube brand deals compared to 14.3% for the industry as a whole (Figure 5). Notably, this industry number is the first instance where either percentage is above 13.4%, the percentage of Black individuals in the U.S. population¹, in the case of the influencer industry. While this is great progress to see, it only represents one data point on the heels of 2.5 years of underrepresentation. As shown in Figure 6, during the length of this study, the influencer industry has only included Black+ creators in 8.1% of YouTube sponsorships.
There is a general upward trend in Black+ creator inclusion in The Outloud Group’s YouTube brand deals since the first half of 2020, but representation has plateaued between 10 & 11% over the last 18 months.
The Outloud Group’s Black+ creator inclusion has increased by 38.9% from the first half of 2020 to the second half of 2022. Overall, The Outloud Group has seen a positive trend leading to an aggregate Black+ representation percentage of 10.4% over the entirety of this study (Figure 6). This data indicates both positive improvement and recognition that representation in creator brand deals still trails representation in the nation as a whole.
We attribute the increase in Black+ creator inclusivity at The Outloud Group to increased transparency and tracking. While not all marketing campaigns are designed to target all Americans, we believe in the importance of transparency and purposeful decision-making – and work closely with our brand partners to make thoughtful decisions. We hope that this data serves as a model for increased transparency and increased inclusivity in the industry and society as a whole.
Black Americans make up 13.4% of the US population but were only included in 8.1% of influencer brand deals in 2020 - 2022. And while The Outloud Group’s representation (10.4% of brand deals) was slightly higher than the industry as a whole, these numbers still fall short of US representation as a whole.
As shown in the latest data from the second half of 2022, the influencer industry representation percentage for Black+ creators has increased considerably since the start of this study in January 2020. To maintain this trend, both brands and agencies alike need to intentionally work towards proper inclusion in campaigns. As brands and customers continue to normalize this behavior, we expect that Black+ creators will be included in brand deals at parity with Black+ representation in America at large.
And while we are optimistic, this critical question remains unanswered: will the influencer marketing industry continue to make progress when it comes to Black+ creator representation in brand deals?
We remain committed to proactively seeking out Black+ creator talent with ongoing brand deals and consciously striving to ensure that these Black+ creators are equitably compensated for their participation in brand deals.
The influencer marketing industry is a leading force at the intersection of marketing and culture – and there’s still work to be done when it comes to representing Black+ creators in brand deals.
We believe that transparency is the #1 driver for improvement in inclusivity and The Outloud Group remains committed to providing this transparency for our agency and the industry as a whole.
CREATOR REPRESENTATION METHODOLOGY
The Outloud Group conducted this analysis to benchmark Black+ creator representation in the Influencer Marketing industry for 2020, 2021, & 2022 using two sets of data:
-- The Outloud Group’s proprietary data²
-- Tubular Lab’s Dealmaker data³
The Outloud Group’s data consisted of 11,398 unique sponsored⁴ YouTube videos across 214 brands while Tubular Lab’s Dealmaker data consisted of 62,727 unique sponsored YouTube videos from the top 20 most active US brands in YouTube influencer marketing. All videos included in this study were published between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2022. The 74,125 total videos were hand-reviewed with a simple binary tag, which marked if the YouTube channel that published each video featured a Black+ creator or not.
CREATOR PAY GAP METHODOLOGY
The Outloud Group conducted this analysis to benchmark Black+ creator compensation across Outloud’s influencer marketing campaigns for 2020, 2021, and 2022. This study incorporated three years of The Outloud Group’s proprietary payment data⁵.
The Outloud Group’s data consisted of 11,398 unique sponsored YouTube videos across 234 brands where a creator was monetarily compensated⁶. All payments included in this study were made for videos published between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2022.
The CPMs⁷ were calculated by dividing the monetary payment each creator received (in USD) by the number of views to date (in thousands) that each video has received on YouTube⁸.
ABOUT THE OUTLOUD GROUP
The Outloud Group is a full-service influencer marketing agency that creates & executes strategic campaigns to deliver measurable results. We combine art & science to authentically tell brand stories at scale. You can learn more about our work with brands such as Fiverr, Athletic Greens, SimpliSafe, Grubhub, and Bespoke Post at www.OutloudGroup.com.
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