BLACK+ YOUTUBE CREATOR INCLUSIVITY & COMPENSATION ANALYSIS
January 2020 - June 2022
2.5 YEAR STUDY REVEALS THAT BLACK+ CREATORS ARE UNDER-REPRESENTED IN YOUTUBE BRAND DEALS RELATIVE TO THE US POPULATION AS A WHOLE BUT BLACK+ CREATORS ARE COMPENSATED AT A HIGHER RATE THAN CREATORS AT LARGE FOR BRAND DEALS
In January 2020, The Outloud Group, a leading influencer marketing agency, commissioned a first of its kind two & a half-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 201 different brands and 69,266 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-based ads established by YouTube.
This study spans January 2020 through June 2022, with data published twice annually to help with transparency around inclusion 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 been supporting for two years.
Two key insights were discovered as part of this study. First, Black+ YouTube creators were under-represented by 41.8% relative to the US Black+ population as a whole in the influencer marketing industry. These figures reflect paid brand deals set up between creators and the brand, often with the involvement of their respective agents/agencies. Second, Black+ creators were compensated 10.0% higher than the creator pool in general for brand deals during this time period at The Outloud Group.
BLACK+ CREATOR REPRESENTATION IN INFLUENCER MARKETING
While the US Population is 13.4% Black+, only 7.8% of creators involved in brand deals between January 2020 through June 2022 were Black+, indicating that Black+ creators are underrepresented by 41.8% relative to the Black+ population as a whole.
Black+ creator representation peaked during the first half of 2021 (Q1 & Q2 2021) and has since decreased significantly back to 2020 levels. As shown in Figure 2, there has been a downward trend of Black+ creator representation in the second half of 2021 and into 2022. In the first half of 2022, Black+ creators were included in only 6.7% of brand deals, matching the lowest level of representation during the 2.5 year study.
BLACK+ CREATOR COMPENSATION
For the first time in the history of this study, creator compensation data is being released for non-algorithmic brand deals to understand 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 4,551 YouTube sponsorships run by The Outloud Group between January 2020 through June 2022. Over this time period, creators 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 30 months, Black+ creators were compensated at a rate of 10.0% higher than the creator pool in general. During this time period Black+ creators were paid a median CPM of $61.73 compared to $56.12 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 time period (Q1 & Q2 2022), The Outloud Group featured Black+ creators in 11.0% of YouTube brand deals compared to 6.7% for the industry as a whole (Figure 5). Notably, both The Outloud Group & industry figures fall short of 13.4%, the percentage of Black individuals in the U.S. population¹.
There is a general upward trend in Black+ creator inclusion in The Outloud Group’s YouTube brand deals since the first half of 2020. Black+ creators only made up 7.2% of brand deals at The Outloud Group and the original data and analysis can be seen in the January - June 2020 Influencer Marketing Diversity Report.
The Outloud Group’s Black+ creator inclusion has increased by 52.8% from 1H 2020 to 1H 2022. Overall, The Outloud Group has seen a positive trend leading to an aggregate Black+ representation percentage of 10.5% over the entirety of this study (Figure 6). While these numbers do exceed the industry figures, they are still well shy of parity when it comes to Black+ creator brand deals reflecting Black representation in the US.
We attribute the increase in Black+ creator inclusivity at The Outloud Group to increased transparency and tracking. 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 7.8% of influencer brand deals across 2020, 2021, & the first half of 2022. And while The Outloud Group numbers were slightly higher (10.5% of brand deals), these numbers still fall short of US representation as a whole.
As shown in the latest data from 1H of 2022, the influencer industry representation percentage for Black+ creators has dropped considerably since its peak in 2021. To reverse 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, & the first half of 2022 using two sets of data:
-- The Outloud Group’s proprietary data²
-- Tubular Lab’s Dealmaker data³
The Outloud Group’s data consisted of 9,465 unique sponsored⁴ YouTube videos across 181 brands while Tubular Lab’s Dealmaker data consisted of 59,801 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 June 30th, 2022. The 69,266 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 the first half of 2022. This study incorporated two and a half years of The Outloud Group’s proprietary payment data⁵.
The Outloud Group’s data consisted of 4,551 unique sponsored YouTube videos across 181 brands where a creator was monetarily compensated⁶. All payments included in this study were made for videos published between January 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 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 YouTube.
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 your brand’s story at scale.
While we live & breathe new media, our business is founded on old-fashioned relationships.
Influencer marketing. Done right.
¹ (U.S. Census Bureau (2019) U.S. Census Bureau July 1 2019 Estimates)
² 9,465 sponsored YouTube videos published through The Outloud Group’s anonymous brand partners in 2020, 2021, & 1H of 2022
³ 59,801 sponsored YouTube videos in 2020, 2021, & 1H of 2022 were used as a proxy for the industry benchmark, this data came from the Top 20 U.S. brands that Tubular Lab’s Dealmaker tagged as sponsoring the most YouTube videos
⁴ Sponsored refers to any YouTube video where a brand compensated a creator in the form of monetary compensation, product, or services as disclosed by the creator for the FTC
⁵ 4,551 sponsored YouTube videos published through The Outloud Group’s anonymous brand partners in 2020, 2021, 1H of 2022
⁶ We normalized the data set by only looking at brand deals with video views in a locked range of under 120,000 views per video for all creators included in this study. This was done in order to compare CPMs of videos with similar views, therefore, removing varying view counts from having a material impact on the results
⁷ CPM is defined as “Cost Per Mille” or, more simply put, is the monetary compensation a creator receives from a brand per 1,000 views obtained on a sponsored YouTube video