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YouTube is a website that is used by millions of people to share a variety of unique videos in an effort to entertain the masses and monetize their efforts. While the videos tend to range in their overall purpose, one recent genre that has emerged is known as unboxing. These videos involve an individual opening a package that contains a recent purchase such as electronics or other collectibles. As a whole, unboxing has exploded in popularity due to the novelty offered by the unboxing process, and it has gained the attention of advertisers and professional video makers who have monetized the process. This paper will examine the complexities that are inherent in the unboxing process such as the financial components of unboxing, the demographics involved, the ethics of such a form of video, and the future evolution of unboxing. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
How Unboxing Started
Given the immense numbers of views that have been garnered by the various YouTube channels that feature unboxing, it is important to consider how this genre of video first started and how it gained such popularity. According to Brozio (2009) the concept of unboxing was not as united as it is in the present day; people referred to each form of unboxing by subgenre such as gadget unpacking. The earliest colloquial definition for unboxing was listed on a website called UrbanDictionary.com in 2008 and reads as follows: “The Internet trend of showing photos or video from the unpacking of a retail box of some desirable product, such as the latest laptop or portable music player” (Brozio, 2009). While several videos claim to be the original unboxing video, one of the first popular videos featured a then-new PlayStation 3 being unboxed by an individual and then reviewed by the person in the video. Many of the hallmarks of modern unboxing such as the entire unpacking process and personal yet objective review are present in the video. The trend became immensely popular due to the fact that people were able to open packages vicariously through the reviewers and also because they could see exactly what they were getting in the box (Brozio, 2009). From 2008 onwards, the genre of unboxing became incredibly popular using the medium of YouTube, where hundreds of millions of views have be occurred for a variety of unboxing videos. Even though the videos were highly entertaining for many people, the fact remains that there is a monetary incentive for individuals to take part in this form of video-making. For this reason, it is necessary to examine the monetization process that has been undertaken for YouTube unboxers. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Monetizing YouTube Videos
Unboxing videos have been monetized by YouTube personas as well as advertisers who utilize people’s various interests as a means of making money. The first element that is important to explore is the monetization from the perspective of YouTube. YouTube videos are typically able to make money when there are enough people viewing the video for enough time that an advertisement is played (Li, 2015). This is a difficult process for many individuals since their content is not able to hold interest for the amount of time for an advertisement to be considered worth the time investment from the viewer. Money can also be made from YouTube when the individual who owns a YouTube page partners with the website and splits their income with the site so that they can receive favorable view rankings. These elements of success are achieved completely within the realm of unboxing videos in the sense that it meets a perfect combination of interesting and lengthy materials, consistent unboxers, and the capability to share revenuewith YouTube. The majority of unboxing videos are lengthy enough that an individual will watch at least a single ad to see the final product or the final unboxing. This facilitates the ad revenue for the YouTube unboxer.
While it may seem as though the market for unboxing would be small enough to limit the amount of money that a person can make, the fact of the matter is that unboxing videos can be incredibly lucrative. According to Wile (2015) the highest-paid YouTube unboxer was able to earn almost $5 million in a single year by unboxing and constructing toys from the Disney Company. This individual, who remains unidentified to this day and goes by the alias DC Toys Collector, performs the unboxing, gives a brief review of the object, and then simply moves onto another toy. There are many different theories about why this individual is the most successful, ranging from her voice to intricate fingernail painting, but it is clear that there is something that is capable of drawing people into unboxing videos. Overall, it is clear that the payments for unboxing videos have the potential to be staggering in their amounts.
First Mover Advantage
Although the payments for unboxing are very high for some individual unboxers, the fact remains that the first mover advantage plays a large role in determining which unboxers were most successful and which ones only make marginal income. The concept of the first mover advantage is predicated on the idea that the individuals who are the first ones to break into a new niche or to put forth a new product tend to be the same ones that have the best outcomes if that new item or niche proves to be worthy. According to Vendeville (2016) the first individuals who started as unboxers did so years before there was any actual desire for people to view the videos. They would unbox their products as a demonstration and then show the capabilities of the product. Lewis Hilsentenger is regarded as one of the individuals who helped to start the unboxing phenomenon by being a part of the community of unboxers long before he was able to become wealthy by doing this job. His technical demonstrations of unboxing phones is what eventually allowed him to achieve high numbers of viewers on his YouTube page, enough that he would go on to make tens of thousands of dollars. His most famous video, and one of the videos that is credited with bringing unboxing to a new and larger audience was a video of him bending a recently-released phone, showing one of the largest flaws in phones on the market (Vendeville, 2016). Being that Hilsentenger was one of the original individuals to be present in the market of the unboxers, he received the first move advantage in that he already had several videos with views that were flooded with views after his initial success. Yet, there are other elements of the first mover advantage that have appeared as a direct result of the fact that unboxing is steadily gaining viewers throughout the world.
Unboxing as a genre has been coopted by some of the most powerful and famous companies in the world to reveal their products online and to have a built-in audience ready to view their videos. Some companies, such as Disney, have hired some of the most famous first movers in unboxing to be a part of their official companies. The most successful marriage between a major company and a first mover unboxer was Disney and “DC” as they decided to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Li, 2015). The result of the partnership was known as Force Friday, a time when a full 18 hours leading up to the release of the movie was live streamed with unboxing new toys and Star Wars products (Li, 2015). The massive amount of fan support that was received throughout this time helped to drive toy sales and excitement regarding the new movie line. While this is demonstrative of the sheer potency of the unboxing genre in YouTube, it is necessary to examine the effects that unboxing is having upon toy and technology industries as a whole.
The unboxing videos genre has created a great deal of excitement for certain products and has led to major companies seeking to find ways to take advantage of the massive audiences that are tuned in and waiting for product information. Samsung, a technology company that is based in South Korea, has integrated the unboxing videos in to their new advertising models. They have hired unboxers and provided them with the phones that they would like to have reviewed so that they are able to directly reach millions of active subscribers on YouTube (Maurice, 2015, p. 28). This partnership signals that unboxing videos have started an entirely new form of advertisement in the online community. Not only are unboxing videos cheap, but they have unique personalities that can be added into the advertisement. This is a far departure from the days of copy writing and television advertisements that had to subscribe to certain standards in order to be aired on television. It is now clear that unboxing has changed the advertisement paradigm and will play a significant role in the future of media that is geared towards selling products. Still, it is important to understand the individuals who are behind the unboxing movement by exploring their demographics data. < Click Essay Writer to order your essay >
Unboxing Demographics: Toys
When thinking of toys being unboxed, one might conjure a picture of a young child who had gotten hold of their parent’s phone and made a video. However, that is rarely the case in terms of toy unboxing. The most successful individuals who typically reveal the toys in unboxing videos are known to be primarily women who are middle-aged (Wile, 2015). While it is difficult to gain an accurate measure of whether it is males or females that are primarily performing the unboxing for toys, it seems as though the majority of individuals who unbox toys for their audience are adults and female. However, the audience for these unboxing videos are varied in their demographics. After all, there are generally two groups of people that would like to watch toys being unboxed. The first group is children, who will sit and watch toys being unboxed because they obtain a sense of satisfaction from watching other people open toys (Prince, 2014). Children make up a large demographic of the toy unboxing videos so that they are able to see new toys even if they are not able to buy them. This is a form of relational happiness, where the person watching is able to feel happiness despite the fact that others are actually obtaining the toys. In fact, it has been found that children will often watch the same video several times as they remain mesmerized by the action of the toy being introduced (Prince, 2014). This contributes to increased views, ad revenue, and even sales as a result of the children watching the videos. However, there are some negative connotations attached to having children watch these videos. Most notably, many individuals believe that there is a growing sense of consumerism that is directed at children and will cause them unhappiness at the prospect of watching others play with toys that they cannot have. Overall, children make up a very large portion of the demographic for toy unboxing, but they are not the only individuals that watch such videos.
The other major demographic of individuals who watch the toy unboxing videos throughout the world are the toy collectors. These individuals are professional toy collectors or toy aficionados who watch the videos of people collecting prize toys (Marsh, 2016). Unlike children, these individuals are not likely to enjoy unboxing because other people are opening toys, but they want to see what they could be getting if they were to collect the item. Moreover, these adults are looking to see where they could find the toys or what other items were located on a particular website or at a particular store. Overall, the toy collectors are not as large of a demographic as the children who view unboxing, but they are still a significant demographic to consider. While toy unboxing is a large subgenre, the fact remains that there are other large subgenres that are worthy of exploration as well.
Unboxing Demographics: Electronics
Unboxing electronics is another subgenre of the unboxing process that has gathered a very significant following on YouTube. According to Michael Strangeglove (2010), the concept behind unboxing electronics is similar in some respects to that of unboxing toys. After all, the process of unboxing electronics often reveals new consumer items or even older videogames that have been found at shops. In essence, it is a way to showcase what others have been able to find throughout their time searching for interesting electronics. However, there is also the “showcase” element of unboxing that is similar because people wish to see the capabilities of new electronics. Many electronics unboxers will take time to boot up new computers, phones, and tablets to showcase their abilities, offering reviews from a trusted third-party resource. However, there are some elements of electronics unboxing that represent a large departure from the toy unboxing scheme.
The individuals who perform the unboxing and who watch the unboxing are different demographics than the toy unboxers. According to Strangeglove (2010) the individuals who are most likely to develop videos for the electronics unboxing are young males between the ages of 18 and 30 (p. 134). These are young people who are on the cutting edge of technology and have the willingness to consistently purchase and review electronics while keeping in mind the previous iterations of the items. One interesting facet of this demographic is that the producers and the consumers of the information are very similar to one another. Strangeglove (2010) found that the same age group of 18-30 and the same gender, male, was the most likely to examine the technology that exists in the unboxing videos. Overall, it is clear that there is a great number of people who continue to view the videos on technology even though they have a tendency to come from a rather narrow demographic.
Even though toys and electronics are the two most popular subgenres that are presently in place for the unboxing videos, there are several other genres. For example, another genre that has emerged in recent years are haul videos in which people go to bargain stores and purchase rare items for views on the internet. While the name is different, the unboxing element is similar and it has the same potential draws in terms of bringing in viewers. Altogether, videos which feature individuals enjoying the process of revealing and reviewing items has vast potential and many different people involved in their demographics.
One of the most unique elements that has emerged in recent years is that there are certain companies that are attaching themselves to unboxers so as to utilize their built-in audience. This has created a sense of branding on the unboxers that is similar to sponsorships. According to Schweizer (2015) the most successful unboxers are often approached by large companies that offer the individuals access to products early and for free if they are willing to include the items in their unboxing videos. This amounts to free products and the advantage of providing first reviews, and the company receives inexpensive and positive reviews of their products from the unboxer. In this way, the company is able to have a direct audience that is already focused on the YouTube channel. This is a beneficial partnership that has been effectively used by Samsung, Disney, and many other companies that want to increase their products’ visibility.
The result of the partnership between businesses and YouTube personalities is known as branded YouTubers. There are several famous YouTube personalities that already fit this criteria such as Jenna Marbles, who has over 16 million viewers and a combined 2 billion views on her videos. Yet, the branded unboxers are more complicated by the fact that they must represent themselves as a brand as well as the products that they own as a brand. Rather than have an unboxer that is intrinsically tied to a single product line, such as Disney, the sponsors allow the unboxers to grow organically and then offer them sponsorships. One of the most famous unboxer branded YouTubers is Ryan’s Toys Review, a family enterprise that features a preschooler being given toys to unbox in unique ways and then offer his opinion on them while a parent films (Dredge, 2016). The family created the brand, Ryan’s Toys Reviews, and then they were able to obtain sponsors that began to provide them with toys so that the unboxing would remain organic but still directed towards the Disney-Pixar toy series. The benefit of this form of partnership is that it prevents YouTubers from simply spending all of their earnings attempting to make new videos. However, there are some drawbacks to these partnerships that must be examined from a standpoint of ethical behavior. After all, connections between people who are reviewing and unboxing toys for enjoyment and those who are unboxing for money are beholden to ethics concerning how they approach children in marketing.
An Impenetrable Market
The seemingly overnight success of unboxing since 2008 prompted a change in the way that companies have approached their advertising. Companies began to see the way that individuals were unboxing their products and saw that the advertising was highly effective at showcasing their wares. In fact, this led to some companies taking the risk of promoting their own unboxing videos on their official channels. According to Kelly (2014) Microsoft was a company that made its own YouTube channel and promoted their Xbox One product using an unboxing format. While this was a successful foray into the world of unboxing, it was met with immediate concerns that the company could have doctored images or otherwise changed the product at any point to make it seem better than it would be for an average person opening the product. This desire to promote objective reviews has create a barrier that few large companies have been able to penetrate with their own unboxing videos. This has led to companies such as Apple, Samsung, and Disney allowing unboxers to receive sponsored products so that reviews can be developed for the benefit of the company. This shows that one of the most important elements of the unboxing genre of videos and the community is objectivity in their reviews of the products. This fact necessitates a more complete exploration of the ethics that guides the unboxing videos and community as a whole.
The Ethical Challenges of Unboxing
Like any other business model, unboxing using sponsors and ads on YouTube requires a developed series of ethical guidelines that prevent people from being subjected to ads without knowing it. The problem that has emerged in the case of unboxing is that the sponsors for unboxers are not always transparent about their partnerships with YouTubers. James Vincent wrote an article about one of the most profound ethical issues that is connected with unboxing: YouTube channels that are geared towards children. YouTube has a “kids channel” that is material that is deemed appropriate for children and does not have the same ad format as the regular site. However, the problem is that the most popular videos using this filter are unboxing videos which still have regular interruptions for advertisements (Vincent, 2015). The children are watching videos that feature unboxing and are then seeing advertisements for toys and other products that are not connected with the channel in any way. While this does not lead to suggestive or questionable content, the fact remains that the children are watching videos and are being led to believe that the same toys in the commercials are being supported by the sponsored YouTube channels. Still, this is only one facet of the overall problem that exists in terms of the unboxers and ethics.
Another major ethical problem that emerges in this case is that there are unattributed videos that appear on popular applications that children use to view unboxing videos. Vincent (2015) found that Google several videos that appear on the YouTube Kids channel, but there is no information about where the videos come from. While it is an increasingly common practice for individuals to have sponsored content in their videos for unboxing, the Google channel has no transparency (Vincent, 2015). Thus, the children could be watching videos and assuming that they are coming from an unboxer when they are actually watching a video that amounts to a ten minute advertisement from a company. This is an unethical action that is considered detrimental in the unboxer community. It takes advantage of children by subjecting them to advertisements rather than the entertainment that they believe they are experiencing. Poor experiences such as the aforementioned have led to the unboxing community developing their own community ethics.
The unboxers who are sponsored tend to have a greater deal of transparency when it comes to working with their sponsors, and often tell which packages they have been provided. In addition, there is clear breaks between advertisements and sponsored content, with actual deviations in the set-up of the videos so that the viewer is able to tell when they are being sold an item and when they are receiving an honest review or unboxing of the item. Another element of the overall concept of ethics that is pervasive in the unboxing community is to remain absolutely honest about the product that is being introduced. With so many sponsored and branded YouTube accounts for unboxing, the first review that is given about the product via an unboxing could greatly impact the sales on the item (Pierni, 2016). According to Pierni (2016) the individuals who receive items early are supposed to identify that they received the product from the company in the video and offer a completely objective description or review of the item to prevent favoritism. However, it is also noted that the items can be shopped around to various sponsored posters to find one that is highly interested or motivated to be thorough with the review as well (Pierni, 2016). It is clear that there are certain guidelines that are in place for individuals who want to be a part of the unboxing community, and the most important rule seems to be keeping people informed about the nature of the products that are being reviewed. Still, as the community continues to grow, more stringent regulations from the community or from YouTube could be put into place to protect the consumers.
Unboxing in the Future: Changing Mediums
There is a potential shift of the unboxing genre from the medium of YouTube to the burgeoning Snapchat. The unboxing phenomenon has been mainly rooted in the YouTube community. After all, the individuals have been able to utilize the website’s filming capabilities to easily develop content that allows them to make their videos. Moreover, there are favorable agreements in place with YouTube that allows the unboxers to receive money as a result of their efforts. However, the first signs of competition have been appearing for years, and it seems as though SnapChat, a video application, is ready to add unboxing to its arsenal. According to Chen (2016) there are already some videos that are appearing on SnapChat that have to do with unboxing. However, SnapChat shows that the genre is evolving so as to capture the market of individuals in their teenage years. SnapChat is a video service that is known as Ephemeral Messaging, meaning that it disappears shortly after the video is received by an individual. According to Chen (2016) this could lead to a new sense of urgency to see the latest unboxing, especially involving new and sponsored clothes or technology that typical consumers are not able to get ahold of at that time. The fast-paced iteration of unboxing would ensure that the young crowd is engaged while working on a platform that is seen as newer and more accessible than YouTube.
The evolution of unboxing videos and the change in platform would ultimately create a radically different form of unboxing. Most of the videos that appear on YouTube are created with commentary from the individual making the video being the most important element. However, the fact remains that the SnapChat application’s unboxing videos feature more content that is visual such as writing superimposed on the screen as well as a greater emphasis on colors and design (Chen, 2016). This requires the person making the videos to place more focus on the artistic elements of making the video memorable so that it stands out and will be considered after the video disappears. This could bring about the rise of a new type of unboxer, a person that has personality, art skills, and salesmanship that will make people watch their videos. Still, as Chen (2016) wrote, SnapChat unboxing videos are still in their infancy and will require far more diversification before they are able to displace the money-making familiarity that is offered by the present YouTube unboxing regimes.
Many other firms are attempting to integrate video functions so that they are able to capture elements of unboxing on their own website. Twitter is a social media website that has developed video sharing functionality that has been utilized for unboxing videos and ensuring that they reach a large audience. The share features from YouTube has facilitated the growth of unboxing links on Twitter and resulted in unique extra growth as far as the number of viewers for a given video. However, social media giant Facebook has also been increasingly utilized for a very specific function within the genre of unboxing: live streaming. Facebook has a live-streaming option on their website that allows an individual to simultaneously create and post anunboxing as it is happening. This has taken the accessibility of unboxing to an entirely new level, and shows a new shift towards immediacy. One of the most specific iterations of this occurring is with the company LootCrate using Facebook Live videos as a means of unboxing. This company releases a mystery box to its subscribers each month, giving them random merchandise, toys, and video games (Young, 2016). Mysterious gifts combined with instantaneous unboxing videos has been a recipe for success, with hundreds of thousands of viewers each month (Young, 2016). All of these new websites and technologies that have emerged in recent years have been coopted in some form to advance the unboxing genre of videos. It is clear that this form of presentation will continually evolve so as to provide content that will entice all members of the various demographics who watch unboxing.
Unboxing is a video form that has become incredibly popular on YouTube and several other web media sources. Although many people are unaware of this form of video, its pervasiveness in the YouTube channels shows that there are millions of unique viewers. However, aside from the entertainment aspects of the unboxing genre, it is important to consider that these videos are an immense source of advertisement that many people do not consider to be as invasive as other forms of advertisement. Ultimately, it seems as though the legacy of unboxing videos is still unfolding and that this concept will be adopted and implemented in much more noticeable areas of the web in the future.
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