The Impact of YouTube Influencers

Have you ever wondered if YouTube videos influence the crypto markets? The TIE has identified cases where big influencer have moved markets, so let’s dive into the data.

This piece is an excerpt from The TIE & @eToroUS Q2 Report. To see the full research report, head over to https://www.etoro.com/en-us/crypto/quarterly-report/

YouTube continues to be a growing force in the cryptoasset space. Just as influencers are well-known to stimulate engagement in the consumer product and fashion industries, popular social media personalities with cryptoassets and protocols for both users and traders. In this section we look at a series of critical themes and their overall contribution to market sentiment.

It’s important to note that several factors determine the price of a cryptoasset, and while it’s very simplistic to assume that if Influencer A talks about Cryptoasset B that the price increases, there is much more to the story. Rather, overall the data shows that influencers likely play a greater role in helping to maintain a consistent price after other market factors drove an increase due to the trust and connection they’ve built with their audiences.

The Influence of YouTube Influencers: Imperfect Storms

The data in Figure 1, looks at how a discussion on one of the most popular crypto-YouTube channels came right before the price of the asset increased. Bitboy Crypto, which boasts one of the largest, most engaged audiences may be one of the few with the power to impact price.  Since the beginning of 2021, views per video grew by 670% increasing from an average of over 21k views per video to an average 141k per video, the largest increase by any crypto-YouTuber.

The host, Ben Armstrong is one of the most respected thought-leaders in the industry. He’s known for his deep research and integrity. While some may look for collusion, he  is completely transparent about which companies sponsor the channel, and in what capacity. They are displayed on the screen throughout his show. Accordingly, there is more evidence to suggest that his knowledge and analysis led him to the conclusion that Cosmos was ready to break out, and the trust he’s built with his audience made many comfortable with investing in the cryptoasset.

BitBoy Crypto Cosmos
Figure 1

Cosmos is a project I want to do a lot more content on. I am ready to start doing content on cosmos. Actually, can we reach out to Cosmos, let’s get Heather to reach out to Cosmos. I want to partner with Cosmos. I want to be an advisor or I want to be a partner with Cosmos because I love Cosmos, they don’t get the credit they deserve and I’m ready to push that

-Figure 1. Ben “Bitboy Crypto” Armstrong YouTube livestream

By consistently providing well-thought out advice, for or against price increases, trends, and large industry players, Armstrong has earned the respect and trust of his audience.  It’s important to note, this commentary is not an endorsement of Bitboy Crypto but rather a review of the facts available.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Total quantity of Crypto Video Content Produced^^^^ (refers to image on previous page)

Figure 3

Figure 3. The change in views/video for 100 crypto-focused YouTubers from 2020 to 2021. ^^^(refers to Image above)

Figure 2 shows the growing number of cryptoasset-related videos released since the beginning of 2021. The number of weekly crypto-related YouTube videos has reached all-time highs this quarter. Over the past few years, YouTube has become the central hub and unofficial TV network for the CryptoIndustry. A range of influencers regularly garner views in the tens of thousands and large audiences, deeply engaged audiences across several other platforms. The increase in content comes with an increase in sentiment and depending on the influencer, either a correction or significant decrease in the average cryptoasset price.

By reviewing and tracking a select group of 100 crypto-YouTubers a series of trends begins to emerge. The data in Figure 3 shows that each youtuber on average saw views of their channels increase by 260%. On the higher end, the top four influencers after Bitboy Crypto  influencers also saw significant increases in average views including; Coin Bureau +250%, Altcoin Daily +260%, Sheldon Evans +200% and JRNY Crypto +1440%. The data in Figure 3 also shows increases associated with relatively smaller channels, such as Investing Made Simple which saw average views increase from roughly 1k views per video to over 23k views. Finally, only 19% of the crypto channels analyzed saw a decrease in average viewership.

The Influence of YouTube Influencers: Are All YouTubers Created Equal?

Generally, the larger a channel’s subscriber base, the greater the average number of views of its videos.  However, the size of its following is not an indicator of audience’s cohesion as a group. It also does not suggest the groups likelihood to to take action and impact a coin’s price. However in some cases there was a loose correlation.                                

Figure 4

The left section of Figure 4 lays out the number of subscribers against average views per video for each of the 100 channels analyzed. The data used to compile the right section shows the number of subscribers compared to the average percent return on a coin mentioned in a video within 48 hours after it was broadcast. While there is a strong correlation between the number of subscribers and the number of views per video, just because a YouTuber has a high subscribers and views, it does not necessarily imply that their videos will precede market moves.

While the more subscribers a channel has typically suggests their videos will have more views, [2] [3] [4] [5] the data in the left section of Figure 4 also shows that due to wide differences in their numbers of subscribers, channels do not have a consistent impact on cryptoasset price. Additionally, noteworthy outliers to this rule are Luno, a crypto-YouTuber with a relatively high number of views per video (Number?) relative to their subscribers (19,100), and TheChartGuys, who have a relatively low number of views (Number?) relative to subscribers (166K subscribers). Luno also had a number of significantly popular videos which catered to crypto-beginners such as, “What are smart contracts?” and “What is blockchain,” while TheChartGuys, upload an average of three videos per day, which impacts the number of views per video.[6] [7] [8] [9] 

Finally, the data in the right section of Figure 4 suggests the number of subscribers is not directly correlated with an impact on price. The image shows the percent change in cryptoasset  price within 48 after specific YouTubers upload videos focused on the specific cryptoasset. While it’s challenging to infer causation or correlation through this analysis, it makes a suggestion about the channel’s knowledge of the market. This is the case with VoskCoin, (337,000 subscribers, average views XXX). When the channel focuses on a specific asset, it increases by an average of 11% in the following 48 hours. Upshod (71,000 subscribers, average views XXX) videos performed similarly, and beginning in January 2021 were amongst the highest viewed videos on DogeCoin.

The Influence of YouTube Influencers: Higher Views = Higher Market Cap

In Figure 5, the data shows that videos with the most views focused on specific cryptoassets, and views increased as the market cap of the cryptoassets were higher. This raises a key question: Do youtubers focus on cryptoassets with higher market cap or are the YouTubers overall helping to increase the value of the specific cryptoassets?

Generally the data in Figure 5 suggested that cryptoassets with higher market capitalizations tend to get the highest number of views on YouTube. However, there are some noteworthy outliers. Dogecoin (market cap roughly $26 billion as of July 12, 2021) which receives a number of views comparable to Bitcoin (roughly $600 billion as of July 12, 2021) despite having a lower market cap while videos focused on XRP (roughly $47 billion as of July 12, 2021) related videos maintain one of the lowest viewership levels. 

Figure 5

Figure 5. Market cap of different cryptocurrencies compared to the average number of video views when videos discussed specific cryptoassets. The correlation (rho = 0.73) is significant (p < 0.01).

The Influence of YouTube Influencers: The Role of Views and Sentiment

To further understand if YouTube activity played a role in increasing or decreasing cryptoasset price, or whether Youtube activity followed the markets (i.e., a leading or lagging indicator), the data in Figure 6 address looked at the number of YouTube views against the sentiment videos overtime and compared these metrics to price performance.  A selection of cryptoassets from across five categories (Meme, Payments, Infrastructure, Defi, Data Services, and Media) Sentiment was calculated by looking at titles, descriptions and comments of videos and assigned a score: 1 is positive sentiment and a score of 0 is negative sentiment.

Figure 6

Figure 6. Looking at price, YouTube views, and YouTube sentiment across six cryptoassets.

Bitcoin and Ethereum both show peaks in YouTube sentiment before they reach all-time-high prices. However, in both cases, the sentiment significantly decreased, as prices dropped. Which suggests that sentiment may be a leading indicator for price increases, but a lagging indicator for price drops. Additionally, positive videos created hype around the assets prior to an increase in price. Yet as the price dropped, the headlines and descriptions focused on the decline. Peaks in sentiment also occur when video views are at minimums in the number of views, and vice-versa, which may suggest that when there are few people discussing these cryptoassets, the YouTubers remaining loyal, positive informers, while when the market is crashing, many YouTubers perpetuate the negativity.

The patterns for altcoins (Aave, Litecoin, Cardano, and Dogecoin), were not as consistent as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

  • AAVE maintained consistent sentiment throughout most of this year, regardless of price, while its sentiment tends to follow price closely.
  • Litecoin showed small increases in viewership before experiencing significant growth however, sentiment also decreased during this period.
  • Cardano followed Ethereum, showing an increase in sentiment and decrease in views right before its price peaked in May.
  • Dogecoin sentiment constantly lags behind price. Data showed that peaked as with price movements, and declined significantly with the price.

To address whether YouTube activity is driving prices up, or whether Youtube activity is simply following the markets (i.e., leading or lagging), we looked at both the number of YouTube views and the sentiment of those videos over time and compared these metrics to price (Figure 6). Sentiment was calculated using natural language processing on the titles and descriptions of videos related to the assets – a score of 1 is positive sentiment and a score of 0 is negative sentiment.