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Olivia Kissper creates videos that make you shiver. She speaks in whispers, taps her nails on various objects, wrinkles paper bags and even eats in front of the camera. Seeing them is strange and, sometimes, even a bit sinister.
However, they are extraordinarily successful . The videos he has published in the last five years regularly attract more than a million views on his YouTube channel, which has more than 294,000 subscribers.
Those who see them expect to experience a pleasant sensation known as Autonomous Meridian Sensorial Response, or ASMR , which is that tingling sensation that can form on the scalp and move to the body in response to certain stimuli.
Kissper is one more in a growing community of filmmakers who are creating content for people who crave this feeling.
These videos are slow, hypnotic and usually last between 25 minutes and an hour. They show a person performing a series of tasks ranging from caressing objects to brushing their hair , with the aim of producing what many call a “brain massage” or a “shudder” that causes an intense sense of calm.
To capture the sounds that produce these actions, they use a high-quality recording equipment that also creates a sensation in three dimensions.
Ten years ago, whispering before a camera was not exactly a professional achievement, however, this style of videos has not only now become a social phenomenon , but also a way to earn money.
What began as a niche content is on its way to becoming a big business, now that brands and the marketing industry are trying to take advantage of this new trend.
For a content producer like Kissper, who works from Costa Rica, this evolution is not surprising.
“I think it’s inevitable,” he says. “It’s another platform to promote things, if you look at some of the ASMR channels, you’ll see that they are huge, so of course the big companies will want to take advantage of it.”
If you’re looking for ASMR on YouTube, you’ll get more than 12.7 million results.
Some of the most popular videos have been seen more than 20 million times. With these figures, content creators can generate millions of dollars of ads that YouTube places at the beginning of the videos.
But to take advantage of the loyal community that has been formed around ASMR videos, many brands are looking for more than posting their ads there. They want to join this trend.
The experiments of brands
Last year, I KEA launched a series of advertisements called “Oddly IKEA” (rare IKEA), for which it developed six ASMR-style videos.
The video presented a series of pleasing objects to the touch that students might need to decorate their room, while a narrator slowly described the merits of each product.
They squeezed pillows, caressed sheets, while a voice explained the number of threads and fibers of which the sheet in question was composed.
Then the voice provided detailed information on the price, the colors available and where these products could be obtained.
“Because brands had not previously explored this type of content, we did not know what to expect,” says Kerri Homsher, media specialist at IKEA in the United States.
“But we wanted to make sure we created the most authentic videos possible to attract the ASMR community.”
The strategy gave very good results, according to Homsher. The video went viral and, to date, has 1.8 million visits. IKEA says it posted a 4.5% increase in sales at the store, and 5.1% in online sales during the advertising campaign.
“As this genre is a bit of a niche, many people were a bit confused by the content,” adds Della Mathew, creative director of the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather in New York, who collaborated with IKEA in the creation of the videos.
“But the ASMR community came to the rescue and discovered a natural community of defenders that explained the genre to the rest of the people.”
ASMR with celebrities
With the accelerated growth of ASMR searches on YouTube – interest in ASMR doubled between June 2016 and June 2018, according to Google Data – other brands are becoming interested.
Dove Chocolate, KFC and the Norrland Swedish beer Guld Ljus are some of them.
In 2016, the fashion magazine W began publishing a series of ASMR videos with the participation of famous people (Gal Gadot, Emily Ratajkowski and Aubrey Plaza).
The brands are also looking for ASMR creators who have followers . Lily Whispers made her first ASMR video five years ago, when she was 19, and was one of the pioneers in this format. In addition to working in digital marketing, Whispers produces two or three videos per week, in which it sometimes promotes a brand.
She sees her role as that of an older sister, especially since 80% of her followers are between 14 and 17 years old.
But he is clear about the limitations of his relationship with the audience.
“I think ASMR videos can give comfort and act as a refuge, but I am a strong advocate of conversation and human connection therapies, and I often urge my audience to seek help beyond watching videos on YouTube,” he says. .
However, many brands are interested in sponsoring personalities such as Whispers to promote their products. And they are willing to pay.
Depending on video views and the level of influence, brands can expect to pay between US $ 1,000 and US $ 3,000 per campaign, according to Savannah Newton, talent manager at the Ritual Network agency.
Method to fight insomnia
According to Google data, searches for ASMR videos tend to increase at 10.30 PM, regardless of the time zone.
For Ben Nicholls, a young 20-year-old British man who creates videos for a mostly male audience, this is because people use this content to try to sleep.
Nicholls believes that ASMR videos represent “the fastest growing genre to relax on the internet that helps millions of people sleep at night, fighting anxiety and insomnia.”
To date, there has not been much scientific research on ASMRs.
“In fact, there is no scientific evidence to show that these videos produce a consistent and reliable neurological response,” says Tony Ro, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
But he concedes that “it can help some people sleep better or reduce their anxiety and depression.”
But those who manage to produce this effect with a camera and a microphone believe that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that these videos produce a pleasant effect.
“I think people are hungry to feel intimate and personalized attention, eye contact, and to hear a human voice that calms them,” says Olivia Kissper.
And she adds, smiling, that the ability to produce that tingling in other people is something like a superpower.
And, today, that superpower seems to be highly valued.