Google marked 10 years of YouTube at its second annual Brandcast event held in Sydney on Friday (11 September), where it rolled out a line-up of online talent and marketers to woo advertisers and demonstrate the power that YouTube has when it comes to connecting with audiences in Australia.
Google Australia MD Maile Carnegie claimed YouTube reaches more 18-54 year old Australians than any individual TV station and talked up the numbers behind YouTube's growth over the last year. It focused particularly on ‘watchtime’, which it says is 60% up year on year. It increased 28% in the 12 months prior to that. However, when asked by AdNews how long that watchtime was, industry lead Bart Jenniches would not disclose how much time is spent watching, only saying that across the board globally, people watch “hundreds and millions of hours”.
“Mobile watchtime is growing faster still,” claimed Carnegie, adding that YouTube reaches more Australians on mobile alone than the total subscription TV industry.
“We are seeing huge growth. It’s clear people are voting with eyeballs,” she said.
But beyond those eyeballs, another aspect that Google was keen to press upon its audience is that unlike TV’s passive audience, it is interactive in nature.
“It’s unique in that it’s interactive,” said Carnegie.
Google gave an update on Google Preferred – the top 5% of YouTube inventory over which it struck an exclusive deal with GroupM last year. It is currently in negotiations over how it sells that inventory when the GroupM deal expires in early 2016. (More on Google Preferred here.)
It also turned to its Brandlift measurement tool to demonstrate the results those advertisers are seeing from investing in advertising alongside YouTube’s premium content.
Brandlift, which allows advertisers to more easily compare with TV results for campaigns on Preferred inventory, increased 14%, according to Kerry Merryman, YouTube's VP of content partnerships. That increase swings in YouTube’s favour when it’s compared to the single digit increase most advertisers see from TV.
But what the numbers don’t show, Carnegie said, is the “influence that those YouTube creators have”. That is what FanFest was there to provide. For the first time, it combined the corporate Brandcast event with FanFest – a consumer event for fans of its online talent, which saw performances from Natalie Tran, Lilly Singh and Troye Sivan.
Merryman, who joined YouTube this year from Netflix, echoed Carnegie’s point on influence its creators have on audiences. “When you see the fans responding, you can feel the power of what it means to have a global reach of a billion people,” Merryman said.
As well as performing for fans, a number of YouTube stars addressed the corporate audience. Of those, Canadian comedienne Lilly Singh, who has a psychology degree and more than six million fans on YouTube, gave the most business-like presentation, demonstrating her business-savvy approach behind the screen. It was very much in contrast to her later FanFest performance, which had fans in their thousands screaming and singing along. Singh rapped a song about her excitement about being in Australia, including references to riding kangaroos and the lyrics "Tim Tams and kangaroos" as well as another “hit” with the fans whose lyrics included the 'words' "OMG, LOL", (no, really.)
Singh compared TV watching behaviour with YouTube and warned advertisers they risked losing relevance with an entire generation for whom YouTube is their number one choice of media.
“The Bachelor is something that I watch passively, whenever I have time, but content from my favourate YouTube creator is something I truly value, because I demand to watch it. I choose to search for it, consume it and engage with it. And that is the difference between passive and on-demand consumption. If you want to stay in the impressions game, good for you, I’m sure they’ll serve you well. But you risk losing relevance with a generation that see YouTube as their go-to destination. You can’t get [that audience] on TV; don’t just invest in impressions, invest in communities,” Singh said eloquently.
Darren Needham-Walker, head of marketing, printing and personal systems, HP South Pacific, was there to provide the advertiser perspective and outlined that despite being one of the top computing brands globally, it had a problem with millennials. That elusive demographic from late teens to early 30s were aware of the brand, but wouldn’t consider buying it.
“We were a dad brand,” he said. “But when we showed them our product they liked it, so the issue was perception.”
HP has since worked with YouTube and creators Troye Sivan, Tyde Levi and SketchShe, to create a series of videos and content that has turned that perception around and the firm has increased its investment in YouTube by 50% year on year.
“The more we lean out to creators, the deeper the engagement we have,” Needham-Walker said. “YouTube has enabled us to develop genuine relevance – it’s marketing gold."
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