Why I’ve changed how I talk to clients about YouTube

Alpha Digital senior account manager Ruth De Luchi
By Alpha Digital senior account manager Ruth De Luchi | 13 January 2021
Ruth De Luchi

YouTube is the most popular social network for Gen Z and is becoming a primary source of information and entertainment for the next generation too. This trend was already evident before Covid-19 and the events of 2020 have seen a further shift in consumption habits and advertising dollars. In the US, where the CTV market is showing significant growth, ad revenues are expected to grow by 26.8 per cent in 2021.

The big screen awaits
The rising number of connected devices is increasing the amount of video we watch, as well as where we watch it. More than 7 million Aussies now watch YouTube on a connected TV (CTV) making it easier to consume content from their living rooms and Google has capitalised on the 65% YOY growth rate by launching Google Preferred earlier this year.

Google Preferred gives advertisers access to Google owned data, as well as features on premium channels and videos across YouTube so they can meet viewers right where they are consuming their content.

People aren’t just watching online videos in short bursts either. The volume of watch time of YouTube content on TV screens which is greater than 30 minutes has increased more than 90 per cent in a 12-month period in the US.

Due to social distancing restrictions, online video has become the new way to watch live events and sport, and is also a popular way of consuming self-care related content. Between mid-March and late May, there was a 215 per cent increase globally in average daily YouTube uploads with ‘self-care’ in the title, compared to the first two months of the year.

Watch time of videos related to well-being, including yoga, fitness, and meditation also increased more than 180% from July 2019 to July 2020. Now as the New Year approaches, it’s the perfect opportunity for advertisers to tap into the ‘New Year, New Me’ mindset and reach new audiences who are seeking out self-improvement inspiration and resources online.

Due to the evolving consumption habits and ad formats available on YouTube, the way I discuss video with my clients has also changed. Online video now presents benefits beyond brand awareness alone, and many of my clients are starting to see the value in a full-funnel, always on YouTube strategy.

Meeting creative expectations
When you are featured on the biggest screen in the house, you’re grouped consciously or otherwise with TVCs and the expectations around the quality of your ad creative are heightened.

The creative stakes have raised and so has the best way to deliver impact. The move away from traditional storytelling approach has been evolving for a few years, with a front-loaded format being favoured over the lead in and build before the big reveal. The emerging digital story arc appeals to shorter attention spans by leading with a hook or something of utility to the viewer.

Attention needs to be drawn from the start with brand messaging seamlessly integrated to maximise recall. Emotion and good storytelling will drive connection with the viewer, who will then be far more receptive to the brand’s call to action.

Using video to drive action
Online video is a powerful medium for brand building because it can reach a wide audience with compelling storytelling. But new campaign objectives and ad formats are also enabling it to drive ROI-targeted conversions.

Advertisers can adopt a true full-funnel approach. Whether the goal is to maximise reach and increase awareness, build consideration and interest, or drive online action and sales, there are a range of formats, audiences, and bidding strategies available. TrueView for Shopping has also improved the outcomes for eCommerce by incorporating product feeds.

But, the results are only as good as the targeting information you feed into Google. Using strong customer lists and data is just as important as ensuring that your tracking is set up correctly so that your campaigns can optimise efficiently.

Greater options = better testing
After recognising the importance of brand awareness and recall in times of hardship, the second half of this year has seen marketers shift their focus further up in the funnel and start investing in online video. Going forward, I believe that brands that have experienced a successful trial of online video platforms will continue to invest, but start to experiment with lower funnel approaches.

Brands that run integrated YouTube campaigns that are set up to target different stages of the customer journey are able to create emotional connections and build recall to move their audience towards higher levels of intent. Feeding the platform as many creative variations as possible also allows machine learning to present the most engaging option to each individual user, so I predict that split testing of creative and calls to action will continue.

For those who are yet to trial YouTube, Discovery Ads are Google’s newest campaign format, serving static imagery (single image or carousel) across YouTube, Gmail and the Discover Feed. Discovery Ads can run alongside Google campaigns to expand reach and can be used for a variety of outcomes, from prospecting to a broad audience to remarketing. They are a great solution for brands who are light on video assets and want to trial the platform and its audience before making a significant investment.