YouTube kickstarts massive drive for a bigger share of advertisers' wallet

YouTube. Photo: Reuters
Sreenath, a young railway porter from Kerala always dreamt of a city paved with streets of gold and a life that meant something. His story that maps a phenomenal journey, from the railway station to the State Public Service examinations and to his present day life as a student administrator, was part of YouTube’s pitch to advertisers at its annual flagship event held in Mumbai on April 9. The diversity of its storytellers and the millions of viewers that they draw to the platform every month is what YouTube  wants marketers to bite into as it kick-started a massive drive for a bigger share of the advertisers’ wallet in the country.

As would be evident to anyone at the event, if stories could be used as currency, YouTube would be sitting on an inexhaustible treasure chest. The storytellers on its platform come from a wide range of locations and cut across all age groups, as do its viewers, that was the thrust of the message at the event. YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki announced that the platform has more than 265 million monthly active users in India (as per ComScore). She said, “India is now both our biggest audience and one of our fastest growing audiences in the world.”  YouTube says that today it has become the first stop for users to consume content, whether they’re looking for entertainment or information. And the creative flourish of its diverse band of creators drives personalised engagement on the platform.

Wojcicki said, “In the last one year, YouTube’s consumption on mobile has increased to 85 per cent, with 60 per cent of the watch time coming from outside of the six largest metros in India. Today, YouTube creators have become effective storytellers, with more than 1,200 Indian creators crossing the one million subscriber-milestone, just five years ago, there were only two creators with a million subscribers.”

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Advertisers have benefited from the explosion of content and also from a bouquet of tools that YouTube offers that helps create targeted advertisements and tracks the nature of viewership as well as the numbers. Mark Patterson, CEO, GroupM Asia Pacific said, “User behavior has shifted massively to mobile video and therein lies the opportunity for marketers today.”  GroupM is the largest buyer of YouTube in this market, he said.

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For a long time the platform has battled advertiser outrage over its approach towards ad placement. This  led the Google-owned platform to overhaul its approach and offer marketers a sharper set of tools to craft better narratives and manage them more efficiently. 

To keep advertisers interested and coming back for more, the team at YouTube used the numbers at its disposal to identify what works best with audiences. Ben Jones, global head-Unskippable Labs, Google, said, “Over 70 per cent of a campaign’s success is influenced by creative. At Google, we have been working over the years to enable the advertising ecosystem to make more engaging brand messages.” He added that the problem is not of shrinking attention spans but that of higher intolerance towards unwanted content. 

Advertisers, the team at Google and YouTube was keen to emphasise, err when they assume that the young today are looking for short forms of content. People are willing to consume long form content as long as the storytelling grips their attention.

Noticeably, the BrandCast this year spoke less about the creators themselves and more about the advertisers, advertising and reach. Globally, YouTube has faced criticism from their organically grown creators due to their increasing focus on conventional entertainers and celebrities. Note that, Facebook as a brand has lately been shifting their narrative to a more creator centric approach as they push their video content and related advertising tools.

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