Raise your hand if you watched at least one cooking tutorial on YouTube during lockdown. Raise your other hand if you tried recreating a dish from one of your favorite restaurants. If you’re like me, you’d have both hands raised (you can lower them now).
The global pandemic accelerated the push to all things digital as homebound consumers were forced to rely on digital channels to navigate their lives. With more time on their hands, people turned to YouTube for everything from DIY projects to home workout routines to finally perfecting that ever-elusive sourdough starter. YouTube was so prevalent during lockdown that it captured the greatest share of growth across social media platforms in the U.S. How have digital marketing teams adjusted their advertising efforts in response?
Brands Double Down on YouTube Video Ad Impressions
According to Gartner’s 2021 Digital Advertising Benchmarks, brands across industries substantially increased YouTube video ad impressions between 2Q20-1Q21. Alphabet reported that YouTube raked in over $6 billion in advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2021, setting it on track to eclipse Netflix in revenue by year’s end.
With many consumers’ digital viewing habits likely to sustain post-pandemic, and as more advertisers flock to walled gardens amidst growing data privacy concerns, YouTube will remain a dominant force for marketing teams looking to reach target audiences at scale.
Create Effective Video Ads
So what can you do to tap YouTube’s growing influence in consumers’ lives? Here are a couple ways brands can make strategic use of video advertisements on the world’s largest online video platform:
Serve a Defined Purpose
Video ads work best when they serve a defined purpose and audience. While the intention of any ad may be to sway consumers to choose one brand’s products and services over another, video ads typically accomplish this goal using one of three core messaging strategies:
- Brand Story. These ads focus more on the brand than the product. Their main purpose is to convey your brand’s story, its personality, values, promise to customers and to demonstrate why it’s better than competing brands. Ford tells a compelling brand story through its Bronco Wild Fund video ad, highlighting Ford’s commitment to environmental preservation.
- Product / Service Demonstration. These ads focus more on the offering than the brand. Their main purpose is to articulate the unique differentiators of the offering and how it uniquely fulfills a customer need or desire better than competing products or services. They may also feature product discounts or storewide sales. Check out Capital One’s video ad set in a video game world, which features the benefits of its Eno assistant and how it works on a mobile device.
- Testimonial. These ads focus on conveying social proof by showcasing actual customers speaking highly of the brand or its offering. They can also feature expert endorsements, online product reviews or industry accolades. A classic example of a testimonial video ad is PepsiCo’s famous Pepsi Challenge TV commercial.
Consumers value authenticity in their lives (see Gartner’s interactive Consumer Values Tracker). Creating video ads that may be less-than-perfect and more genuine—such as by featuring your own employees or by leveraging user-generated content—can make ads resonate with consumers while keeping production costs in check. You can even consider shooting your ad using smartphone or webcam technology rather than using expensive cameras or film crews.
USAA did this with a simple, highly authentic, low production video ad that leveraged video conferencing technology. The slightly pixelated 15-second video ad featured its own homebound employees to convey a message of trust and financial stability during the height of the pandemic.
Want to dig deeper into creating resonant and effective video advertisements? Gartner clients can access the following set of research as they continue to set their video ad strategy wheels in motion:
- Create Video Content That Connects With Customers
- Streaming TV Advertising Opportunities
- How to Put Streaming TV Advertising to Work
- Capitalizing on Consumers’ Shifting Media Needs and Consumption Patterns in a “Post-COVID” Culture
- How to Plan for Integrated Video Advertising
- The Gartner Media Strategy Playbook for Marketers