Five Ways Brands are Adapting to Shifts in Video Viewership to Drive Results

By YouTube InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Five Ways Brands are Adapting to Shifts in Video Viewership to Drive Results

Last year marked an inflection point for video viewership. More than ever, people relied on streaming platforms as their primary way to watch video. While we may be eager to put much of 2020 in the rear-view mirror, some trends are here to stay, and there's plenty we can learn from brands who transformed their approach to video in response to shifts in viewership. Here are the five ways advertisers are adapting to drive results.

1. Reach consumers where they are: Streaming

People are watching record amounts of digital video. According to a Google-commissioned Nielsen study, YouTube reached more adults ages 18-49 in the U.S. than all linear TV networks combined in March 2020. [1]  And the screen where viewership is growing the fastest? The TV screen. That same month, watch time of YouTube and YouTube TV on TV screens jumped 80% year over year. [2]

Forward-looking brands are making the most of reaching these engaged audiences on the big screen. When live sports came back in the U.S. last summer, Sonos invested in YouTube TV to reach sports fans during the live games and connect when people were watching supplemental content on YouTube. The campaign helped Sonos achieve double-digit revenue growth for the quarter overall (+16%) and saw a 67% increase in direct-to-consumer revenue year over year.

2. Embrace the move to e-commerce

In response to dramatic changes to shopping behavior, brands have made quick pivots to e-commerce to reach and engage potential customers across the purchase journey. And around the world, online video is proving to be a powerful performance driver. New research shows that 70% of viewers in the U.S. say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube. [3]  More and more advertisers are seeing results from videos with action-oriented formats, collectively driving nearly 1 billion conversions in a year. [4]

When confronted with closing stores, L'Oréal USA's brand Kiehl's repurposed existing video creative, coupled it with timely messaging, and ran a TrueView for action campaign, hitting conversion goals and delivering a campaign average that was 4x more efficient than other tactics.

3. Combine creative fundamentals with innovative formats

In the early days of the pandemic, brands had a lot of questions about how to build the most relevant, effective creative for this unprecedented time. What we learned: Business-as-usual ads that focused on the core fundamentals, like YouTube's ABCD creative guidelines, performed best.

While brands didn't necessarily have to make coronavirus ads to drive results, most recognized the need for agility and adapted creative to be relevant to people's needs and mindsets. Whether by sequencing stories based on engagement, personalizing at scale with Director Mix, or experimenting with helpful creative that responds to intent, brands that drove impact used innovative creative approaches and relevant ad formats to respond and get closer to customers.

4. Double down on brand building

Too often, longer term brand-building investments are cut first during a crisis, even when they're critical to business growth. In a Google-commissioned study by Nielsen and YouGov analyzing sales and brand lift data across 20 CPG brands, we found that advertising yielded an 84% greater ROI when accounting for the long-term impact of brand lift metrics on sales. [5]  In other words, for every dollar of short-term return on ad spend, changes in brand equity yield an additional $0.84. On YouTube, brand building is particularly effective, with lift metrics 2.1x higher on average compared to linear TV.

5. Evolve your measurement to drive results

Whether your objective is short-term sales or brand building, measurement has never been more critical. One size does not fit all, especially in a year of change and uncertainty that has impacted every market differently. But marketers are getting better at evaluating what's working and quicker at optimizing on the fly. Maintaining a healthy appetite for test-and-learn experiments is key.

PepsiCo embraced a new global approach to measurement, reinventing how they use marketing mix modeling (MMM), and doing more with Nielsen Total Ads Ratings studies to get a clearer view of video results and identify media buy inefficiencies.


[1] Google-commissioned Custom Nielsen study, U.S., Desktop, mobile and TV fusion, TV measurement of total TV, reach among persons 18-49 (Live + 7, one minute qualifier), television only, results among U.S. TV households, March 1, 2020-March 31, 2020.

[2] YouTube Internal Data, U.S., March 2020 vs. March 2019.

[3] Google/Talkshoppe, U.S,"whyVideo study," A18-64 genpop video users, 2020.

[4] Google Data, Global, total conversions reported for TrueView for action campaigns, May 2019–April 2020.

[5] Google-commissioned Nielsen/YouGov study, U.S., Long-term effects model meta-analysis, brand lift metrics defined as: ad awareness, consideration, purchase intent, and willingness to recommend, base data from MMM studies selected and compiled by Nielsen across 20 CPG brands that contained media channels YouTube, Google Display Network, Google Search, TV, radio, and print results, 2016–2019.

Disclaimer: A version of this article appeared on Think with Google.

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