October 22, 2015
The YouTube Generation
Fumbling around my desk, I had an interesting find. As an intern at Clark Creative Group, I occupy the hand-me-down desk, which has papers and folders from employees who have since moved on. The book I found was 2009 TV Facts: Essentials, Viewership, Marketing & Media Planning. I was 16 when this book was published, so I had some catch-up reading to do. Flipping through the pages, I came across a statistic that is almost impossible for someone my age to comprehend. In 2006, 54 percent of consumers did not own any screened devices other than a television. No smartphone, no laptop, no tablet. How is this possible? Today, even my 80-year-old grandmother regularly sends me Snapchats from her iPhone. Yet less than 10 years ago, more than half of consumers didn’t have a screen other than a TV.
I decided to look into more relevant statistics and found another shocker: The average 18- to 34-year-old watches hours of YouTube videos on a mobile device every week. Mobile devices that 54 percent of consumers didn’t even own in 2006.
The amount of time spent watching YouTube videos is staggering. YouTube has more than one billion users worldwide, and hundreds of millions of hours are watched every day. Half of these views are on mobile devices, where users spend an average of 40 minutes watching videos. This trend makes me wonder: How can advertisers most effectively capitalize on the growing presence of YouTube?
The biggest difference between TV ads and YouTube ads is the skip button. Viewers can actively choose whether to watch the YouTube ad or not, and can skip the ad with a single click after five seconds. This means that advertisers must make an impression and convince viewers not to skip their ad in less time than a Vine post.
Researchers at Google attempted to uncover what exactly makes viewers watch, rather than skip, a YouTube ad. In short, they discovered that there is no perfect formula for an unskippable ad. However, a few of their findings can be helpful to advertisers. They include:
• Unskipped ads tend to not be structured like traditional ads.
• Ads that are spontaneous and fun, rather than structured and storytelling, tend to be skipped less and watched for longer periods of time.
• Limiting sound in the first five seconds influenced viewers not to skip, possibly because these ads don’t have the feel of a typical commercial.
One of the biggest debates between advertisers when creating YouTube ads is whether to include the brand name and logo in the first five seconds. Ads that include the brand in the first five seconds are skipped more than those that do not, but have higher ad recall and brand awareness. Some argue that if the viewer is going to skip the ad anyway, you might as well show the brand in the short amount time you have. Others say that getting the viewer to watch the entire ad should be the goal, so you should focus on influencing them not to click the skip button. You can find a variety of ads using both techniques on YouTube any day of the week.
From my millennial perspective, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a time without YouTube. It’s the default place we go to for videos. The paradigm shift caused by smartphones and YouTube has forever changed advertising, but also gives brands new opportunities for exposure. Without mention of YouTube, the dated TV Facts book in my desk drawer is about as useful to me as a horse and buggy guide is to a Corvette owner. By using creativity along with data and research, advertisers can attempt to capture the attention of billions of YouTube users and reap the benefits.