'Attentive reach' is the new currency for advertisers- YouTube

By Shweta Mulki , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | March 27, 2017
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At its annual Brandcast, the platform addresses, among other things, digital's 'foundational problem' when it comes to viewability.

If there is one platform where there is ground evidence that the youth today is devoted to digital, the massively-mounted YouTube Fanfest would be it. Fans of YouTube stars get to see the latter performing live in an extravagant rock-performance kind of setup. YouTube has just had its fourth annual Fanfest in India, and it is on this day that it also hosts the YouTube Brandcast. The session, which the company claims was attended by over 800 marketers, advertisers and creators this year, is mainly about current digital audience insight, and how the platform can deliver, for brands.

YouTube logo

Rajan Anandan, vice president-India and South East Asia, YouTube, kick-started this year's Brandcast by citing some key data on digital. Commenting that India now had over 300 million connected smartphones users, he made note of how the disruptive Jio-led changes in the telecom industry in the past 6-8 months, had accelerated YouTube consumption. Anandan added that the platform now has 180 million users in India, and went on to list additional audience data (as per measurement tool App Annie-shown in chart below).

Rajan Anandan

Also referring to the recent global news about ads appearing alongside offensive content on the platform (for which YouTube made an official apology). Anandan stressed that brand safety was critical for the platform. "We have very strict policies that define where Google ads should appear. In a vast majority of cases, our tools work as intended, but we acknowledge that things might not have worked sometimes," he admitted, adding that they have announced major changes vis-a-vis ad policy, brand safety controls, and improving transparency.

Explaining that 'attentive reach' has become the new currency for advertisers, Sapna Chadha, head of marketing, Google India and South-East Asia said, "Capturing attention has never been harder for advertisers. In a survey using eye-tracking technology we discovered that the first ad in a TV ad break is watched actively by 50% of people while the last one is watched actively by only 13% of viewers - these gaps are YouTube's opportunities for their marketers."

Chadha urged media professionals to change how they buy and plan media for attentive reach. She also shared that over the years, YouTube has 'captured audience attention by delivering 95% audibility and 93% viewability', adding that users who watched ads for more than 3 seconds have higher brand recall.

Speaking about attention from the users' point of view Chadha said that - bumper, snack and long form ads- each can cater to specific needs. Here she cited Eno's success with their bumper (6 secs) ads during the festive season, and Samsung's long form (over 30 secs) 'brand ad' on their service centre - adding that the latter became the most watched ad in the history of Youtube India.

Jonah Goodhart

Noting that digital had foundational problems when it comes to viewability - versus other mediums - Jonah Goodhart, CEO of digital measurement firm Moat (also the first company to independently measure viewability on YouTube) said, "Because consumption patterns are changing, 'attention' is the key'. More than half of the watched ads on digital's paid-for ads on desktop are not viewable," and added that Youtube ads however had high viewability vis-a-vis Moat's benchmarks. Goodhart said that his firm had collected around 50 different metrics around 'attention', as it is the next mega-trend in the industry.

Popular YouTube creator Kurt Hugo Schneider (has over 8 million subscribers) who has worked with over 40 global brands emphasised on 'concept integration and not product integration' as key to making a brand video authentic, and earning attention. He said that instead of the usual 'handholding' - where the creator only holds up the product, it was more effective to make the product indispensable to the video. He illustrated this with interesting videos he had made for telecom company Sprint - Coca Cola and for chocolate brand M&M'SS - where he supposedly used 50000 M&M'S candies in the video.

Sanjeev Handa, VP and head of marketing, Maruti Suzuki commented that YouTube is effective in reaching out to the right audience. "In the launch of the Ignis which was done simultaneously through the physical as well as digital medium, the results were astounding. On YouTube, the launch was viewed over 10 million times, and 20% pre-launch bookings came from digital in the first 10 days," he explained.

Sandeep Kohli, vice president and executive director, personal care - HUL, spoke about how YouTube videos have a higher impact in terms of brand awareness and imagery, also adding that quick DIY and 'how-to' videos could supplement brand communication, especially in the beauty segment.

Also taking the stage was Shobu Yarlagadda, CEO of Arka Media Works (producers of Telugu mega-hit Bahubali), who revealed that putting out fun 'making of the movie videos' prolifically, helped the makers create and sustain a buzz about it.

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