In April 2005, the world's first ever YouTube video - an 18-seconder titled 'Me at the zoo' was uploaded by the site's co-founder Jawed Karim. Within 18 months, YouTube was bought by Google - becoming one of the tech world's great stories and three years later, in 2008 - it launched in India- which makes this its tenth year here.
The milestone was celebrated in Mumbai at the YouTube Brandcast - the platform's big annual showcase for media executives and advertisers, aimed at getting more brands to spend more on online video and less on TV. This was followed by the YouTube Fanfest where it trots out its most popular content creators at one big party.
India, YouTube's fastest growing market, is now almost at 225 million monthly active users on mobile alone. By 2020, the number of unique users consuming online video her will reach 500 million (FICCI-EY Report 2018).
"India has become a video-first internet country," said Rajan Anandan, VP - South East Asia and India, Google. He added that as per ComScore's Video Metrix Multi-Platform (December 2017) YouTube reaches 85 per cent of all highly engaged internet users (18 years+) across India.
If there has been any pressure of competing with Facebook and the likes for ad dollars, YouTube isn't showing it.
"YouTube has (ad) viewability of 95 per cent," Anandan asserted, also mentioning brands using YouTube tools to drive business - "Marico's brand, Livon, saw an 18 per cent lift in offtakes and 65 per cent lift in modern trade and e-commerce. Uber used YouTube's 'Director Mix' to focus on building itself as a habit for Indian consumers - a campaign that delivered 63 per cent more first rides at 18 per cent lower cost per trip," he noted, before declaring that 'YouTube was just getting started'. He also observed that today, 90 per cent of time spent on digital video in India is in local non-English languages.
Globally, YouTube is making efforts to regain advertiser trust by making what it called 'tough but necessary' changes in its monetisation, partnership rules for creators and the monitoring of content. Rajan assured brands that the company has taken steps to ensure that videos are appropriate for users and brands by deploying machine learning systems and new controls. "In the last 12 months Google blocked 3, 20,000 publishers from our display network, along with 90,000 websites and 7, 00,000 mobile acts, for violating our content policy," he revealed.
Also present at the event was Robert Kyncl, chief business officer, YouTube, who said that the company is seeing incredible momentum in India with daily active users doubling over the last 12 months. He noted that from 16 channels in 2014, YouTube had grown to more than 300 channels. "We are doubling our efforts on advertising and product to unlock the potential of online video advertising for everyone," he asserted.
Kyncl added that creators crossing the one million views mark are from all across the country, with almost 60 per cent of watch time being clocked in from outside of the six metros. So, in this 'age of new video' the advertiser's ability to reach the right consumer, with the right ad, at the right time, is really in the fore.
Kyncl spoke about tools helping brands get more from YouTube. "Be it bumper ads or Trueview for action or Offline to online - where you can track the impact of campaigns in your physical stores or tools like Director Mix (takes a video's assets and creates thousands of versions to align with the audience being targeted) and Video Ads Sequencing (Instead of users seeing the same creative multiple times, YouTube helps create a 'video funnel' that moves users along a planned sequence of videos), we are constantly adding newer ways to it," he explained.
Prasun Basu, president - South Asia at The Nielsen Company, looked at data in the period that Jio launched in August 2016 versus January 2018, (when its payment plans were higher) YouTube reach had still increased and it had grown 1.8 times versus the 1.4 times industry average in that period, with increasing engagement too.
Sapna Chadha, director-marketing, South East Asia and India, Google, began by hooking the audience to the Spanish song 'Despacito' whose video - at 4 billion views - has become the most watched YouTube video ever. Chadha attributed YouTube's influence in shaping culture to its engaged audience. She also revealed that the company is looking at 'the power of intent' as a key signal to enhance advertising solutions. "From millennials to parents and working professionals, they all go to YouTube with a strong intent to learn and explore something new," she added.
Also taking the stage was brand marketing heads like Shalini Raghavan of L'Oreal, Sujit Ganguli of ICICI Bank, and Suparna Mitra of Titan. They testified how YouTube's advertiser offerings had helped increase their throughput from digital at a much lower cost.
Rajan Anandan made a final note applauding content creators like ChuChu TV, Yashraj Films, Eros Now, Sony Music, Zee TV, and Zee Music Marathi for having crossed the 10 million subscriber milestone in the last 12 months.
Some highlights of YouTube-related insights, basis a study (3230 respondents in 8 cities) by Ipsos Video Landscape research, India, Jan 2018, IN NCCS A-B audiences:
• 65 per cent online video viewers subscribe to channels on YouTube and 85 per cent of them watch a new video within 2 days of its uploading
• 7 out of 10 online video viewers choose to watch ads with both sound and video on
• 71 per cent of Online Video Viewers go first to YouTube to watch videos to learn something
• 7 out of 10 people relate to YouTubers more than traditional celebrities.