Jeffrey Hayzlett

By Jeffrey Hayzlett

How Marketing and Advertising Have Become Ripe for Disruption

How Marketing and Advertising Have Become Ripe for Disruption 150 150 jeffreyhayzlett

With more than half of U.S. consumers, or 55 percent, subscribing to paid streaming video services, the way we consume content has changed considerably.


COVID became an accelerant for streaming content – whether it’s Netflix, watching a Twitch stream, and clicking through YouTube. 


How popular is YouTube?  


It is the 2nd most popular website in the U.S., behind its parent company Google. It has an estimated 2 billion monthly active users who watch 500 million hours of video every day. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more adults (18-35 year olds) than any traditional cable network. Needless to say, it’s become a go-to for marketers of all sizes.  


Every business is ripe for disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic, including marketing. 

YouTube has also become an even hotter property during the pandemic.  


“The move from a more traditional TV environment to streaming clearly exploded in COVID,” Tara Walpert Levy, Vice President, Agency and Brand Solutions for YouTube and Google, said during a recent C-Suite Network Digital Discussion. “We saw five times the viewership of YouTube during (the early days of COVID) than we had prior and literally 100 million people watching YouTube on their TV screens.” 


To put that in perspective, about 100 million people watch the Super Bowl every year.   


But advertising on YouTube isn’t like buying a spot on the Super Bowl. YouTube ads may not be memorable, but they are able to make a connection with savvy viewers.  


“I think what it has led to is, for the most part, more personalized content that you still might call an ad as you traditionally define it, but we’re seeing those ads perform way better and clients getting much more sophisticated,” Tara said.  


Through the YouTube way of doing business, marketers can look at analytics to see how well an ad has performed. They can also track engagement, knowing when viewers are hitting the “skip ad” button and adjust their campaigns accordingly. 


“It is mostly about making content simply better and making sure that it is put in the environments where consumers are engaging,” Tara said.  

If it’s good content, it will stand out. The trouble is making memorable content, whether it’s an ad or a blog post and Tara pointed out that people might be surprised to what attracts the most views on YouTube. 


“Typically, every year, three or four of the top 10 most-watched, most engaged, most loved videos on YouTube are from brands,” Tara said. “Consumers don’t care. If you are really good (at creating content), I think you can have a huge impact.”  


You hear a lot about keeping content short because of people’s attention span. While short content ingestion might be right for some, I think viewers want engaging content, regardless of length. Ask yourself, why do so many people binge-watch entire seasons of their favorite new shows? 


Despite that, it can be challenging for brands to get their message out in the digital environment.  


“I think digital allows for a degree of performance-based advertising, meaning you can literally say, ‘I’d like to generate excellent leads at this cost.’ Even better yet, you know what your customer lifetime value is, you know what your target profit is,” Tara said. 


Brand managers find that moving parts of their marketing budgets from traditional media to digital platforms find the flexibility digital provides appealing. 


“What that does is two-fold. One, it typically maximizes growth for a brand well beyond what they do in traditional advertising because it gives you faster info to optimize against,” Tara said. “Even more importantly, in this environment, it lets you manage variability. When you think about the (COVID-19) crisis that hit, when you think about recovery, what we saw across the board was that brands that leaned into automation, which by definition is happening in the digital world. Those brands did better because the machines could more rapidly keep up with the rapid swings in consumer demand and interest with the ability to personalize.”  


According to Tara, marketers being nimble with their campaigns and content have created a lot of opportunities, helping some companies retain their loyal customers and attract new ones. 


“I love to be able to break down, in this moment, new customer acquisition and their behavior and existing customer retention and their behavior,” Tara Said. “We’re seeing a lot of businesses that are getting many more new customer segments than they ever have before.” 


Tara says this is where the data matters for marketers. Through most digital platforms, you can track brand performance in real-time. 


“(Businesses) don’t have the time right now to do a lot of the more traditional modes of research, but they are able to get rich data that behavior without having much or qualitative hypothetical around it, they’ve got real-world info,” Tara said. 


Even armed with technology, not every campaign is a home run. Tara reiterated that YouTube is transparent with its partners, helping them manage expectations and marketing budgets. 


“With a fundamentally new strategy, it’s going to take a couple of weeks to look at really knowing for sure what’s happening,” Tara said. “One of the things you get to see is when you have on average tens of thousands of an ad, you can see immediately which ones are working better for which audiences. Then you can simply adjust the mix to do more of that.” 


Digital platforms allow you to easily change what ad runs at what time of day, the specific audience, and other factors, according to Tara. Moving to digital is a total mindset change for marketers who are used to buying mass media and hoping to reach the right audience. 


“The mental shift of having the guardrail be ‘my marketing budget is X, and I’m not going to spend more than that,’ the guardrail instead is ‘I will not pay for an ad that does not deliver against this target return on ad spend,” Tara said. “That tends to give us and our clients together a lot more room to freely optimize, to freely find the most growth without stressing that there’s going to be an uncomfortable CFO.” 


I’d like to thank Tara for her insight and expertise into a way of doing business many of us don’t know much about, but we all need to learn more. 


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