YouTube held its annual Brandcast event last week as part of the Digital Content NewFronts, giving the online video industry an exclusive peek into what’s trending, and making big waves on the platform. There were a ton of product announcements, critical data, and quotable quotations to share, so after bringing you up to speed on what you may have missed at the fifth annual Brandcast in New York, I will examine the trends in the digital video marketing business and pose half a dozen questions that video marketers need to ask their company or their clients to gauge if they need to change their online video strategy.

YouTube 2016: New Statistics and Data 

A ton of research was released by YouTube last week. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • YouTube reaches more US 18-49 year-olds during prime time than the top 10 TV shows combined.
  • Brands that advertise on YouTube rather TV during prime time reach 56% more of this age group.
  • The number of hours spent watching YouTube on TV screens more than doubled YOY in Q4 2015
  • YouTube announced that the top rated YouTube Kids app has exceeded over 10 billion views in a year.
  • Among US teens, 8 of the top 10 most popular and influential celebrities are YouTube stars.
  • Over 800 additional YouTube creators surpassed one million subscribers.
  • 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers say their views of a brand or company have been influenced by a creator.

5 Trends in the Digital Video Marketing Business

The first Digital Content NewFronts was launched back in 2008 and the first YouTube Brandcast was held in 2012. And every year since then, the major players in digital content have pitched their programming to advertisers. Along with those pitches has come a dizzying amount of new research and critical data, including the newest facts and figures that were announced at the fifth annual YouTube Brandcast event.

So, now is a good time to look at the latest trends in the digital video marketing business and use them to finally change the highest paid person’s opinion (HiPPO), which was probably shaped during an earlier era that featured fewer bigger, longer moments manufactured by the media and marketing industries – moments like soap operas, the “Seinfeld” finale, and pivotal sports games. Now is the time to ask these executives who are intelligent, but may still be living in the past, half a dozen questions to gauge if “we” are still making the most out of “our” online video strategy. Hey, if you really told the highest paid person in the office what you think, you’d probably have to update your resume. So, simply ask the follow questions:

  • Are we reaching the mobile majority? When it comes to reaching our target audience, the smallest screen offers us the biggest opportunity.
  • Are we reaching our entire target audience? We could be missing a sizeable chunk of our audience if we’re only advertising on TV. We can fill the gap by pairing TV with online video. In fact, advertisers on primetime broadcast TV could have reached 56% more 18-49 year-olds by also advertising on YouTube.
  • How are we addressing online video viewability? For our brand to have impact, it needs be seen and heard. On YouTube, engaged audiences mean that 91% of impressions are viewable compared to an industry average of 54%.
  • What content holds our audience’s attention? YouTube creators have more influence than ever. This year alone, four fifths of the top 10 most influential American celebrities among US teens came out of the YouTube ecosystem.
  • Does our video strategy drive sales? A lot of advertisers see online video as a way to build awareness – and it certainly is. But online video also plays a critical role later in the purchase journey.
  • Are we ready for what’s next? People are spending more time than ever on YouTube, in part because of innovations like virtual reality, 360 video, and casting to TVs.

Now, I realize that you “get it.” That’s why you’re a regular reader of ReelSEO. But, I also realize that we’ve all been trying to change the HiPPO for years with only limited success. How limited? Well, eMarketer forecasts that U.S. ad spending for TV will be $70.6 billion in 2016, while spending on digital video will be $9.8 billion.

Video Marketing Strategic Insights

So, where do I think the world of online video is headed? Well, I could be optimistic and say we’re basically moving in the right direction. Or, I could be pessimistic and say nothing will fundamentally change until the highest paid person shaping your marketing and advertising strategy is a Millennial. But, I’d rather be opportunistic and say this is the perfect time to make the case for spending a higher percentage of the total marketing budget on video marketing. There are three key reasons to act now instead of waiting until next year:

Your Customers: Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. And Millennials are “Digital Natives” – the only generation that not only grew up with the internet, social media, online video, and mobile technology, but also lead the way by using these networks to keep up with their peers. Millennials are setting the trends and determining what’s going to be popular next, with an influence that accounts for $500 billion of spending a year in the US alone. So, waiting until next year to spend more ad dollars to reach them is like saying, “Let’s let this year’s sales decline because we established our marketing budget last fall and it’s such a hassle to make changes now.” 

Your competitors: Your brand may not compete directly with Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but don’t be surprised if several of your direct competitors have noticed that these brands are shifting millions of dollars out of TV and into YouTube. Will you be ready when one of your clients asks, “Should we be shifting money out of TV and into YouTube, too?”

Your company: I suspect that the vast majority of the highest paid people in your company are Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). As Digital Immigrants, they may be uncomfortable spending a higher percentage of the total marketing budget on video marketing. Hey, I’m a Baby Boomer, so I understand their discomfort. But, I’ll bet they still read newspapers, so show the article in The Wall Street Journal that’s entitled, “Interpublic to Shift $250 Million in TV Ad Spending to YouTube.” They’ll probably consider that a reputable source of information.

This may make these people who grew up watching TV feel more comfortable about spending a higher percentage of their total marketing budget on video marketing. Hey, The Wall Street Journal says other executives are doing it. And how risky is it to have your ad appear before a video featuring Big Bird? If this fails to change the highest paid person’s opinion of online video, then calculate how long it will be before they retire. It will be useful info to have as you decide whether to hang in there until then, or to start looking for a new place to work.

New YouTube Features for Advertisers

During the Brandcast, YouTube also announced four major product announcements that advertisers will want to know about. The first was Google Preferred Breakout Videos. In 2014, YouTube rolled out Google Preferred, a feature that offered advertisers the chance to buy space against premium content established creator channels. Now the site is expanding the offering to include ‘Breakout Videos’ which showcase some of the most popular content, and fastest-rising channels. The platform is also launching Programmatic Guaranteed for Google Preferred. Now, advertisers will also be able to programmatically buy ad space for Google Preferred via DoubleClick Bid Manager. This is great news for advertising teams as it means that all video campaigns can be managed from one dashboard.

In terms of promoting branded content YouTube and Google will help surface NBA video inventory for Google Preferred. This will offer brands access to the sports league’s loyal fan base. Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, confirmed that 60% of 700M YouTube views the NBA generated in 2015 came from viewers outside the US, and that the second largest market in terms of viewers is actually the Philippines. Silver also stated that Steph Curry, is the most popular athlete of any sport on YouTube, with a staggering 140M views on just the last 6 months alone. Fans are watching 30,000 hours of Steph Curry YouTube content every day! Moving on from sport, there’s a a new YouTube channel coming from the creators behind Sesame Street called Sesame Studios, which will feature YouTube superstars in an original programming push on YouTube Kids.

Big Bird and YouTuber Lilly Singh: YouTube Brandcast May 5, 2016

Big Bird and YouTuber Lilly Singh speak onstage during YouTube Brandcast May 5, 2016

The Brandcast also announced the biggest upfront deal so far for Google Preferred, with IPG’d ad buying arm, Magna Global, confirming it is shifting $250M worth of ad dollars away from traditional TV advertising and into YouTube.  This is a huge deal, as Magna buys ad space of behalf of some major players like Coca-Cola, John & Johnson, and Fiat Chrysler. If you are one of the top 5% of partner content that is watched by 18-34 year-olds then it’s time to celebrate.