How Brands Market Video on YouTube: Interview with Google’s Suzie Reider

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Suzie Reider is our keynote speaker at the Reel Summit taking place tomorrow.  She’s the Director of Media Solutions at Google, and we were lucky enough to get her to speak at our event.  We were also lucky enough to get her to answer some questions about YouTube just before the Summit, giving us a sense of how brands are using the site and what they need to keep in mind when focusing their marketing efforts on the platform.

ReelSEO Interview with Suzie Reider

ReelSEO: Are brands still slow to embrace storytelling as opposed to traditional advertising, or do most brands “get it” now?

Suzie Reider: At Google and YouTube we have something called The BrandLab. I recently talked with Kimsuzie reider Larson, the director of the BrandLab about some of the trends she’s seeing in her day-to-day. Her key trend for the first half of 2013 was that there’s a significant sense of urgency around following the accelerating user migration to digital. I found that to be hugely encouraging. I think people really get the importance of continuing to test emerging platforms and technologies. It’s now up to folks like us — and the rest of our friends across the digital landscape — to help brands figure out the most compelling way to tell an engaging, orchestrated, shareable story across digital platforms.

RSEO: What is the difference between a successful ad on TV and a successful ad on YouTube?

Reider: At YouTube we believe first in user choice. A significant portion of the ads that run on YouTube are skippable. For a successful ad on TV, you can use a story arc that builds interest and pays off at :29. Successful ads on YouTube are engaging in the first :05, because that’s when the option to skip comes alive.

We see a few themes emerging on YouTube. The first is utility. Creating content that people find useful. We talk a lot at YouTube about the platform being both delicious — funny, entertaining and engaging — and nutritious — interesting and informative.

The second is a focus on storytelling.  Our most prevalent ad format doesn’t have length restrictions, which means many of the most popular “ads” are those that last over a minute.  Having the creative freedom to tell a deeper story allows brands to really engage their audiences in more meaningful ways.  If you look at the monthly YouTube Ads Leaderboard, which highlights some of the most popular ads of the month, the majority of ads are over thirty seconds.

RSEO: What is the measure of success for an ad on YouTube?  Should brands look at views, engagement, sales, all of the above?

Reider: One of the key differentiators of YouTube, relative to other video platforms and TV, is its social nature. The YouTube community is incredibly active, which gives brands a clear viewpoint on whether their content is resonating. Sharing is one of the best indicators that audiences are responding to what they are doing. It also obviously extends the value of their paid media efforts.

You can also look at time spent, the same way you might look at it with content you’ve developed on your website. If you were an automaker you’d look at how much time people spent configuring cars on your website. You should be thinking about your YouTube content the same way. People watching your content on YouTube have raised their hands to say they want to learn more about what you do. What’s the cumulative amount of time people are spending learning about your brand?

YouTube is also a search engine – for video – so it’s also important to figure it into your overall search strategy. Have you searched your brand on YouTube lately? Do you like what you see? We also have this amazing tool called Google Trends that allows you to see what searches for your brands and your competitors brands look like on YouTube. I’d recommend every brand have a look at that too.

The challenge of what to measure is an ongoing one. We’re beginning to think about it across Google, and more specifically in an initiative we’re calling The Engagement Project. You can read more about it here. 

RSEO: What do marketers need to understand/embrace about YouTube to realize the value enough such that they begin to devote dedicated budgets to marketing and advertising with online video?

Reider: The YouTube audience is not only one of the largest global audiences in the world, at over 1 billion people, but it’s also one of the most valuable. According to Nielsen, if YouTube were a cable network, we’d be #1 for adults 18-34. But it’s more than just statistics that should move budgets to YouTube. It’s the nature of the audience. They are an incredibly engaged, passionate group that we call Gen C.

We find that they’re exhibiting four new behaviors that we haven’t really seen as marketers.

First, they’re creating. 2 in 3 members of Gen C upload their own photos, 1 in 3 upload their own videos.

Second, they’re curating. 76% share photos found online, 44% share videos found online.

Third, they’re connected. They eat, sleep and breath the Internet across devices, with 9 out of 10 sleeping next to their phones. 3 of 4 watch TV with another device on. They are multi-taskers, multi-screeners, cross-device enthusiasts. They own an average of 2.4 internet-connected devices and switch between devices/platforms 27 times per hour, 59% more than other generations. A recent survey found that a majority of this new generation would rather give up their sense of smell than give up one of their devices.

Finally, they’re focused on their community. 88% of Gen C has a social profile, with 65% updating it daily.

Estimates dictate that this audience influences more than $500B spending in the US. So if you’re reading this thinking that this isn’t your audience, you might want to think again. (For a more detailed look at who Generation C is check this out.)

RSEO: What is the single biggest opportunity, or perhaps the most often overlooked value proposition, that e-commerce, retailers, and other conversion-conscious brands have with YouTube?

Reider: We’ve heard from our partners across the spectrum that annotations, which are free, and the lower third overlays are really effective for driving conversions.

Have you ever watched a video where you loved what the person was wearing, but had no way of knowing what it was or where to buy it?  A number of retail brands like Juicy Couture and Bally have had success driving purchase from products shown within their videos using our annotations tools.  I think this is a great blend of brand and performance tactics in one.  Users get pulled in by the video and can immediately click on any of the clothing items worn in the film to purchase.

Another great opportunity for retailers is to respond to one of the top use-cases for YouTube.  Specifically, how-to videos are some of our most popular content.  Retailers like Home Depot and Best Buy have created brand channels that have hundreds of how-to videos that educate customers and drive sales as well as brand loyalty.  I think a lot of brands are just scratching the surface for what they can do on the platform to add value to their customers and drive conversions.

RSEO: What is your all-time favorite YouTube video?

Reider: I think the stuff that Kmart is doing lately is top notch. Their Digital CMO, Bill Kiss, was quoted in Fast Company espousing some thinking following the success of their Ship My Pants video that I’m a huge fan of. He said, “We’re very nimble and when we push something out there. We watch very carefully how America reacts to it. We were tallying sentiment, which was overwhelmingly positive… It’s a formula. You put things online, you get reaction, you get real-time feedback and data, and then you can make the decision on how big and bright you want to go with it.” And we can see that they found success with this strategy because they published a fast follow to this with Big Gas Savings. This content is funny, engaging and it communicates Kmart’s value proposition in a sticky way. That’s exactly what we’d love to see more of.

We’d like to thank Suzie for her time, and for her appearance as our keynote speaker tomorrow at the Reel Summit!


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