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YouTube Viewing Shifts May Be Opportunity for Brands

What’s happening? 

With COVID-19 driving millions of people indoors to wait out shelter-in-place orders, we’re continuing to see enormous shifts in media consumption habits. In addition to increased viewership for regular TV and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, the March 2020 Strike Social Study also shows total watch time of YouTube videos increased tenfold in the U.S. 

What does this mean? 

With such a dramatic increase, it appears that not only are people watching more YouTube videos for longer periods, but more new users are tuning in. And how they’re watching is also changing, with connected TVs now accounting for 30 to 40 percent of all views for what has historically been a predominantly mobile platform. 

Also worth noting is the type of content driving viewership during this period of isolation for so many people. Remember, YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, behind only Google for keyword-driven content. That explains why YouTube says viewership of videos especially suited to the current situation – like those with the phrase “at home” or “#withme” in the title – surged more than 500 percent, according to NBC News

What should marketers be doing? 

With some brands pulling back their YouTube ad spending, available inventories are now at bargain prices. Cost per thousand impressions across active TrueView in-stream ad campaigns on YouTube are down approximately 30%, making this a great time to either experiment with or double down on this surging platform. 

Brands should also be fine-tuning their own YouTube content to better match what consumers are seeking. Self-help videos that incorporate marketers’ products – from recipes and DIY projects to ways to keep bored kids engaged – could be just the ticket for someone looking for meaningful ways to pass their time in isolation. 

In this new environment, it’s also more important for marketers to make sure their content is sensitive to the times and not conveying the wrong message during an age of social distancing and other restrictions. Marketers should review their previous content and refresh if needed. 

Finally, given the world we’re living in, brand safety is more important than ever. Google has already removed over 100,000 videos related to misleading COVID-19 information, but marketers should continue to update negative keywords, blacklists and exclude sensitive categories to prevent ads from running before inappropriate content.  

A huge YouTube opportunity is knocking – is your marketing plan ready to answer? Now’s the time.  

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