The value of YouTube for advertisers

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YouTube is such a ubiquitous force that sometimes it’s in danger of being taken for granted. In actuality, YouTube’s presence and impact on everyday internet use is staggering.

There was a time when, in the US, Nielsen ratings were the single source of TV viewership ratings. Now that model is completely out of date, not just because the providers of video content are so diverse, but so too are the devices.

Perhaps that’s why Google recently carried out a survey with Nielsen, to better understand and analyse viewership figures across new and old media.

Here are two of their key findings:

  1. “YouTube led all digital video platforms in December 2014 reaching more 18 to 34 and 18 to 49-year-olds than all TV network digital video properties (full episode players) combined and consistently reaching more adults 18 to 49-years-old than any other premium digital video platform.”
  2. “YouTube accounted for 51% of time spent watching premium digital video in December 2014 across desktop streaming, smartphones, and tablets among key adult demographics, specifically adults 18-34 and 18-49.”

So what does this mean? First of all, it’s important to note that much of the same content is being watched on YouTube as on traditional TV. Quote the research: “YouTube is the leader in digital video platforms, and time spent watching officially distributed TV content on YouTube is increasing year-over-year, which demonstrates that viewers haven’t lost interest in the content, but instead are simply using different platforms to access it.”

Indeed, many popular YouTube channels spin-off from TV shows (NBC’s Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central’s Amy Schumer have online-exclusive sketches for instance). So while younger demographics are still happy to watch media generated by traditional means, they’re not beholden to TV schedules or even TVs.

Unlike TV, online content offers brands much more opportunities to learn about and engage with their viewers, thanks to IP addresses, message boards and more direct links to social media.

Closer to home, Ruth McEntee, YouTube industry manager at Google Ireland, revealed the results of the first comprehensive survey of YouTube users in Ireland at DMX Dublin 2014.

“Irish YouTube users are more digitally active consumers than non-users of the site,” she said. “They are nearly three times more likely to buy or download digital music, movies or books; three times more likely to buy electronics, gadgets or other devices; and are nearly twice more likely to buy apps for their smartphone or tablet.”

Music videos are the most popular content among this base (confirming the theory that YouTube is this generation’s MTV) accounting for 67% of traffic. That’s followed by comedy at 52% and DIY and how-to videos at 42%.

Entertainment is still the number one reason for Irish viewers visiting YouTube, at 91%, with two thirds (66%) using it for education and keeping up to date.

YouTube’s status as a social network is often underrated and underreported, as more than half (52%) of Irish YouTube viewers said that they use the video site for social networking and sharing videos.

Another misconception is that YouTube is primarily younger demographics. That might have been the case when the site first appeared way back in 2005. Now, however, 44% of its users are aged 35 or older. From a gender perspective, viewership is split straight down the middle. Those who use and enjoy YouTube do so frequently, with 40% visiting it daily and 77% visiting weekly.

This is all promising news for advertisers, especially as 52% of Irish YouTube users take some sort of action after they have seen an ad. This action might involve searching for more information, visiting the company’s website or making a purchase there and then.

These are tantalising statistics to advertisers. There are added benefits too, unique to online content. Unlike in old media, a YouTube ad brings consumers just one click away from viewing more brand content, and of course, only one click away from making a purchase.