Inside the Rise of Brands Using YouTube to Drive Results (2024)

This is a new era of entertainment. Just a few years ago, you couldn’t have predicted that a creator from North Carolina would have more YouTube subscribers than the population of Brazil. Or that the K-pop phenomenon would sweep the globe. Or that culture’s biggest moments (like Coachella) would get a whole lot bigger.

Brands that are seeing success are reevaluating their approach to linear and digital video investments. And increasingly, they’re coming to YouTube to make the most of this moment. Because even though the ways and devices on which people watch have shifted, brands don’t have to be everywhere to be seen by everyone.

Here are some of the ways top brands connect with engaged audiences and drive the outcomes they care about.

Must-watch TV has changed

Viewers have made YouTube the No. 1 streamer, and brands are leaning in. Why? Today’s fans and creators are redefining what people think of as TV. According to YouTube internal data, in the last three years, the number of top YouTube creators who received the majority of their watch time on the TV screen has increased by 400%. And viewers are watching more than 1 billion hours of YouTube on their TV screens every day. Clearly, with reality TV-like stunts and challenges you can’t look away from, creators are reimagining classic TV genres and inventing new ones. In the process, YouTube has become must-watch TV.

According to Nielsen, YouTube has been the leader in streaming watch time for over a year, and now it’s also been crowned the No. 2 most-watched media distributor overall, giving brands the confidence to shift their TV dollars.

For example, Taco Bell came to YouTube because the fast-food restaurant chain knows its customers spend time there. To stand out in a competitive market and make a splash on the big screen, Taco Bell hosted an hour-long livestream and unveiled new menu items in a tech-style keynote.

Launching the livestream alongside a campaign designed for TV showed great results. According to Taco Bell’s most recent marketing mix modeling, YouTube drove 18% of all incremental transactions during the campaign. In 2023, YouTube also drove double-digit brand lift for Taco Bell—and the brand is seeing no signs of diminishing returns on YouTube’s effectiveness.

When brands want to go beyond one moment and one message, they use YouTube to diversify their messaging across the consumer journey. In one of the biggest cultural moments of the year, used its Tina Fey-starring Super Bowl commercial across YouTube for both consideration and conversations, slicing the creative differently to appeal to parents, couples and other audience segments. Per Google Ads internal data, the ad received over 100 million views in its first week on YouTube. And 35% of people who saw the ad during game week exclusively saw it on YouTube.

For brands, there’s no better time than now to challenge how they think about the big screen to reach viewers in all the ways they’re watching content.

This is a new era of entertainment

Creators bring a perspective that fans can’t find anywhere else. For instance, 54% of people say they would rather watch a creator break down a major event than watch the event itself. And according to the IAB, 92% of surveyed advertisers agree that creator or influencer-produced content can be considered premium.

Today’s creators are making hit shows with production teams and business strategies; even Keke Palmer created a production company for YouTube content to usher in young, diverse creators. Clearly, creators are the new Hollywood.

On YouTube, creators have a special connection with their fans and that drives great results for brands. For its 125th anniversary last year, PepsiCo partnered with Airrack and in his true style, the YouTube creator filmed a prank that led to millions of views on Shorts.

When Allstate wanted to connect with younger sports fans the insurance brand doesn’t typically find on TV, it partnered with Starcom on a campaign featuring athlete-turned-YouTube creator Deestroying and surrounded the entire universe of football content on YouTube, including the NFL Sunday Ticket. The campaign led to an 18% lift in searches for the brand—6X higher than AllState’s historical results.

Partnering directly with creators is just one of the ways brands leverage their influence. To show up next to the most popular content from creators, marketers can also choose YouTube Select lineups, which feature the top 1% of YouTube content, and help brands achieve relevancy at scale. In fact, one in every three people reached by YouTube’s NFL Lineups was a fresh audience for Allstate.

AI is driving big impact

More than ever, brands are working to make every dollar work harder, and AI is helping improve performance and drive efficiencies.

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S24, the brand was looking to break through a crowded market and connect with Gen Z audiences. Samsung leaned on Google AI to optimize its creative to identify the right format for the right audience and engage them at the right time. This led to outsized performance for the brand’s most important KPI—a 6% increase in searches for their brand, according to Google Ads internal data. Using AI improved purchase intent as well, with a 13% increase in conversions.

When marketers put Google AI to work for them, they see great results: It helps execute strategies faster, multiplies their creative assets and delivers relevant messages to the right audiences.

YouTube drives these amazing results; it has scale and captivating content. But there’s a lot more to that magic. YouTube brings everything together in a way brands won’t find anywhere else. As YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said at Brandcast, YouTube’s Upfronts presentation: “With billions of fans, millions of creators and a whole universe of content, there’s only one YouTube.”

Anne Marie Nelson-Bogle is the VP of YouTube Ads Marketing at Google, where she leads a YouTube ads team that elevates advertiser and industry perceptions and empower customers.

Inside the Rise of Brands Using YouTube to Drive Results (2024)
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