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Inside Grab’s video strategy to reach more than 400 cities in South East Asia


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

December 8, 2021 | 5 min read

For marketers, irrespective of whether the goal is to drive awareness and recall, or to drive sales and conversations, platforms such as YouTube play an important role. The Drum finds out how Grab is using YouTube to showcase its campaigns.

As more people in Asia Pacific were forced to stay at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year and a half, they turned to platforms such as YouTube for entertainment, learning, empowerment and livelihood.

This has seen an uptick in growth in the YouTube creator ecosystem and content creation, as well as consumption and reach. For example, among people aged 18 and above across APAC countries, YouTube now reaches more than 100 million people in Indonesia, 35 million in Korea, 19 million in Malaysia, 4 million in Singapore, 45 million in the Philippines and 45 million in Vietnam.

Audiences are also finding more content on YouTube as creators build content out of their shared passions and experiences. This has resulted in a substantial watch time increase, which saw an increase of 30% growth in Malaysia and 25% in the Philippines. In Vietnam, audiences spend an average of 70 mins per day on YouTube.

A meta-analysis of more than 800 brand lift studies across APAC shows that more than 80% of TrueView for reach campaigns had a substantial lift in ad recall. In addition, Nielsen’s Sales Lift studies suggest that 89% of campaigns in APAC drove a significant lift in offline sales, hence driving business results.

One brand making the most out of YouTube is superapp Grab, which uses the platform to tell its brand story, to spotlight everyday small business owners making a living on Grab, to drive cost-efficient lower funnel conversions and self-serve ‘how-tos’ that help reduce frictions for its customer care agents.

“People across South East Asia now consume more video today on their mobiles than ever before. You could even say that today mobile video is entertainment’s new home,” explains Sulin Lau, regional head of brand and country marketing at Grab.

“Which is why it is important that brands such as Grab also respect users’ time. Too often video advertising intrudes into users’ precious ‘entertainment time’ ... unless we make our ads genuinely entertaining.”

She adds: “Striking that balance between engaging content and effective conversion is never easy, but a good example is this GrabPay Wallet video campaign from Grab Thailand. It’s possibly our most successful wallet adoption campaign in Thailand and it also succeeds as highly watchable video content.”

In Malaysia, Grab also worked with Google to build a video full-funnel campaign entirely based upon Covid-specific Ramadan trending searches featuring a rock musician named Amy Search.

The campaign ‘Amy Search, Grab Ada’ (English translation: ‘Whatever Amy Searches for, Grab’s got’) comprised a series of topical videos, where each video addressed a different search trend. This allowed Grab to capitalize on changing intents is a powerful way to recruit new users, drive brand buzz and accelerate in-app orders cost efficiently.

For Ramadan in Indonesia, which is one of the biggest festive events in the country, Grab wanted to reach people and be helpful during a key moment. It used YouTube to reach 65 million people, which is 84% of their target audiences in Indonesia.

Grab claims its campaign attained a substantial lift in both ad recall and purchase intent, as well as connected TV, which drove up to 2.5 times higher lift in ad recall. This helped Grab refine and strengthen its strategy for future initiatives.

“Grab’s video strategy is built around establishing efficient reach and awareness, along with a full-funnel and measurement framework showing the impact of brand building on important metrics such as awareness, number of in-app orders, cost efficiency and share of voice,” says Sapna Chadha, senior marketing director for South East Asia and India at Google.

“To ensure brands are present where consumers are, we launched new Video Action Campaigns, which help ads appear more on YouTube including its homepage, select content line-ups and Google video partners’ pages. We also help brands reach audiences strategically through targeting relevant keywords being searched on the platform.”

She continues: “We have doubled down on our short-form creation and community engagement features including Shorts, Stories, Premieres and Posts. We want to create a robust short-form video experience that’s unique to YouTube as this presents opportunities for brands to engage with their audiences on a whole new level.”

Lau remarks one of the things she misses most about the “early days” of digital marketing was the sheer number of digital platform options where digital user growth far outpaced digital advertiser growth.

She explains that if a marketer was a moderately leaned in-advertiser back then, they could quite easily find many massive reach formats where there was suppressed advertiser demand, and hence very little advertising clutter.

“Remember when bumpers and shopping ads first launched and few brands had yet started making assets in those formats? I do,” she says.

“YouTube Shorts would fall into the ‘viewer demand outpacing brand supply’ category right now. And so like with any new format, different Grab marketing teams in different countries will experiment simultaneously with different approaches and then learn from each other what works.”

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