YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says advertisers need to learn how to ‘speak meme’

Susan Wojcicki, chief executive of YouTube, thinks that advertisers should incorporate popular memes into their advertising if they want to truly engage with millennials.

To celebrate YouTube's 10-year anniversary, the chief executive gave advertisers at IAB Mixx in New York 10 tips to help them succeed on the video platform since she said she often meets with chief marketing officers who always ask, “What works best on YouTube?”

In addition to the advice, she also announced that YouTube is now going to expand shopping links to videos on the site that aren’t ads. So if a user has uploaded a video reviewing a make-up brand’s foundation, that brand could place product ads on that video with uploader permission.

During her talk, she highlighted Volkswagen’s use of the viral ‘Trololo song’ in one of its ads for the Convertible Beetle, where a skier scares everyone in a supermarket when he walks in but forgets to take his ski mask off, as a video that expertly uses a meme to appeal to its targeted audience.

“They took advantage of this meme and put it in their ad, making it far more relevant for millennials,” she said.

She also pointed out T-Mobile’s ‘Royal Wedding’ ad (which now has nearly 30 million views on YouTube) that parodied the viral video of a wedding party dancing down the aisle to Chris Brown’s ‘Forever’ as another example of advertisers using memes to connect with young audiences.

In addition to memes, Wojcicki said that advertisers need to stop building new content for old mediums – namely, creating television-like spots for YouTube ads. She said that throughout history this has been an issue, as advertisers initially used too much text on billboards and radio ads used to be read like print ads.

She said Nike, whose ‘Rinaldinho’ ad was the first YouTube video to reach one million views just four months after that platform was founded, was one of the first brands to successfully grab viewer attention on YouTube by bucking convention. Instead of formatting the ad like a traditional fifteen or thirty-second spot, Nike made the video nearly three minutes long.

“Even though TV and YouTube are video, YouTube is its own medium. It has its own rules and norms and it needs its own flavor of video advertising,” she said.

According to Wojcicki, more than one billion people visit YouTube every month.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.