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Winning your attention: how YouTube’s gone mobile

By Catherine Turner

December 5, 2017 | 5 min read

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In order to win the coveted attention of consumers on their mobile phones – a very personal space – brands need to align with their audiences’ interests and passion points. The Drum explores how advertisers can maximize their video investment by rethinking YouTube’s role in their mobile media plan.


Winning your attention: how YouTube’s gone mobile

When you consider the distribution strategies for this year’s Christmas ads, the impact of the growth of mobile video is obvious. There’s been a spate of teaser campaigns including John Lewis’ four-second bumper featuring the hashtag #UnderTheBed, building anticipation of what has often been the UK’s most talked about campaign of the year.

But short ads don’t mean short attention spans, according to research by the BBC and Open University; how we apply our attention to different tasks depends on the situation. YouTube has some of the most attentive viewers out there. YouTube data shows that more than half of YouTube smartphone watch time in the UK occurs in full-screen – that flick to landscape being a clear sign of a tuned-in viewer. Furthermore, one of the most demanded features on its new mobile app was the introduction of the ability to pause, rewind and slow down content – again, clear signals of a viewer’s absorption in a piece of content. Want to watch and re-watch that gaming walk-through, or perfect the cha-cha-cha step by step? On YouTube you can.

Online video viewership is only getting bigger. Deloitte estimates that 57% of those aged 18 to 75 watch at least one form of video content on their smartphones weekly, a far cry from five years earlier when just 18% of a considerably smaller base did so. This is reflected by comScore’s latest Video Metrix Multi-Platform report, which states that a huge 70% of YouTube viewing now happens on smartphones or tablets.

These are consumers who are proactively selecting the content that they want to watch. For brands, the chance to get closer to their audiences in this most personal of spaces is – quite literally – in their hands. An example of a brand grasping these possibilities on YouTube is Tesco – it has created a series of short ‘Meal Maths’ videos to inspire commuters on their way home from work via the supermarket, and again in the kitchen cooking up simple dishes. If you are trying to create a new culinary masterpiece, it’s far less messy to use your mobile or tablet than lug a computer into the kitchen.

B&Q created a simple ‘How To’ series that walks the viewer through the painting of different surfaces – ideal either before the start of a project or with tin of paint in hand and mobile in the other. The videos even drove action using sponsored cards directing viewers to the website to buy the right tools for the job.

The above examples show just why YouTube has become the de facto ‘go to’ for ‘how to’ on mobile and illustrates how brands can create compelling content that informs, educates and allows for easy actions, transactions and interactions.

Pausing, rewinding, fullscreening aren’t the only ways YouTube enables that deeper connection with consumers. 360 video, particularly in entertainment and sports, means YouTube viewing is far from passive.

Formula One showed the technological capabilities of YouTube by creating 360 videos that made the viewer feel like they were in the driving seat – even if they were stuck on the number 73 bus. By putting its fans at the heart of the digital experience it could deepen its connection with those unable to hear the physical thrill and roar of an F1 race day.

For brands, YouTube is an opportunity to connect with people on their terms and when they are most leant-in; whether they’re after advice, exploring their interests and passions, poring over their favorite entertainment or seeking first sight of those Christmas ads. Brands that reach this discerning, proactive and valuable mobile audience in a way that resonates will be able to forge stronger, more memorable connections – and keep viewers coming back for more.

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