Now that video consumption has gone from primetime to all-the-time, how can brands capitalize on video micro-moments? Lucas Watson, VP of global brand solutions and innovations, shares three must-dos for brands that want to be relevant when consumers turn to video.

Written by
Lucas Watson
October 2015

TV time at my house used to be a compromise. After flipping through the limited shows that were "on," we'd all settle on something that made everyone sort of happy. Today, we can each watch exactly what we want, when we want, thanks to the supercomputers in our pockets. Mobile video means my daughter can watch "Peppa Pig" while my son catches up on "American Ninja Warrior" while I enjoy the US Open. Everybody's happy. (Especially Dad.)

Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so when we turn to our mobile devices to watch video, we can choose from a nearly limitless library of on-demand content. That makes what we choose to watch more personal than ever. For instance, if I search YouTube for "surfing big waves" (watching wipeouts is more pleasant than experiencing them), I get 170,000 results. I'd be lucky to find even one show on basic cable dedicated to a niche topic like surfing.


Now that personalized entertainment is more convenient than ever, people are experiencing bursts of entertainment anywhere, anytime. Video consumption has gone from primetime to all-the-time—and to address this shift in behavior, we need a new marketing model when it comes to video strategy.

When consumers look for answers, discover new things, or make decisions, they're often turning to a device for help. At Google, we call these micro-moments, and they can happen in search, on your brand's website, in an app, and—increasingly—they're happening on YouTube.

These moments of intent are redefining the purchase journey; people want the right information right away. Brands' opportunities to connect with consumers through video have exploded into millions of these moments. But to win at video micro-moments, you have to know how to identify them and how to act on them.

In a micro-moments world, intent trumps identity.

Four types of video micro-moments

Video micro-moments generally fall into four categories: I want-to-watch-what-I'm-into moments, when people are seeking videos on their passions or interests; I want-to-know moments, when people are trying to learn something; I want-to-do moments, when they're looking for step-by-step instructions on how to make or do something; and I want-to-buy moments, when they're using video to try before they buy.


Three ways to adapt your video strategy to micro-moments

Brands can ensure they're relevant and useful in these four video micro-moments by understanding their consumer's intent on YouTube. Expand your focus from just who consumers are (for example, 18-34-year-old women) to what they want ("spring fashion trends"). In a micro-moments world, intent trumps identity.

Here are three ways to make sure you're staying relevant and useful in moments that really matter—when your brand has a meaningful role to play based on what people really want:


1. Identify the micro-moments where your audience's goals and your brand's goals intersect
People come to YouTube millions of times each day, looking for videos that meet their needs, wants, and interests. Reimagine your consumer's journey as a collection of these video micro-moments: What are his needs and questions, and when does he look for them? Once you've mapped out your consumer's micro-moments, understand your place on the map: Where does your brand have the right to play?

Beauty brand Sephora, for example, knew that beauty content on YouTube grew by 50% from 2014 to 2015 and that YouTube searches related to "how-to" were up 70% year over year. For Sephora, how-to videos and tutorials were the magical intersection of the brand's beauty-centric message and its audience's beauty needs. That how-to and tutorial content now makes up more than 60% of Sephora's library of video content.

2. Be there when your audience is looking with useful content that answers their needs
Once you understand how your brand maps to consumers' video micro-moments, you can build a plan to be there when people are looking. The first step is creating relevant, useful YouTube content that adds value in those key micro-moments. The second is making sure your brand shows up when they need you, with organic and paid search, for example, or with shopping ads on YouTube.

Sephora has become a resource in its customers' micro-moments by creating a variety of video content. To answer beauty fans' calls for on-trend makeup and hair tutorials, Sephora uses the CCC content model: the team creates their own original videos, curates playlists of videos on trending YouTube topics like "beauty hauls," and collaborates with YouTube creators to make content that feels organic in the YouTube environment. To make sure its content is discoverable, Sephora uses TrueView in-display ads, which give its videos prominent placement at the top of key beauty search results.

3. Help your audience find you, even when they're not looking, with relevant video ads
Even when people aren't actively looking for answers, brands can delight them by showing up with messaging that's relevant to their interests. That means going beyond demographic targeting and connecting with viewers based on signals of intent or context.

Choice-driven ad formats are a great way to show that your brand understands and respects people's intent; if someone chooses to watch your ad, it's a powerful signal of their interest. Sephora, for example, uses TrueView advertising, YouTube's skippable ad format. In-market and affinity targeting can also help your brand serve messaging that's timely and helpful to consumers based on their most recent and repeated digital behaviors.

Context is also key. First, there's the context of video. Video ads feel more at home in a video context than non-video environments. But beyond sharing video ads before or during video content, you can share your ads when people are in the mood for that messaging. For example, when Sephora consumers are already watching beauty videos on YouTube, they're more open to Sephora's beauty-related ads.

The purchase journey has been fragmented into hundreds of micro-moments. It's imperative that brands be there in these micro-moments with relevant, useful videos. Those who "get the most points on the board"—and who prove themselves useful and relevant in the most micro-moments—will establish the greatest brand equity in an era of infinite consumer choice. If your brand isn't there in your audience's moments of need, another brand will be.

1 The Consumer Barometer Survey, Question asked: "Why did you watch online video(s)" n=2,119, Base: internet users (accessing via computer, tablet or smartphone) who have watched online video in the past week, answering based on a recent online video session, 2014/2015.
2 Google Consumer Survey, April 2015, U.S. online population ages 18-34; n=385.
3 Google Data, Q1 2014–Q1 2015, U.S.
4 Google Consumer Surveys, March 2014, U.S. 10 platforms surveyed: YouTube, Hulu,, Facebook,, Tumblr, Instagram, Vimeo, AOL,