Ash Chang is the head of culture and trends for YouTube APAC. In his role, Ash unearths what’s new and exciting in video culture.
It’s often hard for brands to know how to connect with audiences online when they have a bottomless well of entertainment to choose from. But people will always crave personally relevant viewing experiences and content that speaks to their interests and needs. If there’s any channel that can pique and satisfy their curiosity, it’s YouTube.
When people discover content that resonates with them from creators they trust, whenever they want it, they’ll return to it again and again. This gives brands more opportunities to win engaged audiences’ attention in meaningful ways.
Here, I’ve laid out three reasons audiences call YouTube home and how this makes the platform a perfect touchpoint for brands to meet them.
YouTube gives audiences breadth and depth of content
YouTube is home to thousands of communities built around shared passions, from avid birders to fashion lovers to aviation enthusiasts. Even the most unique interests can bring together millions of viewers from around the world.
In fact, for one-third of the world, YouTube is part of everyday life. The platform has more than two billion monthly logged-in users who tune in across multiple devices every day.1 But although many of those viewers are long-time subscribers to their favourite creators, still more are first-time watchers exploring new subjects.
Even the most unique interests can bring together millions of viewers from around the world.
People love television for its high quality and production value and they turn to social media for endlessly diverse, bite-sized entertainment options. But YouTube blends both worlds, allowing audiences to choose their own adventure no matter how niche or mainstream. Viewers can find just about any topic imaginable, watch a 30-minute explainer video about it, and walk away learning something new.
YouTube lets people curate what they’re watching and discover the stuff they find truly engaging. According to a recent Ipsos survey, 85% of Australian viewers and 96% of viewers in New Zealand say that they find “good content” on YouTube — and they’re most likely to say “good content” tells a good story and features a personally relevant topic.2 And 65% of Gen Z agree that content that’s personally relevant is more important than the content everyone else is talking about.3
But that doesn’t mean people can’t find mainstream culture on YouTube. It’s there if they want it, from pop stars’ concert live streams to primetime sporting events such as tennis. The Australian Open uploaded this year’s men’s and women’s singles finals days after they aired on TV, and collectively, they’ve received millions of views and counting.
Memorable moments are multiformat
Online culture is fluid and generative. A creator can post a vlog that spawns dozens of reaction videos from fellow creators in the community, and fans can discuss their favourite parts in the comments section. Creators can use YouTube Shorts to power video challenges that keep communities buzzing and ramp up viewer participation, like Blackpink did with the Pink Venom Challenge.
That’s another reason audiences keep coming back to YouTube: It’s built for different content types and formats, so people can tune in when and on the device they want. From short-form content made for mobile to exciting hourlong episodes viewers watch on their TV screen, YouTube’s multiformat ecosystem keeps the conversation going and lets brands tailor their messages to different moments.
YouTube’s multiformat ecosystem keeps the conversation going and lets brands tailor their messages to different moments.
Today’s audiences like to jump back and forth between short-form and long-form video. The two formats complement each other as ways to find something new and dive deep: 56% of Gen Z use short-form video apps to discover things they then use long-form video to learn more about.4 Say you come across a new cooking product while scrolling through your feed — you might then open YouTube to find a review of the product from a cooking creator you trust.
We’ve seen the interplay among these different types of formats across different types of devices. As of January 2022, viewers are watching an average of 700 million hours of YouTube content on TV each day.5 And the popularity of connected TV (CTV) is bringing back the primetime experience. The Australian channel Trip In A Van, for example, has an average video watch time of 20 minutes on CTV, and the most popular viewing time is around 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, on the snappier side of content, YouTube Shorts now pulls in 30 billion global daily views, 4X more than this time in 2021.6 For brands, this means the possibilities are vast for reaching engaged audiences across devices, whether with a short and sweet ad for a YouTube Short or a creator partnership that spans a whole video series.
YouTube creators cultivate trust and authenticity
YouTube offers a call and response between audience and entertainer: Creators are constantly responding to the needs and interests of their audiences.
The interactive, long-term relationship between YouTube creators and their viewers develops an audience loyalty rarely found on other platforms. The term “comfort creators" was recently coined to describe how viewers identify individual creators with whom they feel comfortable or familiar.
As in any relationship, time builds trust, and YouTube audiences come to think of their favourite creators as friends. If a viewer’s favourite creator talks about a great new product, they’ll probably trust that it’s a good recommendation.
That level of trust creates an opportunity for brands to work with creators whose audiences are not only engaged but also emotionally invested, which, of course, makes them far more receptive to the right ad.
Meet tuned-in audiences on YouTube
Audiences today want an experience that feels personal and purposeful, and they expect no less from ads.
As long as they’re relevant and authentic, brands have every right to engage audiences by simply showing up. According to an Ipsos survey, 78% of viewers in Australia are open to advertising and branded content when watching a video that’s personally relevant.7
Here are three ways brands can confidently tap in and drive results:
When you find meaningful ways to show up where your audience is tuned in, you’ll find millions of people interested in what you have to say.