The new primetime: Canadian industry leaders on the future of how we watch online

Sarah Lilleyman / May 2019

What makes great video on YouTube? There are many perspectives, and many answers to that question, but the first thing brands need to think about these days is personalization.

People are watching online video in the evenings when they get home, but they’re also watching on their way to work or to class, or during those precious few minutes between meetings. They’re watching whatever they want, whenever they want, and this changing behaviour has made a significant impact. We asked two of Canada’s most influential industry leaders about how content has changed and what that means for brands.


On what to think about when you’re making online video

Even though we know more about consumers than ever before, the nature of advertising sometimes is still an interruption. So it’s absolutely critical to acknowledge that – and make it worth the intrusion. Create with care, remember who is watching, and I cannot stress enough the need for relevance and context to ensure the interruption is meaningful. Really, context is everything – and can make a great piece of content really stick.

On using different YouTube formats

One thing we’ve used very effectively is the combination of 15-30 second video, six second bumpers and even long form videos lasting 1-2 minutes. It’s the sequencing of these messages, to the right people, at the right time, that we’ve refined into a bit of art and science.

When people say ‘hi’ or ‘hey, I am interested’ by watching or completing a video view, we serve up the short form and even longer form if we have it, because we’ve been invited in by the consumer at that point. It’s a sort of reward for shaking our hand – but those two minutes had still better be good.

We were the first Canadian company to use 360-degree video advertising on YouTube – for our green tea KitKat launch, where it performed really well. We’re definitely a learning organization and we try to be a part of firsts and pilots when they make sense.

On why long-form video isn’t dead

The old adage of ‘tell a great story and people will watch’ still remains true. Even though our attention spans are shorter than ever, we now binge-watch hours of content in one sitting – so it’s not the length, but the message that matters most. Whether told in six seconds or two minutes – it must always try to be compelling.

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On YouTube as a search engine

YouTube is a key communication channel for Audi in Canada, enabling greater reach of content with an engaged audience. It is a very powerful search engine which has transformed the way people search online through video.

Several times a week I’ll find myself searching for YouTube videos relating to work or any of my hobbies. That can be car reviews, BBQ recipes and techniques or even movies and music for my kids. I find that in my life most of my internet search avenues eventually end up leading to YouTube.

On what makes a great video

A great video has stopping power and tells a relevant story for the audience. Examples can include so many things from influencers to how-tos, reviews, funny life moments or even educational videos. For me something with a true, authentic emotion is what makes a strong video – something that many people can relate to and engage with.

On finding new formats for an evolving industry

For Audi Canada, a key opportunity lies in getting our dealer network excited about using video in new, creative ways to get us closer to our customers. Tools like TrueView enhance the user experience, but opportunities also come up when considering new technologies that showcase our products in ways we couldn’t before: Augmented & Virtual Reality, 360 ads, Artificial Intelligence, and so on.

Sequential messaging and the flexibility to use multiple creative assets allows us to deliver unique, relevant and tailor-made content to Audi followers and potential customers.

On grabbing users’ attention

Longer-form content still resonates with our audiences. Although we live in a world of immediacy, it is interesting that when we create content that draws people in, they will spend more time watching.

To grab my attention, an ad has to be timely, contextual and informative. My life is full and busy so when I’m browsing online I rarely click on ads. When I do, it is because it offers a solution or because something triggered my curiosity.

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