What the world’s most effective video campaigns reveal about the future of creative

Tara Walpert Levy / February 2021

With more people streaming video than ever before, there’s no doubt that screens are capturing a greater share of attention. From sports to self-care, viewers are watching more of what matters to them, giving advertisers more opportunities to reach them at their most engaged. Of course, that also means advertisers must stand out in a sea of content.

These brands did just that. Through personalization and participation, they pushed the boundaries of video to connect with people. Their creative campaigns were recognized as part of our YouTube Works Awards, an annual, global celebration of the best campaigns across YouTube that not only captivated audiences, but also generated results. As you think about video creative for your next campaign, consider these lessons from some of the world’s most effective YouTube work.

Let audience insights guide video personalization

People don’t hate ads — just bad ads. And they all have different preferences. Fortunately, personalization doesn’t require producing a million ads for a million different people. It only requires a slight adjustment to better address their needs. So what if, instead of interrupting the viewing experience, ads tailored to each viewer actually complemented it?

Samsung U.S. recently answered this question. Instead of running one-size-fits-all hero creative, the brand took a more personalized approach in its campaign for the new Galaxy Note10. In their research, the marketing team identified three key audience segments: gamers, creators, and entrepreneurs. Then they found each segment’s most-searched “how to” videos — for example, “game tips” for gamers — and created ads with Director Mix that had a similar look and feel to the content people were about to watch. Based on what the viewer needed, each ad showed how the new device could help.

What if, instead of interrupting the viewing experience, ads tailored to each viewer actually complemented it?

This personalized approach led to a 557% boost in viewer consideration, 27% lift among non-Samsung owners, and nearly 900,000 Samsung carrier store visits, winning the YouTube Works Award for Media Innovation.

Land a message, not a sales pitch

While video personalization can be a key to unlocking growth, sometimes the best ads aren’t even ads at all. This proved true in Brazil for makeup brand Avon, which leaned on the power and influence of tutorials. Armed with the insight that 79% of beauty consumers believe that “reviews and tutorials act as a physical test of products and help [them] decide what to buy,” Avon partnered with popular beauty creators to broadcast an eight-hour live stream using YouTube Premieres. Filled with makeup tutorials and exclusive deals on feature products, this approach led to 3X more website visits and 36% more online purchases.

Involve consumers in the process

From inception to production, marketers have an opportunity not only to gain insights from audiences, but also to directly involve them in evolving the product. With the goal of increasing awareness and recruiting a taste-testing group, Kellogg’s special-edition Chex Green Onion cereal in Korea launched a new campaign that revisited an old competition.

After coming in second place in the Kellogg’s flavor competition 16 years ago, Green Onion–flavored Kellogg’s Chex cereal returned with a creative apology message and a behind-the-scenes look at the development process. Kellogg’s leveraged formats like six-second bumpers, TrueView discovery, and custom audiences to attract attention and invite customers to help reinvent the product as part of a taste-testing team. As a result of the campaign, Kellogg’s Chex Green Onion cereal sold out and saw a 17% increase in market share. They also recruited 14,000 people to the taste-testing group and added 1,400 new channel subscribers.

Marketers have an opportunity not only to gain insights from audiences, but also to directly involve them in evolving the product.

By encouraging customers to be part of your brand’s journey, you can create excitement and generate a buzz that will get people talking. Another brand that saw the value in creating an interactive experience is Volkswagen Sweden. As last year has shown, if you can’t bring the people to the place, you have to bring the place to the people. By taking drivers on a captivating journey to showcase the new, winter-adjusted Passat Alltrack, Volkswagen created the world’s most remote showroom: “The No Show Room.”

Instead of simply listing the model’s feature benefits, Volkswagen created a treasure hunt. They hid clues throughout their ads that people could use to find the coordinates of the car, and the first to find it got to keep it. This interactive campaign garnered impressive results, contributing to a 669% increase in website traffic, and won the Media Innovation and Grand Prix awards.

As you think about your next video campaign, consider the creative lessons this work from around the world has to offer. Leaning into personalization, meaningful messaging, and customer participation will not only engage audiences, but drive results for your business.

Visit YouTube Works to learn more, and to apply for the award by February 12, 2021.

YouTube trends report: How adversity is shaping culture