YouTube’s Debbie Weinstein addresses what’s on Canadian marketers’ minds in 2018

Debbie Weinstein / April 2018

Video buying has changed. Today’s brands can’t rely on demographics alone to reach consumers and win attention. In fact, ads get more attention when they’re served based on intent-signals—and YouTube is home to a host of actively engaged, leaned-in audiences.

As a former global marketing executive at Unilever, Debbie Weinstein oversaw an incredibly diverse media portfolio. Now, as managing director of YouTube/Video Global Solutions, she is helping brands navigate the world’s biggest video stage.

On March 28th, Weinstein sat down with a group of Canadian CxOs to share YouTube’s progress on recent monetization changes and preview the exciting future product roadmap for the platform. Here, Weinstein speaks with Jamie Gargatsougias, head of brand strategy at Google Canada, about how brands and marketers can find their best audiences on YouTube.

Gargatsougias: You’ve had an incredible vantage point over your career to witness the shifts in digital marketing firsthand. What do you think has been the biggest change of the past few years?

Weinstein: I’ll start by discussing what hasn’t changed: Video is still the most powerful form of advertising. What’s great about video is you can deliver both emotional and rational messages. You can communicate in a way that’s really involved and you can highlight complex conversations, but you can also get very emotional stories. It’s an incredibly powerful form of communication because you have sight, sound, and motion.

I think the biggest change is in how we think about finding customers. For decades, marketers created a simple target audience of age and gender based on assumptions of what kind of person would be interested in a product. I think today’s new ability to find signals of what consumers are actually interested in—whether it’s what they search for or the apps that they download—leads to much richer ways of finding your best potential customer.

Take moviegoers, for example: You can guess broadly about who an audience might be for a movie, but now we have the ability to help you reach users who have watched a trailer on YouTube, downloaded an app that’s about movie reviews, or searched for show times.

You have spoken a lot about how YouTube is a leaned-in experience. Audiences are watching intently—why do you think that is?

What’s really special about YouTube is that anyone can find content that is relevant, helpful, or useful for them. There is no other place where you can go to watch the variety of content you can find on YouTube—from baking and knitting to surfing and late night comedy shows. It’s all there.

There are more than 400 hours of content uploaded every minute to the platform.1 Of course, we have controls that actually determine what content will live on the platform, but once it’s over a certain standard of what is governed by our Community Guidelines, we are delighted to be the home of so many distinct voices.

So it’s the breadth of the content that’s possible—it’s not governed by one editorial point of view deciding what can go on at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday night. It’s really a place where we give everyone a voice and the opportunity to find an audience. That’s what makes YouTube so powerful.

What do you think advertisers need to know about YouTube creators and how to potentially work with them?

I think advertisers need to know that the overwhelming majority of our creators are looking to create content that is genuinely attractive to both advertisers and viewers. They are committed to making a living on our platform and to producing great content, especially our Canadian creators, who are among some of the most talented in the world.

2017 was a really tricky and challenging year on many levels, as we sought to balance the needs of our advertisers and the needs of our creators. We want to do more to help these two core constituencies on YouTube understand each other better.

We know that we have a responsibility to make sure that brands can manage their placements as they appear on platforms, but it’s also important that we make creators better aware of how to make content that is appealing to advertisers if monetization is their goal.

We shared our new ad-friendly guidelines with creators, but now we’re taking it a step further and asking creators to click a button that indicates that they read the guidelines and that their video qualifies for ad placements under those guidelines. Creators really want to be a part of this ecosystem and contribute to it. Good creators are really upset by the bad actors who try to game the system and ruin it for everyone. The creators that are driving the platform are engaging with users and the ecosystem in a powerful way and helping advertisers connect with future audiences.

FAQ with Debbie Weinstein

Below are the three most common questions that Weinstein gets from marketers:

After you find your customers, how do you tell them interesting stories that capture attention and break through in today’s cluttered media landscape?

Machine learning tools are empowering advertisers to deliver customized messages to different audience segments on a massive scale. For example, VOGON (similar to Director Mix in the U.S.) enables you to actually marry an audience with a particular creative message, so you can really atomize the creative into distinct parts—the audio, visual, the text overlays, and some of the graphics. And we’ve seen a number of customers use that to really great success.

How can brands manage suitability and the placement of their ads?

We’ve heard over the last year that many of our controls are too cumbersome or too complicated. Our partners are asking us to simplify them so they can understand and manage their placements. So, next quarter we’ll be introducing a three-tier suitability system where a customer can come to us and understand what kinds of ad placements would be running in a standard setting, in a limited setting, or in full region preference on YouTube.

How can brands measure results and determine what’s working?

We work with customers of all different shapes, sizes, and KPIs, so we’ve launched a number of innovations just this year that allow them to take TrueView and optimize for many different outcomes. It used to be that TrueView was only about optimizing for a 30-second view, but we heard that advertisers want to use TrueView to optimize for things like site actions—such as “book now”—that they can drive off the back of a video campaign.

We also have tools that actually help people measure the direct outcome in terms of things like store visits or Brand Lift, where someone can measure awareness at recall or purchase intent all the way down the funnel. It even allows you to integrate with marketing mix models to do controlled experiments across geographies to understand the different kinds of targeting or creative that work to drive sales lift. We’re really trying to provide solutions that are relevant for customers—whatever the outcome they want to optimize for.

YouTube Canada 2018 Ads Leaderboard: Spotlighting the ads Canadians chose to watch in Q1