The way we consume video content has changed dramatically over recent years. From scheduled ‘live’ programming to online streaming services. With this shift comes more competition, more videos competing for attention, and more devices to watch from. Although earning views has rarely been more challenging, viewers across the region say they always find something suitable to watch on YouTube, even when they are short on time.1
We spoke to five of the Nordic and Dutch YouTube Works Award jury members to understand what effective video marketing on YouTube means to them. They share their strategic top tips alongside winning video campaigns that represent great video creativity in the Nordics and Benelux.
Work with online creators: Audiences connect with YouTube creators because there is someone to connect to. Some brands, like Albert Heijn, have managed to put a face to their brands, but it remains a challenge for most. This is where working directly with a creator, who already has a community they can engage, can help you. However, it’s key to work with creators that have the same focus and values as your brand so the partnership is authentic and you reach the right people. A great example of a brand that has done this well is The Royal Netherlands Army in collaboration with YouTube creator Govert Sweep.
Leverage AI for community building: AI is a great facilitator to help video creators be truly global. It's now possible for a Dutch creative, for example, to create an English version of their video with their own voice without the need to reshoot a video or dub over one. This creates real global content equity. You can reach the whole world from wherever you live. A prominent example is popular Dutch creator, Kwebbelkop, who is shifting his whole business (and channel) to AI, including using it for voice dubbing.
Know your audience and adapt your video marketing strategy to appeal to them
Tailor your creative: Don’t underestimate the power of the creative concept. Videos made specifically for a channel and an audience will be more relevant, more interesting, and deliver better results. Creativity is the last unfair advantage we have and we saw that with the Evoko Kleeo video, which won a Nordic YouTube Works Award. Their creative idea was brilliant because it was extremely funny and at the same time, a very relevant and insightful touch on the culture of YouTube. It ticked all the boxes for me.
Put your audience first: The #1 rule in marketing is now more relevant than ever. People are willing to move away from brands and experiences they’ve relied on in the past, unless they feel valued as a customer. Therefore, you need to put your audience first and consider what they would want to see from you. Rather than feeding them with content they perceive as marketing, provide them with content that feels part of their life, that's important to them, and is the kind of content they'd want to spend time with. Brands can look to YouTube creators — whose bread and butter is creating engaging content — as a place to get inspired.
Connect emotionally with viewers when you create ads for YouTube
Understand the platform: Learn from other brands and creators how to make the most of the platform and use it to talk to communities. Ask your audience questions or tell them to ‘like’ to unlock the next video. Be authentic and accessible – reply back to comments on your brand’s videos, or comment on videos from other creators in your community. You have to be a part of the conversation and the community if you want your brand to grow.
Connect emotionally with your viewers: We’re seeing more emotionally-driven messaging that is connected to brand values and driven by insights. With sustainability, for example, there’s a realisation from audiences that the earth’s resources are finite. Brands that can show authentic steps towards sustainability and translate that into deep, emotional communication can win hearts and views. And this doesn't just go for sustainability, but also other important societal topics like diversity, inclusivity, and equality. YouTube Works Award winner Unisport did just that as they told the story of a girls football team:
This YouTube content is made for watching
Clearly define your KPIs: Successful YouTube content will surprise and delight your audience, and also will help deliver on your key performance indicators (KPIs). Think about all the different pieces of content you create and the red thread back to your business goals, like products sold or likes and views on YouTube.
Take a human-centric approach: Understand the real person who will be watching your video. Think about where your audience will be, how they will consume the content, and what they will do afterwards. The winning entries for YouTube Works Awards created ‘sticky content’ – I found myself sitting and watching multiple videos, wanting to know more about the exciting universe that they built out. With the E.on entry, I found myself actually asking “Can I get a gadget like that? I want to do that in my home.”
Make the most of different formats on YouTube
Utilise both long and short formats: Understand the platform and tailor the output. For short formats, be ready to get to the point even faster. For longer formats, get ready to unleash your storytelling and don’t be afraid to use the series format. E.on did this successfully with its winning campaign, which followed one family and each episode asked: How has it been for them?
Stay true to your brand voice: Be very clear and consistent with your brand's distinctive elements, and ensure they are visible through anything you create and communicate.