With people watching billions of hours of video content every day1, brands that want to be top of hearts and minds, need to create unskippable and memorable ads.
This is one thing online retailer Marktplaats and wellbeing brand Rituals have in common. They've both just won a YouTube Works award for their innovative, impactful, and creative video ad campaigns. Let's take a look at all the winning entries and use the lessons from these campaigns to make your video ads stand out.
Start with a compelling insight to create your story
Start with a compelling human insight that connects with your brand's unique angle. Marktplaats is the biggest platform for second-hand products in the Netherlands and its purpose is to enable Dutch people to trade goods in a good way.
Inhouse research by Marktplaats revealed second-hand toys were largely considered a no-go by parents, even though 24% of all owned toys are unused. This insight was the starting point for Marktplaats’ Sinterklaas campaign.
The brief was simple: normalise gifting pre-loved toys. The resulting video shows the surprise and delight of children discovering a world of second-hand toys. And it includes the inspiring message: “You don’t have to change the world to change the world. Sometimes you just have to look at it through the eyes of a child”:
“The campaign drove a significant change in mindset among our target audience, showing a 30% increase in the belief that buying toys on Marktplaats is better for the planet, your children, and your wallet,” explains Gregory Kukolj, CMO Marktplaats.
In addition, the ad campaign drove a direct impact on platform activity, with a 10% increase in demand for second-hand toys on the site. It also raised brand awareness after it was showcased in the press.
Top takeaway: Find a compelling and data-based insight that works for your brand — like second-hand marketplaces being an antidote to mass consumption. Then turn that insight into an engaging story that connects with your audience on an emotional level. Ultimately you want to inspire an “aha” moment which leads them to change their behaviour, like their attitude to second-hand.
Tap into your audience’s passions in an authentic way
What is your brand doing that matters to your audience? On Earth Day 2022, Rituals announced it would plant, protect, or restore a tree for every refill of its products sold, with the aim to plant 5 million trees by the end of the year.
The team created the “Be The Change” campaign to showcase the goal. Central to the marketing mix was a four-minute video explaining the importance of protecting and reforesting mangrove forests:
“In order to see a change – we have to be the change; we have to make a conscious contribution to better the balance. At Rituals we feel responsible to pull our weight and encourage our customers to do the same. When you buy our Tiny Miracles bag, you contribute to the income of a woman breaking out of Mumbai’s poverty cycle. When you choose to buy a refill, you grow a tree – and all those trees together will become a forest that will protect generations to come. Through our Be the Change campaign, we wanted to create a snowball effect of positive sustainable actions. Celebrating those small actions and demonstrating their magnitude. Together we can plant the seeds of wellbeing for all,” Dagmar Brusse, Global Creative Director, Rituals Cosmetics.
Rituals was able to combine its heritage in grassroots environmental activism and its audience’s passion for sustainability, to great effect. The results were proof of that: refill sales were up 16X on the previous year and return-on-ad-spend increased fivefold.
Top takeaway: Tap into your audience's passions, but be authentic. Find a cause or topic you share and be consistent with how you show up in the space.
Be where the world is watching
Be relevant by tapping into existing behaviours, but in a creative way. Bol.com is the number 1 e-commerce platform in the Netherlands. The retailer saw an opportunity when they discovered that nearly half of all YouTube viewers in their market2 say that the video platform helps them decide what to purchase.
The team worked to create a series of long-form videos based on the reviews their customers leave on products.
People are increasingly willing to indulge in hours-long video content, especially if it’s covering topics close to their hearts. Within each of the videos the Bol.com team created for this campaign they review products in detail to help people make a purchasing decision. The creative ambition to strike a balance between entertainment and help content:
“We chose to give connected TV a key role within the distribution strategy,” explains Frank de Wit, managing director at Team5pm, who partnered with Bol.com on the project. “Data indicated that our target audience were using this new streaming method to watch YouTube content and we were able to create an ad campaign starring the biggest screen in our living rooms.”
The 12-episode series was viewed nearly 2 million times in just three months.
Top takeaway: Meet your audience where they are. People visit YouTube to entertain themselves but to also be informed. Bol.com understood that its audience were leaving reviews on YouTube, and looking for reviews of products there, via their connected TVs. Find where your audience is, then make your content easier to find as well as entertaining for them.
Use the video platform in a creative way
De Koninklijke Landmacht (The Royal Netherlands Army) wanted to raise awareness of the Royal Land Force. They partnered with popular YouTube creator Govert Sweep to create content to do just that.
Govert asked himself what he would like to know about the army, and what stories would encourage him to find out more about the Royal Land Force. The idea for the series was born: The influencer would ‘infiltrate’ different areas of the army and share his experiences.
The team also leveraged YouTube’s tools, such as the comments and like features, to ensure viewers felt engaged and were able to influence future content. For example, they asked viewers for 10,000 likes in exchange for releasing the next episode in the series:
“It was a new experience for us to work with a YouTube creator in this way,” explains Christel Swiers, senior communications advisor at the Royal Netherlands Army. “Based on the understanding of the target audience, we have established a powerful collaboration, aimed at young Dutch people. Govert was quickly accepted by our soldiers because of his sincerity and curiosity, something that flows through to the end result.”
The YouTube campaign received 1.1 million views (not an easy feat, considering that the Netherlands has a population of 17.5 million people) and received over 1,700 comments across the series.
Top takeaway: Don’t just broadcast to your audience, engage with them by making use of the unique features YouTube has to offer. Including its creators. They can help your brand land your messages, they know their audiences like no one else, and know how to build authentic conversations that resonate.
Powerful stories that are relevant, entertaining, and memorable to viewers will deliver strong business and brand results. These campaigns all highlight how understanding your audience, creating compelling stories, and being where the world is watching, can help brands reach new audiences and achieve more than simple views on YouTube. They can help brands build a community.