Can you believe that just over 10 years ago, there was no YouTube. We are so used to it that it is hard to imagine daily life without it now. More than one billion viewers visit the platform every single month, now reaching 100% of 18-34 years olds.<sup>1</sup> I might not be in that age bracket but if it wasn't for YouTube I would completely miss out on the likes of comedian John Oliver and James Corden's carpool karaoke.
YouTube has grown in line with the explosion in the number of connected devices. In 2007 there were 1.7 connected devices per household in Europe, now there are 4.7.2 Hardly surprising then that 50% of YouTube viewing is now done on a mobile device.
At the recent YouTube Brandcast event, the last 10 years and the breadth of viewing choices were celebrated. Also celebrated were the creators who are just as much part of the story of YouTube - highlighting the way that content has been as important as connectivity to YouTube's success.
Grace Helbig is a case in point. A very impressive young entertainer-entrepreneur, who began a vlog back in 2007, which a year later turned into her YouTube channel and which now has 2.7m subscribers. Over the years she has become a media personality which led earlier this year to her starring in a hybrid comedy/talk show for E!, titled The Grace Helbig Show.
She reminded the audience that whilst YouTube creators might start their careers on the platform, they often extend way beyond it. Writing books, launching make up ranges, fronting radio shows and even appearing in The Sunday Times Rich List. They expand their personal brands due to their deep connection and influence with their huge audiences. Zoella now has 9.5m subscribers, Pewdiepie 40m and Alfie Deyes a whopping 47m. They've effectively gone from making videos in their bedrooms to becoming part of the mainstream entertainment industry.
But content-dependent media businesses, not just sparky young individuals, are increasingly turning to YouTube to distribute their content, particularly to their 18-34 year old target audiences. Joe Harland, Head of Visual Radio at the BBC, spoke passionately about audience reach but also audience insight. He said: "I know why a video is a hit…I know why it is a failure. And that allows us to ensure it isn't repeated. I know device usage, location, duration and shareability."
And his comments highlight an interesting shift that has taken place in media over the last 15-20 years. The consumer is now in control. With streaming, and OTT services, with social media and the advent of video everywhere, the audience has more choice than ever, and more control than ever.
At home the TV remains the primary device for watching video but many of us are browsing the internet while watching TV programmes, and according to Nielsen's Global Digital Landscape Survey last year, 58% of people across the world agree that they do exactly that. It is partly for this reason that digital advertising drives incremental growth. That same Nielsen report concludes that, on average, a cross media TV and online campaign extends the campaign's reach by an extra 24%, largely because digital helps to reach younger audiences, many of whom are lighter TV viewers.
However, it is about more than just reach. Nielsen also suggests that adding digital to TV campaigns enhances ad resonance. Their studies suggest that exposure to digital in addition to TV increases brand recall, message recall and likeability of campaigns.3 So whilst TV is the biggest amplifier of ROI, cross-media campaigns are usually the most effective. That means thinking carefully about how YouTube works with TV when you are campaign planning. YouTube has carried out its own post-campaign analysis of over 1,000 campaigns and the results of that echo the Nielsen research, leading Google UK MD Eileen Naughton to say at Brandcast that 'advertisers reach target audiences far more efficiently by adding YouTube to their media plans, especially if that target audience is 16-34 yr olds.'
The Economist recently published the data showing that 2015 will be the year that for the first time, the world's online media consumption overtakes TV. So expect more changes in consumer behaviour, and therefore more change in media planning to come, as the media world around us continues to evolve.