Wavemaker’s Verra Budimlija: Celebrating ingenious use of online video

Verra Budimlija, Chief Strategy Officer at Wavemaker, and Chair of Judges for YouTube Works 2019, tells us what she's looking forward to seeing in this year's entries – plus three tips for online video success.

Wavemaker’s Verra Budimlija: Celebrating ingenious use of online video.

This perspective was originally featured on Campaign. 

There has never been a more exciting time to work in our industry

A renewed focus and energy around growth comes on the back of some startling figures, revealing that over 10 years, only 10% of 1,000+ brands grew market share by more than 5%1. The responsibility to drive growth requires us all to dial up our ingenuity and to prove that our work is adding real value to the brands we serve. That is why I’m so enthusiastic about chairing the judges for the 2019 YouTube Works awards, which celebrate the most ingenious, effective use of YouTube by brands and agencies.

Freedom to create

From my perspective, as the first chair to come from the media community, I’m looking forward to celebrating the fact that advertisers of all sizes now have the freedom to create video campaigns and content to reach specific audiences, to time lengths that best convey the message and, crucially, to meet tight, challenging, briefs – be they be around educating, entertaining, inspiring or myth-busting.

One of YouTube’s strengths is how accurately campaigns on the platform can be measured, thanks to view-through rates, shareability and, most importantly, the impact on brand and purchase metrics – so there’s no excuse for any of us using the platform to dodge the effectiveness question.

Of course, we’re still finding our feet in understanding how to use YouTube and its attentive audience to its full potential. Turning back to previous years’ winners, their excellence provides many valuable lessons.

Taking online video to the next level

Now it is time to raise the bar again, and I’m sure that this year’s crop of entries will do just that, moving us forward with truly inspiring campaigns that capitalise on the unique opportunities YouTube offers. Will we start to see the application of machine learning? Will we see personalisation delivering greater relevance? Will we see the use of signals and tools from the broader Google ecosystem turbo-charging YouTube campaigns? Or will we see more traditional films being delivered more efficiently, thanks to intent-based targeting?


“By sharing knowledge and inspiring others, you can help to future-proof the advertising business and push standards even higher.”

– Verra Budimlija, Chief Strategy Officer, Wavemaker


YouTube Works awards are free to enter and I would encourage anyone who has created a successful YouTube campaign to submit an entry. It’s a record of excellence – both for those involved and the wider industry. By sharing knowledge and inspiring others, you can help to future-proof the advertising business and push standards even higher.

I’m hoping to see entries from across the whole industry – including brand owners, media agencies, PR, CRM and advertising agencies – because brilliance comes in many guises. The judges will be keen to learn how a brand has used ad formats differently, played with time lengths, invited participation, promoted shareability, sought new ways to work with influencers as well as delivering inspired, unskippable storytelling. This is a valuable opportunity to showcase ingenuity through all parts of a campaign.

Increasingly, we all work much more closely with other agency partners and the client team, so I’m really looking forward to learning how agencies of all kinds collaborate to bring the best of their thinking to a campaign.

Steps to success

Thinking of entering? Consider these three tips.

#1 We know that YouTube enables brands to reach particular interest-driven communities – from chocolate brownie lovers, to football fans, to tech geeks. The most powerful campaigns connect with these groups by getting under the skin of what makes them tick. With this in mind, entries that show smart use of data, as well as creative ways of reaching razor-sharp insight, can expect to do very well.

#2 It’s well worth reading through previous years’ winners to get a sense of how they convinced the judges of their case. There are some great stories there.

#3 Above all else, the judges will want to see award entries that are true to their core strategic idea and follow through to a real-world impact.

YouTube Works, in partnership with the APG and Campaign, closes for entries on the 8 March. Find out more and how to enter here.

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