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When you hear “video on demand” you might think entertainment—catching up on late-night shows, music videos, and adorable animal clips. But when we asked our audience why they turn to YouTube, we uncovered something surprising: viewers don’t just want to be entertained, they’re also hungry for how-to and learning content.1

Why people turn to YouTube

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Here are a few things we learned from this research, along with some strategies for brands looking to incorporate the lessons into their 2018 planning.

Self-directed learning on YouTube

We’ve all found ourselves in a situation where we have to do something but don’t know where to begin. It’s at these times that people might turn to YouTube: more than 7 in 10 viewers use the platform for help with a problem they’re having with their work, studies, or hobbies.2

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Viewers aren’t just looking to brush up on skills they already have—they’re also hoping to acquire completely new ones. Of the viewers we spoke to, 86% said they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new.3

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As well as asking people why they head to YouTube, we also wanted to know what feelings the content triggered.

Given the popularity of how-to and learning content, we weren’t surprised when the results came in. People spoke most frequently of feeling “prepared,” “smarter,” and “inspired” after watching videos on YouTube.

How watching videos on YouTube makes people feel

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Where ads fit in

It’s easy to wave off how-to and learning content as a tricky fit for your brand.

But when you do, you miss an opportunity to capture your audience’s attention in an increasingly overcrowded marketplace. Recent research revealed how-to videos earn the most attention of any content category—even more than music clips or gaming, for example.4

So how can brands nail this form of content? Make Up For Ever offers some very interesting lessons. Marketers at the cosmetic brand had been observing the popularity of how-to videos. They’d also heard from women of color how underserved they felt by the beauty industry.

Armed with those insights, they created a how-to driven ad campaign with videos like “How to Highlight and Contour for Black Women,” which they served before relevant how-to makeup tutorials.

Rather than creating ads that interrupted makeup enthusiasts’ learning experiences, the brand seamlessly immersed itself and its products into them. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD, the product used in the tutorial, saw an overall lift in brand recall of 44% and an 18% lift in organic product-related searches. The brand also increased its YouTube subscriber count by 11% in a single month.

The lesson for marketers? When you prioritize how-to content as much as your consumers do, the results speak for themselves.