YouTube is the top streaming destination for viewers of all generations. Senior leaders from media agency Carat share how brands should approach the platform to connect with audiences and drive results.
As people of all generations spend less time watching TV1 and more time online,2 it’s increasingly clear that YouTube is now their top choice among streaming and social platforms.3
Viewers come to YouTube for many reasons: to immerse themselves in their favorite worlds through deep-dive content, to catch a new video from their favorite creator, or to find in-depth commentary and analysis. A top reason audiences tune into the No. 1 most-watched streaming platform in America4 is to rewind relevant events5 and discover thoughtful perspectives in a media environment that sometimes sacrifices depth for velocity. This is according to recent research on viewer trends from media agency Carat, youth culture agency Archrival, and Google.
This same study demonstrated two other noteworthy insights. First, audiences appreciate having the agency to search for and choose YouTube videos that bring them joy.6 They’re not just passing time watching the latest trends served up on social media. Instead, they consider the minutes and hours on YouTube to be time well spent. Second, a majority of viewers agree that creators are the reason they visit YouTube. This is especially true of Gen Z.7
These insights reinforce YouTube’s indispensability to users and present a huge opportunity for advertisers to increase engagement with their audiences. For more on YouTube’s place in viewers’ lives and its significance to advertisers, we asked three agency executives from Carat to share their perspective on how brands can make the most of the unique engagement and relevance that YouTube offers.
The starting point for cultural trends
YouTube enables us to place people at the heart of our media approach. The platform offers powerful opportunities for brands to understand the behaviors, preferences, and cultural trends of their target audiences and then use those insights to map consumer journeys and optimize campaign performance at every stage.
We know, for instance, that YouTube has unparalleled influence among Gen Z viewers and that 68% of Gen Z audiences agree creators are why they keep returning to YouTube.8 This creator-driven content lets brands establish authentic connections with their audiences, inspire action, and achieve sustained growth.
Engagement strengthened by community
YouTube is a launchpad for myriad ideas, making it a valuable platform for brands. Users trust YouTube to provide answers and inspiration; it’s the starting point and endpoint of their online experience.
YouTube’s large creator community and crowdsourcing aspects contribute to the wealth of content available and provide diverse opportunities for consumer engagement. By tapping into thoughtful perspectives, curating time well spent, and fostering creator connections, we guide brands to make the most of YouTube’s unique engagement and opportunities for relevance. We ensure that brands show up where viewers have always been watching, reflecting what truly matters to them.
Reach within niches
People go to YouTube to engage with topics they are passionate about and search for different perspectives. Core users will go even deeper than casual users, journeying through the platform for a variety of opinions. YouTube is not just entertainment for them; it broadens how they see the world and think about key issues.
YouTube’s role in the media ecosystem has started to shift. As connected TV has started to feel more traditional and social media has become unpredictable, YouTube now seems to sit in a sweet spot between the two. YouTube offers users more control and searchability than social platforms, but the content still feels fresh, unconstrained by the rigid formats associated with TV. Brands should lean into these strengths. By doing so, they can still drive reach within topics of interest, maintain the freedom to play with format, and offer unique perspectives audiences can’t get elsewhere.