YouTube’s Caroline Oates On Creating A Game-Changing Video Campaign

YouTube’s Caroline Oates On Creating A Game-Changing Video Campaign

Everyone watches content on YouTube but, with that level of familiarity it can be easy for advertisers to go with the flow and follow the examples set by other brands on the platform.

Caroline Oates (pictured), head of ads & programmatic at everyone’s favourite video streaming service explained to B&T that YouTube is ripe with opportunities for brands to be innovative and creative and they are generously rewarded for thinking bold and fresh.

Ahead of the B&T Awards, we sat down with Oates to pick her brains about how you can win the award for Best Video Campaign, Sponsored by YouTube.

What makes YouTube unique for brands to advertise on?

As an advertiser, it has unparalleled access to every kind of audience across all screens, whether it’s mobile, CTV or desktop and this is combined with our innovative solutions. These include Target Frequency, which lets advertisers move beyond average frequency to optimise how many times viewers see ads. Brand and search lifts are great as well, these let advertisers understand the impact they’re having on the metrics they care about through the funnel. Google’s AI smarts increasingly help brands actually send the right message to the right person at the right time.

YouTube is also an incredible creative canvas on which brands can tell stories. Tourism Australia’s nine-minute film, “Come Say G’Day,” would not have been possible pre-YouTube with the reach and scale available to advertisers now.

Menulog has also recently done an amazing campaign using our Shorts format. If a user pauses the video, they can access an offer code. YouTube has such incredible creative possibilities and it truly rewards innovative thinking on how to use the platform.

The Tourism Australia campaign was a real favourite of B&T’s. How can brands and agencies make the most of YouTube for their ads?

First and foremost, it’s thinking through the role of YouTube and the objectives that you need it to drive. YouTube is unique in the way that it works across both long-term brand-building and short-term activation goals and how you use YouTube is going to look markedly different depending on what you want to achieve.

We had Mark Ritson dive in with three different brands to look at what makes YouTube work for them. Tourism Australia had the nine-minute film and a bunch of other creative assets too to help drive consideration. On YouTube, they really lent into CTV as a platform.

On the other side of the fence is Les Mills, which was a more performance business but was looking to move into brand-building. At the time, it was coming from a very audience-focused base and a really experimentation-based mindset.

The one consistent thing I would say to brands and agencies to make the most of YouTube is to continually and intentionally experiment to find out what works. You need to understand what works at a macro level — we’ve got our guidelines and the ABCDs of creativity to help — but it’s how you put those into practice. Audiences have changed so much in the past few years and, for YouTube as a platform, it means that things aren’t standing still.

What was your favourite recent YouTube campaign — aside from Tourism Australia’s “Come Say G’day” and Menulog’s work with Shorts?

My favourite campaign from this year was Maybelline’s “Through Their Eyes” campaign. It won a Silver at Cannes Lions in the Social and Influencer category. I thought it was amazing because it’s so audience-centric. The company brought in a range of different partners — including YouTube — and worked really closely with us all to build a brilliant campaign. At the campaign level, I loved the way it was so meaningful and tackled a really challenging problem. Maybelline also thought about how the campaign would work across the long and the short and how they could drive real impact for the brand and female gamers.

They also considered how it showed up on YouTube and thought creatively about how to engage with the audience. They knew that the gaming audience is so much bigger than people typically assume — among men and women, alike — and that there is so much scale for that audience on YouTube.

The brand also activated in real-life and used our livestreaming tech and YouTube CTV masthead to showcase top female gamers in a live Fortnite tournament on a custom Maybelline map. They were the first brand in Australia to use that format in that way. They also worked with Aussie creators to engage their audiences and tell their stories with authenticity and credibility.

How large is the opportunity for brands with Shorts — if you’ll pardon the pun?

Huge. It follows audience behaviour and one of the things we’ve seen over the last few years, particularly on our platform, is an explosion of content and consumption in both longer-form and short-form content.

On one hand, when we look at our platform, we’ve seen a big growth in CTV viewing — people are watching for longer session times. At the same time, short-form content has exploded on our platform and as an overall consumer trend.

Brands need to engage their audiences where they are and we’ve seen a big uptake on Shorts — globally, Shorts has now surpassed over 70 billion daily views from over two billion signed-in users every month. The challenge, as always, is how you make the most of that audience engagement in a way that drives both attention and impact.

How can brands and agencies ensure their campaigns work across all of YouTube’s formats?

Being crystal clear on the objectives that you’re trying to drive — is it long or short? — is crucial. Then you should start thinking about what that means for the format you use and the targeting. We know that these components are ROI drivers.

We also know that creative has an outsized impact on effectiveness. This won’t be new to anybody, but in this day and age, we do not have to start from a TVC. You can truly think outside the box with the creative and build out from there. Some brands, and I’ve mentioned a couple already, are doing this incredibly well.

The creative possibilities for telling your brand story across YouTube are huge and truly creative approaches are massively rewarded.

Looking forward, we see a big opportunity for brands leaning into our AI-based products. Our products will be able to help brands target better and the potential is so powerful.

What do you wish brands and agencies understood about YouTube that they either don’t or sometimes forget?

This is true of all media, not just YouTube — we need to continue to think beyond our own consumption habits.

With my YouTube hat on, people need to know that the platform can drive huge success across long and short objectives. That unique proposition is driven by our combination of audience engagement in different contexts, alongside the product innovation that allows brands to make the most of that engaged audience.

To maximise that effectiveness, it’s all about constant experimentation because the platform continues to evolve alongside and ahead of consumer behaviour. What was true a few years back just isn’t the same now.

I’ve been working at YouTube now for almost 11 years and when I started we had just launched skippable ads and most of our viewing was on the desktop. Fast-forward and we are fully embracing all devices used by consumers and in a world that I wouldn’t have ever foreseen four or five years ago with the rise of CTV and Shorts. That has changed what the platform means and what it can do for advertisers.

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