Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Want some good news? Try YouTube…

By Mattias Spetz, MD EMEA, Channel Factory

The deeply-held belief in the newsrooms of the world has always been that people aren’t particularly gripped by good news. Setting aside sporting triumphs or the occasional celebrity baby, the news we see and read is liable to be along the lines of: “Something’s Gone Wrong”, “Things Are Getting Worse” or “You Won’t Believe What They’ve Done Now”.

In the current crisis almost all the available news surrounding Coronavirus is tough to swallow, and in general we’ve got the gist of it. It seems significant that when US and UK consumers go to YouTube – where traffic surged by 15.3% between January and March, according to the New York Times, they are looking for relief from the gloom.

According to Channel Factory’s own survey of YouTube viewers, 80% of US viewers go to the platform to improve their mood – a figure that rises to 89% for the UK. And the content they are searching for – entertainment videos (48% of US respondents), music-related content (48%), comedy (33%), DIY (31%) and cooking (29%) clearly shows that they are looking for some escapism and ideas for how to make the most out of their quarantine situation.

Brands are struggling to find the right tone and communicate the right message during this time, and have had to edit their creative and marketing strategies to strike the right tone. Not only that, brands are considering where they invest and what channels they should use to get their messages out. Even positive lockdown stories are being blacklisted, making it difficult to find the right, relevant content on which to target. 

The good news is that positive content is booming and that according to the same survey, over 70% of UK respondents also want ads that boost and align with their moods, which points to the fact that happier news and uplifting content is flourishing online.

Some  marketers that have traditionally balked at user-generated content or current events presumably aren’t considering the highlights of YouTube’s Stay Home #WithMe category, which includes popular and diverse playlists dedicated to cleaning, journaling, juicing and science experiments.

In these expanding and brand-suitable environments, brands that take a more tailored approach than just blanket blacklisting keywords like Coronavirus, pandemic, or quarantine will find uplifting, happy advertising opportunities that will best serve their consumers. 

If this sounds easier said than done, again, there is good news. In the midst of all this ongoing turmoil, Channel Factory was recently appointed as one of four brand suitability and contextual targeting partners to the YouTube Measurement Programme, which offers advertisers access to solutions for tracking marketing performance on YouTube. Our algorithm ensures not only that advertisers run against content that aligns to their brand message, but also optimises campaigns using active and historical campaign performance data to deliver against media KPIs.

We have been through massive global events and contractions before, and yet the strongest brands prevail. Those who recall prior periods of global contraction, such as the recession of 2009, have seen drops in ad spend before. We know that markets are cyclical, and that having an ad strategy that is strategic and thoughtful during a downturn can help brands not only weather the storm, but prepare for recovery. What came after the recession of 2009 was a decade of heightened and sustained market growth that launched and grew many of the most vibrant brands we now know.

What comes after this, we don’t quite know, but we do know enough to be sure that at least some of it will be positive.