Faaez Samadi
Jun 23, 2017

Engagement, not beauty the key for brands on YouTube

High production value doesn’t always mean the best ROI for brands with video content, as consumption trends change, according to YouTube's Kevin Allocca.

Kevin Allocca
Kevin Allocca

Brands need to change their focus from entertainment genres and production value to audience engagement and personal experiences when it comes to getting the most out of YouTube content, says the company’s head of culture and trends.

Kevin Allocca says businesses have “gotten over the hump” of chasing viral hits, but they still need to get a better understanding of the diverse range of engaging content on the video platform.

“The thread is no longer production value,” he told Campaign Asia-Pacific at Cannes Lions 2017. “In YouTube’s earlier days we thought a lot about UGC and divide things by production value, because in many ways that’s how advertisers and brands think about content.”

A more nuanced view is needed, Allocca said, where brands think less about genre and constructs of entertainment or media, and more about audience, community, and the behaviour of the people who engage with YouTube content.

“There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense on YouTube when you look at them purely from a content perspective, but make complete sense when you look at them from the audience perspective,” he explained.

By making the audience perspective the top priority, Allocca said, brands can work out which content is most meaningful to its target audience, regardless of production quality or genre.

“That’s where it starts to get exciting, because you’re thinking ‘how does my message interact with people who feel a personal connection to this [content]?’ rather than ‘how am I just reaching people through a certain set of genres’, that we for so long associated our different media types with,” he said.

Allocca said that many brands have made significant progress in their video advertising and marketing strategies, and that lessons in the industry can take time to be heeded.

“There was an idea for a long time about having a viral hit, and it’s not really a smart business strategy for reaching audiences. We’re past that now.”

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