Managing YouTube During Social Distancing, Stay-at-Home Orders

By Tinuiti Team

As social distancing and stay-at-home orders continue to increase, the amount of watch time on YouTube has grown substantially as people around the world are spending more time at home.  In the US alone, watch time has grown by 10x with people looking to adapt to the new norms, connect with others or cope with the current situation. 

Videos around relieving stress, working out at home, and cooking with pantry items are all seeing at least a 30% increase in global views year-over-year. And as schools move to an online format, “study with me” videos are becoming increasingly more popular. 

Add in the revised approach Google has made with monetizing a limited number of channels with Coronavirus content, and there is a growing opportunity for advertisers to reach an engaged and growing audience on YouTube.

For those advertisers who are looking to interact with this audience, here are five things to consider for your YouTube initiatives: 

1. COVID-19 Content

The first question to ask is whether or not you want to be seen around COVID-19 related content. Originally, all content featuring or discussing COVID-19 was labeled as a sensitive event and demonetized. However, earlier this month, Google enabled ads for content discussing COVID-19 for a limited number of channels who self-certify and adhere to the Advertiser Friendly Guidelines. 

If you do not want to show on COVID-19 related content, we recommend excluding the Health -> Health Conditions -> Infectious Diseases topic in your campaigns along with adding in COVID-19 negative keywords to reduce the chances of showing alongside these videos.

While this is a great first step, keep in mind you may still show up on some COVID-19 related content from videos that slip through the cracks, so it is important to make sure you are reviewing the placement reports on a regular cadence to find content to exclude.   

2. Targeting

YouTube, in general, has a massive reach. And now with watch time increasing, it will be important to revisit your targeting strategy, ensuring you are talking to your intended audience.  

It will be important to pull your placement reports on a regular basis and ensure you are showing up to the right audience on the right content. As more kids are home and on their parents’ devices, you may see an uptick of kids content showing up on your campaigns due to device sharing. 

If this is not what you want, add in negative placements, keywords and topics to ensure you are showing to your audience when and where it makes sense.   

3. Creative

As also noted in our OTT Video & Social Isolation article, be sensitive with your creative. Creative is arguably the most important factor in a successful YouTube campaign, and having the wrong message could have a negative impact on the campaign and the brand. 

Ensure you are relatable to your audience and empathetic to the global situation. Authenticity goes a long way and can have a positive long-term impact on brand sentiment. 

4. Measurement

It is doubly important to have a clear understanding of what the specific goals are for campaigns during this time. With consumer confidence on the decline, users are going to do more exploration and research during this time, which may be driving lower conversion rates or prolong the buyer cycle. 

First, identify if the goal should be branding or performance-driven and then determine the KPI targets. If running performance-based YouTube campaigns, keep in mind you may not get the same returns right now as you usually would expect. 

Ensure remarketing lists are set up from the YouTube campaign viewers and layer them on to the search campaigns, so you can monitor the cross-channel impact and the user behavior.  

It will be important to set realistic expectations and think through the full-funnel benefits of YouTube. 

5. Budgeting and Product Mix

We have and are going to continue to see marketing budgets shift as a result of COVID-19. That is going to impact 1) advertisers’ marketing budgets and 2) where that budget is spent to maximize results. 

Once you have identified the goals of your YouTube initiative, determine the right product mix. Each YouTube product serves a specific purpose and choosing the wrong one can have negative impacts on performance. For example, maybe your goal is to drive brand awareness and you want to increase the number of views and subscribers on your channel. YouTube Discovery would be a perfect fit for the YouTube plan as it tends to have a higher rate of earned views and subscribers than pre-roll products.  

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