Prior to the pandemic, YouTube was a powerful online platform for retailers to drive meaningful engagement among consumers -- a community of over 2 billion monthly users. With nearly 25% of consumers watching 7 or more hours of online video per week, the power of YouTube has only been amplified, as consumers turn to the platform for entertainment, education and information more than ever before. And, retailers are experiencing their own moment of upheaval; consumers are doing more online shopping than ever before, relying on tried and true, familiar brands. But with increased consumer demand and, in many cases, less supply, more consumers are being forced to turn to new and unfamiliar retailers. With this new reality, online video and YouTube, in particular, is uniquely positioned to help retailers connect with consumers, drive meaningful engagement, and ultimately drive long-term brand loyalty.
The Role of YouTube Expanding During COVID
Over 70 million U.S. households are now streaming content on their connected TV screens and YouTube represents a quarter of all streaming watch time across both subscription and ad-supported platforms in the U.S. YouTube's scale is more important than ever as people are spending more time at home streaming content.
As YouTube viewership has been surging, so has new customer acquisition. Over half of consumers have tried a new shopping service this year and almost one-third of U.S. shoppers have purchased from a brand that was new to them. Furthermore, consumers plan to keep purchasing from the new brands they tried during the pandemic. In these moments, YouTube is positioned to address the familiarity spectrum in ways that TV cannot. The result? A huge opportunity not just for brand traction, but for long-term brand loyalty.
Using YouTube is uniquely effective in broadening and deepening engagement
In December 2019, Google partnered with Heart+Mind Strategies, a strategic brand consultancy, and Nielsen, to understand the power of YouTube to drive meaningful engagement for Big Box, Pure Play and Specialty retailers. We analyzed data from two consumer panels: (1) comparing pre/post online behavioral data and attitudinal survey results between those exposed to YouTube ads and those not exposed, and (2) comparing online consumer behavior across varied brand ad spending levels on YouTube. The analysis revealed that YouTube ads outperform other channels in several ways:
- Drive relevancy: 1/3 said YouTube ads are more relevant
- Increase spend: 133% higher spend, 61% more shopping trips and 28% increase in purchases for those that recalled a YouTube ad in the past month
- Inspire search: 3x more likely to search a brand when exposed to a brand on YouTube
YouTube works differently for brands based upon maturity and growth trajectory
YouTube's unique power lies in its ability to help brands at different points along the brand maturity spectrum. For newer brands like Pure Play retailers, YouTube drives interest in learning about the brand and it increases site engagement. For those exposed to a Pure Play ad in our research, consumers were 2.5x+ more likely to visit the brand website, 4.5x+ were more likely to search the brand and there were 2x+ more pageviews on brands' websites.
For more established Specialty retailers, YouTube deepens existing connections and increases engagement behaviors of search, site visits and purchase. 33% of consumers were more likely to have favorable brand views after being exposed, were 2x+ more likely to say it is a go-to brand, 78% more likely to visit the physical store, and 2x+ more likely to make a purchase.
For mature brands like Big Box retailers, YouTube not only drives sales but also increases brand affinity. Shoppers who viewed a Big Box retailer's YouTube ad are 48% more likely to be new or lapsed customers, with consumers 4x more likely to make an online purchase after being exposed to a Big Box YouTube ad and 58% of consumers were more likely to claim the brand as their favorite.
Ultimately, harnessing the power of online video today has become a critical tool to drive growth. YouTube, as one example, has already proven effectiveness, coupled with 2020's growing viewership and consumer demand, creates an opportunity for retailers to drive unique and meaningful engagement with consumers. Looking even beyond 2020 and the pandemic, online video, including YouTube, can help retailers create brand affinity that drives increased purchases and builds long-term brand relationships.