Google’s Georgiadis on what works on YouTube (Q&A)

February 11, 2014  |  Russ Martin  |  Comments

As president of Americas operations at Google, Margo Georgiadis oversees ad sales for the U.S., Latin America and Canada. Given Google’s reach across nearly every facet of digital marketing, Georgiadis has a firm grasp on the pulse of the industry and where it’s headed.

During her last trip to Google Canada headquarters in Toronto, Marketing sat down with Georgiadis to talk about shifts in digital, the rise of video content on the web and what YouTube’s “Skip Now” button means for marketers.

Let’s start by taking the pulse of digital marketing. What big changes do you see happening in the industry?

Margo Georgiadis

If you think about your job as a marketer, your role is to assist everywhere. Consumers are online whether at home, in the car, or in a store, and they’re constantly looking for information. Your job as a marketer is to be relevant and have great content answers, whether it’s reviews while someone is standing in front of a store shelf, a Google Hangout that can help them choose between products, or a video of someone creating a hairstyle or making a recipe that inspires the consumer to convert.

That’s the big shift for marketers: it’s not a linear process of finding an insight and creating an ad, then consumer going to the shelf, and that all being separate. It’s about thinking about the most important questions being asked about your brand, then finding the content that will motivate the consumer to fall in love with your brand or buy a product from you.

Google covers much of the digital marketing landscape, from social to search and video. What’s currently attracting the most interest?
Video absolutely has passed the tipping point. It’s become so much of a part of how people spend their time. In Canada, video is very prominent. On YouTube, for example, people spend 18 hours a month. In Canada, it’s particularly strong on a relative basis, and accelerating. People love sight, sound and motion, and they love the opportunity to see and engage in great stories.

Any tips for marketers publishing video content on YouTube?
What works on the web is very honest storytelling. Think about Dove Sketches, which takes on a real issue and goes to the heart of the fact that only 4% of women think they’re beautiful. Same with McDonald’s and the concept of “Our Food, Your Questions.”

Humour also works very well. There are many successes using humour from Pepsi Max and the crazy “Test Drive” to Evian’s roller babies. People love to have fun, they love humour. That’s always incredibly successful.

What do you make of brands that simply post their 30-second TV spot to YouTube?
That can work. There are a few cases of successes, but if you look at the YouTube Ads Leaderboard, the vast majority of the big hits were web content that take advantage of what the medium provides, provoking the user to feel something or to get engaged and to share. In general, the real viral successes have come from businesses that create content that’s born-of-web versus ported-to-web.

What about length? Is there a sweet spot for video content?
On YouTube, people forget that long-form content does exceptionally well. Over 50% of view time is now on content over 20 minutes. People used to think of YouTube as dogs on skateboards, and today much longer-form content works. Length should be driven by storytelling. For example, Dove Sketches was a couple minutes. If the idea is a short, great story, even 15 seconds can be appropriate.

How does YouTube’s “Skip Now” feature play into how marketers should approach pre-roll?
The vast majority of the advertising that’s done on YouTube is on True View, which is our skippable format. We really believe users should be in control, they should be able to decide what they watch.

YouTube, as a phenomenon, definitely forces you as a creator to engage the audience within 15 or 20 seconds, otherwise people will make the decision fairly quickly not to watch. Whether it’s a skippable ad or a non-skippable ad, you want to win the consumer’s love quickly.

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