It’s a Brand New Car! How YouTube Captures Life Being Lived

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Here, in part one of a three-part series devoted to Automobiles on YouTube, ZEFR Insights investigates the unique trend of “car surprises” and how the platform captures “moments” and “mindsets” unlike any other social platform.

ZEFR Insights has always championed YouTube’s unmatched breadth of content as an opportunity for brands. By this point it should be clear: If you are a brand and you are ignoring the opportunities that exist on YouTube, you are doing so at your own peril. If we’ve been explicit about our endorsement of aligning with the right content and creators for your brand, we have perhaps not been as adamant about an equally, if not more effective, strategy for discovering relevant mindsets.

Often, the equation is simple. If you are BabyGap, you might consider aligning with one of the numerous and ultra-popular parenting channels. The most successful alignments are driven by contextual targeting, allowing your advertisement to become an extension of the information being provided. Partnering with the right content creators not only reduces the likelihood of your ad being skipped, but can also transform your message into the exact kind of useful information the viewer has come to YouTube to find while in a specific mindset. Suddenly, your ad is no longer an ad in the traditional sense, but part of the viewer’s research.

This is how adept ad execs have capitalized on the fact that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. People come to YouTube in search of things relevant to their lives. Knowing what a consumer is looking for is only one of the myriad opportunities YouTube offers a brand in terms of “getting in front” of consumers. But what if a consumer is not on the hunt for a particular product, but instead sharing and viewing content that captures a moment, such as a “car surprise”? What exactly can a brand do with a mood?

The Demographic-Defying Behavior of Real People

If matching an advertisement with relevant content is obvious, what about moments? Yes, the elusive and often murky landscape of human behavior also abounds on the platform. If an advertisement for a car is best matched with content about cars—or, even more specifically, content about minivans, SUVs, sedans, etc.—what about the vast user-generated YouTube content that captures once-in-a-lifetime moments in lives as they are being lived?

YouTube captures these moments better than any other platform. The emotional impact of a teenager being gifted her first car from her parents is a moment once limited to the private archives a family’s home-video collection. Now, these human moments are uploaded, shared, and viewed millions of times by others who seek to share in the joy of others. This is why YouTube is also the world’s second-largest social platform.

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New Car Surprise Videos: The Value of Human Moments

You don’t have to be an automaker to see the value in aligning your message with the day Hailey’s parents surprise their daughter with her first-ever car.

There is no quantifiable measurement that captures the authenticity of a proud father and mother proclaiming, “No power locks, no power windows, but it’s yours!” Family, pride, love, and life as it is actually lived—it’s a narrative ad executives have been trying to recreate in television spots for decades. Why not join forces with the real thing on YouTube?

A daughter indebted to her stepfather is triumphant in her tireless pursuit of finding, restoring, and gifting him with the identical make, model, and color of the car he sold to help his new family. For a man who sacrificed more than just his beloved Porsche 914 to help raise her, he is overcome with gratitude and joy. It sounds like an advertising script, but on YouTube it exists in all of its realness, unable to be replicated.

Again, automakers who often recreate these scenes in traditional television advertisements, should seek out these authentic moments to imbue their own messaging with the “real” joy that a new (or vintage) car can bring to family members arranging the giving/surprise, and the gratitude of the recipient. If the title of this YouTube video sounds like the treatment for a fictional auto ad, witness instead the authenticity of “Son Surprises Hard-Working Mom with Her Dream Car.”

What Do Moments and Mindsets Mean for Brands?

For much of our lives, we are bombarded with messages. Of all the things that vie for our attention, advertising can often be met with passivity (at best) or as an irritating interruption (at worst). On YouTube, the unique marriage of consumers in search of specific content (mindsets), combined with the undeniably real moments that users upload hourly, presents brands with an opportunity unavailable anywhere else. Put simply, YouTube is a universe both created and used by real people. The genuine moments that abound on the platform allow brands to not only understand what their consumers want, but to become a meaningful participant in the real lives being lived on YouTube.



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