Thought Leadership

For a long time now, there has been talk about TV dollars moving to digital, especially digital video. YouTube’s growth in its first 10 years has been monumental, and with the more recent addition of online giants such as Facebook and Twitter to the digital video landscape, we are seeing a kind of momentum that the industry has never faced at this scale before. Add in the rise of the “digital influencer,” where names like PewDiePie and Smosh have greater reach to millennials than anyone starring in a recent blockbuster, and the shift to digital seems well underway.

Most importantly, social platforms now allow for hyper-personalized video campaigns at scale, and that’s a game changer. To understand why, it requires a deep understanding of mindsets and contextual targeting.

The magic of placing the right ad in the perfect contextual setting has always been the sweet spot for advertisers. It’s how the commercial was born. That sweet spot was elusive in digital, but now with the breadth of content available online, advertisers finally have the opportunity to place the right ads in front of the right piece of content. Plus, knowing what kind of content someone is watching reveals what is perhaps the most important targeting value to consider—that person’s mindset.

Think about it. One of the reasons that brands buy TV is for scale, safety, and association. “As seen on TV’ delivers credibility. TV audience measurement has never been perfect, but Budweiser has a pretty good idea of who is watching NFL games and that’s why they spend massively against it. Moreover, they also have an idea of what mindset that audience is in when they are watching football on a Sunday from the couch at home versus those same people watching at their desk in an office on a Tuesday.

Thus, the driver for all of this is “mindset.” Let’s use my own mindset as an example. I’m not only an executive at ZEFR, I’m also a husband, a proud new father, a surfer and an avid traveler. Knowing my name, my zip code and my friends doesn’t necessarily tell you where my head is at. However, if I’m watching a video of Kelly Slater tear up Teahupo’o, or a video about life as a new dad, you get a lot closer to what mindset I’m in and that can help brands reach me in the right place at the right time. I’d much rather see an ad for Hurley when I’m watching that Kelly Slater video than an ad for Pampers.

And, taking it a step further, if I’m watching one of the thousands of user-uploaded video reviews on the new BMW 5 series, seeing an ad for BMW, or perhaps for the competing Audi, might actually be welcomed by me. That also means I’m much more likely to engage, recall, and even act on that ad and its message—three major goals of every brand marketer I’ve ever met.

Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more increasingly Snapchat, have a big opportunity here. They know a lot about their users and the content they are consuming. They also have scale. And at least one of them, YouTube, has done a good initial job of creating a safe and premium environment with their Google Preferred offering which is poised to sell out for a second year in a row. Facebook’s “Anthology” will likely have similar results. But then what? The key is to make all of your inventory contextual, as mindset-based viewing doesn’t just happen on the most popular content, it happens on all of it. As we like to say at ZEFR, even a dog-on-a-skateboard video is premium, if you’re a dog lover or a marketer at PetSmart. The key is to shift your perspective and align with the right mindset at the right time, all by rethinking how we analyze and leverage this new era of digital content.


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Cultural TrendsThought Leadership

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.


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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