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A look back: How YouTube video advertising evolved through 2017

by Eric Linder | Data Strategist

Read Time: 9 mins

Throughout the year, our ongoing analysis of the video ecosystem uncovered a number of key data-backed trends on YouTube. As the platform’s content and creator landscape continues to grow and evolve, so has audience and advertiser behavior. Increasingly we’re seeing advertisers develop content specifically for YouTube, recognize the strength of in-stream video for driving results beyond just brand awareness, and diversify their content strategies with a more sophisticated range of video types and lengths.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of these trends:

No more shoehorning TV ads into digital environments

Audience attention continues to shift to digital video, and advertisers are increasingly creating video content with digital environments — and audiences — in mind. This year 76% of the top 100 global brands published a Bumper ad on YouTube, and 6% published a video that was 10 minutes or longer. This sophisticated approach of mixing content lengths takes advantage of the unique strengths of each ad unit, and creates a more integrated consumer journey — for example, bumper ads are highly effective at driving a lift in ad recall, particularly as part of a broader TrueView in-stream campaign, and Pixability’s data shows that long-form video content attracts up to 4X the views of commercial-length content.

Audiences are diversifying their video appetite

Tutorial videos have traditionally dominated other content types on YouTube, with audiences turning to the platform to learn everything from the latest makeup techniques to cupcake recipes. However, Pixability’s research shows that audiences are increasingly looking for a more diverse variety of content on YouTube. For example, tutorial videos accounted for 69% of total views of top beauty content in 2016, but this year, tutorials attracted only 34% of views — they’re still in the lead for most popular beauty content type, but it’s a precipitous drop. Across the most popular food and beverage videos, tutorials and recipes attract 30M views on average, but parody, food comedy, and challenge videos receive far more views and engagements on average (up to 40M average views and 354K average engagements more in the case of prank videos). Viewers — particularly gamers — are also increasingly turning to YouTube for live video, which offers marketers an opportunity to leverage the urgency of live content to compel audiences to tune in. Since YouTube launched livestreaming in 2011, live gaming content has racked up more than 28B total views.

Advertisers are taking a stand

Brand marketers know that effective creative has the potential to impact their audience on a deeper level, and they’re increasingly choosing to connect with their audience over shared values on YouTube. Our data shows that the top 100 brands have published 4X more purpose-driven ads over the past 5 years. When done with authenticity, the strategy not only establishes a more meaningful connection with consumers, but also helps drive performance — purpose-driven ads attract 37.5% more views and 5% more engagements, on average, than non-cause related videos. Pixability’s research shows that brands most often advocate for women’s empowerment in their purpose-driven videos — clocking in at 24% of brand-owned cause-related video on YouTube — followed by themes of community aid (17%) and adversity (16%). Audiences most often view patriotic ads, which receive 28% of purpose-driven video views, followed by women’s empowerment (at 13% of views) and adversity videos (at 12% of views).

We have no doubt YouTube will continue to grow — from a content, audience, and advertiser perspective — in 2018. Smart marketers will stay attuned to these changes — and experiment with the latest ad formats and engagement options — to elevate video from a pure branding play to a more measurable driver of business impact in their marketing strategies.

Want more of Pixability’s insights? Check out our 2017 reports on the gaming, food and beverage, fashion, and beauty spaces across social video platforms, and stay tuned for our 2018 analysis.

Eric Linder is Pixability's Digital Strategist. A collaborative, data-driven strategist, Eric has a passion for bridging the gap between internal teams and customers while delivering robust business performance.