YouTube's Satya Raghavan tells brands how to optimise their branded content

YouTube's algorithm plays a key role in getting views.

MUMBAI: Brands are aggressively producing branded video content and are willing to perform better in the dynamic environment, shared YouTube India director content partnerships Satya Raghavan during a fireside chat with founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari at the recently concluded BrandVid 2019 conference.

Even YouTube has seen a rise in the number of branded content briefs. Raghavan said, “Last year, my team used to get, probably, one brief a week, but now they are getting three briefs a day. It is purely because the number of advertisers has increased and so has the frequency at which brands want to do engaging content.”

YouTube being a driver of the digital video content space is definitely benefitting from this increase in brands’ interest to connect with the audience in a more relatable and entertaining way. Raghavan shared that 2018 saw the platform reach amazing strengths. “The past two years before 2018 were literally a boom for anyone in the content space because of the reach they got through platforms like Jio and other telcos coming together. For us, it was really important because we saw it coming and started investing in content a little ahead of the curve. By the time that the initial tsunami settled down in 2018, we saw that our content was at an amazingly scalable place. Today, our platform has an active monthly reach of about 265 million people, who come here not just for entertainment but also for information and education.”

Raghavan went on to add that an extraordinarily large part of these active monthly users is composed of daily active users.

On being asked by Wanvari how the brands are leveraging this thriving ecosystem in terms of creativity, Raghavan mentioned that brands have become mature and are sensitive and smart to the needs of the people. They do not want to do the obvious or over the top brand integrations. They want the message to seamlessly fit into the content.

Raghavan mentioned that FMCG category was the most active on YouTube, going beyond advertising. He cited the example of Colgate that sponsored YouTube’s original series Arrived, “When I walked into the first meeting with them, I was a little nervous about whether they would ask me to have one of the contestants hold the pack and say ‘this is Colgate’. But remarkably, the kind of brief that I got was actually evolved. It was not over the top integration but about sublime integration.”

The other category that is creating a buzz on YouTube with its branded content is the category of brands that are digital-only. These brands focus on video advertising as their primary marketing tactic. He also added that most brands tend to add humour but they need to be smart about it.

Raghavan added that brands are getting interested in telling slightly longer stories that resonate with their brand positioning. These brands avoid the staid route of placing their logos. “They want impact, salience and measurability. Content should be just laid and not dragged for a purpose,” he said. The one key point he highlighted for branded content is that they should think of the frequency or consistency of the uploads.

Further, replying to Wanvari’s question around brands seeking paid visits to their content, Ragahavan noted that about 50-60 per cent of the views for an average content creator actually happens because of the YouTube algorithm in the form of ‘suggested videos’ or ‘up next’. “We tell brands that this is the place where you have to be; where the platform is working hard for you. So, you obviously will do advertising to reach out to a particular consumer but over time, any piece of content that a brand puts out should reach 70 per cent (organically).”

He continued that while 30 per cent of the reach comes through marketing spends, it can decrease as creators optimise their content to be picked up by the algorithm.

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