As we begin 2019 in earnest, it is important to reflect on some of the marketing lessons that last year provided.
For YouTube, 2018 presented an opportunity for us to demonstrate how we used a combination of human review and machine learning to address some of the challenges that we had with ensuring that ads are not appearing against inappropriate content.
For instance, from July to September 2018, we removed 7.8m videos; 81 per cent of these videos were first detected by machines, and of those detected by machines, 74.5 per cent had never received a single view. We know that there is more work to do, and we continue to invest in people and technology to remove violative content quickly.
It was also a year of huge growth for our own talent. Many of the year’s brightest creative stars burst into our lives through YouTube, making us laugh and helping us learn along the way – from Mr Bruff’s popular GCSE lessons, to Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”, which has over 460m views on YouTube. For our advertisers, the year brought exciting opportunities: new formats such as ad pods (skippable, back-to-back ads) which encourage users to engage with long-form content with fewer interruptions, building an even more receptive and engaged audience.
In 2018, across the industry we saw clients and agencies demanding more transparency than ever. There has been huge progress in the clarity and control given to advertisers – and this is all facilitated by technology. Verification tech is increasingly helping forge stronger partnerships between agencies and advertisers, without negatively impacting consumer experiences.
We have also seen advertising begin to move beyond the classic objective of reaching eyeballs to recognising the new “attention economy”. With endless media options vying for our attention, advertisers are now acutely aware that attention has to be earned – without attention, advertising is simply not effective.
So, how do you ensure that your audience is paying attention? The answer lies in data. It empowers us go beyond basic demographics, and target audiences based on their state of mind.
BT Sport illustrated this well with its 2017-18 Ashes advertising. Data revealed that cricket fans weren’t just searching for cricket, but for other sports highlights too. BT Sport enlisted Geoffrey Boycott to directly and disruptively appeal to fans to drop what they were watching and tune into the cricket – driving a 40 per cent year-on-year uplift in sales.
The last year taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my career, but more importantly it has further boosted my optimism for the future of marketing. Technology has remarkable potential to empower people and businesses. As long as marketers continue to listen and learn from our audiences, partners and clients, the future is bright.