YouTube has over a billion users, making it an important investment platform for advertisers. YouTube’s sales department needed a tool to highlight the potential of YouTube to advertising executives, and a way to introduce them to the needs and experiences of the audience that the ads would ultimately reach. We did this by connecting with the users, having them self-document their experiences, and by studying their behaviour, motivations and choices.
We studied ad-blocking and discovered the phenomenon of deliberate ad-unblocking, using our findings to make strategic recommendations on the optimal ad type, timing and context to have the best connection with the viewer.
We found that people use YouTube in dramatically different ways and that had implications for how well ads were received and processed in the mind of the viewer.
We asked users to shoot pictures and video of themselves using YouTube over the course of a week. Mobile ethnography was a valuable, inexpensive tool that allowed us to get an intimate and noninvasive look into the lives of YouTube viewers. Respondents can capture what is truly important to them, and the output provides colourful, rich and sharable visual data. After sifting through the responses, we were able to pick those with the most interesting stories and scenarios, and return to them for a deeper conversation with in-depth interviews.
The result was a dozen documentary-style videos describing when and how people in the Nordic countries use YouTube. The films show how YouTube helps people solve everyday challenges, and how it’s possible to snowball into a video-watching binge, even if your intention is just to have a short break: to start watching a music video about Rihanna and end up with a tutorial on how to talk with giraffes.
The videos IIAB created each reflect a specific user need addressed by YouTube, which became rich marketing material currently being used by the YouTube sales department.
With this we gave Google a great tool to engage advertisers in the understanding of the many different ways people use YouTube. It provided a different kind of dialogue and ultimately an easier sales situation for Google ad sellers.