The latest dedicated session at the Hub Institute – the Paris-based digital think tank – comes a week after the annual Cannes Lions festival. The event featured speakers from YouTube and Snapchat as well as from a number of innovative media agencies who are all looking at what’s next for companies looking to harness every channel and every technology currently available for promoting themselves, their services and their products.
For businesses that want to get a head start over their competition in terms of targeting the potential customers of tomorrow, the message is clear. Get to grips with YouTube, fast.
“The future is an 11-year-old who already has their first smartphone,” said Arthur Kannas, CEO and co-founder of Heaven, by way of introducing a year-long study on the digital trends of European 10-18-year-olds. “For [this generation] YouTube is not a platform, it is a culture.”
Social media use is rife among tweens but over the past 12 months, Heaven’s research noted there’s been a migration from Facebook – a 23 percent drop in membership within this generation between 2016 and 17, while use of Snapchat and Instagram continues to grow.
But, unlike YouTube, these social networks are seen as platforms. That’s because on the video sharing site, users are active, not passive participants. A generation ago there was cultural capital in being able to claim at morning recess that you were the first kid in school to see the latest episode of a TV show. And that tradition continues but now it’s the latest video from a YouTube creator. And that’s why 91 percent of pre-teens are daily YouTube users.
The figures show that 11-13-year-olds spend an hour every day using YouTube: music videos are the most popular content, followed by comedy, gaming, and vlogs (video blogs). But as well as escapism, this generation is also using the site for answers. Tutorials and how-to videos are the next most popular types of content.
But this trend isn’t reserved for post-Millennials.
“We are all watching more and more video every day,” said Pauline Butor, head of YouTube and Video for Google, France. “According to Cisco, by 2021, 82 percent of internet traffic will be video. More and more video will become our source for information and for entertainment.”
In addition to challenging companies who will now have to ensure video is a major part of their media mix, be it for corporate or customer advertising or for simply communicating a message, it represents a massive opportunity.
We interact very differently with visual media.
“Our brains like video,” explains Karine Rielland-Mardirossian head of visual media strategy company Advideum. “Video comes closest to taping into the emotion of our daily life.”
This emotional connection increases viewers’ empathy levels and that is key. When we feel empathy towards something, it is more memorable. Little wonder that, according to Rielland-Mardirossian, 90 percent of consumers find video helps with the decision making process when it comes to purchasing a big-ticket item.
Therefore, companies wanting to reach customers via video, need to stop targeting by age and start considering emotion. The audience isn’t generation x, y or z. it is a collection of communities or tribes built around a brand or a shared emotion or belief. Whether it’s a passion for innovation or a dedication to living well and respecting the planet.
“As the companies driving the sharing economy show, nurturing a community is now the most effective form of advertising and brand building,” says Geoffrey Boulakia, General Manager EMEA of TSC, Sitel Group’s Digital CX Agency. “Organizations with the strongest brand loyalty can empower their communities to become an active promotional voice to the point where their biggest fans become content creators and promoters.”
But how video is served up is continually evolving, especially when it comes to advertising via mobile. During his talk, Geoffrey La Rocca, head of Teads, a French company that develops native video advertising, demoed a recent Tommy Hilfiger video ad with an integrated chatbot that lets viewers interact and learn more about the season’s collection. This also solves the problem of how to keep customers exposed to and engaged with a video ad. The average interaction time is over two minutes.
More impressive is a campaign for the luxury Audi A8 sedan with an integrated voicebot. You can speak to the ad and ask it questions as it plays – a clever use of the technology as one of the car’s defining features is its next-generation voice recognition and voice command technology. According to La Rocca, the integrated voice bot gave the ad a 50 percent jump in engagement rates.
“These types of innovation should not be seen as gimmicks,” continues Boulakia. “They provide valuable data for calculating return on investment – each interaction can be counted, each opinion or question collated. And crucially, when it comes to voice as a channel, it is the most frictionless form of interaction for people of all ages. It’s why voice is poised to shake up advertising as much as customer experience.”
And if that’s the present, what’s next? To answer that question, Grégoire Gimaret, head of product strategy for Snapchat, France, took to the stage and extolled the potential of the camera.
“The camera is a chance to offer a new level of immersion,” he said. “You are going to have to add the camera into your media mix.”
The camera has evolved from a means of capturing a moment to a means of communicating – Snapchatters globally spend on average one hour a week taking selfies – and it is about to become a tool for understanding and altering the world around us.
In other words, Augmented Reality (AR).
“The camera is becoming an OS and Snapchat is the world’s most used camera,” explained Gimaret. “70 percent of users already play with AR in Snapchat.”
This AR can mean a comedy nose on a friend, automatically annotating video with information about the weather or landmarks, or it can bring a new dimension to advertising. Making the real world an extension of a campaign and turning it into an interactive game.
“Snapchat is a major disruptor and one that clearly understands the next generation of consumers,” points out Boulakia. “While it’s adding AR to advertising campaigns, Facebook is also looking at the technology’s commercial applications. It’s adding AR renderings of products to Facebook Messenger so that shoppers can get an interactive feel for a product before they buy, thus shortening the path to purchase. But this is just the start. Expect to see more and more exciting applications for the technology, especially as the overwhelming majority of consumers globally, already have a device – the smartphone – that supports it.”