YouTube says Multi-Format Content is Key for Winning Audiences at Awards Shows

Tim Cross 20 February, 2023 

There’s been a lot of discussion over the past few years about the decline of televised awards shows, as the likes of the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys (bar this year’s) have seen falling viewership.

But it’s not necessarily the case that these awards shows aren’t of interest to audiences anymore. But it may well be that a full live stream of these shows isn’t what they’re looking for.

YouTube partnered with UK music awards show the BRITs for the third time this year. And YouTube’s head of sales for UK and Ireland Erica Probst says that rather than waning interest, the platform continues to see very high engagement with content relating to the awards show. And as is increasingly the case with YouTube content in general, plenty of this viewing is still in the living room via connected TVs.

Probst says there are a number of reasons why a show like the BRITs works well on YouTube, and a significant one is the variety of content types which are available. For international audiences, there was the classic full live stream of the event (which was broadcast by ITV in the UK). But there was also a mix of shorter highlights and ultra-short clips (YouTube’s ‘Shorts’ format) created throughout the event – and this content mix helps reach a wider range of audiences.

“That trend is the very reason why we’ve launched the ‘BRITs Unseen’ campaign [which highlighted how viewers could watch behind-the-scenes moments on YouTube] is because we know that users want to see that  footage, they are looking for more social short form, snackable content,” said Probst. “Some audiences do want to watch the whole live stream, but others, particularly Gen Z audiences are really just looking for those snackable moments.”

YouTube can also leverage some of its home grown stars – who younger audiences will be familiar with – to host this content. For the BRITs, Amelia Dimoldenberg, known for her ‘Chicken Shop Dates’ interview series on YouTube, hosted YouTube’s red carpet coverage.

This split in formats, and devices which viewers are watching from, obviously throws up potential challenges from an advertisers’ point of view in terms of reaching those audiences. But Probst says YouTube is increasingly using AI to help target campaigns across various formats.

“We’re using AI to deliver campaign optimisations so that we enable the best placement for any particular campaign objective. So, for example, with a small selection of creative formats, we can help advertisers optimize across TV and mobile,” she said. “And then, depending on the objective of whether you want to build brand awareness or whether you want to capture demand and create leads or high quality site traffic, we’re using AI and a small selection of creative formats to optimize those campaigns for advertisers.”

Another key factor for why awards shows work well on YouTube according to Probst is that younger audiences associate YouTube with more diverse content – a factor which is perhaps particularly significant for awards shows which have faced questions around diversity in recent years.

“We found that 95 percent of people who self-identify as Asian, Black, or of mixed ethnic groups are coming to YouTube at least once a month. And close to 80 percent of them are saying that YouTube represents that wide range of voices, people, and perspectives,” said Probst. “So audiences are able to connect with creators who speak to their passions, who they resonate with.”

Again, AI is playing a role here on the advertising side. Probst says that advertisers have often missed out on valuable content because of exclusionary targeting. For example, many advertisers specifically avoid advertising next to rap music, because they’re worried about the lyrical content. But rap music is some of YouTube’s most popular content, and excluding the entire genre because some songs might reference topics that brands want to avoid is somewhat inelegant.

Probst says that YouTube is now using AI to help brands run brand safety more effectively, filtering out only videos which really do fall foul of a brand’s suitability criteria, helping them reach some of YouTube’s most valuable audiences more effectively.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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