Current state of YouTube Marketing – Agencies & Brands do a SWOT analysis

State of YouTube Marketing

Social Samosa attempts to understand the current state of YouTube marketing with respect to how different brands stand to leverage from the medium and the challenges along the way.

The evolution of YouTube in the last decade and the evolution of the state of YouTube Marketing has been dramatic, to say the least.

In YouTube Brandcast 2019, the video platform boasted of 265M users in India while expecting to reach 500M by 2020. YouTube grew from 15 million to 265 million Daily Active Users in a span of 5 years.

While there have been brands such as Swiggy and Spotify who got YouTube marketing right with their pre-roll/mid-roll campaigns, shopping cards, and video strategy, there are many who still treat the platform as an extended version of television.

Further YouTube Marketing Opportunities and subsequent challenges also change with the sector the brand belongs to and the nature of the campaign objective.

In conversation with industry experts, Social Samosa attempts to understand the current state of YouTube marketing.

Current State of YouTube Marketing – Agency Speak

A general survey of Indian brands’ official YouTube channels gives an understanding of how beauty, consumer electronics, and food brands have managed to crack the YouTube marketing code, while legacy brands or brands that are more massy in terms of products/offerings struggle in terms of making decision of how they wish to use the platform.

This obviously isn’t a result of lack of digital marketing literacy but also the video platform’s own shortcomings in terms of niche solutions across sectors.

“Most Indian brands are still using YouTube in a safe manner and not going beyond the usual media properties that the platform offers,” shares Binodan KD Sarma, Vice President, Dentsu Impact.

According to Sharma, brands need to look at YouTube from a creation and collaboration of branded content perspective.

“If they (brands) continue to use YouTube as an alternative to Television or only as a reach medium (though contextually), going ahead, when more people with real buying power, begin using premium YouTube services (ad free), then it will begin to hurt. Brands need to get into creation and collaboration of branded content.”

The understanding of the new role of YouTube marketing can be achieved with a simple question – when was the last time you actively watched an ad and when was the last time you active watched a web series?

Prachi Bali, Business Head- North, FoxyMoron believes that while a good number of brands are churning out decent content for various digital marketing channels, she wouldn’t think that the use of YouTube is being done to an optimum level.

“Large numbers of brands still don’t understand the platform that well and don’t see the distinction between a TV Plan and YouTube Plan, both in terms of measurability and creative content,” Bali shares. “Further, the perception of video content being suitable for ‘Hero Campaigns’ only, therefore again restricts the kind of videos the brand creates.”

Bali explains that there is a lack of experimentation with unique content created specifically for the brand. “Either they stick to a tried and tested formula or they want to create ‘viral’ content which doesn’t really exist today.”

Brands should first experiment with different types of content to find what resonates with their TG. Post which, basis the campaign objectives can be identified.

While the problem is prominent, it definitely isn’t universal for there are brands that have been acing YouTube as well. Sarma reiterates how certain sectors have taken the content approach on YouTube and Bali shares that she liked the work done by Spotify India with Anil Kapoor as the brand aced the pre-roll targeting game.

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Current State of YouTube Marketing – Brand Speak

The diversity of Indian brands reflects the diversity of their approach towards YouTube. Depending on their level of engagement with the platform, the degree and nature of opportunities and challenges differ. That is of course if brands have been using YouTube as an independent platform. Reflecting on the same are 4 brands from different categories – each using YouTube in a different way resulting in different results and challenges.

Kokuyo Camlin uses YouTube for building engagement with children by giving them a complete brand experience through the infotainment way.

Saumitra Prasad, CMO, Kokuyo Camlin shares that while YouTube now offers improved capabilities, the challenge initially faced by the brand in around marketing on YouTube used to be around targeting. “Since now YouTube has evolved and has become a search engine in itself, it is easier for marketers to reach their bull’s eye TG,” Prasad quips.

Speaking about a different industry, Saahil Kumar, Head- Marketing, Sennheiser India shares that the brand uses YouTube with the objective of particularly reaching out to and connecting with the younger sect.

“We are not using YouTube just as a source of amplification but are also focused on developing products (microphones, etc.) that cater to this segment – content creators,” Kumar says.

Sennheiser India has been using YouTube as a part of larger campaigns, exclusive content such as Pro-Talk series, showcasing product USPs and uses, and collaboration with creators of different genres.

The brand, however, has been facing a few challenges in terms of screen agnostic video planning. “Screen agnostic video planning is still a conversation that raises more questions than answers. In addition to this, measuring cross-media reach using a common metric can be challenging,” Kumar feels.

Moving on to Real Estate, Shonali Shetty, Head of Marketing, The Wadhwa Group shares that YouTube marketing in real estate is still in a nascent stage. “For Real Estate it’s still nascent, though evolving as more players understand that it’s only brand value which will enable purchase decisions and act as a differentiator.”

One of the more active YouTube marketers, Nykaa, shares that understanding how YouTube works and who is their audience on the platform has helped craft a marketing strategy.

Madhavi Irani, Chief Officer – Content, Nykaa.com, informs, “On Nykaa TV – which is our key content and marketing channel on YouTube – our focus is on educative, entertaining beauty content that caters to a wide range of users across multiple levels of expertise. Our strategy is 3 pronged – Create, customize, and curate.”

Nykaa boasts of a content spread ranging from DIYs, product reviews to creator collaboration on their YouTube channel. The challenges faced by the brand also lie in the content creators’ arena.

 “The biggest challenge for brands is the flood of content creators on YouTube eating into watch time for users – especially in a space as competitive as beauty,” Irani shares. “Brands do not have the credibility of a content creator and hence take longer to build a loyal audience. However, brands have the resources that content creators do not and hence just need to invest these wisely to be at par in the content game.”

New Decade, New Opportunities, New Challenges

The answer to the problem of a cautious approach by brands lies in digital marketing literacy and a basic understanding of consumer behavior. Once content as a means to marketing has been understood, the sky is the limit. OTT video marketing is an important trend in formation (remember Fevicol releasing its 60th-anniversary ad on Hotstar?).

The more technical challenges can be solved with expert services and needless to say, YouTube too will be scaling up in terms of niche solutions.

For more functional solutions, there are a number of YouTube marketing tips that our experts conclude with:

“Start investing in content creation and use your YouTube channels innovatively. Give consumers a reason to come to your channel and find relevant and interesting content,” says Sarma.

“Study consumer culture, match content to campaign objectives, and get to regional content before your competitors do,” Bali shares.


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Saloni Surti
A writer by Karma, grammar Nazi by heart and traveler by hope, Saloni loves to pen about anything under the sun. With six years of journalism experience under her kitty, Saloni has tried hands on various beats including – Social Media, e-commerce, Mobile, Indian radio, Advertising, Food and Travel. Writing for various national and international publications has given Saloni an understanding of the science of social media.