Return’s Highlights from YouTube BrandcastUK

By Stephen Murphy
on 24/11/17

Being part of the Video Masters programme this year has been great for Return and we are passionate about the benefits the platform offers our clients. Equally, working with our clients to utilise YouTube in their digital strategies more than ever this year has been fantastic.

For us, YouTube is just one of the key environments where prospects and consumers are visible online. It is a part of their online journey, and presents brands with a significant opportunity.


By using the AdWords platform properly, advertisers can run highly targeted campaigns aimed at either introducing, nurturing, reinforcing, persuading, converting or even cross selling. We have delivered great results through the channel this year and continue to see it as a great way to promote a brand in a targeted, measurable fashion.

The show was full of entertaining and insightful guests and speakers, with Jack Whitehall as presenter. Successful influencers who have leveraged YouTube, brands such as BT who have achieved success by harnessing the channel, and entertaining interludes from beatboxers, dancers, parody content and even Craig David and Kurupt FM. The after show party didn’t disappoint either.

Outside of the glitz of the show however, there were some key messages weaved throughout.


Brand Safety

Google used the opportunity to directly address some of the challenges that the past 12 months have thrown up for the platform in terms of child safety and extremist content. These followed on from the previously communicated stricter community standards relayed earlier this year.

Further updates and more detail can be found on the YouTube blog.

Whilst celebrating all that is great about the channel, Ronan Harris (Vice President & MD UK & Ireland at Google) chose to directly underline the focus and investment YouTube is making, to ensure the platform is as free of questionable content and manipulative comment as possible. Filtering out unacceptable content such as extremist and radical views and child safety, are at the top of the YouTube agenda. In addition, they are using positive voices in these subject areas to amplify anti-hate messaging.

Humza Arshad spoke about the power of the YouTube platform. Inspirational and funny in equal measure, Humza spoke about the sensitive topics he has been able to discuss and challenge common perceptions on. Topics such as bullying and Islamophobia have been covered and been so well received, that this content has now been taken offline into schools to help tackle extremism.


Why Specifically Raise Brand Safety?

Earlier in 2017, brands including, but not limited to, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and O2 decided to withdraw investment from the platform. This was due to the apparent lack of control and transparency of which videos a brand investing in advertising would be appearing before, after, during or alongside.

This event was a good opportunity for Google to underline their stance on this, and outline the measures they are taking to address it. Machine learning algorithms now remove 83% of extremist content from YouTube automatically, and that value is growing all the time. There is a zero-tolerance approach, an example of which is predatory commenting on videos.  There is a commitment to tackling emerging issues with urgency, and YouTube has invested in a network of experienced independent experts and trusted flaggers of content.

YouTube and Google will continue to work closely with their agency partners to ensure approaches remain transparent, collaborative, and that they continually strive towards the highest possible standards.


Thinking Bigger

In recent years, YouTube has become a true rival platform for TV. That isn’t to say that TV is dead, far from it… but YouTube presents brands with the ability to engage, connect on an emotional level, and continue the conversation with a specific user in a way that just isn’t possible via TV or Video on Demand. Targeting capability and data set YouTube apart. That is undeniable.

BT presented a great summary of this. They outlined how they have used their initiative of streaming free to view content (normally only available through paid services), such as the champions league final to populate their audience remarketing pool strategies for 2017. It is completely logical – the value exchange is clear.

Give users something for free, and then gain access to them for remarketing, storytelling, engagement and any other digital marketing purposes on an ongoing, rolling basis to try and convert them into a BT Sport subscriber. It seems so simple! But if that’s the case, why aren’t more subscription broadcasting brands using this tactic?

Growing Engagement

Users engaging with content on the platform are adopting the smart technology available to them. SMART televisions now account for approximately 15% of all views on YouTube, and the daily watch time for the 18-24-year-old audience now exceeds one hour. 18-34-year olds are viewing 55 minutes on average. That is truly an amazing statistic given the perception that this audience of ‘millennials’ are frequently labelled as having low attention spans and aren’t prepared to sit through lengthier content.

This statistic was further strengthened when NAMECHECK from Little Dot Media outlined that the 18-34-year-old audience are truly switched on and engaging with documentary content. Little Dot Media are now building a truly broad-spectrum content base for all documentary genres through their Real Stories original documentary series.

The Power and Scale of YouTube

As a bit of a Joe Wicks fanboy (which I unashamedly admit), it was great to hear his story.


Not all heroes wear capes, and having lost around 20% of my own weight by following his diet plans and workouts in 12 months, I believe in what he promotes. I also use the exact behaviours he was discussing. His audience do too obviously, which is why most of his successful videos are viewed around half a million times at least (and in many cases for the 20 full minutes).

He is using the platform to fuel his business, and recognises where people are consuming his content. In many cases, again, in front of their SMART devices working out at home.

The last 12 months has seen him focus attention on YouTube content; workouts for the masses, easy meals, workouts for schools to get children fit. His DVD sales are dwarfed by the reach and engagement he sees on YouTube.

If you were a fitness brand, the opportunity here to capitalise on content relative to your niche is huge. Not just here, but also with the YouTube Originals content which is next up as the new content monetisation initiative being delivered by Google for the platform. Jack Whitehall will have his own show, and headline sponsors are being recruited right now!



We all know the potential opportunity presented by YouTube, but it was great to see that they aren’t resting and sitting back, but are continuing to invest.

Brands in the room who are content creators already will have been inspired to think of new ways to edit and produce. Brands who aren’t doing it will be wondering how they can, and why they aren’t, already.

Many brands who aren’t yet harnessing the YouTube platform will have been given motivation to rethink that position.

Platform innovations were referenced and are due to be announced in the coming weeks. New advertising formats and opportunities are being explored and developed all the time, whilst not forgetting that to build trust and confidence in both consumers and brands alike, the battle against hateful content cannot and must not stop.

The fun continued with DJ sets from Craig David TS5 and Dizzee Rascal. Not a bad way to end the night…