Consumers Seeking Uplifting YouTube Content During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the wave of stay-at-home orders rolled out across the United States over the past several weeks, the use of YouTube has surged 15.3% to new highs, according to The New York Times article The Virus Changed the Way We Internet by Ella Koeze and Nathaniel Popper.

The surge in usage forced YouTube to reduce the quality of its videos from high to standard definition across the globe on March 24, 2020.

But, many brands and agencies want to know what are people watching, why they’re watching it, and how do they feel about the advertising they’re seeing?

Well, two new surveys by Channel Factory have found that people in the U.S. and U.K. are flocking to YouTube to improve their mood as well as to find uplifting, helpful, and educational content.

One of the surveys asked more than 1,000 YouTube viewers in the U.S., “What have you been watching in the past 2 weeks?”

According to a Pew Research Center survey in early 2019, 73% of U.S. adults used YouTube. And among those who are 18 to 24 years old, 90% used YouTube.

The only other social media platform that approaches YouTube in terms of its reach is Facebook, which was used by 69% of U.S. adults.

And Channel Factory found that 80% of consumers in the U.S. go to YouTube to improve their mood as they stay home and practice social distancing as a result of the Novel Conoravirus pandemic.

The survey also found that 69% of respondents felt that YouTube offers more uplifting content than other social media channels.

Although 33% of respondents said that they go to YouTube specifically for COVID-19 content, a much larger percentage is watching a broad variety of upbeat and useful videos:

  • 48% are watching entertainment videos.
  • 48% are consuming music-related content.
  • 33% are checking out comedy.
  • 31% are looking at do-it-yourself (DIY) videos.
  • 29% are feasting on cooking-related content.

And it’s worth noting that 70% of those 18-28 are seeking out entertainment content compared to 48% of the general population.

So, different content has different appeal to different segments of YouTube’s massive audience.

Tony Chen, CEO and Founder at Channel Factory, said:

“YouTube has seen a surge in viewers that are looking to learn, be entertained and to get good news. This inventory increase means that there is also a decrease in typical CPMs for this highly engaged audience. Brands can use contextual targeting to reach the exact audiences they want on very uplifting content for a relative bargain right now.”

When asked about the influencers they are seeking out the most in recent weeks, 30% of consumers said they were searching for authoritative news experts, but 46% were seeking out musicians and 40% were looking for comedians.

Examples of Uplifting Content in YouTube

YouTube’s Stay Home #WithMe

YouTube’s creators continue to encourage millions around the world to #StayHome.

And some of the platform’s most recognizable faces – including Casey Neistat, Emma Chamberlain, and John Green – teamed up a week ago for a new video to remind us that even though we’re far apart, there are still a million things we can do together.

Some Good News with John Krasinski

The top trending video on YouTube for the week ending March 30, 2020, provides another example of the kind of content that people are seeking.

Recently, John Krasinski launched a new YouTube show that’s dedicated to sharing good news.

You can see inspiring stories of people giving tribute to healthcare workers, neighbors helping each other, and heartfelt interviews with surprise guests (spoiler alert: Steve Carell) just by watching Some Good News with John Krasinski Ep. 1.

Google’s Tribute to the Healthcare Community

My wife is a nurse, so I’ve noticed that searches on Google for ways to thank healthcare workers have surged worldwide.

Watch this video, which was created by Google, to see an emotional tribute that recognizes the entire healthcare community and reminds us that one of the best ways to support them is to stay home and help save lives.

Chris Mann’s Parody of “Hello”

Prepare to laugh when you see how former “The Voice” contestant Chris Mann turned Adele’s hit song “Hello” into a parody of the challenges we’re facing during all of this social distancing.

What This Means for Brands

YouTube channels generate a massive amount of content each and every week.

Almost 44,000 YouTube channels had at least 250,000 subscribers, according to a Pew Research Center analysis published in July 2019.

Collectively, these popular channels uploaded 48,486 hours of content and got more than 14.2 billion individual views a week.

The average video was 12 minutes long and received nearly 60,000 views in the first seven days after it was posted.

And the Channel Factory research also points to a significant opportunity for brands to target positive and uplifting inventory on YouTube that:

  • Is contextually relevant.
  • Reflects the content that viewers say they want to see.

From comedy and cooking to crafting and crunches, YouTube’s surge in traffic goes far beyond topics directly related to the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

When asked specifically about YouTube advertising, survey respondents were positive about the role advertising plays on the site:

  • More than 70% of respondents said they want ads that both boost and align with their mood.
  • 29% of participants said they expect ads to be relevant to the content that they’re watching.

Chen added:

“So often, a brand uses a sledgehammer approach to media buying when there is negative news. But as this data shows, YouTube offers a huge variety of different uplifting topics that could be extremely well suited to a brands’ message. Rather than simply say ‘no UGC’ or ‘no news,’ a brand should think about a more tailored approach that picks out the highly valuable pockets of content among broader categories that they might typically not focus on.”

For example, YouTube’s own channel (yes, there’s a YouTube channel on the YouTube platform) now features 20 playlists and sections of the most popular Stay Home #WithME categories, including:

  • Jam With Me: “Can’t make it to the show? We’ll bring the show to you. Check out this week in music livestreams and be the living room audience for some up-close-and-personal performances.”
  • Bake With Me: “Take your #stressbaking to the next level with these bread, cookie, and cake recipes.”
  • Meditate With Me: “Relax, clear your mind, and take a guided meditation with these creators.”
  • Workout With Me: “Turn your home into your personal gym with these exercises that require just a pair of dumbbells or no equipment at all.”
  • Cook With Me: “Join creators in their kitchens to chop, sauté, and cook up a feast with these videos made to accompany you during your own meal prep.”
  • Game With Me: “Whether you’re into Animal Crossing or Apex Legends, pick your game of choice and start playing with these creators.”
  • Hang Out With Me: “From group chats to bath tub monologues, unwind at home and have a laugh with these entertainers.”
  • Get Ready With Me (to Go Nowhere): “Take advantage of your time at home to try out new looks with these creators as your guides.”
  • Draw With Me: “Pick your drawing tool of choice (pen, pencil, or paintbrush) and draw along with creators as they fill their pages with color.”
  • Experiment With Me: “Learn easy science experiments that you can try at home.”
  • Dance With Me: “Join these pro dancers to learn some new moves at home.”
  • Clean With Me: “Tackle cluttered rooms and dirty dishes in the company of these creators whose videos are designed to motivate you to tidy up.”
  • Craft With Me: “Knit, collage, and weave the time away with these creators, who share their go-to crafts.”
  • Study With Me: “Turn to these virtual study buddies for some company while you WFH.”
  • Plant With Me: “Exercise your green thumb by repotting, watering, and online shopping for new plants.”
  • Journal With Me: “Take part in a relaxing journaling session with these artistic creators.”
  • Read With Me: “Grab a cup of coffee or tea, settle into a comfy chair, and read alongside these creators.”
  • Stay Home and Watch Sports: “From MLB to FIFA, get your sports fix by reliving the glory of classic games from years past.”
  • Stay Home and Watch Movies: “Make some popcorn, grab a blanket, and curl up for a movie night with one of these recent releases,” which cost $4.99 to $19.99.
  • Slow the Spread: Expert tips and advice.

Now, the first 18 of these categories feature content created by influencers who accept advertising.

But, if you are trying to reach 18-29-year-olds, then you should know that the Channel Factory survey found that 35% expect ads to be well-targeted to their interests vs. 16% of the general population.

This means you should tailor your video ad’s content to the interests that YouTube has curated in order to improve the likelihood that you will successfully connect with your target audience.

Consumers in the U.K. Are Also Seeking Uplifting YouTube Content During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Channel Factory has also conducted a similar study in the U.K.

However, the second survey asked only 500 consumers based in the U.K. what they’re watching, why they’re watching it, and how they feel about the advertising they’re seeing.

The study uncovered that stay-at-home consumers on the other side of the pond flock to YouTube to cheer themselves up.

The report also shows that while fewer YouTube viewers have seen brands running ads next to content that makes them look bad – which is a positive indication that brand safety on the social video platform is improving – a significant number of them feel that brands could and should do a better job of targeting them and their moods contextually.

The key findings of the U.K. survey include:

  • 89% of respondents go to YouTube to improve their mood.
  • 81% find the platform’s content more uplifting than other channels.
  • Almost 70% of respondents want ads that both boost and align with their mood.
  • Almost 50% of the content being consumed is entertainment and music-related.
  • 26% of participants expect ads to be relevant to the content they’re watching.

And 60% of those 18-28 are seeking out entertainment content compared to 45% of the general population.

So, the skew in the U.K. is similar to the U.S., but slightly different on the other side of the pond.

The Takeaway

In short, the two studies by the Channel Factory provide a roadmap to advertisers looking for content that is suitable to their brand.

Hey, if “Some Good News with John Krasinski” or videos in the Bake With Me playlist don’t meet your brand safety standards, then you should probably plan to “go dark” for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Image Credits

In-Post Image: Channel Factory