- Content targeting might be the most effective way for brands to reach YouTube viewers without relying on audience data, according to a study by IPG's Magna unit commissioned by Zefr whose results were made available in a news release. Zefr provides content marketing solutions to YouTube advertisers.
- The study tested how content targeting, demographic targeting and channel targeting performed across campaigns from Hulu, Jeep and a "major CPG brand." Ads delivered via content targeting were less likely to be skipped, especially on mobile devices, Magna found. The ads also had a 34% higher completion rate over other targeting methods and viewers found content targeting to be 33% less intrusive than channel- or demographic-based targeting.
- When ads are misaligned with content, however, they can be annoying and consumers can even perceive that misalignment as brands not knowing what they're doing or not caring about their customers, the study found. In some cases, this can harm brand perception.
While the Magna research was commissioned by a firm specializing in YouTube content marketing and therefore could be biased, it still provides an interesting comparison of several key targeting approaches at a time when marketers are looking for the most effective way to reach audiences. Demographic- and channel-based targeting have been industry standards for years, but might be proving less effective as consumer perceptions and habits shift. This is especially true of younger generations like Gen Z — a huge audience segment on YouTube — who are increasingly viewed as resisting traditional demographic groupings.
These findings arrive as marketers are face serious disruptions to the way they handle their online ad targeting. Over the past year or so, a number of data privacy and brand safety scandals affecting ad giants like Facebook and YouTube's parent company Google have lead to increased public and regulatory scrutiny of the digital advertising space. The EU's General Protection Data Regulation, which requires internet companies to receive informed consent from users before collecting any information on them, also goes into effect later this month and could put limits on what data brands glean from consumers.
Matching campaigns to broad content categories might be a way to continue to effectively engage audiences on platforms like YouTube, which people frequently turn to for video how-tos, product demos or to catch up with influencers and content creators. More than 70% of consumers prefer ads that are tailored to their interests and shopping habits, according to a 2016 study from Adlucent. The research found personalized ads boost engagement, with viewers 2x as likely to click through for an ad promoting an unknown product as long as it was in-line with their preferences.