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Youtube can help in building brands

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Marketing is all about the visual element – and you don’t get more visual than telling stories through video

May 26, 2014 9:19 by

Sherine and her husband are adjusting to the idea of having a baby in their lives. Meanwhile, Hala, Sherine’s sister, soon discovers that freedom is not all that it’s cut out to be when she ventures out alone in a foreign city. However, no matter how far away from each other they are, the family stays connected (even with their mum back in Lebanon) through their weekly online chat sessions.

No, this is not the plot of a new TV series that will be aired on MBC. It’s the storyline of a web series, created by Marks & Spencer Arabia and it is aimed at building brand awareness and marketing products sold at the department store.

Today, regional advertisers have shifted their attention towards the platform of YouTube, which gives them a unique opportunity to connect with consumers on a whole different level than traditional advertising.

YouTube boasts 167 million views a day in the Arab world, making the MENA region the second biggest market after the United States. In fact, according to Google, the average Saudi Arabian viewer watches three times as many online videos as an American. In the UAE, YouTube is ranked first when it comes to video reach – even when including traditional TV channels.

However, despite the obvious potential of this medium, very little is being done in the way of content production. “In the Middle East, there are a lot of people who consume content but not a lot of people who create content,” explains Akanksha Goel, director, Socialize Agency. “There’s a whole market for brands and content creators to step in.”

The good news is that advertisers are starting to take notice. Brands like Coca-Cola, du and Philips are placing YouTube in the center of their marketing campaigns, says Goel. It has become apparent that many of these campaigns are also well received here in the region with Lux Sunlight’s ‘Wipe Your Bill Clean’ having been viewed more than 5 million times.

“[The key] is to associate emotional content with the brand. We tap into consumer passion points – not just about the brand – in the context of stories,” says Goel.  She explains that for a Philips Mother’s Day digital campaign, they took a different approach than getting people to send in pictures and have them vote on the best. Instead, people were asked to send videos of them talking about their mothers and then a surprise visit to the mums was also filmed, showing them receiving a special gift from Philips. The video got 150,000 views in a week. Working with YouTube has really changed the approach to “how we create content for our audience,” she adds.

So what’s next for the world of digital marketing? Goel says it’s hard to predict changing trends in a sector characterized by flux, especially seeing as new forms of social media pop up every now and then.

However, it has become increasingly clear that there has been a shift towards more visual forms of media, video being one of them. According to her, the next phase will see a more interactive approach to content. When watching a video, people can click on an actress and find out what she’s wearing and be linked to buy the same dress with a pop up. “Video content will change so that people are not just watching, but rather interacting with it,” says Goel.

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