How are Brands Using YouTube During the Pandemic?

How are Brands Using YouTube During the Pandemic?

The coronavirus outbreak is perhaps the most unimaginably horrifying situation that mankind has come face-to-face with in the past few months. Stay-at-home orders have gotten people to stay cooped up at home for safety. Businesses across the globe, irrespective of their size and nature, have fallen into dark days of revenue loss, stagnated growth, hiring freeze and lay-offs, and at worse, permanent cessation of operations. Thriving startups and renowned brands are now resorting to serious cost-cutting practices in terms of marketing and advertising to stay afloat.

But the most interesting point to note is how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way brands market themselves. Not to forget, even consumers of these brands have been shifting their approach to “buying” in general. So any growth strategy that worked up until the beginning of this year may not work going forward. Brands have realized that they need to strategize every marketing move—from TV advertising to YouTube marketing—to stay abreast of these challenging times.

COVID-19 and YouTube ads?

When it comes to YouTube marketing, the scenario has changed significantly ever since the pandemic hit. While each brand is striving to get more YouTube views and YouTube subscribers, the video marketing platform is changing its game—something that marketers need to be cautious about.

YouTube recently announced that it would allow certain content creators to enable ads and capitalize on content related to coronavirus. This move by the platform has brought strategies of brands into the spotlight. They need to now evaluate their YouTube marketing strategies to achieve reasonable growth during the pandemic. YouTube now intends to refine its content exclusion metrics and relook at its advertising environment.

YouTube classifies coronavirus-related content under the “Controversial issues and sensitive events policy.” This policy of the video-streaming platform prevents YouTube advertisers from monetizing on events that cause loss of life. The pandemic is one such event. But now, YouTube has decided to allow ads related to the virus and the pandemic to run on news partners and channels of a few content creators. So, brands have to keep these changes in mind if they wish to avoid any risks associated with posting undesirable videos.

What are consumers watching on YouTube now?

There’s one clear fact about consumers that brands should know—consumers are consuming more content on YouTube during the pandemic than ever before. As stay-at-home orders have been in place in several countries of the world, there’s been a 15.3-percent rise in YouTube usage in the US alone. But there’s one question that brands want the answer for—what are consumers watching on YouTube during the pandemic?

Well, consumers across the globe are swarming to YouTube to stay entertained while they are holed up at home. They are now looking for videos that boost their mood and help them get useful information about the novel coronavirus. Anything brand content that’s uplifting people during the pandemic is getting high YouTube views.

Needless to say, the virus quarantine has been a boon to YouTube. As watch time is high across the board, the platform has now focused its efforts on creating direct-to-respond ability—something’s in demand and allows marketers to advertise cost-effectively. But the need of the hour for brands is to come up with content that reflects the gravity of the pandemic. Their messaging should not only be sales-focused but also valuable, utility-driven and empathetic. This is a unique opportunity for brand advertisers to reach out and connect with their YouTube subscribers through well-targeted contextual ads at a reasonable cost.

What are consumers watching on YouTube now

Acing YouTube metrics during the pandemic

Be it getting real YouTube subscribers, a good line of YouTube views, or achieving growth in the realm, things have become challenging for brands. Posting video content is not just about getting YouTube views and YouTube subscribers now. It’s also about creating real value for subscribers and uplift them during the crisis. Here are a few ways for brands to achieve growth on the platform:

Creating authentic content

The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in an era of misinformation— something that’s a cause of concern for both marketers and consumers. Such fake, misleading content is enough to create a sense of fear in consumers for all the wrong reasons. Also, marketers might land up showing their advertisements along with content that is harmful or out of line with their values. As such, brands have to now focus on the genuineness and veracity of the content they are offering on YouTube. They will have to come up with videos that throw light on the crisis and give their YouTube subscribers an informational piece of content that’s authentic in nature.

Addressing concerns of YouTube subscribers

YouTube subscribers of brands want to know what’s happening with their favorite brand and how it’s going to address their concerns. Consumers are worried about the pandemic and are heavily impacted by the lockdown. First and foremost, they are concerned about getting their daily essentials without having to step out of their homes. Hence, now is the time for brands to come up with YouTube ads that show how they care for their consumers. This is the perfect opportunity for them to extend their helping hand towards fighting the pandemic and win the trust of their consumers.

Connecting people even though they are socially distant

The ultimate idea behind social distancing is not to separate humans but to save humanity from the deadly virus. Isolation norms are meant to do good to the society at large by curbing the spread of the coronavirus. This is something new and comfortable for most people to deal with. But brands have to turn discomfort into something meaningful by showing people that they are all fighting the battle against coronavirus together. They need to urge people to stay at home yet connect them together as they stay apart for their own safety. Brand content on YouTube should, therefore, show solidarity and support crucial entities like health workers and the community at large.

Brands and their ad campaigns during the pandemic

Getting real YouTube subscribers at the time of the pandemic will depend largely on the relevance and quality of the video content. A few brands have already got the grasp of it and have come up with some interesting ad campaigns. Let’s check them out here:

YouTube’s #WithMe videos

There’s a quick surge of “with me” videos on YouTube. In these videos, YouTube viewers take part in an activity together while being cooped up at their homes. The goal of these video campaigns is to encourage people to stay at home yet stay connected with the world virtually. Whether its cooking, studying, cleaning, or shopping, things can be done together despite staying at home. YouTube themselves came up with a stay home #WithMe video that brought come recognizable faces such as John Green, Emma Chaberlain and Casey Neistat to screen. The video is a reminder that we can do many things together, even when we are apart.


The legendary carmaker Ford has a long-standing commitment to their mission and consumers. Being in the automobile business for more than a century, Ford takes pride in its ability to tackle tough times. It recently came up with two campaign videos, “Built for Right Now” and “Built to Lend a Hand.” Both these videos show the commitment of the company towards fighting a crisis that’s engulfing humanity on a global scale. They clearly reflect the brand’s resilience and its ability to support the community when everything seems to be falling apart.


The next on the list is a campaign done by McDonald’s Philippines. It’s true that consumers in general are concerned about protecting themselves during this pandemic. Since the virus is spreading rampantly, the fast-food chain laid down the precautions it is taking to ensure the safety of their valuable consumers. Their video brings CEO and President Kenneth Yang to give this assurance to consumers. His message clearly show McDonald’s commitment to consumer safety, food quality, sanitizing practices, and customer service.


Last but not the least, it is Ikea Spain’s campaign that’s made a mark with its relevance to these times. The quarantining regime brought about by the pandemic has become a source of stress and loneliness for a number of people. It started the #I’mStayingHome campaign on YouTube both for its English-speaking and Spanish-speaking audiences. Through the campaign, the brand sought to remind its consumers that despite the world around them changing drastically, they have already created a stable world where they dance, play with kids, make music, and unwind with their beloved ones. The campaign is a small tribute to people’s homes and invite YouTube subscribers to view their space from a different vantage point.

Bottom line

It’s a bitter pill to swallow but the coronavirus pandemic is not ending anytime soon, at least not until a vaccine is out. Brand marketing has certainly experienced a huge shift with this. For those leveraging YouTube, it’s time that they check out the platform’s new algorithms to rank videos and the expectations moderators have from content creators. When brands keep pace with these times, there are more chances of them getting more real YouTube subscribers and more YouTube views without violating any content posting norms.

How are Brands Using YouTube During the Pandemic? by SubPals Writers,
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