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J&J touts YouTube successes after growing spend on the platform 250%

  • Johnson & Johnson has more than doubled its YouTube spend since 2015, according to Alison Lewis, global chief marketing officer of the pharma’s consumer companies, who spoke last week at the 2019 Digital Content NewFronts event in New York.
  • Lewis detailed how J&J’s YouTube strategy has evolved — not just to cover marketing, but also inform product-making decisions. The company noticed an uptick in YouTube searches for beauty products using lemon as an ingredient, which led to the creation of Clean & Clear Lemon, for example.
  • Similarly, an offering called C&C by Clean & Clear was developed with the help of Gen Z-focused YouTube creators Brooklyn and Bailey, who have an audience of 5.6 million young subscribers and helped J&J reach that lucrative market, Lewis said.

YouTube’s typically glitzy Brandcast presentation at NewFronts is a forum for the video platform to pitch advertisers and agencies on spending more with its service.

Lewis’ presentation on Thursday ticked off a lot of boxes for what’s currently in high demand in the industry. Marketers are looking to better engage younger consumer segments like Gen Z, figure out how to deliver personalized creative at scale and, most importantly, actually translate those tactics into sales.

The case studies that J&J shared underscored that many marketers remain interested in investing more in YouTube despite the platform’s continued struggle solving issues like brand safety. The topic was touched on briefly at the presentation, with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki? calling “responsibility” a No. 1 priority, but more of the discussions were about the benefits of digital.

“Today, we no longer look at digital as an add-on,” J&J’s Lewis said to an audience of more than 3,000. “We know it works and we know it delivers a better return on our investment.”

The executive compared the digital revolution heralded by the rise of platforms like YouTube to the industrial revolution around which J&J was founded in the late-19th century. She also detailed how YouTube provides more granular targeting than other channels that J&J has traditionally relied on, such as TV, allowing the company to cater better to consumer sets as specific as health-conscious gym-goers or on-the-go travelers.

“YouTube also gives us a direct line to our audience, allowing us to engage with them on their passions,” Lewis said. “YouTube helps us to create rich audiences we can’t with TV.”

At the start of the Brandcast presentation, Wojcicki boasted that watch time of YouTube on television screens has reached more than 250 million hours per day. 

Having grown its YouTube work meteorically since 2015, J&J has no plans to slow down. The company earlier this year promoted a new offering called Listerine Ready! Tabs, with creative intended to help viewers understand how the solid tabs dissolve into liquid mouthwash. The effort changed dynamically over time as consumers became more aware of the product, achieving significant brand lift and recall, according to Lewis.

“It was our largest digital investment ever and we made that investment because we believe in data-inspired creativity and we believe in the power of YouTube to help us drive results,” Lewis said.

Neutrogena, another personal care line, tapped YouTube’s Director Mix tool for customizing and sequencing video campaigns at scale in order to promote a makeup remover.

The brand created 21 videos with different copy and images and targeted them around time of day, location and weather to ensure relevancy. The campaign led to a 14% boost in sales, with 72% of incremental sales stemming from entirely new Neutrogena customers — results Lewis called an unprecedented return on investment for J&J.