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I wouldn’t exactly call myself a baker, but with two kids under the age of 10, you have to turn your hand to all sorts of new things. Recently I found myself saying: “OK, Google, show me Easter cake recipes.” I wasn’t disappointed. Over 270,000 results on YouTube from Jamie Oliver to home grown YouTube stars like Sorted Food, four schoolfriends who wanted to get better at cooking.

Our lives are more and more lived digitally, and we expect the answers to our questions to be relevant, accurate, and immediately available. We no longer want to wait for the next cooking show on TV. Why would we, when we can just tap our smartphone and browse away? WWW now seems to stand for “What I want, when I want, where I want it.”

We rely on internet searches to find the information important to us, whether we’re looking for inspiration, to discover new products, or simply to settle a debate with a colleague. 

And now, almost 10 years old, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. Take a moment to think about the last time you learned something new on YouTube - maybe when doing some work around the house, when trying to teach your kids how to play a new instrument, or just watching a documentary?.

You are not alone. YouTube It reaches almost 87% of UK online users over the age of 35 every month. This makes it a preferred destination for brands and retailers that want to connect with their consumers on their own terms, with longer commercials and original branded content.

“Brands are using YouTube for content that works harder for them”

Think of the Sainsbury’s Christmas commercial, a four- minute story so powerful it was the most popular ad on YouTube in 2014 with 17 million views. And they it didn’t stop there. Sainsbury’s then created a second piece of content to follow the ad - the Story Behind the Christmas Ad - and notched up a further one million views with ‘The story behind our Christmas ad’. Brands are using YouTube as a home for content that works harder for them. 

Looking beyond ads, you can also see a new type of channel evolving - branded channels that entertain and inform consumers. Asda is using this approach to connect with a crucially important consumer: mums. In early 2014, it created Mum’s Eye View, a channel that focuses on beauty, fashion, food and lifestyle.

To reach a wider audience and boost its fanbase, like many other brands Asda turned to YouTube celebrities. For its Christmas campaign, it worked with the YouTube power couples including Zoella and Alfie, who showed how to cook Christmas dinner using ingredients from Asda. 

Elsewhere, Pepsi Max engaged a key 18 to 34-year-old audience by working with YouTube creators and filmmakers to produce content for its Unbelievable platform. According to its CMO, by shifting from a TV-led model to digital content, return on investment increased 43%.

And while there are many more campaigns to inspire brands and retailers to embrace the creativity of online video, I think it all boils down to one basic rule - brands need be where their audience is. To keep my kids happy my cake just needs to be sweet. To turn them into loyal fans of cooking, that’s a different story. I’ll need to step up my game, figure out what their preferences are, adapt, get friendly with their friends, and when everything else fails, get some tips from an expert - the all-powerful mom.

Peter Fitzgerald is country sales director at Google