Primetime is now personal

This post was done in partnership with Google.

The vast improvements in technology and connectivity have changed the means and ways the world consumes media. Content is now available at any moment effortlessly at the touch of a button. Viewers nowadays have full control of when, how and what they choose to watch, resulting in traditional primetime, which were dictated by fixed windows and mediums, replaced by highly engaged personal primetime.

Marc Woo, country manager of Google Malaysia shares with advertising + marketing the evolution of television, the behaviour of online media consumption in Malaysia and where it's heading towards in the contemporary always connected landscape.

Can you share a little bit about primetime and how it is beneficial for advertisers?

Traditionally, prime time referred to a fixed few hours in the day when the majority of viewers would engage with broadcast content; for example, the news at 8pm and a popular TV series following it. This has changed a lot thanks to platforms such as YouTube. Since content is no longer bound to a daily schedule, viewers can watch, whenever. We like to call that personal prime time, because if you compare your own favourite time to watch or stream your content with mine, for example, it's likely to be very different. It's not just when we get to watch, either ? how, where and what we watch has changed too.

For me, my personal prime time takes place as early as 6.30am, that's when I get the latest in American politics while I'm heading out to the gym and also in the evenings after work for entertainment such as sports highlights and documentaries. I prefer for my favourite shows and content to fit my schedule, instead of the other way around, and personal prime time allows for that.

Our research with Kantar TNS last year found that Malaysians visit YouTube to learn, be inspired and explore their personal passions. Four out of five Malaysians opt for YouTube as their first stop when looking for any kind of videos, and three out of five people say the content they watch on YouTube on a given day, is related to something they are passionate about.

This means advertisers are able to engage with a large pool of audiences and craft creative advertisements that meet people's interests and reaches them literally around the clock.

How does it fit into the gamut of offerings Google has right now? How is it different, yet complementary?

As the world's most popular video platform and second most popular search destination, YouTube greatly complements Google?s other services such as Google Maps and, of course, Google Search, as the many ways people discover topics of interests, services and products online.

People engage with video content on YouTube, but they can come to that via any of Google?s other free services. In fact, three out of four Malaysians use Google Search to get more information related to video content; and three out five Malaysians said they would visit a brand site mentioned in a YouTube video they watched.

What was the insight that drove the need for primetime?

Primetime has evolved into something that is personal and unique to each person. This new paradigm challenges the idea of needing premium content to make a channel successful or attractive. Our personal prime time study found that content that helps people connect with their individual passion is three times more important than content that features traditional celebrities, and almost two times as important when compared to the video?s production value.

For instance, I like to travel, and when I travel, the main motivator has always been food. When I look up information for a certain destination I may have in mind, I realised that the best gems are almost always hidden in videos produced by the average person on the street, as opposed to vloggers. Even if those videos are rough around the edges, they provided an insight into local knowledge which I might not have known had I stuck to regular prime time programming.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in content consumption from a consumer perspective?

The same Kantar TNS study traced Malaysian audiences across four different stages: young professionals, young couples, parents with young children, and parents with older children. Across all stages, entertainment content such as comedy and music remains staples, along with travel and F&B. As the audience progresses through their life stages, YouTube is seen as an important tool for self-learning and education following their shift in interest and intent.

How have these trends impacted advertiser content?

The data tells us that intent and interest trump traditional demographic segmentation. For example, we can assume that parents with young children would look up parenting tips, but so too would couples planning to have kids. A few years ago, we published insights that showed more than half of Malaysians who viewed fashion and style video content were male, and that one in three that viewed gaming content were above 35 years old.

More advertisers embrace this now, and the types of advertisements we see today cater to a certain stage of the consumer journey demographic-based ads to increase brand awareness, interest-focused ones to improve brand favourability, and intent-driven campaigns to engage people into making purchase decisions.

What else is Google doing to ensure brand safety to its customers?

The most recent YouTube CEO's letter outlined a commitment to preserving openness through responsibility: a balance that protects the community. On the content side, openness comes with its challenges, which is why we also have community guidelines that we update on an ongoing basis. Recently, this included our hate speech policy and harassment policy.

For ads to run on safe and suitable content, YouTube:

  • Removes content that violates our community guidelines, and uses our policies to identify problematic content.
  • Raises authoritative voices on our platform with credible resources.
  • Reduces the spread of borderline violative content.
  • Rewards content that meets our even higher standards, as monetisation is a privilege.

What are some of the tips and tricks to creating content that matters to consumers?

Here are a few I find compelling:

  • Innovative, memorable storytelling: know your audience, draw them in and make them feel invested.
  • Focus on a single, simple purpose: decide what that is and declutter the rest.
  • Establish the premise, and stick the landing: build it up and make the proposition memorable.
  • Build in a series, rather than singles ? digital has multiple formats, plus there?s room to experiment.

About the upcoming YouTube Festival

The YouTube Festival is back in Malaysia (previously known as YouTube Week) with a series of exciting events such as the YouTube Malaysia Ad Awards, in celebration of all things YouTube. For more information, visit

The writer is Marc Woo, country head, Google Malaysia.