Deconstructing Google and YouTube with Google Canada’s Sabrina Geremia at Toronto’s WIFT Event

When life asks you questions, sometimes you can just “Google it” to get your answer. The name of everyone’s favourite search giant is an unofficial verb now part of mainstream English language, and while everyone is “Googling” the answers to their problems, marketers and content producers are trying find out how they can use Google and YouTube to give you those answers.

As part of their International Women in Digital Media Speaker Series, Women In Film & Television Toronto (WIFT) hosted a fabulous event on Friday featuring keynote speaker and Integrated Solutions Sales Leader of Google Canada, Sabrina Geremia.

To kick things off, Sabrina demonstrated just how much people have interlaced their lives with online media. She asked the audience if anyone had heard of “the four screens” before showing everyone a photo of three people sitting in a room with a television, a computer, a tablet and a smartphone.

“Internet TV is the next big trend,” Sabrina said, pointing out that as many as 40% of Canadians have actually already cut the cord on traditional television. Nine out of 10 Canadians are watching Internet video, with an average of 315 videos per person being watched every month. About 60% of those videos are coming from YouTube. After Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web.

Zooming in closer on the opportunities that come along with creating great YouTube content, Sabrina talked about some of the bigger YouTube stars like Michelle Phan, whose makeup channel is sponsored by Lancôme; Toronto’s Corey Vidal, who used his viral Star Wars video fame to eventually build his digital media production company ApprenticeA Productions; and Montreal’s Epic Meal Time, a team that spends up to $1,000 on food for each video while selling enough bacon t-shirts to make it work. These people (among many others) have made full-time careers out of the YouTube platform, monetizing their channels through Google AdSense, merchandise sales and sponsorship deals with companies.

After her keynote presentation, I sat down with Sabrina and asked her a couple questions about Google’s main advertising platforms: the Google Display Network, YouTube, mobile and search.

ELISE: Where do you see the future of text and display ads going?

SABRINA: It’s growing, and we’re getting a lot better at context. Clickthrough rates are going to go up when you’re delivering what someone wants. The more we can understand what a person is looking at, the more we can understand what actually informs them, so clickthrough rates are going to go up. And that brings us to Google+, which is like our social skeleton. When someone plus one’s a site or an ad and they’re in your network and you see that little +1 sign in your network on a search ad, then that actually increases clickthrough rates.

ELISE: Are people actually doing that?

SABRINA: Yes, yes, definitely! It increases clickthrough rates from 5 to 10 percent. So think about that–you know someone who actually thinks that this is a relevant thing in addition to it having a great product offering. The more precise we can get and the more relevant we can get, the better it’s going to be.

ELISE: It was great that you really focused in on the opportunities with YouTube earlier. What are some things marketers can look at targeting right away on YouTube?

SABRINA: As a marketer, you want to figure out what your business objective is. I work in integrated solutions so I work with businesses that are looking to develop branding all the way down to getting a direct response or a transaction. They may be trying to sell a ticket to a cruise or whatever on their site. If it’s a branding objective, you may want to try and get seen on the YouTube homepage, because it gets like 3.5 million views a day. There are also these TrueView video ads now, which are those pre-roll ads you see, and when they’re not relevant to the viewer they’re actually skippable. Advertisers only pay for the ads that are watched, which is great for branding and for direct response.

And since YouTube is the second largest search engine and all these searches are coming through YouTube, you can actually get sponsored links along the side, and we actually have some great case studies like with Orabrush and other businesses selling stuff by telling stories through their YouTube channels.

ELISE: I love Orabrush! I think they’re channel has a ton of subscribers, doesn’t it?

SABRINA:I know, it’s crazy and it’s great, isn’t it?

ELISE: You talked about how mobile is really taking over. A lot of companies or developers often start with an iOS app just because it’s an easier platform to develop on. Is there any reason why you think they should develop and optimize for Google Android first, before iOS or any other platform?

SABRINA: I’d question why they’d worry about apps to start. I think the mobile web ecosystem is so huge. Like, search is massive. The first thing is to just optimize your website and have something that people can actually look for because search on mobile is huge, especially now as we’re getting into higher smartphone penetration. And there’s even formats now if you don’t have a mobile website, anyone can use click-to-call, so anyone can ask something like “where is this local restaurant?” to find it.

And as far as apps go, there’s a Mary Meeker presentation that had really good numbers in terms of the adoption of Android and how that compared to other types of launches in the past. It’s massive and we have 850,000 Android devices activated every day. So it’s scale, right? If you have an app or if apps were your strategy for your brand, you want to be where the people are, and we know that there are people on Android, so you’d want to take that into consideration about whether or not that’d make sense to develop on Android.


I just wanted to mention that during the Q&A session, an audience member asked a great question about whether or not more advertising dollars were being geared toward mobile platforms since more people are browsing the web these days using their smartphones and tablets. Sabrina said that while mobile platform use and advertising continues to grow, advertising dollars remain pretty spread out, still growing on regular web-based sites. The desktop or laptop computer isn’t quite dead yet, folks.

We all know that Google is massive, and learning all the ins and outs of all their tools and platforms it is a never ending journey that’s constantly evolving. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with Sabrina and attend this event.

You can find Toronto’s Women In Film & Television and Sabrina Geremia both on Twitter.