22 Dec 2021 What year-end YouTube trends say about where we are and where we’re headed
The final weeks of the year provide a natural opportunity to reflect on the world around us and plan for the future. As 2021 has been another year of change driven by disruptive external events, the year’s top videos — viewed by 2 billion people across more than 100 countries — reflect that reality. These results not only encapsulate where we are today, but speak to broader shifts in society. From a marketing standpoint, these global insights can help brands understand what people are looking for and how best to reach them.
Audiences seek community and storytelling through gaming
Gaming’s primacy is reflected in this year’s Top 10 lists. For many creators and viewers, engaging with game content offers a way to engage with each other, whether through live streaming or on their own time. With the huge cultural zeitgeist around gaming, marketers are finding creative ways to tap into this community. Nintendo debuted its new OLED model, highlighting different games and ways to play, earning a spot on the 2021 end-of-year YouTube ads leaderboard. Among other brand integrations, Balenciaga collaborated with Fortnite, Lil Nas X performed for Roblox, and Puma and ColourPop partnered with Animal Crossing.
The rise of comfort viewing
Perhaps in response to this extended period of uncertainty, people around the world engaged in comfort viewing by seeking out the familiar. For instance, some of this year’s top trending videos from around the world are newer versions of videos that previously resonated with viewers. Just as familiar content brings a sense of comfort, so does comedy. Many of 2021’s most popular comedy videos centered on relatable, true-to-life events.
Shorts provide fresh opportunities for creativity and comedy
Whereas audiences have embraced long-form videos on familiar themes, short-form video has become a laboratory for new storytelling formats. Hybrid creators who produce YouTube Shorts alongside their long-form videos have illustrated how quick bites can give audiences a novel experience. Some creators — like Chingu amiga, a Korean woman living in Mexico — use short-form videos to highlight cultural nuances. And others share motivational messages and interesting facts.
How these trends impact marketers
For marketers, sometimes short and sweet works well, whether that’s giving people a look behind the scenes or demonstrating a new way to use your product. As we reflected on 2021, themes of community, comfort, and creativity popped up repeatedly in the videos YouTubers around the world chose to watch. These are not fleeting trends, but broader indicators of the kinds of content consumers need and the creators they love. Marketers who embrace these themes in their video and ad creative will evolve with their viewers and connect with key audiences in the moments that matter.