How Just Eat’s use of distinctive assets helped it boost ad effectiveness on YouTube

The delivery company has been named the winner of the latest edition of The Works thanks to strong ad performance in a difficult digital environment.

Digital audiences are used to a degree of control over the ads they see on platforms like YouTube. The ever-present ‘skip ad’ option means brands have a sliver of time to grab and maintain audience attention, and Just Eat has proven particularly adept at that.

According to the latest edition of The Works, in which analysts at Kantar measure the effectiveness of ads across different mediums, Just Eat was far and away the most effective brand on YouTube in December.

Produced in association with Marketing Week and the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group, the study asks 750 consumers to provide thoughts and feedback on the top ads over a certain period.

Lynne Deason, Kantar’s head of creative excellence for the UK, explains that “skippable ads” need to be able to hook in the viewer and entertain them from the outset – and this YouTube edit does just that.

“Our brains are primed to pay attention to things that are different, and this ad delivers that in spades. Ad distinctiveness is in the top 15% of all UK ads and stopping power is in the top 16%,” says Deason.

The ad, crucially, is also enjoyed by the audience. The proportion of people saying they enjoyed it “a lot” is significantly above average at 27%, compared to an average of 17%. In comparison with the rest of the ads on YouTube, it falls just shy of the top quarter of ads in terms of enjoyment.

The ad’s success is especially notable as the creative also pulls double duty as a TV ad. “Kantar data shows that the chance of a TV ad succeeding on YouTube is like flipping a coin,” says Deason. “It’s 50/50 as to whether it will work or not. Customise to context or you’re betting with high risks.”

Surprise and delight

The ad features a striking juxtaposition of Regency-era set decoration with a song from two contemporary artists. It is the latest iteration of the brand’s ‘Did somebody say…’ platform, this time featuring hip hop star Latto and singer Christina Aguilera.

Deason notes that the longevity of the platform works in the ad’s favour. “Sticking with what works pays off massively here, and branding is a huge strength of this ad, being in the top 7% of all UK ads,” she says. “The jingle is a key part of this, with brand cues being in the top 12% of ads.”

Kantar data shows that only 5% of ads globally use music that features the brand name. That is despite data that shows ads that use the brand name in music are 11 percentile points higher than average in terms of effectiveness, and similarly ads that have used the same music before are 10 percentile points higher.

Over half (59%) of viewers watched the entirety of the ad, while on average people watched around 84% of it and skipped at around seven seconds. By that point, however, the ad has “already established the Just Eat brand” and landed the intended key message that Just Eat delivers groceries from a range of supermarkets.

Deason adds: “Critically, the ad also helps to differentiate Just Eat in a very crowded category of providers who satisfy the same set of consumer needs in a similar way.”

YouTube is still a relatively untapped area for investment for brand advertisers, according to Kantar data, despite online video remaining the single most preferred media channel for marketers in 2023 for the fourth year in a row. It is the third most trusted channel by marketers, behind only TV and sponsored events.

YouTube overtook Instagram’s previous lead in terms of preference among advertisers, jumping up two spots in 2023. Crucially the platform has also improved trust for its ads compared to last year, a metric highly correlated with marketer preference according to Kantar Media Reactions 2023.