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YouTube Offline Indonesia

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Indonesia is the third largest smartphone market in Asia: 65 million people carry supercomputers in their pockets. Almost 100 million will use smartphones by 2020. Not surprisingly, Indonesians are most likely to access the Internet through these devices.  

But as soon as they leave their homes and Wi-Fi connections, Indonesian smartphone users know those supercomputers become super paperweights. There’s little they can do with them. In most places, 4G is non-existent; at best it’s erratic, too slow for people to meaningfully engage with content via mobile, and planned upgrades are years from completion. Prepaid mobile data plans are common, but customers don’t want to do anything that will eat up their data. 

Indonesians just don’t watch mobile videos on the go. 

Enter YouTube, known for its arresting videos… and its data-devouring capabilities. Local YouTube content has been growing in popularity but hasn’t reached yet reached a mass audience. The app is popular, but away from Wi-Fi, Indonesians fear what the “data monster” would do and know their unreliable connection “speed” doesn’t help. Another hurdle? They hate ads for being intrusive and taking a long time to wrap up due to the connectivity issues.  

YouTube’s offline feature addresses these issues: viewers save videos when they’re on Wi-Fi and watch them later without using data or fighting a spotty connection. To increase offline watch time, Essence needed to make the audience aware of this feature with content, not ads, that would appeal to them.  


YouTube had created the perfect feature for the Indonesian audience; the agency's strategy was to lead viewers to that conclusion. 

Its audience was 18-35-year-old smartphone users who watch YouTube occasionally. Not only does this group comprise 70% of YouTube’s audience in Indonesia, but research from Google also indicates this group could become frequent app users under amenable conditions.  

Essence dove into analysing their viewing habits on YouTube, dividing viewers into groups based on their interest in popular content categories, like comedy, food, and beauty. It also pinpointed their “leisure moments” when they were most likely to watch videos, such as morning, lunchtime, and weekday evenings. 

The agency turned these criteria into the creative concept, partnering with 28 of Indonesia’s most popular YouTube creators to create dynamic banners based on these data points. The ads were designed to be lightweight to account for data limitations and connection speeds. It highlighted each creator in a set of three gifs: one had an awareness message, one a trial message, and one was a follow-up to encourage further usage. Not only would these gifs display the creators’ personalities in only a few seconds, they would also give viewers the impetus they needed to use the offline feature. 

In fact, the messaging spoke to that moment of the audience’s lives. After all, if you like to watch beauty videos when you’re bleary-eyed before work, wouldn’t you be enticed if your favourite makeup artist popped up to give you “Great Monday morning mascara tips”? 


It had the right message but to execute its strategy, Essence had to find the right viewers at the right time. It divided the media into three parts to drive viewers toward using the app’s offline feature: 

1. Awareness that the offline feature exists 
2. Encouragement to try the feature  
3. Repeat the benefits of watching offline.  

It incorporated information like content genre, time of day, and day of the week into the dynamic data feed for the YouTube stars. This allowed the agency to increase its presence during key download times such as early mornings, evenings, and weekends; it linked to the creators’ videos to further encourage downloads. To supplement the dynamic banners, Essence developed videos, standard banners, and creative for Twitter. Given Indonesians’ many concerns about using their mobiles when they’re mobile, it built all creative for those devices.  

In the awareness phase, it ran video on YouTube to entice viewers to continue watching offline once they left the comforts of wi-fi. When it segued into the trial phase, Essence launched the dynamic banners, like digital carrier pigeons bearing good news. Twitter continued the conversation, also using the gifs of the creators. The final set of dynamic banners and the standard banners reiterated the trial message, with search capturing anyone who had questions. 

Throughout it optimised toward the strongest performers. Ultimately, user engagement indicated a preference for beauty, comedy, and entertainment content. And if the people wanted to be entertained, it wanted to show them how they could be. 


The development of the dynamic banners, designed to respect the data limitations of the audience and market factors like connection speed and ad technology, was a success in itself: it was a first-of-its-kind creative endeavor for YouTube in APAC. 

They also turned out to be key to the media performance. It doubled the usage of the offline feature within the country, but the increase in offline watch time was 2x higher for users who clicked on the dynamic banners (+951%) than for those who clicked on the standard banner (+451%).  

The campaign exceeded the overall objective, driving up YouTube offline watch time in Indonesia by 8%, almost double the goal of 4.5%, and thus almost most double the ad revenue. Excitingly, the media had a halo effect, too; overall watch time on YouTube increased by 11% in the country.  

It may be a few more years until their data connection is up to speed, but now Indonesians know they can watch plenty of videos on their phones while they wait.

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June - September 2016
Essence Digital
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