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Upfronts / Newfronts

YouTube to Run TV Ads Promoting Video Creators in Big 2014 Push

Agencies Had Complained YouTube Wasn't Doing Enough to Promote Stars

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YouTube's ads that will wrap New York subway trains
YouTube's ads that will wrap New York subway trains

You have to spend money to get money, YouTube has learned.

Agency executives last year implored online video companies to do a better job promoting their content in order to attract enough viewers to merit their clients' money. Eleven months later Google is responding to that call with a big marketing push for YouTube, its online video service.

On Monday Google will introduce a campaign to promote three YouTube creators with ads appearing across Google-owned properties as well as TV, print and out-of-home signs. While YouTube ran spots on TV last year to advertise its comedy- and geek-themed weeks, the upcoming campaign marks the first time YouTube has purchased TV ads to plug specific channels or creators.

YouTube's ad campaign will highlight creators from two of the verticals -- beauty and fashion and cooking -- and later this year will showcase creators from other Google Preferred verticals.

The three creators YouTube has chosen for this first phase are make-up star Michelle Phan, beauty-and-fashion vlogger Bethany Mota and baker Rosanna Pansino. Each of the three count more than a million subscribers to their respective YouTube channels. Last August Ms. Phan launched a cosmetics line with L'Oreal, and Ms. Mota has designed a clothing collection for Aeropostale.

Those TV ads will run against a few national shows -- including programs on ABC Family and The CW -- and also include local broadcast buys in New York and Chicago, according to Google. Each of the three featured creators will receive her own 30-second spot. Rounding out the traditional media buy, YouTube is buying print placements in Allure, Seventeen and Entertainment Weekly. A number of billboards, subway stations and trains in New York City and Chicago will also carry the campaign's branding.

YouTube is also extending the campaign to Rovio's Angry Birds mobile game with rich-media ads pointing to one of the YouTube stars' channel.

Ads on Google properties will include YouTube's home-page takeover equivalent, Google search and display banners and video ads across the company's ad network. Google declined to share how much money the company is spending on the campaign.

Developed by New York agency Co:Collective, the initial phase of the campaign will run through mid-May. It is part of a longer-term push for YouTube to raise the profile of its programming in hopes of also raising its ad revenues.

The campaign aims to support the sales pitch YouTube will make to marketers later this month at its Brandcast event, part of the annual Digital Content NewFronts that online video companies host to secure ad-spend commitments from media buyers. As The Wall Street Journal has reported, YouTube is looking for advertisers to pay to reserve ad inventory for the top 5% of YouTube content in certain categories.

That program is called Google Preferred and includes 14 content areas, such as news, gaming, automotive and fitness. It also guarantees that those media buys will hit their target audiences through Nielsen's and ComScore's online campaign measurement tools, another of the agency execs' requests.

"Listening to feedback from our clients and agency partners is incredibly important," said Anna Bateson, YouTube director of consumer marketing, in a statement. Similar to how we're offering more expansive measurement capabilities this year with Google Preferred, we've also listened to feedback about marketing our content more broadly."

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