YouTube has spent the past several years touting how more viewers are watching the platform on connected TVs these days. Now it is developing ad formats specifically for brands to reach that audience.
During its annual Brandcast on Tuesday the video giant said it now reaches 120 million viewers a month through connected TVs and is rolling out "brand extensions," which allows viewers to learn more about products they see in an ad.
YouTube unveiled new ad products, like “brand extensions” for connected TV, and promoted the “creator economy” in its Brandcast presentation on Tuesday, day two of the digital advertising NewFronts.
CTV is allowing YouTube "to do more innovations basically, at scale," Robert Kyncl, YouTube's chief business officer, said in an interview ahead of Brandcast.
The NewFronts is partly for digital platforms like Twitter and TikTok that rely on mobile and desktop audiences, but viewers are changing their behavior in the home, which presents an opportunity for companies like Roku, Amazon, Vizio and Samsung Ads to grab a greater share of digital video ad budgets.
YouTube says that it represents 40% of all ad-supported streaming watch time, according to Comscore. YouTube ad sales are humming, too, topping $6 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 50% year-over-year, according to its latest financial report released this month.
YouTube also faces stiff competition, though. On Monday, Amazon and Roku held their NewFronts showcases. Amazon says it reaches 120 million viewers a month in connected TV environments through Fire TV, IMDb TV, Twitch and Prime Video. Amazon is leaning on its e-commerce prowess to get its edge in digital video. Amazon is developing more ads that have interactivity, like commercials that prompt viewers to add products featured in the ads to their Amazon shopping carts online.
YouTube’s new “brand extensions” lead viewers to more information about a product, but not yet directly to a checkout page to purchase the products. Viewers can send links from these “brand extension” ads to their phones.
YouTube execs did discuss “shoppable” marketing options on YouTube. “As e-commerce continues to boom, we’re making YouTube more shoppable,” said Allan Thygesen, president of Americas at Google. “All advertisers can now add browsable product images to their direct response video ads inspiring interested shoppers to click to their website or app.”
Nissan was one of the brands featured at Brandcast to discuss how the car maker used YouTube advertising during the pandemic, when it had to figure out how to promote the launch of 10 new vehicles in the next 20 months, including the 2021 Rogue. “[YouTube] fundamentally changed how we will launch products in the future and YouTube is a proven platform,” said Allyson Witherspoon, U.S. chief marketing officer at Nissan Motor Corp.
At Brandcast, which was hosted by comedian Hasan Minhaj, YouTube also promoted more ad products and buying options for brands. One of the new programs was called YouTube Select Sponsorships, which aligns brands with seasonal events, on a quarterly basis. “We expanded YouTube Select Sponsorships to help you obtain a share of voice around cultural moments,” Kyncl said in the presentation.
Kyncl said that YouTube is highlighting its creator community, which represents 50% of the video consumption on the site. The rest of the content comes from top media publishers, artists and celebrities.
YouTube showcased creator channels like AsapScience, Blogilates, iJustine, Zach King and ZHC. Celebrities like Will Smith, Venus Williams, James Corden and Jessica Alba also appeared at Brandcast. And Miley Cyrus was among the musical performers.
YouTube also focused on its investments in diverse voices and under-represented communities. YouTube has been developing programs with Black creators participating in #YouTubeBlack, a $100 million fund to generate more diverse content. One original show was called “Barbershop Medicine,” which explores the effects of race on health care. There is also a new show called “Ice Cold,” starring hip-hop group Migos. The show explores the importance of hip-hop in culture.
Alicia Keys and Will Smith also have projects with YouTube.
It wouldn’t have been a Brandcast, though, if YouTube did not at least acknowledge the need for brand safety controls on the platform. The site is a fount of all types of videos, there are original shows and high-quality productions, but there also are topics and subjects that can turn off brands. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki discussed how YouTube is working with Media Rating Council, an independent group that certifies brand safety compliance.
Kyncl discussed the ad offering that YouTube launched last year called YouTube Select, which is a tier of video programming that is reviewed by humans, rather than a fully automated ad delivery run by machines.
Brands can have “confidence that your ad buys are brand safe with advanced suitability controls options to only serve ads on videos that have been human verified,” Kyncl said.