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YouTube’s Robust Advertising Capabilities

8 MINUTE READ | July 19, 2019

YouTube’s Robust Advertising Capabilities

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Ting Zheng

Ting Zheng has written this article. More details coming soon.

During this year’s Google Brandcast, YouTube took its time to highlight and emphasize its positioning as “personal primetime” and once again took a direct competitive hit toward traditional TV. Primetime used to be that time where you gathered with your family and friends to tune into the latest programming — all on one TV screen. But, with the digital age comes new behaviors. The “personal primetime” YouTube refers to now is the convenient access to watch whatever preference or interest you have at that moment.

Source: YouTube Advertising Homepage

Source: YouTube Advertising How It Works

With YouTube being the second most visited site in the world, it’s no wonder how much YouTube has changed the way we watch content. The three biggest reasons for YouTube’s success is that:

  1. YouTube revolutionized entertainment. The bread and butter of YouTube’s content comes from its creators. Content is being created by the audience, and they’re making shows that are more timely and more interactive than what you’d get on traditional TV. Even brands and publishers are posting unique films to break through the clutter.

  2. YouTube makes it easier to learn new things. Learning is more than a trend. It’s a YouTube trait. How-to videos earn the most attention of any content category, even more than music clips or gaming. In fact, 70 percent of Millennials turn to YouTube videos for guidance on DIY projects or to learn more about an activity they’re interested in.

  3. YouTube offers a lens of truth and incites change. YouTube leads the way in sparking conversations online. Approximately 70% of the YouTube generation (millennials age 17+ who go online to do one or more activities a day) said YouTube is a place for social change. It spurs conversations on racism, animal rights, social justice, etc.

This leads us to why brands should consider YouTube for advertising. And the answer is pretty straightforward: if this platform is one of the top places people go to watch videos — then why not be present and at the forefront of this digital video consumption hub? We all understand the value of paid search and the results it drives when activated, and similar to that effect, YouTube is another critical avenue in order to be in front of both new and old customers. But here are the three top reasons, just in case you weren’t entirely convinced on YouTube’s advertising capabilities. 

  1. YouTube is a branding powerhouse. It’s where the world chooses to watch, and that attention drives impact with the majority of viewers watching with sound on. As an advertiser, you aren’t wasting your dollars on people who decide to skip your ad, but rather, you’re paying for people who truly spend the time to watch your ad. This is done through YouTube’s “TrueView” metric. TrueView is classified as a ‘view’ when a user watched thirty seconds of a video ad, or the duration of the ad if it is shorter than thirty seconds.

  2. YouTube has immense scale with a variety of targeting capabilities. With advertisers still looking to TV for scale, YouTube is one of the only video platforms that matches TV reach with added targeting capabilities. These YouTube capabilities include innovative targeting like in-market audiences (meaning, people who are searching for services or products across Google apps) to topic targeting where your ad can show up on content that is contextually relevant to your brand. 

  3. YouTube has become an integral part of the consumer journey. 55% of YouTube users claim that they often utilize the platform when making purchase decisions on specific products.

YouTube has spent years diversifying its advertising offerings, expanding well past the typical preroll placement that precedes content and is familiar for even the most casual YouTube viewer. Their efforts have been largely focused on reaching audiences at every conceivable point throughout the user experience on the platform; artistically tiptoeing between allowing brands to be omnipresent but not invasive. Advertisers and brands now have a slew of placements to pick from to help drive a variety of key objectives, and the best place to start is at the top! 

At the genesis of a user’s experience on YouTube, the viewer is more than likely going to come across a brand utilizing the Masthead Unit. This high-impact visual expands across the top of the screen on the desktop webpage and/or owns the top spot of the mobile app for a 24-hr span, providing advertisers with 100% share of voice (SOV). The Masthead Unit captivates the audience by automatically playing a 30-second or less preview of the creative. With the Masthead’s draw, it is the first, and one of the most powerful ways to share a brand message with the masses. 

Once hooked on the content, users can select any of the various components that piece together a Masthead, including the video itself which directs the user to the longer version of the creative, the prominent call-to-action that will route to an external landing page, or the Channel Art that links to the brand’s YouTube channel. A relatively costly endeavor, Masthead buys earn its value by providing brands with the chance to make a splash in their advertising efforts. 

Whether aligning to a cultural moment, teeing off a product launch, or looking to rejuvenate a long-running campaign, brands can reach the millions of users who flock to YouTube on any given day with the help of a Masthead. However, this premium placement is not the only option for brands looking to drive awareness among large audiences. 

Once they are finished engaging with the Masthead, a YouTube user’s next move within the platform is to find creative to watch. In order to help viewers discover brand content, YouTube rolled out a unique offering, aptly named Discovery Ads. These ads allow brands to be present in the places users are already looking for content to consume, such as the search results and watch pages across the desktop browsers and mobile devices as well as the Home Feed section of the mobile app. 

Mirroring the format of the organic content it is integrated with, Discovery Ads are comprised of a thumbnail image, headline, and short video description; all working together to entice users to click on and view the creative. This opt-in nature, paired with the discoverable placement of these ads, is designed to help brands drive visibility among a targeted audience while simultaneously capturing the most engaged users. Additionally, Discovery Ads can help push viewers to consume longer form creative that does not fit within the best practice lengths of traditional preroll placements. 

The final destination in the lifecycle of a user’s experience on YouTube is coming to, selecting, and viewing videos on the platform. As the main purpose of this social media juggernaut, it is during a user’s viewing experience that YouTube naturally integrated its first advertising offering. TrueView Instream Ads allow for brands to place preroll video content embedded in the front of and within the videos audiences on YouTube are watching. Allowing viewers to skip the ad following five seconds but only charging advertisers for those viewers who watch the complete creative, this placement ensures that a brand’s media dollars are spent on capturing only the most engaged users. 

Brands are not, however, limited to simply hoping that their creative is intriguing enough to influence viewers to opt-out of skipping the ad. Instead, brands can utilize Non-Skippable Instream Ads that require users to view the entirety of a 20-second (maximum length) ad before being able to move on to the video that shortly follows. Between these two instream placements, brands have access to great storytelling devices that, when paired with clickable components such as a CTA, shopping banner, or companion banner, can help push consumers further down the marketing funnel. 

To further supplement its preroll offerings, YouTube introduced Google Preferred Lineups. These preset packages comprise of the top 5% of channels and videos on the platform, determined by a quality P-Score rating. At the sacrifice of bidding against a more expensive auction, this offering allows brands to run both skippable and non-skippable ads on premium content, ensuring their message is placed on brand-safe content and in front of YouTube’s top audiences. Harnessing the power of these three placements, brands looking for naturally interested listeners, guaranteed complete viewability, and/or YouTube’s most engaged audiences, have everything they need to share their story with a targeted audience at scale. 

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Since first emerging onto the scene as the go-to destination for cord-cutters (before cord-cutting was cool), YouTube has firmly established itself as the leader among social platforms in video content consumption. In the time since, YouTube has worked to establish an expansive, loyal, and engaged audience all reachable through the many advertising offerings that are available to brands. By piecing together various combinations of the placements discussed above, advertisers can drive a number of different campaign objects targeting consumers at all stages in the marketing funnel, begging the question for many brands — why are you not advertising on YouTube?

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