YouTube viewing in CTV environments has grown rapidly in many markets over the past few years, ranking as one of the most popular CTV apps; a recent report from Nielsen ranked YouTube as the most watched CTV app in the US based on total viewing minutes.
As a result of this shift, YouTube has seen an opportunity to compete for new budgets, presenting its CTV inventory as an alternative target for TV budgets. And at its ‘Brandcast’ upfronts presentation this week in New York, the video app pushed further into this strategy with the launch of a new ad format designed to mirror a traditional TV ad.
The new format is a thirty second, non-skippable ad which advertisers can buy specifically on CTV viewing. YouTube already runs back-to-back 15 second ads against some content on the big screen, and these ad spots will now in some cases be replaced by one 30 second spot.
Thus brands will now be able to bring their 30 second TV spots and run them on YouTube’s CTV inventory if they wish. For a long time, it’s been generally seen as bad practice to run a 30 second spot on YouTube, given that longer ads have to be skippable, and TV spots aren’t optimised for this format. But YouTube may be hoping to bring new spend onto the platform by allowing brands to extend their existing TV campaigns on to YouTube, without having to adapt the creative.
YouTube also announced a new pause ad slot, which shows when a user pauses the video they’re watching. This also represents a step further into TV territory, as pause ads are an increasingly popular format for broadcasters on the streaming services.
These ad formats sit within YouTube Select, an offering which lets advertisers target YouTube’s most popular content. This content, bundled into categories such as entertainment and pop culture, food and recipes, sports, and music, contains a mix of professionally produced and user generated content. Select offers more fleshed out brand safety controls than regular YouTube buys, and advertisers can opt to only run ads against content which has been human verified as brand safe.
YouTube Select itself, via its curated content and stronger brand safety tools, is obviously designed as a more premium offering, which can better compete for TV spend. YouTube says that 70 percent of CTV impressions are now bought via Select.
And while there are still plenty who dispute the notion that any user-generated content on YouTube should be viewed by advertisers in the same light as professionally produced TV content, most buyers seem to be open to YouTube’s pitch. Research released by the IAB last earlier this month found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of TV and video buyers believe that some creator-driven video (i.e, user-generated video) can be considered premium. And two-third say they measure UGC buys in the same way that they measure Hollywood-produced video.