YouTube advertisers get access to streaming TV under new YouTube Select offering

Dive Brief:

  • YouTube today unveiled a new product for advertisers called YouTube Select that unifies the video service’s premium ad offerings under one banner. The announcement made in a blog post by Vishal Sharma, YouTube Ads’ VP of product management, arrives ahead of the Google-owned platform’s virtual presentation at the IAB Digital Content NewFronts on June 25.
  • YouTube Select replaces Google Preferred but retains its focus on high-quality, diverse content packages that are brand-safe. The service tailors content by categories that YouTube calls lineups, which include beauty and fashion, entertainment, technology, sports and more. Additionally, the video platform is debuting an emerging lineups category this year in the U.S. to caters to niche or up-and-coming channels.
  • YouTube Select is also expanding to include a dedicated streaming TV lineup in recognition of more people viewing both YouTube and YouTube TV, the platform’s connected TV offering, on their home TV screens. The lineup seeks to offer a single, scalable solution touching areas like premium content creators, YouTube Originals, live sports and feature length movies, Sharma wrote.

Dive Insight:

Advertisers are facing deep uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic cancels sports and other destination live events, forcing them to adjust their budgets and broader media mix on the fly. With YouTube Select, Google’s video platform is putting a more unified ad product front and center as it prepares to make a big pitch to score brand dollars at the now-remote NewFronts, which were initially scheduled to begin in late April but are pushed back to June.

YouTube’s focus on streamlining and expanding its ad offerings is timely, particularly given the strong growth on streaming TV. In the U.S., over 100 million people now watch YouTube and YouTube TV on their TV screens each month, according to platform data collected in March. The pandemic is viewed to have broadly accelerated the shift to streaming content, while traditional broadcast and cable networks find themselves in a bind. YouTube claims that its overall TV watch time spiked 80% year-over-year in March, as shelter-in-place orders were enacted in more U.S. states.

Meanwhile, advertisers are expected to spend 33% less on traditional TV upfronts this year as a result of the coronavirus, a study by Advertiser Perceptions found. Major marketers from General Motors to PepsiCo are reportedly looking to walk back some of their prior upfront commitments, The Wall Street Journal recently reported, which could result in up to 50% of Q3 spending evaporating.

With brand plans up in the air, YouTube has an opportunity to secure some of those dollars. YouTube Select’s new TV lineup showcases the diversity of content the video service has to offer, while positioning that content as brand-safe. Advertisers using the product can tailor their campaigns around content creators, original premium shows and TV-like programming such as live sports or movies.

In the blog post, Sharma noted that lineups under YouTube Select can be catered to both global and local needs as well. Google Preferred, the prior iteration of the service that launched in 2014, was largely focused on just a handful of markets including the U.S. and Canada, according to Adweek.

Localization of ads is expected to see a higher premium as different states adjust to reopening businesses on different timetables. Globally, YouTube Select lineups will be made available via Google Ads, Display & Video 360 and reservation in many countries, including most of Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the blog post said.

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