Like all social platforms, YouTube has seen a significant rise in usage in 2020, with the COVID-19 lockdowns pushing more people to find alternate entertainment sources to their usual, in person social events.
But YouTube is also a little different in that its focus is video content, as opposed to social elements. So while you can comment and engage on YouTube clips, making it, technically, a social media platform, the majority of user attention is on the content itself. Which actually makes YouTube more like traditional TV - and it's becoming more and more like a regular TV alternative over time.
Indeed, these days, kids don't watch regular TV - their favorite programs are created by YouTube celebrities, who focus on increasingly niche elements and appeal to more specific audiences. More adults, too, are now watching YouTube in preference to regular channels - in fact, YouTube says that watch time of YouTube content on TV screens jumped 80% year over year.
The benefit of that, for marketers, is that as more people switch over to YouTube, more businesses can run TV-like promotions, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional broadcast campaign, and with a might higher degree of targeting. Done well, that can be hugely effective - and this week, YouTube has added some new elements to help further hone your YouTube ad campaigns, including advanced data insights and new category targeting.
First up, on targeting - to give marketers more options in where they place their YouTube ads, YouTube's adding dynamic lineups, which segment videos based on their content, with YouTube's machine learning systems now able to better determine what each video is about.
As explained by YouTube:
"Advanced contextual targeting is the next generation of content targeting on YouTube. It uses Google's machine learning to better understand each channel on YouTube, including analysis of video imagery, sound, speech and text. This allows us to create lineups that are scalable across content based on specific topics, cultural moments or popularity."
That provides even more targeting options - so instead of targeting broad-reaching categories like "home" or "lifestyle", dynamic lineups enables you to hone in further, on say “home and garden” or “home improvement” instead.
"This means better access to customers with unique interests and needs-all with the brand suitability controls that are most important for your business."
That could make it easier to get your message in front of more receptive, responsive audiences, and as Google's systems evolve, that targeting will only improve, enabling more focus - which ideally means spending less to reach the right audience segments.
YouTube's also expanding its data partnership with Nielsen to help marketers in more regions reach the right audiences.
Late last year, YouTube announced that had integrated Nielsen TV data into its Reach Planner, which enables marketers to get a broader view of audience trends, and plan against TV demographics. Essentially, this provides more oversight as to where your target markets are watching, facilitating better planning and placement for your campaigns.
And now, YouTube will add Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings for advertisers in the UK and Italy, in addition to the US.
YouTube says that the additional data insight has already helped many brands maximize their campaigns:
"PepsiCo Beverages, turned to YouTube to drive scale and extend reach of Pepsi’s “Gift it Forward” Holiday campaign. The campaign did not disappoint - YouTube drove new brand buyers during the holiday season to the unique audience we wanted to reach.”
In addition to this, parent company Google is also adding new options for programmatic deals in Display & Video 360 campaigns, while it's also extended its similar audience functionality to the same, for more advanced video advertisers.
As noted, these new tools could help further hone in your YouTube ad campaigns, and reach the right audience for lower cost.