As Facebook continues to advance its video ambitions, the current online video leader, YouTube, is also looking to add more functionality to boost its platform's ad options.
Today, YouTube has announced a set of new changes, most of which are focused on the expanding role of mobile - YouTube notes that over 50% of YouTube views come via mobile device.
To help brands tap into this audience, they've adding some new targeting options, while they're also looking to improve their insights and data.
Here's what's been announced.
Targeting by Google Activity
First up, YouTube's looking to make their ads more focused by enabling advertisers to use information associated with people's Google accounts for targeting.
"So, for example, if you're a retailer, you could reach potential customers that have been searching for winter coat deals on Google and engage with them with your own winter clothing brand campaign at just the right moment."
Google integrated the YouTube advertising platform into AdWords back in 2015, so the two networks have long been connected, but this is the first time Google has opened up Google search data for YouTube targeting purposes.
The option gives advertisers more ways to hone in their YouTube ads on relevant audiences
In addition, YouTube's also boosting their Customer Match targeting, which enables advertisers to upload their own data - like e-mail addresses and phone numbers - to help focus their YouTube ads.
YouTube's also announced that they're developing a "new, cloud-based measurement solution" which will help provide more advanced, accurate insights - with a particular focus on cross-device measurement.
As noted, with 50% of YouTube's traffic now coming via mobile, the platform says their existing measurement tools are not as effective as they once were.
"While technologies like pixels and cookies still have a role in the broader ecosystem, most were built for a single screen - neither pixels nor anonymous cookies were designed for the ways in which users increasingly watch content on YouTube, like on the mobile app or in the living room. This can lead to inconsistent measurement and less relevant ads across screens, making it harder for people to control the ads they see or the data used to show them."
YouTube says they'll be working with third-party analytics providers like comScore, DoubleVerify, IAS, MOAT, and Nielsen to create this new, "cutting edge"" measurement system - though there are no examples of how it might work as yet.
As part of this shift, YouTube says it will also be reducing its reliance on cookies and pixels and moving more towards tracking signed-in user IDs and mobile identifiers, similar to the tracking tools used by Facebook and Twitter.
And the final element of YouTube's announcement relates to user controls, adding a new way for users to maintain their ad preferences across devices.
"In the coming weeks, we'll enable a user control that was built with cross-screen viewing in mind: if a user mutes an advertiser on Google Search, ads from that advertiser will also be muted when they watch on YouTube. For example, if you see a gym membership ad but have already signed up for a gym as part of your New Year's resolution, you can mute that ad in Search, and you won't see ads from that advertiser on YouTube."
Interestingly, reports have also emerged today that YouTube has discovered an error in their 'Lifetime views' metric which inflated view counts on channels' About page. YouTube has said that the issue doesn't affect revenue or reports, and that they are working to resolve it.
YouTube's also come under fire of late over perceived changes to their algorithm - high-profile YouTuber PewDiePie noted that older videos have been getting more exposure in YouTube's recommended listings, while views for newer content from the same source are dropping off. The issue may have been the impetus for the announcement of a new 'On the Rise' tab in the YouTube app.
Changes are clearly afoot at the video giant - YouTube's also recently announced a new payments system for live-stream creators and in-app messaging to boost engagement. With the competition for video audiences heating up, it'll be interesting to see if YouTube can evolve fast enough to hold onto their audience.