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YouTube doubles down on its Living Room Takeover at Brandcast

More than ever before, YouTube is coming after linear TV advertising dollars.

During the company’s 10th annual NewFronts event Tuesday afternoon, the video platform executives made it plain to marketers and media buyers that it was time to shift their marketing mix to streaming. In a star-studded presentation hosted by Hasan Minaj and featuring A-listers like Miley Cyrus, the video platform emphasized its big-screen opportunities, the growth that it’s tracked in the past year and the number of creators developing top programming on the service and who are available for front-and-center sponsorship and advertising.

More than 40% of linear ad supply has vanished
“Our industry is at a tipping point,” Allan Thygesen, Google’s Americas president, told marketers during the company’s Brandcast presentation, held virtually for a second year in a row. “There are now more streaming TV households in the US than there are pay TV households … More than 40% of linear ad supply has disappeared in the last four years alone. TV was our industry’s most critical medium in a generation, but at this point, even those of you who negotiated for good rates are paying more for less every year. This is a moment—an inflection point—to reset, to reassess. If you were to start from zero and build based on where people are watching, you would start with streaming.”

The message to marketers is clear: Audiences once available on linear are now available on big screens via streaming, and particularly on YouTube. More than 120 million people streamed YouTube or YouTube TV on their TV screens in December 2020 alone, the company said today, up from the 100 million people who streamed in the same way in March 2020. More than a quarter of logged-in U.S. YouTube viewers on connected TVs watch programming almost exclusively on their TV screens.

“In the U.S., we have incredible reach on living room devices,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, told Adweek ahead of the company’s Tuesday presentation. “This provides more reach to advertisers on smart TVs, which is what they want.”

New ad tools
To capitalize on that connected TV growth, the company is rolling out new ad tools for marketers. Coming later this year is an interactive ad format called Brand Extensions, which allows users watching YouTube on connected TV devices to send additional information about a product advertised onscreen to a second screen, like a mobile phone.

The video platform has also recently expanded its YouTube Select sponsorship program, which gives advertisers access to seasonal programming offerings and annual events. The company is also expanding its shoppable ad formats to allow all advertisers to include browsable product images into their direct response ads.

The tools are designed to give marketers additional tools to make the switch to formats that are intuitive to them, with the benefits of digital ad buying—a familiar pitch among many digital streamers as they present to marketers this week.

“We’re seeing the rapid adoption of smart TVs and people connecting their apps like YouTube on them,” Kyncl said. “As that happens, it provides greater opportunities for advertisers to do what they used to do, just in more connected and smarter environments.”

The emphasis on large living room screens comes as YouTube also doubles down on its creator base, which makes up the bulk of its videos available for monetization.  The company is rolling out new programming, including a six-part fitness docuseries featuring Will Smith, an Alicia Keys docuseries and a special celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in June.

And while most of the new programming is unscripted or nonfiction, Liza on Demand, one of YouTube’s remaining scripted originals series starring YouTube creator Liza Koshy, will have its third and final season premiere later this year. YouTube has also taken off the wraps of its inaugural YouTube Black Artists Class of 2021, a group of 21 Black artists who are part of the Black Creators Fund and who receive support from the streamer.

That investment in the platform’s creator base will only continue as the company looks for ways to build passionate community and fanbases on the platform.

“The creator economy is big, it’s growing at the fastest pace, and it’s here to stay,” Kyncl said. Adweek

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