May 3, 2019

Youtube makes its TV pitch to Madison Avenue

New York, NY - May 2 (name of person) at YouTube #Brandcast at Radio City Music Hall

After decades of dominating the digital ads market, Google wants to be the king of TV. Speaking to Madison Avenue's top brass Thursday, the tech giant unveiled a slate of new programming and ad solutions for buying videos on YouTube.

Yes, but: YouTube has been trying to pitch marketers that its videos are as effective as TV shows for years. But ad buyers have been skeptical, mostly due to the fact there is no great way to measure the effectiveness of the two platforms against each other.

By the numbers: The company says YouTube has 2 billion monthly active users, up about 100 million from this time last year. It says watch time of YouTube on TV now tops 250 million hours per day and that YouTube reaches more people who are between 18-49 than all of cable TV.

The biggest part of YouTube's pitch was that it reaches more young people — people who are very lucrative to advertisers — than TV.

  • It also tried to convince marketers that YouTube is a more personal version of video than cable TV.
  • "Primetime is now personal," said YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. "Our fastest growing screen is the living room one."

Updates: The company is adding more of the content to its "Google Preferred" ad-buying system that allows marketers to buy ads around some of YouTube's more premium content, not random user-generated videos. (YouTube has been the brunt of ad boycotts and bad press due to advertiser concerns about ads running against bad content.)

  • The company is adding its 70 cable and broadcast channels to its Google Preferred program so that buyers can buy live ads, along with on-demand ads, upfront — meaning they can reserve those ad spots long before they air.
  • It touted a slate of original new shows. Singer Alicia Keys came on stage to announce a new show for YouTube called "Unwind" that will debut in August. The company also teased a "secret project" that it's working on with Justin Bieber.

The big picture: Google's ad dominance is rooted in the fact that it controls over 80% of the digital search ad market.

  • But the company reported last week that its revenue growth rate is slowing, which means that it needs to find a new way to make ad money fast.

The bottom line: It's hoping YouTube videos will bring in tons of money, but it needs to convince ad agencies to move their video budgets that are usually reserved for TV over to YouTube. And that's easier said than done.

Our thought bubble: YouTube brought in tons of celebrities and rising stars to tout how great the platform is at discovering talent and luring young users, but it barely addressed the major problems the platform is facing in keeping violent videos, misinformation and conspiracy theories off of its site.

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