One of YouTube's greatest challenges with advertisers has been the notion that it's a repository for clips of dogs riding skateboards. But one marketer, at least, sees this as a plus.
American Apparel has been targeting ads to over 100 videos of pets, including a clip of a skateboarding canine, to promote its line of dog clothing. The Los Angeles-based brand chose the videos based on suggestions from employees.
"It would be hard to do an advertisement on the back page of LA Weekly or a fashion magazine for the dog T-shirt," noted Ryan Holiday, a Web marketing executive at American Apparel.
YouTube hopes more advertisers will follow American Apparel's lead.
The venue has little problem drumming up interest in its front-page and marquee placements, but it needs to entice advertisers deeper into the site to pair their brands with long-tail content. Knowing some companies are still uncomfortable with category-wide targeting -- YouTube has a pets and animals channel, for example -- the Google-owned property began offering specific video targeting earlier this month. The initiative lets advertisers build custom video lists from among the clips entered in YouTube's partner program.
"There is a perfect ad for every video," said Shishir Mehrotra, director of product management, video monetization at Google.
He believes the dogs-on-skateboards examples proves the point, since those types of videos have served as what he calls a "punching bag" for YouTube critics who contend the site will fail to attract advertisers to the vast majority of its content.
American Apparel has gone beyond pets to match up niche products with YouTube categories. It promoted dancewear on ballet clips and other dance-related videos. It matched children's clothing ads with popular kid-related clips like "Charlie Bit My Finger."
The retailer has also matched swimwear and cheerleading apparel with videos in those interest groups.
Holiday said the ads have performed well on both a click-through and view-through basis.
"As we've gotten better giving advertisers the tools, they've gotten better at recognizing opportunity," said Mehrotra.