Report: YouTube’s Ad Revenue Climbed in 2018 as It Retained Most of Its Advertisers

Geico, Samsung and Disney represented 15.5 percent of its total for the year

YouTube's ad revenue rose 11 percent in the third quarter of 2018 compared with the year-ago period Photo Illustration, Amber McAden, Sources: iStock, Youtube

The three steps YouTube took at the beginning of 2018 to try to bolster brand safety on its platform appear to have been effective, occasional blip aside, as a new report found that the Google-owned video site’s ad revenue rose 11 percent in the third quarter of 2018 compared with the year-ago period, and the majority of its advertisers stuck around.

Advertising-intelligence and sales-enablement platform MediaRadar analyzed a sample of 25 top channels on YouTube via Google Preferred, visiting each channel three times daily and using its technology to examine pre-roll video ads, display ads and in-player banner ads.

In addition to the revenue gain, MediaRadar saw an advertiser renewal rate of 51 percent. MediaRadar could not, however, give a total ad revenue number.

MediaRadar co-founder and CEO Todd Krizelman said, “Despite brand safety challenges, YouTube bounced back and saw strong growth year-over-year. It has been transparent, mostly, about its mistakes and has delivered remedies to buyers. This is not something every major media firm does. YouTube’s approach has largely been rewarded. Few advertisers have stopped buying on the platform, and ad revenue is up.”

Google said it does not break out YouTube revenue and had no further comments.

MediaRadar said three companies—Geico, Samsung and Disney—accounted for 15.5 percent of YouTube’s total ad revenue in 2018.

Geico led at 6 percent, and MediaRadar said the insurance giant’s year-over-year ad spend on YouTube rose by more than 40 percent.

Samsung, which had been the top spender on YouTube in 2017, slipped to second at 5.5 percent, while third place went to Disney at 4 percent.

When broken down by category, media and entertainment companies led with over 30 percent of 2018 ad revenue on the site.

Meanwhile, automotive advertisers spent nearly 60 percent less on YouTube in 2018 than they did in the previous year.

“We have seen a significant decrease in automotive advertising on YouTube,” Krizelman said. “The automotive advertisers category dropped from being YouTube’s third-largest spender in 2017 to taking eighth place in 2018. In the slowing market, we see the auto industry shifting gears when it comes to advertising on YouTube specifically, although not in all digital media.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.