YouTube’s Technology Can Now Spit Out Thousands of Different Video Ads at Once

And target them based on apps that consumers have downloaded

Ubisoft has tested sequential video ads on YouTube. YouTube: Ubisoft US
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YouTube has new quick ways to cut up and serve ads.

Going into Advertising Week on Monday, YouTube is launching a few new tools for advertisers with research from Ipsos, finding that people who watch online video ads are four times more likely to pay attention than they are to TV ads and the platform’s promos generate twice as much attention compared to other social platforms.

“The question we had was, ‘How much attention are we getting and how differentiated is that from other platforms?’ because attention is a scarce commodity right now,” said Tara Walpert Levy, vp of agency and media solutions at YouTube. “How do we help brands to find an easier way to make more personalized ads that connect better with people’s attention and [are] even more effective in viewing it?”

First off, YouTube is adding new targeting options to its Custom Affinity Audiences tool, which launched in January and lets marketers target searches “about what people are actually needing and wanting,” Levy said. In terms of initial results from more than 1,000 advertisers, zeroing in on intent-based keywords on mobile lifts ad recall by an average of 20 percent, while brand awareness jumps 50 percent compared to campaigns that solely use demographic targeting like age, gender and location.

In addition to search, those targeting parameters now include apps that a consumer has downloaded or places that they’ve been. An athletic brand, for instance, could zero in on folks who have downloaded a sports app or visited a stadium recently.

“It makes sense that layering intention on top of identity or context is driving big results,” commented Levy. “It goes back to what made search advertising in the very beginning—I can immediately and quickly address a direct need that somebody has expressed in a way that actually helps them.”

There are also new tools to help marketers crank out creative specific to the platform in different lengths and cuts. Director Mix is a feature where brands upload one or a few creative templates that then spits out “tens, hundreds or even thousands of versions of the ad for different audiences,” Levy said. “Typically [brands] need a wider range of assets—one of the challenges that has surfaced is [that] to do it at scale consistently can sometimes disrupt existing production processes or create a rise in cost.”

While similar tools already exist for display ads, they have not been available for video promos. In addition to cranking out the production of videos, machine learning analyzes the ads to let advertisers know which ads are working.

Campbell’s Soup and McDonald’s have used Director Mix, with the soup brand creating custom six-second bumper ads that were targeted towards specific types of content. For example, copy that ran alongside clips from Netflix’s Orange is the New Black read, “Does your cooking make prison food seem good? We’ve got a soup for that.” According to YouTube, the campaign increased sales by 55 percent and ad recall by 24 percent.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s created 77 pieces of custom content from one campaign.

Once they have the assets, new video sequencing tools allow advertisers to stitch together different lengths of video in AdWords Labs and optimize their ad buys. For example, a six-second bumper ad may be most effective at grabbing someone’s attention, which can then be followed up with a 15 or 30-second ad.

To promote Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft created four six-seconds ads that were cut from a two-minute trailer that targeted fans of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), reaching 15 million people. The campaign increased awareness by 25 percent and search lift for the term ‘Assassin’s Creed’ by 224 percent, YouTube said.

In terms of measurement, brands can now measure offline sales through Datalogix across all of their campaigns, including six-second ads. Previously, marketers could only track campaigns that ran through YouTube’s skippable TrueView format.

With Nielsen, a new global program called Nielsen Matched Panel Analysis (also called MPA) provides advertisers with data on how digital ads drove offline sales. “Advertisers will be able to, on a much more frequent basis, understand how their online activity is driving their offline sales,” Levy said. “We think it will help advertisers have a much better understanding of what’s actually happening across their marketing programs.”

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.