YouTube Is Launching New Ad Formats and Ways to Measure Them

Updates will let users research and make purchases during a spot

Getty Images
Headshot of Ronan Shields

YouTube has announced that it will soon offer “extensions” to its TrueView ad formats that will let audiences research and even complete a purchase without having to leave the platform, as well as the addition of market research company IRI to its Google Measurements Partners program.

It is also planning the introduction of new tools within Google Ads or Display & Video 360 that will let marketers conduct brand lift studies within the platform in real time. This includes the introduction of two new metrics (“lifted users” and “cost per lifted user”) which they can then use to adjust how they evaluate media placements.

The planned YouTube updates work similarly to existing features available in search ad formats with the video sharing network currently beta testing extensions that let viewers research the location of a business and generate more qualified sales leads by submitting contact details, etc. from within an in-stream ad.

Vishal Sharma, YouTube Ads, vp product management, made the announcement in a blog post, where he said, “Now we’re exploring additional use cases that encourage viewers to complete lower-funnel actions like finding the next movie showtime, downloading an app or booking a trip.”

Brands including Chili’s, 20th Century Fox and L’Oreal-owned Maybelline have participated in early trials of the YouTube ad formats with pan-European telco Vodafone reportedly achieving an incremental lift in ad recall of 2.3x and a clickthrough rate (CTR) of 3.5 percent in such tests.

Speaking with Adweek ahead of the announcement, Tara Walpert Levy, YouTube’s vp agency and brand solutions, spoke of the platform’s desire to position its advertising offering as a platform to both their performance and brand marketing goals.

She added, “I think our clients have always wanted to achieve both their brand goals and performance goals simultaneously. At the end of the day, they have one budget and one customer that’s the same person who’s not splitting their head into ‘you know what? I [would] like to be made aware’ or ‘I would like to buy something today’.”

However, now that consumption on YouTube is gaining serious traction—audiences on the platform are generating more than a billion hours of watch time daily—and with developments in measurement technology, the digital media giant can offer marketers tools to achieve both sets of goals.

Walpert Levy referenced audience studies noting how 60 percent of participants searched for a product on the Google search engine and then further research the same item on its video site YouTube before eventually buying an item.

“It’s actually doubled year over year … I think this backs up why this [roll out] is so important, YouTube has an interesting straddle between entertainment and information, which is pretty unique in the marketplace,” she added.

Attributing online spend to off-line purchase

YouTube has also made efforts to help advertisers better understand how their YouTube media spend is affecting offline actions and its latest updates include efforts to woo big-spending CPG advertisers.

This includes adding offline measurement specialist IRI to its Google Measurement Partners program–Oracle Data Cloud and Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) already participate–helping marketers better attribute online spend to offline actions.

“They are one of the three big a measurement partners that our CPG clients ask for,” said Walpert Levy. “We’re seeing over 70 percent of YouTube campaigns are driving a significant lift in offline sales.”

She also said the upcoming ability to conduct brand lift studies in Google Ads or Display & Video 360 was borne out of advertisers’ demand for a hybrid solution that could help them track business performance (such as conversion rates and sales lift) as well as more traditional marketing KPIs.

“In particular it was really interesting because some CMOs and agencies were concerned that there’s such a natural appeal to go in straight for the data that comes off some of the lower funnel metrics,” said Walpert Levy.

“Some were worried that some of the upper funnel metrics like brand perception and brand preference, etc. were not going to receive the attention they deserve and these are needed to basically be the overhead that drives all of the lower funnel metrics.”

The planned updates, including the two new metrics, will let advertisers optimize their ad campaigns in real time whereas previously they were only able to perform such analysis retroactively.

Walpert Levy adds, “Lifted users in users is the number of people who are influenced by your ad. We’re also introducing cost per lifted user in order to make it easier for brands to optimize their campaign’s effectiveness.”

Advertisers will then be able to use these insights to adjust their media spend mid-campaign, particularly with programmatic media buys. “We’ve actually enabled them to make these insights actionable. You can actually optimize your bidding in the [ad] auction off of these metrics,” added Walpert Levy.

The launch comes a week after Google announced it has received accreditation from the Media Ratings Council (MRC) as well as the launch of custom viewability metrics on its platform.

Speaking with Adweek, Babak Pahlavan, Google’s senior director of product management, analytics solutions and measurement, said the launch will mean advertisers can now ask for more stringent measurement standards and not have to rely on the MRC’s default definition of when an ad is viewed.

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.