YouTube’s biggest challenge used to be delivering compelling content to mobile screens. But while mobile still represents 60 percent of YouTube’s overall watch time, the focus of Thursday’s NewFronts event—which the company calls Brandcast—will shift to “the second biggest revolution that online video has ever gone through: the TV screen and the living room. The TV screen has been our fastest growing screen for some time now,” says Tara Walpert Levy, vp of agency solutions, Google and YouTube. With more than 150 million hours of YouTube content each day now streamed on TVs, “we are seeing much more behavior that looks like what you once would have expected from a traditional TV network.”
As a result, television is now “a core part of the overall effort” for YouTube, says Walpert Levy, with the company announcing a pair of new TV-focused offerings for buyers this week ahead of Thursday’s Brandcast.
YouTube is bringing its YouTube TV live TV streaming service into the upfront for the first time, partnering with networks to offer their YouTube TV inventory as part of Google Preferred (the company’s premium advertising program that allows brands to only run ad against the most popular 5 percent of content), across all platforms. “This is the first time you’re going to be able to buy, in the upfront, traditional TV networks and the full YouTube content offering in one place,” says Walpert Levy. “This is one of the biggest pushes we’re heard from advertisers.”
At least one buyer is already intrigued by the new offering. “This will be a compelling option for advertisers to be able to align with premium content in a scalable way,” says Michael Venables, executive director, digital, Hearts & Science.
Additionally, YouTube will roll out a new type of device targeting in its ad-serving platforms AdWords and DoubleClick that will enable brands to reach audiences who are specifically watching on connected TV devices (this will be in addition to the desktop, mobile and tablet targeting that already exists for buyers). Walpert Levy notes that this offering—which is also available outside of the upfront and across all YouTube ad buys (not just Google Preferred)—gives brands flexibility to tailor their spots for TV. They could opt to use closeups differently, or run longer spots compared to mobile.
At Thursday’s event, the company will also unveil a new slate of ad-supported YouTube original programming, available as part of Google Preferred. (Last year’s lineup attracted exclusive sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Ulta Beauty and Hyundai.)
The company hopes its new offerings will help assuage buyers’ ongoing concerns about brand safety on the platform. In January, it announced several changes to address brand safety fears—among them, YouTube is manually screening each individual video on its Google Preferred channels, and has created a three-tiered system for brand safety that gives marketers more transparency into where their ads appear. The response has been “incredibly encouraging,” says Walpert Levy. “It has given a lot of comfort to our advertisers.”