August 07, 2023

Written by Tim Colucci

YouTube Rebounds with Connected TV Ad Spend

The conversation about connected TV (CTV) advertising often focuses on the major streaming platforms such as Hulu and Netflix. But YouTube belongs in that conversation, too. YouTube has seen a remarkable surge in CTV ad spend for the most recent quarter, surpassing its competitors. As reported in Insider Intelligence, while YouTube experienced a 31 percent increase in CTV spending, streaming services like Max and Netflix only saw a growth of 6 percent.

In addition, the quarter marked the first time since Q4 2021 that platforms such as YouTube, Google Search, Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook all witnessed spending increases.

The CTV sector has seen a boom due to a rise in cord-cutting and increased time spent on these platforms. Consequently, it has become one of the strongest areas for ad spending in 2023. Presently, CTV spending in the United States amounts to $25.09 billion, while traditional TV spending remains higher at $61.31 billion. But by 2027, this gap is expected to close, with CTV spending projected to reach $40.90 billion and TV spending forecasted at $56.83 billion.

The transition to CTV may gain momentum soon, as industry giants like Disney contemplate selling off some TV assets to focus more on digital video. Such moves from major advertisers could attract more investment into the digital video space.

YouTube stands as a frontrunner in the digital pivot, owing to its TV viewership and content model, which gives it an edge over streaming services and other CTV platforms entering the market. The platform has seen a steady increase in viewership on TV screens, with users spending 15 minutes on CTVs, matching the time spent on mobile viewing. YouTube has capitalized on this growth by incorporating user-friendly features and introducing Shorts to TV screens.

In addition, the ongoing Hollywood writers and actors strikes position YouTube to attract more ad revenue. Competitors will have limited new content to entice advertisers, whereas YouTube’s user-generated content model remains unaffected, even weakening arguments against treating such content as “premium.”

According to forecasts, YouTube is expected to secure $2.89 billion in U.S. CTV ad spending this year, second only to Hulu, which Disney is actively seeking full ownership of.

The rise of CTV ad spend is a welcome development for YouTube, owned by Google (which, in turned, is owned by Alphabet). YouTube’s ad business had posted losses for three consecutive quarters (an unprecedented downturn following years of double-digit gains) before experiencing a rebound in the most recent quarter.

In a call with investors, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said, “The Living Room remained our fastest growing screen in 2022 in terms of watchtime. We’re reaching more than 150 million people on Connected TV screens in the US, and seeing growth and momentum internationally. And on subscriptions, there’s good growth. Late last year, we announced over 80 million YouTube Music and Premium subscribers.  Signups for NFL Sunday Ticket kicked off in April, and we look forward to hosting our first football season on YouTube this fall.”

Advertisers should watch closely emerging ad formats that YouTube is rolling out specifically for CTV. For instance, non-skippable ads are coming soon to YouTube Select on connected TV. This means that viewers will see one 30-second ad instead of two consecutive 15-second ads. YouTube is also bringing new Pause experiences to CTV, so that advertisers can drive awareness or action by owning that unique interactive moment when people pause a video. Learn more about these developments on YouTube’s blog.

At True Interactive, we partner with our clients to manage CTV campaigns that deliver ROI. We work with all the major platforms, including YouTube. Learn more about our CTV work on our website and contact us to discuss how we can help you.