YouTube Fights for Credibility

YouTube Fights for Credibility

Video

For those of you who kept your New Year’s Resolutions: congratulations. Now get ready to break them on February 4, when everyone gathers in front of that big screen to stuff their faces and watch grown men run around and crash into each other during Super Bowl LII. Of course, the unofficial national holiday also includes a huge chunk of the population who could care less about the action on the field (“Who is this Tom Brady? Oh, you mean Giselle Bundchen’s husband?”) and gather in front of the TV to overindulge in wings, nachos, and sweets for the commercials.

Last year, about this time, I wrote a blog post about investing in the power of YouTube advertising, Noting that the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was $5 million, I asserted that YouTube could be seen as a replacement for TV advertising. One year later, Super Bowl ads are holding firm at $5 million. Meanwhile, over the last year, YouTube has gotten a lot of flak (rightfully so!) about placement of video ads and banner ads over inappropriate, un-safe, and in some cases downright disturbing content.

Clearly, YouTube has taken some hits.

On January 16, Google announced that the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP) would be updated to address its credibility problem. YPP now requires a channel to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last 12 months to be eligible to show ads before or during videos. These new rules will apply to everyone, including existing channels, starting February 20, 2018.

By contrast, under the old rules, having only 10,000 views could make a channel eligible for YPP. That’s it. A total view number as the only real eligibility factor is kind of crazy considering bots could hit that number in a matter of minutes.

The new rules were inevitable after a large number of advertisers threatened to pull out, and, in some cases (I’m speaking from experience) pulled out and STAYED pulled out. Moving forward, YouTube will begin to “closely monitor signals like community strikes, spam and other abuse flags,” which will also help keep those videos/partners who show ads more “brand safe.”

At True Interactive, we are results driven and like to see hard numbers. So here is a hard number: the creators who remain part of the YPP after the new guidelines go into effect make up more than 95 percent of YouTube’s reach for advertisers.

Also note that Google Preferred, which aggregates YouTube’s top 5 percent of content into easy-to-buy packages, will now be manually vetted. In other words, there is an actual person watching these uploaded videos before an ad can be shown. In a blog post, Neal Mohan (chief product officer) and Robert Kyncl (chief business officer) wrote that “99 percent of those affected by the new guidelines were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90 percent earning less than $2.50 in the last month.”

Looking back over 2017, you would think that YouTube didn’t do very well. Wrong. The number of channels making over six figures in 2017 were up over 40 percent year-over-year. Even with all of the bad press and advertisers pulling out of showing YouTube video ads, the number of channels making $100K+ last year was up 40 percent! That number alone is proof that TV advertising is starting to go the way of the dodo. Consumers are cutting the cord, and it’s time to get ahead of the competition. Elon Musk said, “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.” We are past consumers possibly cutting the cord and are well into the probability of it happening now.

 

Why Google’s Ad Problem Won’t Go Away

Why Google’s Ad Problem Won’t Go Away

Video

A few years ago, right when I was starting out, I built keywords and wrote ad copy for a big agency. During this time, I learned about “brand protection negatives,” or the phrases that the agency’s client did not want the brand associated with — hence the “brand protection” name. That list of negative keywords was outrageous and would make many people blush. Whenever I need a good laugh, I took a look at this list and wondered about the person who had to sit down and think of these completely inappropriate, NSFW phrases.

I thought about those brand protection negatives earlier this year when Google found itself in hot water as businesses discovered that their advertisements were appearing alongside inappropriate content in the Google Display Network, most notably on YouTube. Big brands such as Starbucks and Walmart pulled their advertising. Reportedly the boycott has cooled off. But the problem of ads appearing alongside inappropriate content on YouTube is not going away. The risk remains real: YouTube is vulnerable.

Context

For context, let’s look at a few revealing statistics:

  1. YouTube reaches over 1 billion users (1/3 of all people on the internet)
  2. YouTube can be navigated in more than 76 different languages (95 percent of the internet population)
  3. There are 300 hours of video uploaded every minute.

The staggering 300 hours of video uploaded every minute results in lot of content flooding YouTube (432,000 hours per day or 157,680,000 hours per year). When one of these videos is uploaded to YouTube, it is put through an editorial process that labels it as G, PG, Teen, or Mature as well as a variety of other groupings (Police/Crime, Acts of Warfare or Violence, Social Issues, Religion, etc.). But it can take some time for Google’s reviewers to complete that process.

Google Has a Problem

The sheer volume of videos that posted on YouTube is reason alone why Google’s problems are far from over. Google reviewers can’t keep up with the number of hours of videos uploaded. As a result, the review process is, to a degree, automated — which results in videos being mislabeled or missing a label. In addition, reviewing and approving a video also makes it possible for the video to qualify for monetization (via the YouTube Partner Program), meaning that the video may accept advertising. Currently, YouTube requires a YouTuber to have 10,000 lifetime views to monetize their YouTube channel. Now, that may seem like a lot of views, but it’s a lifetime view count, which means I can create 10 videos that each get 1,000 views, 20 videos that get 500 views apiece, 50 videos that get 200 views apiece, and so on. Once that 10,000-view count is hit, all channel videos begin to be monetized.

The lax reviewing standards coupled with a fairly easy monetization process can lead to some unfortunate situations, as the following example shows. In March, James Dean of The Times tweeted a troubling image:

In this example, an Oracle image ad was placed over a video for an extremist group. Obviously, as part of the brand safety process I mentioned at the beginning, Oracle would want this type of video excluded. But why did this video specifically qualify as part of the monetization process? The answer: tough to say. In some instances, videos are uploaded and disapproved because of a single word in the video title (e.g. “dead” or “death”) but in other cases, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, a video may have a racial slur in the title or description and still get approved. What’s ironic — and probably should have been expected — is that once these stories began to pop up back in March, YouTube went to the extreme and began demonetizing large amounts of content without any warning — and in some cases prematurely.

A Flawed Process

Clearly, if YouTube is going to monetize a video, they need to be more vigilant as to where those dollars originate. Essentially, in the example from James Dean, YouTube made money off a video that supports terrorism. How did that video get monetized? How did the reviewers not catch that? When there are so many hours of video and so much money involved, not to mention YouTube’s belief in free speech, it’s easy to understand why videos such as these slip through the cracks.

Google Goes to Extremes

YouTube went to the extreme when it came to demonetizing videos. For example, consider the case of Real Women, Real Stories, created by Matan Uziel. The goal of his channel is to give women the opportunity to give voice to their stories of survival from trauma; ranging from physical abuse to sex trafficking. This channel is a noble endeavor of survival and resolve, if ever there was one. Uziel uses the funds from ads on the channel to direct and produce future videos. But, one day, out of nowhere, all funds ceased because his videos got caught up in the demonetization process that YouTube began. His videos don’t support hate speech (just the opposite in fact). But nonetheless, the content addressed a subject that Google didn’t want on YouTube. Uziel has seen ad revenue slowly come back as the YouTube algorithm “learns where they should show ads, and where they should not” says Jamie Byrne, a director of enterprise at YouTube.

The examples I have cited represent just two instances out of thousands, maybe even millions that occur daily. We have given YouTube (and Display networks in general) the benefit of the doubt over the years because “it’s a new product,” “it’s not a science,” or “it’s difficult to monitor.” But, if Google is rolling out a product that can track brick-and-mortar purchases at your nearest Wendy’s back to your double-bacon cheeseburger search, then Google needs to find a consistent and responsible way to protect brands from advertising on videos that push violence, hate speech, or any other topic that goes against a company’s corporate belief.

But, we need to remember that YouTube would have to hire more than 75,000 employees to watch video for 40 hours a week to manually review every minute of every video uploaded. That scenario is unrealistic. So, advertisers, as well as consumers, need to be aware that Google’s ad problem will never go away.

Image source: videoadvertisingnews.com

Digital Video Advertising Outshines TV

Digital Video Advertising Outshines TV

Video

Digital video is hotter than ever for brands. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau Video Ad Spending Study, advertisers are spending on average more than $9 million annually on digital video advertising (a 67-percent increase from two years ago), and video represents more than 50 percent of their digital/mobile ad spending.

The IAB report is based on a survey of brands and agencies across a wide spectrum of industries ranging from automotive to telecom. Most of the respondents plan to invest more into both digital and mobile video over the next 12 months. Many will fund their investments into video by reallocating their television budgets, and most respondents believe that original digital video content reaches an audience that TV cannot reach. They also prefer video because of the quality of the environment and overall effectiveness of reaching an audience.

These findings don’t surprise me. My own client experiences suggest that advertisers are also drawn to the measurability and audience segmentation possible with digital video compared to TV advertising. As I wrote on the True Interactive blog, not only can you target customer segments with online video, but you can see how many of them interacted with your site, subscribed to your YouTube channel, made a purchase, or watched another of your YouTube videos (other than the ad you just showed them). Not only can advertisers see the different interactions of an audience, but they can also see how much of the video ad that they watched.

To maximize the value of online video, I suggest that advertisers:

  • Develop an interactive video strategy tied to your branding goals and aligned with the behavior of your customers. Map out your customers’ journeys throughout the digital world and figure out how interactive video will best move your customers from the awareness to consideration to purchase and retention. In the healthcare profession, for instance, medical providers use interactive video to educate potential patients on topics such as wellness care, which raises awareness for providers when customers are researching topics such as proper dieting or exercising.
  • Understand the nuances of using video — both paid and organic — across different platforms. “Video” can mean many things to different brands, ranging from a bumper ad on YouTube to a Facebook Livestream. According to a recently released report from think tank L2, video formats provide different advantages depending on what platform you use. Instagram content provides higher levels of engagement compared to other platforms, Facebook provides incredible reach, and YouTube is better for longer-form video content that lends itself to episodic storytelling.

In addition, it’s important to stay on top of this fast-changing format. The different platforms are constantly introducing new features as they attempt to gain an advantage on each other, and advertisers that stay in the know will seize a first-mover advantage. On the True Interactive blog, we regularly discuss how to succeed with video (as shown by this example about livestreaming). Other useful resources include the blogs from platforms such as YouTube and third-party content from institutes such as the IAB. How are you capitalizing on interactive video?

Image source: Marketing Land

SPOTLIGHT: Think before Leaping

Spotlights Video

Chief Marketer logoRight now, in some industries, paid-video search campaigns are hotter than the spark trail of a soaring Roman candle. Several factors are driving digital marketers to explore paid video – from the increase in competitiveness and cost of traditional paid search to the huge growth in mobile viewing.

There’s no question that savvy marketers can capitalize on the opportunity to capture new and larger audiences with video marketing campaigns.

But are they right for you and your business?

In an article on Chief Marketer, “Think Before You Leap Into Paid Video Search,” I suggested three ways you might proceed with paid video:

  • Wait for the right time for you and your customers
  • Proceed slowly and cautiously, at a pace that avoids major gaffes
  • Run campaigns as quickly as possible; the Internet moves so fast any mistakes will be behind you quickly

Without knowing more about your organization’s goals, I can’t advise you on which strategy is best for you right now. However, I can – and do – offer guidance on how you can evaluate which approach to take. Check out the article on Chief Marketer and leave a comment below with your thoughts on the value of paid video search.

Nuts & Bolts: How to Decide if Paid Video Search is Right for You

Nuts & Bolts Video

Look at any article or blog post on “hot marketing trends for 2016” and you’ll see “video” at or near the top. Do you have a strategy for implementing paid video search in your marketing plan?

The latest post in our “Nuts & Bolts” series delves into the what, why and how of paid video, based on a recent workshop I presented. For example, Forrester estimates that one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of text in terms of the message being communicated. Can you afford to miss out on that opportunity?

View the slides below from our workshop to learn if a paid video program is right for you right now. If not, discover how to discern when it is the right time. You’ll also get useful tips and links to help you begin – once the time is right. More importantly, you will get advice on how to measure your program’s effectiveness with techniques like attribution marketing.

A Year of Analytics, Mobility and Video

Analytics Mobile Nuts & Bolts Video

As we prepare to say farewell to 2015, we’d like to use this final FirstWord post of the year to say thanks to all the editors who published our articles. We focused on three major themes during the last 12 months – Analytics, Mobility and Video – and some of the finest digital marketing publications on the web were gracious enough to share our work.

Here are five of our favorites:

Why Digital Marketing Analytics Is Important for Retail Sales” – a video interview with Eric Vidal, editor of The Marketing Scope

TargetMarketingHow to Use Analytics to Improve the Performance of Your Digital Marketing Campaigns” – from the Measurement & Metrics section of Target Marketing

MarketingProfsFive Ways Google Analytics Turns You Into the Sherlock of Paid Search” – a column in MarketingProfs

Before Shooting for Video Marketing Success, Learn to Hit a Moving (i.e., Mobile) Target” – featured in the Executive Briefing from biz

CMLogoThink Before You Leap Into Paid Video Search” – from the Consumer Marketing channel of Chief Marketer

If any of these headlines catches our attention, practice the power of the click. Click on the links we’ve provided and visit these pages in support of the publications that support us.

Why Mom’s Advice Applies to Video Marketing

Analytics Attribution Modeling Video

Think of mom's advice when doing video marketingMoms love to toss out quips to keep their kids in line. Funny thing is many of them apply to marketers just as much as to children. (And let’s not read too much into that!) One Mom-ism you’ve probably heard is “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust everyone else.”

She might as well have been talking about marketers who are hanging out with all the “cool kids” running video marketing campaigns. You shouldn’t blindly jump in just because they are. Do they know what they’re doing? And if their marketing spending is making a difference?

We previously looked at the explosive growth of video search. With video accounting for 64% of all Web traffic – and growing – clearly there is a huge opportunity. But opportunity alone isn’t reason enough to leap into video.

To be effective, at least at present, you need to be sure your attribution modeling is in place so you can judge the success of your paid video search. Start there, especially if your product or service is more of a considered purchase. You will drive more value throughout your campaign if you spend time upfront to understand your buyers and build models that help you know what’s driving their actions.

It’s also important to be patient with your campaigns. The downside of consumers viewing content when and how they want is it could take a while for your videos to be discovered and viewed by your target audience. Again, this is another good reason to ensure your attribution models are in order, so you won’t pull the plug too soon.

Once you have your attribution models set, should you immediately press the “on” button and recline with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite beverage? Maybe… maybe not.

To video or not to video

Essentially, there are three ways you can proceed:

  • Wait for the right time for you and your customers
  • Proceed slowly and cautiously, at a pace that avoids major gaffes
  • As quickly as possible; the Internet moves so fast, any mistakes will be behind you quickly

Which is the right way to go? Mom would say “I don’t know” is not an answer. And she’s right. Actually, any of them could be correct.

If you are an industrial or B2B marketer, and video isn’t prevalent in your industry, you can probably afford to wait. Particularly if you don’t currently have any video assets and your customers aren’t demanding that you get some.

If you are a retailer, or sell products or services through direct response, right now is a great time to get involved — especially if you already have some video available. The market is primed and the competition level is relatively low. You can “own” video search for much less than it might cost for text-based search. Even if you don’t have video right now, however, there are specialty companies that can help you develop some quickly – and at low cost.

If your organization is risk-averse, proceeding slowly might be the best bet. Try video on your website and gauge the reaction. Use your Google analytics to monitor how often your videos are viewed, if visitors are staying through them and if they are going from one to the next. That will tell you whether your content has the potential to work on a broader scale so you can expand into channels such as YouTube. (See my previous posts on quantifying the effectiveness of campaigns and using session metrics to learn more about insights you can gain from your analytics.) Even if you make a few missteps, the learning effort will be worth it, and those errors likely will be forgotten quickly.

Remember Mom

“Everyone else is doing it” wasn’t a good reason when you were a kid, and it’s not a good reason now. Having a solid business reason for launching a video search campaign – and the mechanisms to manage its effectiveness – will drive greater success in the short- and long-term. And make your mother proud.