How the YouTube Masthead Ad Format Connects with Television Audiences

How the YouTube Masthead Ad Format Connects with Television Audiences

YouTube

We’ve blogged about the fact that in an era of connected TV, audiences are increasingly watching content that advertisers can’t sponsor — there are no ads on Netflix (yet), for example. But Google is sensing and responding to this reality, as evidenced by the launch of the YouTube Masthead ad format for TV. Essentially, YouTube is helping brands find a new way to get onto TV screens — and into the hearts and minds of viewers.

What Is YouTube Masthead for TV?

YouTube Masthead formatted for television is a response to changing viewing habits. Audiences can access YouTube on their TV screens, and because YouTube is free, it represents a new frontier for brand advertising. As described in Instapage, “[a] YouTube Masthead is a digital billboard placed on YouTube’s homepage for 24 hours, reaching roughly 60 million people (YouTube receives 1.8 billion users/month).”

The YouTube Masthead doesn’t use search histories to earmark users based on their interests or demographics (note that you can target a country where you would like an ad to be shown, though). The Masthead simply appears right on the network’s homepage, allowing brands to reach consumers as soon as they access the YouTube app on their TV. The Masthead, which takes up some prominent real estate at the top of the screen, best serves brands that have the desire, and the budget, to maximize exposure across a sweeping, non-targeted audience. On its blog, YouTube provides an example from an early tester, Ford.

Why YouTube Masthead?

In adapting the YouTube Masthead ad format for TV, Google is capitalizing on the fact that while consumers may have cut the cord on linear TV, they are still using their televisions to experience streaming platforms like YouTube. According to the Google blog, “daily [television] watch time tops 250 million hours per day.” TV screens are still a powerful place where brands can enjoy maximum exposure.

And YouTube Masthead ads seemingly deliver. According to Instapage, Google and Compete researched the impact of YouTube homepage ads. Their findings demonstrated that users “exposed to a YouTube Masthead were four times more likely to visit the advertiser’s website, search for their brand, or engage with even more of their videos.” And because YouTube’s content is so diverse (everything from baking tutorials to the Coachella music festival streamed live) the consumer base will be large and diverse, as well.

How to Move Forward with Masthead

Given the broad reach of the YouTube Masthead format, advertisers will want to keep a few things in mind before diving in:

  • Even though Masthead ads are not targeted, it’s important to remember who is drawn to YouTube in the first place. Know the platform: what videos are trending, for example. Remember that YouTube has a strong focus on entertainment. Is your product a good fit for the typical YouTube consumer?
  • Avoid inside jokes for a specific group. You don’t want your ad to be so broad that it’s boring, of course, but keep it accessible to the large audience you’ll be reaching.
  • You want to stir curiosity with your ad. But remember, given the wide-ranging audience, not all viewers will be inclined to buy. Learn about the features YouTube Masthead makes available — from videos to social shares — and offer consumers different ways to explore your brand, depending on their level of interest or engagement.

Contact True Interactive

Curious as to whether YouTube Masthead is a good fit for your brand? Wondering if there are other ways you can leverage television viewership in this era of connected TV? Contact us. We can help.

What Is Stadia?: Advertiser Q&A

What Is Stadia?: Advertiser Q&A

Google

Over the last decade, streaming has become one of the most disruptive forces media, changing the way we experience everything from movies to music. Now Google, with a new cloud-based gaming platform called Stadia, hopes to use streaming to irrevocably shape the way we play. Here are answers to questions you may have about it.

What Is Stadia?

Stadia is Google’s new cloud-based gaming service that will be accessible through multiple mobile devices including PCs, laptops, smartphones, and smart televisions and tablets. Instead of purchasing a game at a brick-and-mortar store or downloading a title on their console, gamers will simply stream the games running on Google’s cloud servers. As announced at Google Stadia Connect and Gamescom 2019 in August, the catalog currently includes 39 games ranging from Cyberpunk 2077 to Mortal Kombat 11, Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle, and Kine.

According to John Justice, VP of product for Google Stadia, the goal is to bring “all the games you’d expect to have” to Stadia, as well as games “only possible in the cloud.” Games are streamed from Google’s constantly upgraded servers, which means players don’t have to monitor (or wait for) downloads or updates.

And the platform is meant to allow for the multiple ways gamers play. As Google VP Phil Harrison told Eurogamer, “[The word ‘Stadia’ is] the plural of stadiums . . . A stadium is a place where you can have, obviously, sports, but it’s also a place where you can have entertainment. And so we wanted that to be our brand idea, which was a place for all the ways that we play and this idea of watching, playing, participating . . . where you could take a slightly ‘lean-back’ view of a game [if you wanted to]. You don’t necessarily have to be leaning into every last button press per second of a game.”

When Does Stadia Go Live?

Google Stadia’s Founder’s Edition will be released in November 2019 in 14 territories including the United States, UK, and Canada. Those who opt for the Founder’s Edition will drop $130—less than the price of a new PS4—for a Chromecast Ultra and a limited-edition “Night Blue” controller. These early adopters will receive not only the hardware, but also three months of free premium service (called “Stadia Pro”—more details below). They’ll also receive a three-month “Buddy Pass” so that a friend can also enjoy Stadia Pro.

Why Is Google Interested in Gaming?

A shift into the video game business may seem like a big move for Google, but gaming is a lucrative industry. According to market analysis firm Newzoo, the video game industry produced roughly $135 billion in sales in 2018. GlobalData predicts that number will balloon to $300 billion by 2025.

Who Is Google Competing against with Stadia?

As far as game streaming is concerned, Google isn’t the only company exploring this new frontier. Microsoft is in the midst of planning its own offering, called xCloud. Twitch is a well-known and popular platform owned by Amazon subsidiary Twitch Interactive and introduced in 2011, which focuses on video game live streaming.  And Playstation Now, from Sony, allows PlayStation owners to instantly access a library of (mostly older) games for $99 a year, even as Sony promises to take that service “to the next level later this year.” Meanwhile, Apple will launch its own subscription gaming service, Arcade, September 19.

How Will Google Make Money off Stadia?

Although Stadia has been predicted to be the “Netflix of games,” the analogy isn’t a perfect one: Stadia is not primarily a subscription service. Gamers should expect to purchase, not rent, the games they play using the service (with the exception of some free releases). As Google’s director of games Jack Buser told The Verge, “We will sell these games like any other digital storefront.”

The service itself comes in two tiers:

  • Players can get Google Stadia for free via Stadia Base, which is due out in 2020 and will allow streaming of purchased games with stereo sound. The catch? Gamers won’t have access to free game releases when they occur.
  • To get all features, including 5.1 surround sound and access to the free game library, users will pay $10/month for Stadia Pro.

What we no one knows yet is what kind of advertising opportunities might exist with Stadia. Knowing Google, the company will figure out an ad model to support its online advertising business, which is fending off the rising popularity of Amazon Advertising and long-standing competitor Facebook. Stay tuned.

Contact True Interactive

To learn more about advertising opportunities online, Contact us.

What Advertisers Should Do about Zero-Click Searches on Google

What Advertisers Should Do about Zero-Click Searches on Google

Google

Bad news for businesses in their ongoing efforts to optimize their websites for search traffic: for the first-time ever, more than half of search queries on Google result in no clicks to sites. According to marketing analytics firm Jumpshot, most people who search for content from Google find what they want from the search engine results page and don’t bother to click through to a website for more information. What happens on Google stays on Google.

In addition, per Jumpshot, Google continues to send “a huge portion of search clicks to their own properties . . . Those properties include YouTube, Maps, Android, Google’s blog, subdomains of Google.com, and a dozen or so others.”

Why the Rise in Zero-Click Searches?

Why the rise in zero-click searches? Because more than ever, Google is doing its job serving up essential information in response to queries. Over the years, Google has made it possible for business owners to build out rich, informative Google My Business (GMB) pages with information ranging from offers to customer/ratings reviews. Those pages form the foundation for businesses to be found on Google properties such as Google Maps.

GMB pages have become so useful and informative that people are finding what they want (“Find a grocery store near me”) in the knowledge panel of a business without needing to go to a business’s website. In fact, a company’s GMB page is now the single-most important way to attract local search traffic, according to Moz.

Meanwhile it’s no surprise that Google sends a huge proportion of clicks to its own sites. Facing rising competition from Amazon Advertising, Google is under pressure to keep its advertising business strong. To do so, Google needs to keep eyeballs on Google properties, where users are exposed to Google advertising (in May, we noted on our blog that Google is expanding its ad business on Google Maps, to name just one example).

What Advertisers Should Do about Zero-Click Searches

So what should advertisers do? You should:

  • Build up your GMB page. If organic queries are increasingly going to your GMB and staying there, then make sure you’ve optimized your GMB content – including images, customer ratings/reviews, and location data – to be found.
  • Link your GMB account to your Google Ads account. As Google discusses in this tutorial, linking your GMB account to your Google Ads account makes it possible for your ads to appear with location extensions, which encourage customers to visit your storefront. Through location extensions, customers can see your ads with location information such as your address. And then they can get more information about your location by clicking on location extensions.
  • Make sure you’re capitalizing on Google ad products throughout the Google ecosystem. With Google keeping more searchers on Google and its properties, it behooves advertisers to capitalize on where that search activity is occurring.

In addition, Jumpshot’s Rand Fishkin suggests that advertisers seek out keywords whose results have higher click-through rate (CTR) opportunity. He told Search Engine Land, “I think paid search CTR will probably decline over the next few months. That’s because historically, each time Google changes how paid ads appear in the search results (like the late May shift to the black ‘Ad’ labels in mobile SERPs), ad CTR rises, then slowly declines as more searchers get familiar with the ad format and develop ad blindness.”

At the same time, I would be surprised if Google were to leave itself vulnerable to the risk that searchers won’t click on ads.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we know how to help businesses navigate the complex waters of online advertising, including advertising on Google. Contact us. We’re here to help.

Why Yahoo! Scores An Advertising Touchdown with NFL Live

Why Yahoo! Scores An Advertising Touchdown with NFL Live

Advertising

As more cord-cutters embrace connected TV, advertisers don’t reach as many people as they used to. We blogged recently about the fact that even blockbuster TV shows like Game of Thrones attract a fraction of the audiences that used to gather in linear television’s heyday. The change has created an environment in which content creators and advertisers are invited to find new ways to make money from digital audiences. The shift isn’t limited to shows or series, of course. It also includes live sports, with platforms and publishers such as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, and YouTube landing rights to broadcast games from the likes of Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NHL. Yahoo!, for example, has adapted to the connected TV era by providing the NFL Live experience, which, in turn, creates an opportunity for advertisers: a less expensive, more targeted way for brands to reach NFL fans.

What Is NFL Live?

NFL Live is currently the only free mobile site for watching live NFL games. Yahoo! makes free NFL viewing a reality by empowering businesses to advertise on NFL Live. Some of the advantages to advertisers are straightforward: brands get their name in front of six million+ people who have downloaded the app, for example. But it’s not just the volume that matters—it’s the ability to target viewers. Instead of buying advertising spots for certain times during a game (the third quarter of a Bears/Packers game, say), advertisers on NFL Live can reach out to particular audiences. By targeting a group as specific as women ages 25-34 making $100,000+ annually, an advertiser may not reach the largest audience — but they can reach a market they determine is uniquely suited to their brand. It’s a trade-off that can be lucrative, bringing to mind the maxim “quality versus quantity.”

Another perk: it’s less expensive to advertise on NFL Live. A typical network ad during an NFL game costs about $300,000. By contrast, there is no minimum spend for advertising on NFL Live. Advertisers can spend as much or as little as they want.

How Is Yahoo! Expanding NFL Live to Yahoo!’s Fantasy Football App?

Yahoo! has done something else. The company is ramping up its NFL Live offering by also streaming NFL games on Yahoo!’s popular Fantasy Football app. As Yahoo! Fantasy analyst Liza Loza recently said, “NFL fans all over the country can root for their favourite teams and watch all local and primetime games free and unauthenticated in the Yahoo! Fantasy Football app, the Yahoo! Sports app and other Verizon and NFL media properties on phones and tablets.” Multiple streaming locations mean a larger audience. They also hold the promise of attracting new fans. Yahoo! Sports general manager Geoff Reiss said that the digital platforms have brought in a “concentration of younger fans watching the NFL . . . Half of our fans were under the age of 40. I think one of the reasons the league was interested in working with us is we would be a means for them to reach younger audiences.”

Contact True Interactive

Yahoo! is a prime example of a business that’s adapting with the times. It’s important that advertisers remain nimble and aware of what companies like Yahoo! are doing, and capitalize on the opportunities that the changing market affords. Accept the fact that you won’t be reaching as big of an audience. Embrace the reality that you can in fact reach a much more targeted audience: one that’s smaller but more measurable. Call True Interactive for more insight into how to do that.

YouTube’s Bumper Machine: No Substitute for Creativity

YouTube’s Bumper Machine: No Substitute for Creativity

Video

YouTube is helping businesses to capture a person’s attention inside six seconds – which is important at a time when it takes just a few seconds for people to form an impression.  At Google’s annual Marketing Live event, YouTube unveiled a product called Bumper Machine, which makes it easier for businesses to create six-second video ads, or bumpers.

For context: in 2016, YouTube rolled out bumper ads. These consist of quick advertisements (six seconds) that are shown before a person’s selected video. A viewer must watch them before the video begins. By contrast, an in-stream video ad is the sponsored video that plays before your video selection on YouTube (and across the entire Google Display Network). You can skip an in-stream video ad after five seconds have elapsed.

According to YouTube, More than 90 percent of viewers say they have discovered new brands or products on YouTube. And as we’ve discussed on our blog, these ad formats give businesses the ability to target audiences and measure results. Not only can you target customer segments, 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). Advertisers can can also see how much of the video ad an audience has watched. Doing so allows advertisers to determine if a video ad is too long, how much of the video a person watches before deciding to skip it, or see what percentage of viewers are tuned in for the entire video ad. All of these results can be determined the very next day.

But not every business has the resources and budget to crank out bumper ads. So at Google’s Marketing Live event, YouTube announced Bumper Machine, which generates six-second videos from longer video assets. Per YouTube,

Bumper Machine relies on machine learning models that are trained to identify interesting, well-structured moments in a longer video, like those that contain product or brand information, human faces, motion or contrast. It organizes these moments and brings them together to generate several different six-second ad variations for you to pick from, all in a matter of minutes. Before saving your new bumper ads, you can adjust them with simple edits.

Here is an example of how GrubHub took a 13-second ad and used Bumper Machine to create the 6-second version:

That’s right: Bumper Machine can configure your own bumper ad by figuring out what elements of a longer ad will work best in the bumper ad format – without human intervention. During a Q&A with viewers watching the Marketing Live event, YouTube product managers Ali Miller and Nick Rose answered some immediate questions:

Does Bumper Machine replace video editors and creatives?

No. One great way to use it is to gain inspiration for what you actually want to finally build as your bumper ad. You can take a look at what six seconds can do with a video and then build a customizable version of the video with all the expertise and creativity that professionals bring. But if you lack a budget and resources, it’s a way to get started with bumpers right away without spending on video production.

What was the insight behind Bumper Machine?

The six-second slot has taken hold as a way to create a compelling narrative. Bumper machine does the heavy work to help you create a six-second narrative

Is a six-second ad enough?

A six-second ad is an effective for telling a quick story. If you can fit in a single message, a joke, or an example of how a product is used, then a six-second bumper is a great way to get a message across. Also, it’s advisable to work with existing formats together to get the best results, such as skippable 30-second ads and True View to increase effectiveness, reach, awareness, and ROI.

With Bumper Machine, how does machine learning examine contextual relevance to determine a coherent message?

YouTube uses machine learning to identify the elements of the ad that will tell a story inside six seconds in the most engaging way — such as close-ups of someone’s face or a brand message. Then YouTube puts the content together to create a cohesive message.

What You Should Do

At True Interactive, we’ve been urging advertisers to adopt a video ad strategy for some time. Think of Bumper Machine as the video equivalent of your own Alexa skill, or an easy-to-use tool that enables an effective way of storytelling. Machine learning makes the formatting of the asset easier – but you still need human judgment to ensure that your ad captures the essence of your brand and is consistent with how you’re telling your story on other ad touch points (which I call creative parity, or consistency).

As with Google’s AI-fueled ad products, I suggest you view it as a tool to help, not as a substitute for actively managing your creative. For more insight, contact True Interactive. We have extensive experience with online advertising and are ready to help.

Google Ramps Up Mobile Advertising with New Features

Google Ramps Up Mobile Advertising with New Features

Advertising Google

Over the next few years, mobile will drive nearly 90 percent of U.S. digital ad spend, according to Forrester. Businesses such as our client Snapfish are using mobile to achieve benefits such as a 343 percent increase in revenue from mobile app installs and a 756 percent return on ad spend. On May 14, Google made some major moves to accelerate our march toward a mobile advertising future:

App Deep Linking from Mobile Ads

Google announced that in coming weeks, Google will enable app deep linking from Google ads. Business that offers apps and also advertise on mobile will benefit from a more frictionless experience. Google will take users from shopping, display, and search ads right to the relevant page on your mobile app. Users with your app installed will complete a desired action (such as buying a product or booking a hotel stay) in a more personal and easier way with their check-out information pre-populated. As Google noted on its blog, “Early tests have been promising—on average, deep linked ad experiences drove 2X the conversion rates.”

In announcing app deep linking, Google shared the example of Magalu, one of Brazil’s largest retail companies. Magalu, seeing that its app was growing in popularity, enabled deep linking. According to Google, “By enabling deep linking, loyal customers who tapped on a Magalu ad were taken directly to the mobile app they already have installed, resulting in more than 40 percent growth in overall mobile purchases.”

Gallery Ads

Google also announced the launch of Gallery Ads later in 2019. Gallery Ads consist of swipeable images that will display on multiple pages on a user’s mobile phones. As Google announced,

By combining search intent with a more interactive visual format, gallery ads make it easier for you to communicate what your brand has to offer. We’ve found that, on average, ad groups including one or more gallery ad have up to 25 percent more interactions—paid clicks or swipes—at the absolute top of the mobile Search results page.

Advertisers will be able to feature up to eight images. As Search Engine Land (SEL) pointed out, one of the distinguishing features is the large carousel of swipeable images available. Per SEL, people can swipe through the images or click one to expand the gallery into a vertical view that users can then swipe down. At the end of the gallery, a call to action to visit the advertiser’s site appears.

Advertisers get charged for Gallery Ad interactions in one of two ways:

  • A cost-per-click basis when a user clicks on the headline to go to the advertiser’s website.
  • After the user swipes through three images in the gallery.

There is no word yet on an exact date when the format will appear. Advertisers can prepare now by experimenting with different ad, headline, and text options that optimize the available digital real estate.

What Advertisers Should Do

These developments have some important implications:

  • If you rely on an app to attract and service customers, creating ad experiences that link to your app is no longer ideal but is essential. As we’ve shared in our own client work, by varying ad formats wisely to account for factors such as seasonality, advertisers can make advertising and e-commerce more tightly integrated than ever.
  • Advertising on mobile is evolving to allow for more sophisticated storytelling. With a Gallery Ad, you can use multiple images to reveal new products with a series of images rather than collapsing the entire ad and offer into one image. In particular, the swipeable format makes it easier for customers to explore your products, which is especially useful for high-consideration products.

Now is the time to test and learn with Google’s new ad formats and tools. At True Interactive, we possess extensive experience helping businesses launch successful advertising online, including the use of Google products. Contact us. We are here to help.

Google Maps: Opportunities in Advertising

Google Maps: Opportunities in Advertising

Advertising Google

Bloomberg’s recent article speculating that Google could make Google Maps a bigger advertising platform, just as Google has done with search in general, has created a stir. On the one hand, the promise of more advertising development on Maps has generated excitement among businesses eager to become more visible on this popular navigation platform. At the same time, the news has triggered some concerns among industry watchers that advertising could become obtrusive. In fact, advertising already happens on Google Maps, and advertising holds promise so long as the ads provide value.

The Worry

As expressed in a recent BGR article, a major concern about advertising on Google Maps centers on the fear that user experience will erode: “Hopefully, Google’s reported interest in leaning on Maps as it hunts for new sources of revenue won’t mean the company goes overboard—like the way you have to scroll down past a slew of ads and highlighted results after conducting a Google Search, for example.”

This is a valid point. No one—including Google—wants to see the user experience on Google Maps become tarnished. Google needs to keep giving users reasons to stay on Google in its many forms. So the company has a strong incentive to monetize Google Maps in a way that keeps the consumer at the center of the experience.

Google appears to be honoring that commitment by exercising caution: Philipp Schindler, Google’s business chief, said at a recent conference that while Google Maps is “a really, really interesting playground [for advertising] going forward,” the basic directions provided by Google Maps are a “utility” that shouldn’t be tampered with. In other words, consumers shouldn’t be bombarded with ads when they are just looking to get from Point A to Point B.

The Reality

If history is any indicator, caution appears to be a feature of the Google Maps playbook. Technically, advertising on Google Maps is nothing new. As Bloomberg points out, “The company has tested ads in Maps for years.” And Google has proceeded thoughtfully all along, keeping the user in mind. Rajas Moonka, the director of product management for Google Maps, notes, “We’ve been pretty careful about not being very aggressive about how we present those to users because we don’t want users to feel like we’re overloading the experience.”

According to The Manifest, Google Maps ads already include features such as:

  • Promoted pins. These purple location pins are meant to stand out from the pack of familiar red location pins. When consumers tap on the Promoted Pin, which is paired with the advertising business’s logo, they access more information about the company and its products.
  • In-store promotions. A business advertising on Google Maps can show coupons and deals right on their ad.

Promotions are a great example of how an ad on Google Maps can be useful to all parties. If I search for “bookstores near me,” I am probably looking for something to buy—or I’m at least interested in browsing. If a ten-percent-off coupon from a nearby bookstore pops up during my search, I might be convinced to choose that store over another. In other words, a great promotion on Google Maps can turn a casual searcher into a bona fide customer, and prompt a scenario in which both business and consumer are winners.

What’s New Under the Sun

The Bloomberg piece isn’t suggesting that Maps is a new advertising frontier. The question being asked, rather, is are there different and more ways to use the app for advertising? We at True Interactive happen to think that the possibilities are legion. Consider the opportunities afforded if Google Maps advertising became personalized with content sponsored by different companies. In that scenario, a bookstore might serve up a personal ad on your Google Maps app based on your usage of Google Maps, just as already happens on Amazon.com when you get a personalized ad from a company that sells products on Amazon, based on your Amazon search history.

What You Can Do

In short, ads on Google Maps aren’t new, and their evolving services represent an opportunity for both businesses and consumers. We recommend that you:

  • Keep track of how Google is transforming itself.

Questions? Contact True Interactive to learn how to advertise on Google Maps and beyond.