YouTube is increasing its focus on unscripted content

YouTube is increasing its focus on unscripted content as it prepares to make all of its new original content available for free. While previous Premium titles like martial arts drama Cobra Kai will remain subscriber-only, all new content will be available to everyone in an ad-supported format.

Premium subscribers will benefit from perks like ad-free streaming, exclusive extra content and bingeable all-at-once releases rather than weekly installments. Among its original output, YouTube has increased the proportion of unscripted content from 10% in the second half of 2017 to 40% in the second half of 2018. Unscripted content is also far more likely to progress beyond development or pilot.

While only 61% of scripted content in development or produced as a pilot for YouTube in 2018 has made it to a series order, 92% of unscripted shows made it to the same mark. The shift in content strategy began before YouTube revealed the strategic shift for its Premium services in November 2018.

Among the FAANGs, YouTube is now second only to Facebook in terms of its unscripted focus. For the full year 2018, 42% of YouTube’s announced original shows were unscripted, compared to 4% for Apple, 18% for Amazon and 29% for Netflix. Facebook Watch still has far more unscripted content with 81% of its original output unscripted during 2018.

There has also been a corresponding change in terms of genre of YouTube originals, with more commissions for genres like reality, entertainment, documentary and particularly comedy, while expensive scripted genres like sci-fi & fantasy, action and adventure and romance either remaining steady or dropping off entirely. Bucking this trend is the crime & thriller genre, which has increased steadily over 2018. 

While the move of original content from an exclusive subscription model back to the group’s established ad-supported business may signal the beginning of the end for YouTube’s Premium service, original content is unlikely to suffer: the company has significantly ramped up the number of titles announced during 2018 as it looks to keep pace with its FAANG peers.

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YouTube and Facebook taking lion’s share of online video ads, but TV dominates

YouTube and Facebook account for the majority of online video advertising in Europe, but the vast bulk of video advertising still goes to television, according to a report by the European Audiovisual Observatory.

facebook Youtube TV ads

According to the report, Online Video Sharing: Offerings, Audiences, Economic Aspects, which cites a number of third-party data sources, YouTube and Facebook together take a 56% share of the European online video advertising market. In 2018, YouTube took an estimated 32% of the market, with Facebook taking a 24% share. Broadcasters took a 20% share of the market collectively.

Despite the dominance of YouTube and Facebook in online video advertising, the vast bulk of video advertising – 91% – went to television in 2016. However, the growth rate of the online video advertising market is much higher than that of the TV ad market – 21.4% between 2015-16 compared with 2% for the TV advertising market and 11% for the overall online advertising market.

The report also noted that 6-15 year-olds in the UK spend about 20% of their screen time watching online video clips, compared with about 45% watching broadcast TV, 12% watching recorded TV, 6% watching catch-up TV and 10% watching paid for streaming or download services. Over 16s, by contrast spend 63% of their screen time watching broadcast TV, 17% watching recorded TV, 6% watching catch-up TV and 6% watching paid for streaming or download services, and only a very small amount of screen time – 2.9% – watching online video clips.

YouTube is used at least once a month by 93% of western European consumers, according to the report.

Despite the growth on online video and the rise of SVOD, the report cited Recode data from 2017 that shows traditional media companies still account for the bulk of expenditure on original non-sports content, with the top four spenders – NBCUniversal, Time Warner, Fox and Disney all being traditional players, led by NBCUniversal, which spent US$10.2 billion. Netflix comes in at number five with expenditure of US$6.3 billion, while Amazon is number seven with US$4.5 billion. Among technology and social media companies, Apple and Facebook were the top spenders, coming in at number 13 and 14 with spend of about US$1 billion apiece.

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YouTube To Introduce ‘Ad Pods’ That Stack 2 Commercials Together

YouTube is adding a new advertising solution to its portfolio, one that makes the streaming video platform more like traditional TV offerings.

The Google-owned video site will be testing what are calling “ad pods.” The ad pods will see two video ads stacked back to back. Until now, YouTube ad breaks only featured one ad at a time. Importantly, users will still have the ability to skip the ads and go straight to the content.

YouTube will roll out the ad pods on desktop later this year, with mobile and connected TV screens to follow.

According to a blog post from Google video ads project manager Khushbu Rathi, the goal is to reduce the number of ad breaks during longer viewing sessions.

“Through this research, we also learned that fewer interruptions is correlated with better user metrics, including less abandonment of content and higher rates of ad viewing,” Rathi writes.

“Why does this solution make sense? Because when users see two ads in a break, they’re less likely to be interrupted by ads later. In fact, those users will experience up to 40% fewer interruptions by ads in the session,” he adds.

The company cites experiments suggesting the ad pods resulted in a mid-to-high single-digit increase in reach and frequency for advertisers, without impacting brand lift.

The move is somewhat surprising, given that Google has been at the forefront when it comes to encouraging shorter ads from marketers. The company launched its six-second bumper ads product more than two years ago. That format remains popular on the service.

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YouTube Tests Ad-Supported Movies

The streaming video platform YouTube quietly rolled out a new feature over the past few weeks: full-length, ad-supported movies.

The movies are part of an exclusive deal the company signed with MGM. Among those now streaming: “Terminator,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Pink Panther” films and “Rocky.”

The movies are available through YouTube Movies, which previously focused on movie rentals and purchases. They feature pre-roll advertising and a number of ad breaks. As of this writing, “Rocky” featured 10 interstitial ad breaks.

YouTube’s flexible advertising model could potentially enable other options, like allowing one advertiser to sponsor an entire film. As with YouTube’s other channels, the movies will be ad-free to subscribers of YouTube Premium.

What YouTube has going for it is its massive scale.

The company says it has 1.8 billion logged-in users per month and has become the de facto home for free video content online. Many consumers still associate YouTube with user-generated content, short-form video from creators, or music videos. The company is clearly trying to remedy that association.

In addition, classic movies are a safe, reliable place to advertise. Marketers know exactly what they are getting. With YouTube having faced a number of brand-safety controversies over the last year, adding brand-safe content to its portfolio is one solution to the problem.

Free, ad-supported movies may be fresh to YouTube, but they have become one of the staple features of Vudu, the streaming video service owned by Walmart. Vudu also has a deal with MGM, covering the same library of films. It also has other deals with other studios. It isn’t clear whether YouTube will pursue similar arrangements.

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Amidst Disappointing Numbers, YouTube Music Launches in 7 More Countries

Late last year, Google revealed it would launch yet another attempt to finally break into the streaming music market.

Spotify had around 60 million subscribers at the time. Apple Music was hovering at the 30 million mark. Google Play Music had nearly 7 million paying subscribers. YouTube Red had around 1.5 million.

The service, codenamed ‘YouTube Remix,’ aimed to appease disillusioned music industry executives who have long slammed YouTube’s low payouts.

Several questions immediately emerged. Most importantly, how would Google convince YouTube’s 1.8 billion+ user base to pay up?

After all, the IFPI found that 35% of music lovers don’t subscribe to a streaming music service because they can already listen to free on YouTube. How would the search giant compel these consumers to subscribe?

Google soon launched YouTube’s streaming music service with two very confusing tiers.

For $9.99, you can stream millions of songs and music videos without ads on YouTube Music Premium. You can also download songs for offline listening, but not some playlists. And, you’ll have to watch ads on almost every other video on the service.

For $11.99, you can stream millions of songs and music videos as well as other videos completely ad-free on YouTube Premium. That means you can enjoy Drake’s latest hits and watch Cobra Kai without having to worry about skipping ads.Why would the search giant launch yet another streaming music service?

Would Google terminate or merge its existing Play Music service with YouTube’s newest streaming music platform?

As expected, the service launched earlier this year. But it’s struggled out of the gate.
According to a study from Parks Associates, Premium no longer ranks among the top 10 streaming services in the US.

Following a major overhaul in May, YouTube Music has launched in 22 countries. Yet, the service has kept its actual subscription numbers a closely-guarded secret.

Now, in an effort to rescue its floundering streaming service, the streaming music service has launched in 7 more countries.

Starting today, users in Cuba, Colombia, Japan, Peru, Portugal, Switzerland, and Ukraine can sign-up for the service.

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Facebook sees video growth but admits it is still ‘well behind YouTube’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is seeing video expand dramatically across its ecosystem, but admitted that while its dedicated Watch service is growing quickly it is still “well behind YouTube”.

Speaking on the company’s third quarter earnings call, Zuckerberg reiterated that video is one of Facebook’s key priorities for its core app along with a much bigger focus on communities and groups.

However, he said that Facebook has had “challenges” reconciling passive video consumption with “what people uniquely want from us, which is meaningful social interactions.”

“Video has grown a lot on our services, but we hit a dynamic where when it grows in Feeds and Facebook and Instagram, it displaces some social interactions and people tell us it makes the experience less valuable even though they’re spending more time on it.”

The company’s solution to this has been to build separate video experiences with the launch of Facebook Watch and Instagram’s IGTV – a strategy that seem to be paying off, even though these services still trail their established rivals.

“What we found is that when people seek out video experiences intentionally, they don’t displace social interactions as much and the quality of the experience is generally higher,” said Zukerberg.

“Watch has really hit its stride and it’s growing incredibly quickly, about three-times in the last few months in the US alone. IGTV is still earlier in its development, but I think we have a good sense of how to make it work as well.

“To be clear, these services are still well behind YouTube, which is our primary competitor in this space, but they’re growing very quickly.”

Another issue flagged by Zuckerberg on the call was that video monetises “significantly less well per-minute than people interacting in feeds” – a factor that means as video grows it will displace services that would probably be greater revenue generators for the company.

This is just one of the major shifts Facebook predicted for its business over time, as it noted that the way people are connecting is also moving more to private messaging and Stories.

“People feel more comfortable being themselves when they know their content will only be seen by a smaller group and when their content won’t stick around forever,” said Zuckerberg. “Messaging and Stories make up the vast majority of growth in the sharing that we are seeing.”

Last quarter, Facebook shared for the first time the number of people who use at least one of its apps each month – a metric that Zuckerberg said is a “better way to measure our community over time” as so many people use more than one of Facebook’s apps.

Facebook said it now estimates that more than 2.6 billion people use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month, and more than 2 billion people use at least one of its family of services every day on average.

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Viewers Enjoy Brand Videos on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram

Where are consumers most receptive to commercial videos? Where do viewers not just put up with but actually enjoy brand videos? According to a report from Animoto, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram lead the way.

Ananimoto, a company that helps businesses make videos quickly, released its State of Social Video report today, and the results are useful. One question asked viewers the platforms where they most enjoyed watching social videos from brands. People were allowed to pick up to three answers.

Facebook came it first with 65 percent of those surveyed, YouTube next with 61 percent, and Instagram third with 18 percent. That’s a big drop off before the number three spot, and it suggests that there are really only two platforms where people enjoy watching branded video.

If a large number of people really enjoy brand videos on those two platforms, what type of content do they want to see? The top vote-getter was how-to videos (35 percent), followed by sale videos (18 percent), and top 5 lists (13 percent). In this question, those surveyed could only pick one answer.

For the record, the least popular types of brand videos on social platforms are editorial or topical videos (4 percent) and videos featuring the company founder or owner (4 percent).

Other choice stats from the report:

– 46 percent of consumers watch more video ads on social media than on TV.
– 73 percent of consumers say a brand’s social media presence has had an impact on a purchase decision.
– 48 percent of consumers say a brand video on Instagram has impacted a purchase decision (compared to 31 percent who said the same in 2017).

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MCNs Are Falling in Value

Multi-channel networks (MCNs) are seeing their value fall as per-hour ad income for YouTube content is reaching its peak, according to research from Ampere Analysis.

The research finds that per-hour ad revenue for YouTube content has reached the same level as that of broadcast TV in the US, and is approaching equality with broadcast globally. However while per-hour ad revenue from YouTube has grown, Ampere believes that it has now reached its ceiling in some markets.

This is having a knock-on effect for MCNs – businesses which work with a range of content creators on platforms like YouTube to help with content production, promotion and monetisation. Ampere says that since per-hour revenue on YouTube appears to be peaking, the prospects for continued growth by these MCNs look slim, as they will struggle to derive much more income from their networks of creators.

“As YouTube reaches parity per hour viewed with broadcast TV, MCNs valuations have plummeted. The market has experienced a complete reversal from 2014 when MCNs were changing hands for vast sums on the promise of future profit,” said Richard Broughton, director at Ampere Analysis.

Ampere notes that for a few years back MCNs were changing hands for huge amounts of money, particularly as traditional broadcasters acquired them to diversify their digital offerings and claim a slice of the YouTube ad revenue pie. The researcher says that some were changing hands for values which were 25 or 30 times greater than their net incomes, based off a belief that these companies had potential for impressive continued growth.

Maker Studios for example attracted million in investment from Time Warner, before being bought by Disney for $500 million on 2014; Awesomeness TV was acquired by DreamWorks animation for $120 million in 2015, and ProSiebenSat.1’s Studio 71 was valued at $425 million last year after investment from TF1 and Mediaset.

Ampere’s data however shows that per-view valuations for these companies have dropped sharply. In 2014, the average valuation per monthly view for MCNs was $0.12 (i.e. for each additional monthly view, the company price at acquisition increased by 12 cents). This figure had halved by 2016 to $0.06, and has now dropped to $0.01. In essence, this means an MCN has to bring in twelves times as many views across its network of creators as it did four years ago in order to have maintained the same value.

This drop was evidenced recently as Awesomeness was sold to Viacom for $25 million plus debt, having been valued at $650 million in 2016.

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YouTube makes video ads more actionable, driving 3.5% CTR for Vodafone


Google’s YouTube is testing video ads that give marketers and brands more ways to interact with viewers who respond to a call-to-action message, per a statement shared with Mobile Marketer. YouTube is experimenting with extensions for its TrueView in-stream ads, which viewers can skip after five seconds, that let audiences do things like find a movie showtime, download an app, book a trip or watch another brand video.

Chili’s, 20th Century Fox, Maybelline and Vodafone are among the brands using YouTube’s extensions for mobile video ads. Vodafone saw a 2.3x incremental lift in ad recall and a 3.5% click-through rate (CTR), a 785% increase from a regional benchmark, from a video ad that had an extension.

The extensions will be available to all advertisers soon, per YouTube.
YouTube also partnered with market research firm IRI to let consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertisers measure their campaigns on the platform. Oracle Data Cloud and Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) already offer measurement solutions for YouTube, while Nielsen MPA helps marketers measure the offline effect from video ads, per YouTube.


YouTube’s rollout of video ad extensions likely will help mobile marketers and brands see more immediate and significant effects from their campaigns on the video-sharing platform. Calls-to-action have been a hallmark of direct-response advertising for years, but the response rates can be very slim when those ads are shown to a broad audience. YouTube’s ability to track individual viewers and keep a record of their viewing habits may help advertisers boost CTR and other kinds of actions because of better ad targeting.

Some of the ad extension formats, which have been in beta testing, have already yielded results. As Google explains in a case study, the Chili’s restaurant chain used “form ads,” a TrueView format geared for lead generation, to urge viewers to sign up for its My Chili’s Rewards loyalty program. Chili’s sought to raise awareness for its 3 for $10 deal, which includes a non-alcoholic beverage, appetizer and entrée for a flat price, and added a sign-up form to let viewers submit their name and email below a video ad. Chili’s campaign led to 7,800 form leads for the restaurant chain, per Google.

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Facebook Now Beats YouTube for Video Viewing

It’s time to shift those budgets from YouTube to Facebook, a report suggests. According to a study by Slidely, maker of the Promo video creation platform, 47 percent of viewers say they watch more videos on Facebook now while 41 percent watch more on YouTube (only 8 percent say they watch more on Instagram). It looks like Facebook’s efforts to become the leading video destination are a huge success.

But people don’t simply watch more videos on Facebook now; they also prefer the video ad experience there, as well. While YouTube is known for its easily skipped ads, 71 percent of those surveyed said they find the sponsored videos in their Facebook feed to be relevant or highly relevant to their interests.

“This is fantastic news for marketers because it confirms their paid social budgets are going to good use. Not only are consumers watching sponsored videos, but they’re also finding them relevant (which is, of course, critical to successful marketing),” the report says. “For marketers, this also points to the extreme importance of closely targeting the right users. Consumers have come to expect that sponsored social content be perfectly tailored to their lives and their interests.”

All that video ad viewing is turning into consumer action, as the report finds 70 percent say they sometimes or very often visit the company’s website after watching a video. Also, 60 percent say they sometimes or very often visit the company’s social page after watching a video.

The survey looks at the popular Stories format on Facebook and Instagram, and finds viewing high. While 68 percent say they watch Facebook or Instagram Stories either sometimes or all the time, that number zooms up to 81 percent for those under 34.

view the full report for free online (no registration required).

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