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Q&A: Phil Farhi, group product manager, YouTube.

YouTube is rolling out its skippable video ad format In-stream to mobile devices for the first time. The format, which now accounts for 65% of all video ads run on the platform globally, is also being prepped to extend across other mobile platforms, as well as connected TVs further down the line.

The ad formats are becoming increasingly ppopular in the UK, with consumers enjoyng the additional control it lends them over their viewing experince, while advertisers only pay for “engaged” views, those which have lasted 30+ seconds.

YouTube’s group product manager Phil Farhi (pictured) spoke to new media age how skiappable video ads are evolving ad creative, while outlning its next steps for the formats on other mobile platforms and connected TVs.

How important is the timing of this launch in the face of wider market trends?

It is a crucial piece of a larger puzzle. We are seeing a clear uptake in traffic on YouTube coming through mobile, in fact one in five of our views are via mobile. Therefore there is a huge opportunity for our content owners to monetise their mobile viewerships. When we think about monetising content for content owners and funding the content creation ecosytem, mobile plays a key part of that.

Then with Trueview we have a buying model and a set of fomats that has proved incredibly popular with advertisers and lucrative for content owners. This is the confluence of those two trends.

How might this drive investment in mobile video advertising?

The only asset you need for the Trueview model is video. So there is effectively no barrier to entry to mobile adveritising if you are already doing desktop video.

I think we will see our savvier advertisers start to optimise their campaigns for mobile. Our initial test results show users seem to engage with mobile ads in similar ways to desktop regarding how they watch, but over time we will need to think about how we optimise for mobile. That will involve thinking about which are the right creatives for mobile. But the underlying asset is the same – the video creative.

What effect are skippable ads having on ad creativity?

There has been a very interesting evolution in the creatives we have seen. It started with repurposed creatives running as Trueview in-stream ads. Then you started seeing advertisers get creative about tailoring their ads when they know they are skippable, so focusing on the first five seconds to really engage a user and invite them to stay and watch more.

You develop a creative very differently if you know you have a fixed 30 seconds of a user’s attention, like in TV, versus if you have an initial invitation or opportunity to discover, and effectively a blank slate for telling the rest of your story. So you are seeing people break free of the shackles of a 30-second creative, and using the early part of their ad to engage users and get them to stick around.

Do you think this will evolve further with Trueview on mobile?

I think we’ll see advertisers who not only tailor ads for the skippable format but tailor them for different audiences – the same message but tweaked depending on which audience you are going after.

I like to think of YouTube as the largest focus group in the world. It’s really a canvas for a creative marketers to talior their message and try interesting new ones. Ultimately they can derive insights from how all these things have performed, which can drive more ad spend.

Given tracking mobile data isn’t as advanced as online tracking, could Trueview on mobile help improve that?

Absolutely. You can start to track at a much more granular level just through the interaction with the ad. How many people are skipping, who is skipping, how much of video are they watching - all that insight is avialable to see as it is all captured within the ad unit. Once you have captured it you can break it out by device.

What are your plans for the rest of the Trueview suite?

The broader Trueview suite will eventually play a role on mobile. We have already launched the Trueview In-search product on some of our mobile platofrms. You will gradually start seeing all those pieces start to move over and go across screens. Over 65% of the pre-roll ads we have right now are skippable, these ads are earning equal to or better revenue for our content creators than our traditional pre-roll ads. So publishers are making more money with a more user-friendly format, and advertisers are getting their accountability beacuase we are doing a better job of matching up advertisers and users.

Will Trueview interactive video formats be extended to connected TVs?

Yes absolutely. The idea of cost per view is the core of this entire platform. Certain sets of formats are rendered a particualr way to suit desktop, but as we move to different devices those formats may change. Eventually on connected TVs it might be about ‘how do we think about engaging or viewing an ad when the input device is a remote control or your mobile phone is controlling the connected TV?’ So we will adapt the cost-per-view model to different screens, but that model will always be the underlying premise.

What are your immediate next steps?

We will continue to ramp up traffic on this and learn more. You will see us refine how the format works and how our optimisation worls. Eventually we will roll it out to other mobile platforms, having started with Android. It’s safe to say you will see us move quickly in this space as there is such a tremendous opportunity in mobile and for advertisers to move more in that space right now.

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Published 28 August, 2012 by NMA Staff

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