Mariah Cooper
May 5, 2021

YouTube introduces interactive ads for connected TVs, more original programming

Users can learn more about a product through second screen activation.

YouTube is expanding its marketing toolbox as viewership grows on connected TVs. 

The platform unveiled new products during its star-studded, 10th annual Brandcast at the NewFronts in the US on Tuesday, hosted by Hasan Minhaj and with appearances from iJustine,The Try Guys, James Corden, Jessica Alba and Miley Cyrus.

YouTube will roll out Brand Extensions, a tool that allows viewers to shop through a second screen after viewing a TV ad, globally later this year. And no, it’s not another QR code activation. Users will be prompted to click a “send to phone” option on their connected TV, which will send that URL directly to their mobile device without interrupting their viewing. 

It’s the “first of many interactive features coming to the TV screen,” the company said. Advertisers can measure conversions from Brand Extensions directly in Google Ads.

YouTube Select, the platform’s sponsorship program, will also expand its offering around seasonal programming and annual events. 

The platform is also adding new original programming to its library, including an unscripted show following Will Smith as he gets into the “best shape of his life,” a docu-series starring Alicia Keys, “Recipe for Change,” a series that pairs Asian American storytellers with celebrities to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander culture; “Barbershop Medicine,” a series focusing on the racial and socioeconomic factors in public health; “Ice Cold,” a series exploring racial inequality in America through “the prism of hip-hop jewelry;” and a third season of “Liza on Demand,” a scripted show starring YouTube creator Liza Koshy.

YouTube will also allow advertisers to include browsable product images in their direct response ads in a play for commerce dollars.

The focus on connected TV comes as more than 40% of linear ad supply has disappeared in the last four years, Allan Thygesen, Google’s Americas president, said during the presentation. 

“TV was our industry’s most critical medium in a generation, but at this point, even those of you who negotiated for good rates are paying more for less every year,” he added. “This is a moment — an inflection point — to reset, to reassess. If you were to start from zero and build based on where people are watching, you would start with streaming.”

More than 120 million people are streaming YouTube or YouTube TV on their TV screens in the U.S. as of December, according to YouTube, an increase from 100 million in March 2020.

YouTube partnered with Talk Shoppe to survey video viewers about their YouTube viewing habits, which has increased across CTVs. The survey included an eight-day diary with 100 viewers, 12 in-depth interviews and an online survey of 2,000 viewers.

More than half of viewers (60%) said their definition of “TV” includes streaming services, and 69% consider YouTube as “TV” when they watch the app on the medium screen. Meanwhile, 79% of viewers said they achieve deeper connections when they watch YouTube on TV screens with others, and 75% of those who watch YouTube on TV with others have made it part of their routine.

Campaign US

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