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Three Takeaways from YouTube’s Brandcast: Commitment to Diversity, Enhanced Brand Safety and a New Content Format
In YouTube’s Brandcast—their annual presentation during the NewFronts—the online video platform reinforced and touted the widely-accepted notion that “YouTube is mainstream.”

Advertisers already know there is tremendous opportunity with YouTube given its incredible reach, more than other Connected TV platforms on a global scale. While this is the status quo, it’s expected that network digital footprints (like Discovery) will expand in the next few years on a similar trajectory as when cable came to market.

To its strength, YouTube is a little bit of everything; a mix of user-generated content, partner content and original content. As consumer video consumption has increased YoY, YouTube has a legitimate case to compete with broadcast. The platform is now reaching 120M people in the US on TVs, only solidifying that cord cutting isn’t just a trend but a way of life.

YouTube Makes a Commitment to Diversity

Like most video platforms, YouTube is also committed to showcasing and fostering diversity across the platform. Their efforts include promoting a diverse roster of creators to investing in a “YouTube Black Voices Creators” class with the hopes of amplifying underrepresented voices online. YouTube believes the feelings of community and authenticity will ring truer here than from any broadcasted or scripted show.

YouTube Increases Brand Safety Measures

From a Brand Safety standpoint, YouTube is expanding their partnerships with companies like OpenSlate, Double Verify and others to bulk up their offerings. Recently, they became the first digital platform to be accredited for content-level brand safety by the Media Rating Council, a United States-based nonprofit organization that manages accreditation for media research and rating purposes.

YouTube Launches New “Shorts” Content Format

YouTube is also hopping on the bandwagon of trending content formats with Shorts, a new short-form video experience similar to TikTok. They’ll be supporting more professionally created content in this style, believing this is ripe for growth with an eye towards advertising partnerships. Currently, YouTube Shorts has notched 6.5B daily views in its India launch. They hit the US this past March and will continue to expand globally. The organic feel of the videos could be an indicator of potential success; we’ve seen similar content perform very well on YouTube and other social platforms.

Room for Growth

While these three key takeaways offer lots of opportunity and promise to advertisers, there is one notable miss: failing to connect the new consumer attitudes in consumption and the need to be available when they are ready to buy, not when preconceived purchase journeys tell us so. For example, it would be valuable for YouTube to figure out a way for consumers to purchase in the moment after being exposed to an ad or branded content; options to buy online, picking up in store or having items shipped to our homes is an expectation these days. That being said, YouTube could make the argument that since they have the same reach as some cable providers (and more reach than other digital platforms) this will help in the commerce space to continue the conversation on their search platform. YouTube’s profits in Q1 came close to their Q4 earnings and beat their year-on-year numbers. This is no big surprise with overall search demand up and consumers spending more time online. With the consumer journey no longer linear it is imperative that brands position themselves to capture the demand at any moment.

In Summary

As the industry evolves with how we go to market with Video, agencies and advertisers will need to increase their willingness to consider YouTube during the Upfronts as a way to maximize reach and efficiencies during the 2021-22 Upfront buying season. You can read Empower’s current POV on navigating Linear TV and consumer changes here.

It’s also important to stop thinking of platforms and buying types in a singular focus. Think holistically. We should not expect every platform to achieve the same outcomes. Instead, think how they each contribute to the campaign objective and business goal. Instead of platforms mimicking each other, they should push to innovate. As an industry we need to work collectively to set up better measurement and data sharing so the entire impact can be evaluated and better performance can be gained.