The largest user-generated video platform in the world is changing its strategy to attract more TV users and mainstream artists as it reaches over 25% of the world’s population.
YouTube ditches creators, targets TV users and reaches a quarter of the world
At its annual Brandcast event last week, YouTube said more than 1.8 billion users – almost 25% of the world’s 7.6 billion population – log into the streaming platform each month. It represents a 20% increase from the year before and a substantial increase from its total in 2013, of 1 billion.
Alphabet – which owns Google, YouTube’s parent – earned more than $95 billion in advertising revenue last year. Estimates put the total amount of online ad revenue at around $300 billion. EMarketer estimates that around 11% of this revenue comes from YouTube. If true, this would make YouTube one of the largest advertising platforms in the world.
YouTube targets TV users
Brandcast did more than demonstrate the immense influence and scale of YouTube; it also showed a change of strategy. The company announced, “over 150 million hours of YouTube watch time was recorded per day on TV screens alone.”
“The YouTube content is actually scaling for TV incredibly well,” said YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl. “It is our fastest growing screen of all screens.”
The company will add TV screens to the list of devices that advertisers can target through AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager. For brands chasing cord-cutters, the company is introducing a new audience segment called “light TV viewers.” Targeting the new segment will allow advertisers to reach YouTube viewers who watch most of their videos on the television.
Companies can now buy TV inventory through the Google Preferred ad program. Google is adding the TV network ad inventory it gets through YouTube TV to the program. The move will allow brands to target audiences watching the most popular YouTube content and traditional TV shows in a single campaign.
YouTube touted its new vMVPD service, YouTube TV, as momentous. Though it hasn’t revealed monthly subscribers, it said the service is now available in more than 85% of US households. It is also the largest vMVPD service available. According to data from TiVo, 9% of consumers used the service in Q4 2017, more than double its biggest rival.
However, television wasn’t the only strategic change targeted by the platform.
YouTube ditches its creators for celebs
It’s no secret that YouTube enjoys massive popularity with the young Gen Z demographic. These children and young adults idolize internet sensations such as Logan Paul, Pewdiepie, and Liza Koshy. However, during Brandcast these stars were nowhere to be found. There was, however, no shortage of familiar faces.
Will Smith, Priyanka Chopra, Kevin Hart, and Demi Lovato were just some of the stars at the event as YouTube looked to “shine a light on human stories that inspire us.” The top Hollywood talent took center stage, while it was tough to find a single YouTube creator in the mix. YouTube announced new videos and partnerships with these celebrities. For example, Will Smith will bungee jump from a helicopter, and Demi Lovato will star in a show to build awareness, both efforts to help highlight the inspiring stories campaign.
The company also boasted that it would put the “user first” by making “top content” more accessible. By way of example, the company pointed to music videos from VEVO channels and live streams of popular festivals such as Coachella. Again, no talk of independent YouTube artists.
YouTube is putting trust in already established brands and celebrities on its site while downplaying its homegrown stars. Given the problems internet stars have caused it, YouTube’s switch in focus may not be a surprise. Moreover, it mirrors the strategic focus on YouTube TV and more traditional TV viewers.
It could also signal the edgy days of YouTube rocking the digital video world could be nearing an end as the platform begins to look almost old-fashioned.
Why it matters
YouTube now reaches almost quarter of the people on planet earth.
As the company matures, it is shifting away from its edgy origins.
It is targeting the television and embracing traditional TV services.
At the same time, it is deemphasizing homegrown talent in favor of traditional media stars.