YouTube’s TV-Like Pitch: Original Shows, Targeted Demos, Branded Channels


Professional rally driver Ken Block, founder of DC Shoes, knows the power of the 700 YouTube videos shared every minute on Twitter, and that’s the social, connected power behind advertising on YouTube. Now, the Google-owned video portal is pitching advertisers on its targeted original channels during the digital upfront disruption to the TV upfront presentations now underway.

“Play Means Business” is YouTube’s call-to-action, “a single destination for all of YouTube’s brand building resources,” including 100+ YouTube “brand channels” that amount to more than “compelling, on-demand entertainment, however. It’s also about precision, generating word-of-mouth, and business impact,” adds Google in a blog post.[more]

YouTube’s statistics are impressive, but “The big question is whether advertisers will come to the party and how much they will spend,” as Bloomberg Businessweek ponders.

Google’s TrueView ad system has migrated ads from page margins to videos, but the system gives viewers the ability to skip an ad after a few seconds. Advertisers only pay when users watch and don’t skip, and although YouTube claims users watch an ad between 15 and 45 % of the time, many brands are skeptical of this ‘brand’ of consumer control.

“Google is still thinking about it from a performance marketing standpoint, which is how they grew to be as big as they are,” says Jayant Kadambi, CEO of video-ad serving company YuMe, to Businessweek, referring to Google businesses such as AdSense, where advertisers pay-per-click. 

The “brand business,” where advertisers want their messages in front of mass, captive audiences, “is different,” says Kadambi, citing Toyota, AT&T and General Motors having pledged up to $10 million each to advertise adjacent to YouTube’s new content.

“An advertiser is unlikely to want to be associated with the proverbial cat on a skateboard,” Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research Group, told Nielsen.

At the recent Digital NewFronts in New York, YouTube highlighted the increasingly professional quality of its channels such as DanceOn, with ten original series launching and Madonna in an advisory role, following the success of “Obama Girl” which attracted 26 million monthly video views.

WIGS, brand new this month, focuses on short films and scripted dramas about women. Filmmakers Jon Avnet (Black Swan, Risky Business) and Rodrigo Garcia (In Treatment) have lined up a talent roster that includes Virginia Madsen, Stephen Moyer, Jennifer Garner, Alfred Molina, and Julia Stiles in the first three series, and Jennifer Beals, America Ferrera, Dakota Fanning, and Alison Janney also on tap.

Even with professional quality video, the bulk of ad growth online still “steals chunks of the $70 billion spent on TV in the U.S. But simply producing high-quality video doesn’t automatically attract vast sums of TV dollars. Those dollars also want TV-like scale, and not many players have both: mainly YouTube and Hulu,” notes Ad Age. Half of the 2011 $1.8 billion online-video ad market went to Hulu ($300 million) and YouTube ($600 million), its report adds.

“The upshot,” writes MarketingVox, “is that YouTube is going out of its way to create a professional outlet for marketers and advertisers, with that $100 million investment in content. For the moment, it and Hulu appear to be the only professional-grade outlets for those cannibalized TV ad dollars, and for new digital budgets.” 

YouTube’s pitch to agencies is all about serving up demos, such as its original channels that appeal to multicultural audiences (as highlighted below):