Google’s shift of ads and commerce chief Susan Wojcicki Wednesday to SVP of YouTube, which has 20.5% stake in the US video ad market, and which eMarketer estimated had $5.6 billion in gross ad revenue last year, comes at a critical time for the online video platform.
With Wojcicki’s appointment, Salar Kamangar, SVP of YouTube and Video, will shift his focus to other early-stage Google products.
Among Wojcicki’s first challenges as YouTube SVP will be speeding along cross-channel measurement capabilities, following Google’s recent announcement that it would begin supplying beta brand advertisers with Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) Data. To many, this marked a milestone in bringing some semblance of the standard GRP rating to the increasingly cross-channel advertiser. (ComScore also has linked up with YouTube on viewership data through its Validated Campaign Essentials, or vCE, tool).
According to Vik Kathuria, global head of the digital investment group and corporate strategy at GroupM and Mediacom, “I’ve definitely seen positive movement on third party audience measurement as they’re coming around to the fact it’s critical to unlock TV share shift but they’re dipping their toe in the water rather than jumping right in.”
Google, he claimed, is still only allowing a few select brands to beta test OCR tags at the moment. “DSPs still aren’t allowed and we’re on the list of ‘priority’ partners,” he said. “OCR is important to this sector because it provides nationally oriented or global advertisers with metrics that are similar with those used to buy traditional national TV advertising from broadcast networks, cable networks and syndicators.”
Sarah Baehr, SVP of digital for independent media buying agency Carat, acknowledged that these aspirations must first overcome technological challenges and improve its integration with mobile devices. Barring these constraints, “it really comes down to how well it’s delivering against your target audience,” she said. “If you’re trying to reach an older audience [as an insurance advertiser, for instance], I don’t know if you’d shift a huge chunk of your TV dollars in to mobile video.”
But, she adds, if an advertiser is selling soft drinks or fast fashion apparel, “then maybe you are thinking a little bit differently about mobile and digital video because so many eyeballs and time spent are centered there. At this point, I think the [need for] broader measurement is out there, but it all comes down to audience.”
But improved optimization and ad formats is something Wojcicki, who first joined Google in 1999, has in recent months been busy talking up – at least for Google AdSense users. And along with Google’s head of display advertising products Neal Mohan, Wojcicki had also pushed to expand Engagement Ads on the Google Display Network to power actions like purchases directly from the ad unit among other “visually rich, immersive experiences.”
Google’s attempt to expand its ad formats and metrics translates to YouTube as well: for instance, it recently brought its TrueView video ad formats to online gaming via the Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which allows advertisers to pay by performance and consumer engagement rather than by impression.
And YouTube has made moves to address video consumption on devices other than the desktop. As eMarketer predicts, “Google’s continuing efforts to accommodate advertisers’ desire to reach the multiscreen audience through features such as Paid Channels and TrueView” could further fuel YouTube’s growth.
“I think that YouTube, simply by virtue of its scale, where whether you’re coming from a digital lens or a traditional lens, is something you have to pay attention to,” said Baehr. “There’s just too much content, time and too many eyeballs and particularly as you scale down in age group, it becomes more important to understand how to leverage that environment.”