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With perhaps its boldest bet yet, YouTube is going directly after traditional television advertising dollars with 40 new programs exclusively for the platform. And advertisers appear to be coming back to the fold after brand-safety concerns rocked YouTube several weeks ago.
Tonight, at the digital giant’s BrandCast event in New York, YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl announced that celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart, Ryan Seacrest and Demi Lovato are creating shows. The big pitch to marketers came toward the end of the first week of the Digital Content NewFronts.
Google is working with third-party companies to make sure YouTube content is safe for brands while also deploying advanced machine learning to better identify content that might be deemed offensive to viewers and advertisers.
A Google spokesperson today told Adweek in a statement that the companies are accredited by the Media Rating Council to conduct ad verification audits but didn’t provide a full list of the third-party companies Google is working with.
“As part of our commitment to provide even more transparency and visibility to our advertising partners, we’ll be working with trusted vendors to provide third-party brand safety reporting on YouTube,” the spokesperson said. “We are working with companies that are MRC-accredited for ad verification on this initiative and will begin integrating these technologies shortly.”
The updates arrive as the advertising giant struggles with how to appease the agencies, brands and governments that have pulled hundreds of millions of dollars from YouTube in recent weeks after their ads appeared alongside offensive videos. In March, Havas UK and others started pulling ad spending after noticing the ads they placed for clients were appearing next to YouTube videos supporting terrorism and racism.
In a weekend interview with Bloomberg News, Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler said the company has flagged at least five times as many offensive videos as it did a few weeks ago.
One big difference between regular TV and streaming TV is that streaming TV is pretty murky when it comes to numbers: We don’t know much about how many people are watching streaming TV services, or what they’re watching.
So here’s a little bit of light, courtesy of a new report from comScore: A chart that shows us the relative popularity — and usage — for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and YouTube.
Most important caveat here: ComScore’s data, from December 2016, is measuring video streamed over Wi-Fi, at home, to TV sets. So it’s missing what’s happening on phones in and out of homes — which is a big deal — and what’s happening over wireless networks — a smaller deal.
Still, if we assume this data is at least directionally correct, it’s helpful.
We did know that Netflix is far and away the leader when it comes to streaming TV — the service says it has about 50 million subscribers. And comScore’s data syncs up with that, pegging the service’s penetration at about 40 percent of homes with Wi-Fi.
It is interesting, though, to see how far behind YouTube is when it comes to getting video to your TV. The world’s biggest video service gets to TV sets in less than 30 percent of the U.S., per comScore.
That may explain why YouTube is going to launch its own pay TV service — though YouTube has taken pains to describe YouTube TV as a “mobile first” offering.
And while Amazon and Hulu have been making a big push to build up their offerings, they’re still far behind. On the other hand, if you compare comScore’s data to earlier estimates from broadband services company Sandvine, they may be making progress. (Yet another caveat: Sandvine is measuring the amount of data those services push out; comScore is measuring how many homes they reach. So this is apples and oranges. Still, fruit.)
The other big takeaway: People who do use Netflix use it a lot — and so do people who use Hulu. Both services engage their users for more than 25 hours a month, comScore says.