YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan recalled how, over a decade ago during an IAB annual leadership meeting, he predicted that video would lead the growth of the advertising industry.
Back then, 24-hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute. Fast-forward 10 years, and that number has skyrocketed to 500-hours per minute.
“Video has not only led the charge in terms of the growth of the advertising industry, but it really is kind of at that pinnacle,” he said.
Speaking Wednesday with Catherine Sullivan, CEO of Omnicom media agency PHD, on the third day of IAB’s 2021 ALM, Mohan discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of digital video across connected TV and mobile devices, what it means for users, creators and advertisers, and how ecommerce fits into the mix.
Mohan noted three big consumer trends that he expects will continue to grow this year: streaming content in CTV; ecommerce, which he said is 10 years ahead of where the industry was right before the pandemic; and the continued growth of short-form video content.
“I think those are all incredible opportunities led by consumers and users first and foremost, in connection with creators, but also huge opportunities for brands,” he said. “I’m really excited by all three of those things as it relates to video for our entire industry.”
YouTube is investing heavily in those areas, he said – the company recently rolled out its YouTube Shorts platform in India, a rival to TikTok that’s expected to launch in the United States soon – and is working to solve a number of challenges that the shift to CTV and mobile devices has created for advertisers.
“There’s been an enormous shift in terms of consumption of video to connected TV devices,” he said, adding that YouTube saw more than 120 million users view it on television screens in the past month, up from 100 million at the start of the pandemic.
Mohan said the shift to CTV has made it harder for brands to reach consumers. Citing statistics from Nielsen, he said that there are more 18- to 49-year-olds now on YouTube than all linear channels combined.
“Finding audiences is always a challenge – finding audiences and demographics that brands are most interested in remains a challenge,” he said.
There’s also the perennial problem of measurement, he added, and making sure that brands have a view into their reach but also the efficacy of their media spend on streaming platforms.
“That’s been an ask I’ve heard every time I speak to brands … and that’s an area where we’ve invested a lot,” he said.
This year’s upfronts will be the first time that advertisers can use Nielsen to measure YouTube on television devices as well as on YouTube’s TV Platform.
“Being able to solve that measurement conundrum for brands, I think, is really important and we’re making steps there in that direction,” he said.
When it comes to ecommerce, YouTube is looking at how to connect brands, creators and users.
For example, Mohan said YouTube wants to connect product feeds on the Google Merchant Center with YouTube advertising products, such as video action ads.
Elsewhere, YouTube’s BrandConnect – which connects creators with brands for branded content campaigns – has seen “tremendous” growth. Calvin Klein saw a more than 200% increase in search results on Google, and many products sold out, Mohan said.
“The way the product works is, the creators that they choose to work with don’t just feature the products in their videos,” he said. “If their products, clothing, are tagged in those videos, we’re able to generate a shopping shelf right below that video where consumers can watch the video from their favorite creator and right then and there, shop, peruse the products that they’re talking about and be able to purchase them.”
Still, Mohan said that for brands, authenticity is key before even thinking about a campaign.
“Users can see that and it really is imperative for brands to really think about that,” he said.