YouTube Red was announced last week and became available yesterday. After taking it for a spin on my iPad (note, access for subscribers is included in the YouTube app), I’m pretty convinced that the current offering is unlikely to gain any significant traction. To be fair, there are more benefits coming to YouTube Red in the near future, but even with those, the service is unlikely to appeal to more than a small number of YouTube users.
YouTube promoted the primary feature of YouTube Red as ad-free viewing. For sure, watching YouTube without ads is an improved experience, but as I wrote last week, because YouTube’s skippable TrueView ads are already so viewer-friendly, the marginal improvement from not having to click “Skip Ad” doesn’t end up feeling like a big breakthrough, especially for viewers used to YouTube being free.
What’s a viewer’s willingness to pay in order to have an ad-free video experience? The question is in focus yet again with yesterday’s announcement of YouTube Red, the company’s long-rumored $9.99/month ad-free service. Unfortunately for YouTube Red, in its case, willingness to pay is going to be heavily influenced by the fact that YouTube has arguably the most viewer (and advertiser) friendly video ad model, which will undoubtedly impact interest in paying for YouTube Red.
YouTube in its first decade has both transformed itself and the industry, which conjures the possibilities of what it can be by 2020. YouTube’s audience, currently one billion global monthly unique views, ranks as a top-tier advertising business that fundamentally changes TV, the entertainment industry, and how brands spend their advertising budgets. Here are ten predictions how YouTube will dominate the video ecosystem:
There’s been a lot written in the past few days about Comcast’s reported plan to introduce a new platform called “Watchable,” that will curate short-form online video content from various providers for viewing on its X1 set-top boxes and eventually on mobile devices. The initiative is seen as helping Comcast increase its appeal to millennial viewers and drive additional online video advertising revenue.
On the one hand, I applaud the company’s desire to dive more deeply into online video, which has many synergies with Comcast’s broadband and TV businesses. Without knowing any of the details, the biggest issue to me with Watchable is that it’s hard to understand why Comcast would prioritize it as a current initiative when a far more significant opportunity would be integrating popular OTT services into X1, which would have huge subscriber acquisition and retention benefits.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…"
If you’re looking for a stark illustration of the diverging fortunes of the online video and pay-TV industries - as well as the generational attention/passion gap between the two - then comparing the buzz out of last week’s 6th annual VidCon with the poor early Q2 video subscriber numbers from big pay-TV operators is about as good as it gets.
For those not familiar with VidCon, it’s the annual convention of YouTube creators, fans and increasingly advertisers that want to weave themselves into this community. This year VidCon drew somewhere between 20K-30K attendees (up from 1,200 just 5 years ago) to the Anaheim Convention Center, with the vast majority being teenagers seeking to get up close to their favorite YouTube celebrities for a coveted selfie.
Google highlighted YouTube’s audience and revenue growth in last week’s Q2 ’15 earnings call, with viewing time up 60%, the number of advertisers up 40% and the average spending of the top 100 advertisers up over 60%, all vs. a year ago. While Google has never broken out detailed YouTube performance, these selected data point to strong momentum at the video site.
At the 2015 Video Ad Summit, our session, “How to Capitalize on YouTube’s Vast Landscape With Winning Video Ad Campaigns” helped explain why YouTube is succeeding. The session included Michelle Bandler (Director of Brand Activation, Google), Al Cadena (Senior Account Director, Beeby Clark+Meyler), Hermann Hassenstein (Global Head of Marketing Planning, PUMA) and Art Zeidman (EVP, Chief Revenue Officer, Pixability), with Mike Shields (Senior Editor, The Wall Street Journal) moderating.
The session explored, among other things, how ad buyers think about YouTube and the key challenges the site faces in persuading traditional TV ad buyers to pursue YouTube. These include measurement, sales lift, business processes, incomplete experimentation, etc.
The group also discussed how advertisers work with YouTube influencers on branded entertainment, the rising importance of mobile, the impact of Facebook, how ads are optimized for YouTube and social media, plus much more.
YouTube has launched YouTube Newswire, powered by Storyful, where journalists can access eyewitness user-generated videos to incorporate into their reporting. Storyful, a social news agency startup that News Corp. acquired in December, 2013, verifies and curates the videos. YouTube Newswire is free, and includes global and regional feeds covering news, weather and politics.
Eyewitness videos have become a huge part of news reporting because of the mass proliferation of smartphones, which allow for spontaneous video capture often well ahead of the arrival of established news organizations. Social media has amplified the reach of these videos. But with all this video floating around the challenge becomes finding it, verifying it, organizing it and gaining the rights to use it - all prerequisites for it being used by established news outlets.
Pixability has released its second annual, deep-dive, "Beauty on YouTube" report, finding, among other things that beauty video views have increased by 50% between January, 2014 and April, 2015. Overall, beauty is one of the most vibrant verticals on YouTube, with 1.8 million videos driving 45.3 billion total views to date, of which 55% are now viewed on mobile devices.
There are over 123 million subscribers to YouTube beauty channels. Makeup accounts for 51% of beauty videos, far ahead of hair (28%), nails (10%) and skincare (6%). No surprise, 89% of YouTube's beauty audience is female.
Categories: Brand Marketing
It's no secret that smartphones and tablets are now nearly ubiquitous, and that more and more video is being consumed on them. For example, Ooyala recently said that 34% of all video plays were on mobile devices in Q4 '14, which was up from 6% just 2 years prior. Meanwhile, YouTube's CEO said last Fall that 50% of its views are on mobile and its head of content said about its product development focus, "It's all mobile, mobile, mobile."
All that mobile video usage is now starting to heavily impact how video is created and monetized. While mobile video has always been shorter-form than desktop, a key creative influence over the past year has been Facebook's insertion of audio-off autoplay video in users' news feeds. Last week Fortune provided a lot of context for what's behind Facebook's 4 billion views per month. Then, in an insightful post, Newsbound's Josh Kalven pointed out how audio-off is leading content creators to adopt readable video formats.
We all know the Internet is big - some 3.5 trillion web pages big, by the latest comScore estimates. But you wouldn't know it by looking at the current state of the online video market.
Nearly a decade after advertisers started batting around the idea of the Internet's "long tail," highly branded video publishers have yet to grasp the meaning of the phrase. The online video market is now pulling in over $6 billion. That's not bad. But with an injection of democracy, the market could grow to three times that size in very short order.
2,400 industry executives and fans packed the Madison Square Garden Theater for YouTube's Brandcast NewFront Wednesday night that was part 10-year birthday celebration, part evangelical commercial about online video/YouTube's ascendance and part pure entertainment spectacle.
The evening began with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki noting that hours watched are up 50% year-over-year and that YouTube now reaches more 18-49 year olds on mobile ALONE, than does any single cable network reach on TV. YouTube daily viewers are up 40% vs. 2014. And in a pitch to how advertisers can succeed on YouTube, Wojcicki said that 4 out of 10 of the top trending videos in 2014 were actually ads, not content.
YouTube is poised to be the next major content provider to join the great subscription VOD land grab for consumers' video spending. Per a Bloomberg report yesterday, YouTube has sent a letter to its content creators sharing its intention to launch an ad-free subscription service, though neither the price nor launch date was specified. Content creators would keep 55% of subscription revenue based on their pro rata viewership.
Plans for a YouTube subscription service were initially mentioned by its CEO Susan Wojcicki last October at the Code Mobile conference.
Boston-based YouTube ad buying platform Pixability has raised an $18 million Series C round, led by new investors Jump Capital and Edison Partners, with participation from existing investors. The new funds will be used for product development and international expansion. The company has raised $28 million to date.
Pixability's core capability is enabling brands and agencies to create and manage data-driven video ad campaigns targeting specific audiences within YouTube channels. This is extremely valuable because while YouTube's massive user base is very attractive to brands and agencies, the site's diverse content makes it virtually impossible to understand how to optimize YouTube ad spending.
I'm pleased to present the 266th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin starts this week's podcast by sharing his positive reactions to Vessel, the startup from former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, which went live this week. Colin likes the mobile app a lot and thinks Vessel's promotion of a free year of service is a smart approach. In particular, Colin is bullish on Vessel's non-intrusive ad model.
However, Colin is less certain about Vessel's odds of success, noting that YouTube's response is a major wildcard. I agree and observe that while Vessel is very impressive, it's also a big test case for users' willingness-to-pay for first window access to content. There's a lot to like about Vessel, and ample reason to believe millennials will like the model, but only time will tell.
Speaking of YouTube, it's becoming increasingly apparent that Facebook is poised to become YouTube's main competitor in the long-run. As I wrote yesterday, this week at Facebook's F8 developer conference, the company unveiled key updates, geared especially for premium publishers, that will bring a lot more high-quality content onto the platform. Colin and I dig into each of these and also discuss a big remaining missing piece - pre-roll ads against videos posted on Facebook.
Listen in to learn more!
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YouTube has officially announced its new free YouTube Kids app, a dedicated space for kids and families to watch age appropriate content, available on Android and iOS. The app puts even more pressure on kids-oriented cable TV networks, whose audiences were already being decimated by OTT options like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
YouTube Kids creates a safe, accessible, organized space for young kids. The content is organized into four categories, Shows, Music, Learning and Explore. Content is licensed from Dreamworks TV, Hit Entertainment, Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club and National Geographic Kids. Popular shows included are "Fraggle Rock," "Reading Rainbow," "Sesame Street," "Talking Tom and Friends" and "Thomas the Tank Engine."
Super Bowl XLIX will go into the books as one of the most exciting ever, full of unexpected twists and turns, right up until the last few seconds of the game. Importantly, the Super Bowl experience continues to change, with streaming, extended online ad viewing and social sharing. Below I've rounded up the most relevant data I could find about these trends. If I've missed anything, please let me know.
Vessel has launched an invite-only beta of its service, on desktops and iOS devices. I was provided access to the beta and I'm excited to share some initial reactions. As a reminder, Vessel was started by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and CTO Richard Tom. Vessel's core value proposition is providing exclusive, early access to online video content to super-fans, for a $2.99/month fee. A light ad load is included.
Vessel is a fascinating test of viewers' willingness-to-pay for early access to online video content that's otherwise free. This so-called "first window" represents a completely new business model that could dramatically alter the online video landscape. For content creators, the lure of higher revenue per video view (given Vessel's more attractive ad splits and subscription revenue) seems irresistible to try. And for super-fans, Vessel's $2.99/month fee seems pretty compelling to get early access.
Not so long ago, content on YouTube was mostly user-generated, leaving advertisers uninterested. But now things have changed dramatically. Content has been professionalized by a vast range of independent creators, who are attracting huge audiences, especially among younger viewers. This was the key context for the 2014 surge in M&A activity among multichannel networks (MCNs) like Maker Studios, Fullscreen, AwesomenessTV, etc.).
In parallel, there have been significant innovations in how to monetize YouTube content. The latest is Outrigger Media's new OpenSlate demographic data, allowing advertisers improved targeting across 250K+ YouTube channels and Nielsen-backed audience guarantees in a program called "OpenSlate Select." The demo data complements OpenSlate's traditional "SlateScore" scoring of YouTube channels based on engagement and influence.
I'm pleased to present the 254th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
As is our custom for the final podcast of the year, today Colin and I discuss our top 10 online video stories of 2014. Needless to say, it was an incredibly busy year for online video, making it quite a challenge to narrow our list to just 10 top stories. If you disagree with any of our choices, then as always, we welcome your feedback.
Stepping back and reviewing the list, I think there's an argument to be made that when observers look back 10-20 years from now, 2014 could well be viewed as the big turning point for online video - the year when all of the critical pieces to online video becoming a completely mainstream experience fell into place. These pieces include viewer acceptance, burgeoning content, robust monetization, wide deployment of connected devices and mobility. At a minimum, buckle up, because the stage has been set for a huge 2015.
Colin and I would like to thank all of our listeners for tuning into our podcast this year, and wish all of you happy holidays!
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Mobile video may be the hottest trend in video today, with evidence of its ascendance seemingly everywhere. As just one data point, last week's Q3 2014 Global Video Index from Ooyala pegged mobile video plays at 30% of all online video plays. That was up from 20% share in Q2 '14, more than double mobile video's 14% share from one year earlier in Q3 '13 and quintuple the 6% share from Q3 '12.
That scorching growth prompted Ooyala to accelerate its forecast for when mobile video's share will cross the 50% threshold industry-wide. Ooyala previously saw this happening in 2016, but now believes it will occur by Q3 '15.
Categories: Mobile Video