Last week Alphabet reported that YouTube's global ad revenues hit a record $6.9 billion in Q4 '20, up 47% from Q4 '19. For perspective on YouTube's and the market's growth, I interviewed Brian Atwood, who was just appointed Pixability's new Chief Revenue Officer. If you're not familiar with Pixability, it provides software and insights for video ad buyers to target and optimize their campaigns on YouTube, YouTube on connected TVs, Amazon Fire and Roku. It also just had a record year of growth and profitability.
VideoNuze: Congratulations on joining Pixability. What excited you about the company?
Brian Atwood: I’ve been working in the YouTube and Connected TV space for over four years now and I have always been impressed with Pixability’s unique targeting solutions, performance optimization and insights. I feel like there is no company better positioned to help brands and agencies navigate the big shifts we’re seeing in the market. More than anything, I’m looking forward to working with the people. They’ve assembled an outstanding team that is incredibly well respected in the industry.
VideoNuze: What are the key trends you’re seeing in the premium video ad market?
BA: The biggest trend we all witnessed was the historic growth in viewership of streaming video in 2020 as people stayed at home during the pandemic. With this giant sea of video impressions growing exponentially larger, advertisers are more challenged than ever to find content that aligns with their brand’s values while also delivering the best outcomes. Pixability’s technology is unique because it not only ensures that the context is suitable for the brand, but also can find the audiences within those suitable channels that will drive results. It’s not a question of audience or context; the market is shifting to audience in context.
VideoNuze: YouTube just reported a record fourth quarter. You’ve worked in the YouTube ecosystem for some time, in your view, what is drawing increased spending to YouTube?
BA: It’s interesting, because Q4 2020 was also the first quarter that YouTube ad revenues outpaced Netflix revenues. I feel like there are three big forces driving YouTube spend right now. One is the fact that YouTube now has the highest reach on Connected TV among ad-supported platforms, representing 42% of viewing hours in the U.S. Second is that YouTube really does enable a variety of ways to reach the right audiences in the right context. The fact that you can serve a Jeep ad on YouTube on contextually relevant and safe content on a TV screen the same week that person searched for “Jeep” on Google is super powerful. And finally, YouTube has enabled 3rd parties, like Pixability, to deploy unique and differentiated technology for the benefit of advertisers.
VideoNuze: You highlighted the connected TV market, which is white hot right now. What’s driving the appeal and what challenges remain?
BA: The driving appeal is clearly that Connected TV is where the consumers are. A large challenge is that much of CTV is subscription-based, such as Netflix or Disney+, and advertisers aren’t invited to the party. This is part of why YouTube on connected devices is so appealing. The other really big challenge is how to find the right content and audiences across such a vast span of CTV options. The individual platforms are not going to make it easy to extend reach with their competitors, so it’s up to 3rd parties like us and others to make it more readily accessible for advertisers.
VideoNuze: Brand safety continues to be a hot button issue throughout the video industry. What are you seeing and how is Pixability addressing brand safety challenges?
BA: Brand safety is table stakes now. The conversation has shifted to suitability, content preference and performance. 2021 is going to be the year that the progressive brands will no longer play defense in relation to brand safety, but instead will focus on content targeting informed by insights to drive better results and deeper connections with their consumers. Pixability patented technology to address this long before suitability became a buzzword, and has been doing this successfully for many years. However, last year we made this technology available to advertisers on a self-serve basis. An important differentiation for Pixability is how we map the YouTube ecosystem before building out content targets for brands. Pixability is the only partner in the YouTube Measurement Program (YTMP) that Google certifies for Brand Suitability/Contextual Targeting as well as YouTube Content Insights. Because of this, we don’t simply deliver brand suitability, we deliver insights that lead to the outcomes advertisers are truly after, and that’s what I’m most excited about.
VideoNuze: In 2020 streaming video viewership accelerated due to the pandemic. What further changes do you expect as 2021 unfolds?
BA: Our Chief Product Officer at Pixability, Jackie Paulino, actually just did a great post on some of her predictions. One of her predictions is that after this tumultuous year, brands will care more than ever about making sure their ads are supporting content that aligns with their values. Pixability works very closely with GARM and we have some exciting ways we’ll be helping brands and agencies navigate this in 2021. The other huge shift I think we will see is that agencies will be merging teams that may have been running YouTube, Connected TV and TV advertising separately. In the same way that consumers just see video content as video content regardless of how it's delivered, advertisers and agencies will begin to think of video inventory as one big pot of opportunity.
VideoNuze: Thanks and stay well!