YouTube is the largest video publisher in the world but is still one of the hardest channels for advertisers to grasp. Stephen Emsall, Strategic Planning Director at MiQ, explains how YouTube API can help solve media wastage but it needs money, expertise and time to efficiently analyse the data.
YouTube is the largest video publisher in the world across all of in-stream, native, and video formats. It’s the most rewarding channel when it comes to unique user reach, and it’s the very definition of digital-first. It’s little surprise that the shift in ad spend from offline to digital since the first coronavirus lockdown has seen a surge in revenue for YouTube, with Google reporting a $6 billion profit from the platform in the first quarter of this year – a 49% increase year on year. It has also been reported that video display advertising in the UK grew by 19% in 2020. But despite this, YouTube is still one of the hardest channels for advertisers to achieve ROI.
Why is it that one of the most accessible and popular digital channels proves so difficult for advertisers? For one thing, YouTube has no customisable insights, and doesn’t offer a deep dive into the infinite number of data touch points. It’s very much an off-the-shelf solution and offers no way for advertisers to tailor these insights to their needs. In addition, real-time optimisation is a big challenge. As DV360 provides data in the form of static post-campaign reports, brands are not able to utilise campaign insights in real time. And as learning and doing better next time is the essence of good marketing, teams of skilful programmatic traders need to be given the right tools to optimise strategies in-flight.
YouTube also causes a huge amount of media wastage – but advertisers know their audience is on the channel, so there’s a reluctance to move away from it. If any other platform wasn’t performing, advertisers would likely shift focus to a more profitable touch point. If it was pre-roll or a video hosted anywhere else, the spend would probably be turned off. Although an ‘in it to win it’ mindset has developed among advertisers, there is no assurance they can win. This is a conundrum for marketers, and if they could find an efficient way to reach their audiences it would be easily solved.
As with all conundrums, there can be a solution. For advertisers, the solution is the YouTube API. This tool is available and free to use by anyone. However, to do it right and add value to your strategy, you need the money, expertise and time to efficiently analyse the data. MiQ’s expertise in data science and analytics allows us to lift the hood on YouTube performance by matching campaign data to the API to unearth valuable insights on any given campaign.
Cracking the YouTube conundrum
Firstly, the YouTube API is an incredible and vast source of data on all the content uploaded to the platform which marketers can use to gain far deeper insights in a much shorter time. Even though anyone can plug into the YouTube API and access this data, it’s unlikely advertising agencies and their clients are tapping into this potential – as the volume of data that can be accessed is so immense, most companies are not equipped with sufficient technological or data science capacity to analyse it in a timely and cost-efficient way. At MiQ’s Centre of Excellence in Bengalaru, India, teams of data scientists and analysts work to not only pull amazing insights but automate these insights so they are at brands fingertips.
Another exciting solution for an advertiser’s toolbox is category overlap. By monitoring individual video IDs within categories, it is easy to identify content that is resonating well and find closely overlapping categories. Once these categories are connected, it empowers marketers to make impressive changes to their activation strategy and expand a campaign’s reach to more like-minded audiences. In addition, multi demand-side platforms (DSPs) can help advertisers unlock the vast potential of first-party data and still be able to tap into YouTube alongside other open web strategies, as seen with one client where we took top-performing videos from their campaign and matched these video descriptions to similar videos on YouTube via the API – allowing us to extend the reach of the campaign beyond standard audience targeting.
Having access to granular data on the channels and videos where ads are displaying also helps in reducing waste with relevant categories. Often while companies are displaying ads in particular categories, there might be content that is off the mark and has nothing in common with the intended target. However, with the capability to monitor individual video IDs, this scenario can be easily avoided; marketers can swiftly exclude anything that’s not relevant to the campaign, minimising unnecessary media wastage. Valuable insights also allow agencies to make better use of video descriptions and keywords to discern trends in users’ content consumption patterns before your competitors see them.
Being able to see the contextual environments the adverts are appearing at a granular level via the API means that suddenly brands are able to minimise their wastage, ensure they are relevant and begin to truly understand what contextual signals help drive performance when advertising on YouTube.
Undeniably, the most exciting opportunity that awaits is connecting YouTube to wider marketing strategies. Today, UK-based brands are able to use anonymised mobile data to get a unified view of audiences’ viewing habits across all the screens. Without using a single cookie, agencies can combine consistent YouTube datasets that power omnichannel planning and activation, which future proofs this solution in the future cookieless world.
By Stephen Emsall
Strategic Planning Director