Digital media consultants are adjusting to major changes at two big digital advertising platforms.
With concern mounting about digital ad fraud, YouTube and Facebook both recently announced new accountability measures to help improve trust in their metrics. Meanwhile, Google said that YouTube will be killing off its 30-second unskippable pre-roll ad inventory in 2018. (Google on Wednesday also unveiled its YouTube TV Service with live feeds of more than 40 TV networks that's available to subscribers for $35 a month.)
Ashleigh Grant, a GOP digital consultant at IMGE, said the move could improve the viewing experience on YouTube, which will be good for political advertisers. “If it’s going to be a miserable ad experience, no one is going to benefit from that at the end of the day,” she said.
Robert Aho, a GOP media consultant with BrabenderCox, agreed that YouTube’s move could be a positive one for campaigns. “Think of it as progress and convenience – like the development of the remote control for TV viewers. It’s a better user experience, and that in turn helps more creative and innovative advertisers get noticed,” he said. “Advertisers – political and nonpolitical – shouldn’t panic.”
Another reason for calm: YouTube will be keeping the 6-second, 15- and 20-second pre-roll unskippable inventory. Working with those formats, campaigns will need to be willing to experiment, according to Grant.
“What does my 20 second look like, what does my 15 second look like, what does my 6 second look like? It takes a little more time, but it’s going to be more effective” if campaigns develop creative for the different formats, Grant said. “You have to do it in a comprehensive package, and think more proactively and creatively.”
Meanwhile, Democratic media consultant Kelly Gibson said the move may mean that campaigns are losing a key weapon from their digital advertising arsenal. “Lots of research has shown that unskippable ads are much much effective for recall and brand lift than the skippable formats,” she said.
“That being said, campaigns have had to include the skippable ads for budget and inventory reasons so we are accustomed to making creative that packs the message into the first five seconds.”
Frontloading a message, as it's known, will have to become more refined “because people’s attention spans online are getting shorter and shorter,” said Gibson.
The move by YouTube may give consultants the incentive they need to push their campaigns to invest in more digital creative.
“The challenge for the campaigns is they are going to have to make cut-throat decisions about their dollars,” said Gibson. “If they want to cover all their bases in terms of reaching voters with media persuasion something else might very well have to give, and what that will be is the $20million dollar question. I do wonder if YouTube will experience political ad spend decreases as a result of the change.”
Ad dollars could flow back into broadcast television, a medium that media consultants are still enamored with because of its reach with older, midterm cycle voters. “Broadcast TV still holds you captive to the degree that you have to change the channel to avoid the commercial versus skipping it,” said Kim Alfano, a GOP media consultant.
But Alfano echoed the need for campaigns to be willing to expand their flight of ads in order to be effective marketers. “We will have to be customized to that kind of experience,” she said.
Now, as YouTube was taking away one offering, it was opening up its metrics to additional scrutiny. Parent-company Google announced Feb. 21 that Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify will be undergoing a “stringent, independent audit for [Media Rating Council] accreditation.” As a result, Google said, “advertisers will have even greater confidence in the metrics returned by these third party partners about their campaigns on YouTube.”
Facebook has also made an accountability push recently. On Feb. 11, the social media company announced that its committing to a MRC audit, greater metrics and more choices for video ad buying. “We are confident that these new options, when combined with creative best practices for mobile, will help deliver well-crafted video ads to more people who will watch and take action,” the company said.