YouTube joins Snapchat in criticising Facebook: ‘our audience continues to watch not scroll, with sound on’

YouTube sounds off on no-sound videos.

YouTube has taken a thinly veiled shot at those rivals like Facebook that would encourage advertisers to spend on videos that play without sound, using its Upfronts yesterday (20 October) to reassure attendees that its audience “continues to watch not scroll” posts, with most (96%) doing so with the sound on.

Peter Cory, Google’s agency leader, picked holes in Facebook’s video advertising product, namely its autoplay feature that often substitutes sound for captions.

Sound, he claims, has a huge impact on advertising. It is a view shared by Snapchat’s Imran Khan, who last month went as far as to claim that muted video advertising is nothing more than “moving banners”. Both YouTube and Snapchat’s product offerings pivot around sound, so it is in their best interest to trumpet its worth.

Cory went on to claim that YouTube’s audience “continues to watch not scroll”, referencing how a user often stumbles upon video in Newsfeed, where on YouTube they have an average session time of 40 minutes.

Using an LG campaign that ran in September as an example, Cory showed that while Facebook wins in views; the campaign accumulating 7m views while YouTube has 5.2m; YouTube tops time spent with 72K hours of watch time versus Facebook’s 12K.

It wasn’t just Facebook in the firing line; Cory also took the opportunity show how its advertising delivers better results than that of TV, via YouTube’s extra reach tool. Out of 56 campaigns run across Europe both on TV and YouTube, more than seven out of ten (76%) on the latter delivered higher ROI than the former TV, he claimed. All this, whilst receiving less than half the investment it takes to run a TV ad.

It is the latest in a long stream of research commissioned by the video platform to sell to advertisers the idea that it is bigger and better than TV. In the summer, it used data from online measurement firm Comscore and Barb, the UK TV ratings company, to show that YouTube reached more 18-to-34-year-old Brits on mobile alone than any commercial TV channel. Studies like these are hardly a like-for-like comparison, TV’s marketing body Thinkbox has argued and subsequently pointed out that it ignores the fact that people spend vast amounts more time with TV and TV advertisers buy TV audiences, not a TV audience on a specific channel.

Seperately, Alison Lomax, head of brand solutions at Google, used the event to reveal a slate of packages around behaviours that “are totally unique to YouTube”. The example used was ‘lean in fitness’, a growing trend of fitness videos to engage light exercisers. These refined audience demographics will likely promise greater targeting opportunities for brands.

The platform will also build packages around ‘moments’ in the year, whether around events such as the Olympics and Glastonbury, or seasonal like Christmas.

Lomax hinted that on Google Preferred, the premium service that allows brands to advertise on the top 5% of content on YouTube, which includes music, news, BBC Earth and more, a new package around sports will launch next year.

Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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