YouTube takes on Spotify with audio ads launch

YouTube is trialling a suite of audio ad products designed to help marketers sound out YouTube visitors whose eyes have wandered elsewhere. By prioritising the sonic experience over the visual marketers will be able to speak directly to music and podcast audiences or when YouTube is playing a background role in daily life.

YouTube wants to let brands ‘reach more music fans’

  • Sensing an overlooked segment, YouTube is going after light viewers who may utilise the service to access a workout, podcast or concert and aren’t necessarily staring at the screen for prolonged periods.

  • By targeting multitasking users specifically YouTube can connect with people who would have otherwise missed visual messages and cues.

  • Viewers craving a photon fix won’t be left in the dark; while audio ads prioritise the acoustic experience, a cursory image or animation will still be employed.

  • Putting itself in tune with audiences, YouTube will also introduce dynamic music lineups pooling popular genres and interests such as fitness or K-pop into dedicated channels so brands can readily reach pools of like-minded consumers.

  • Articulating the vision in a blog post, Melissa Hsieh Nikolic, group product manager at YouTube Ads, wrote: “Music lineups and audio ads make it possible to be there, at scale, whether YouTube is being watched front and centre or playing as the backdrop to daily life.“

Why it matters

  • By repositioning itself in this way YouTube is staking a claim to Spotify’s turf having enviously looked on as the music streamers audio-first strategy which has seen podcast ad revenue grow even as ad-supported revenue as a whole slumped 21%.

  • Acknowledging the deficiency of YouTube's past approach Nikolic added: “Music has always played an important role in culture and everyday lives. It’s a reliable way for you to capture an audience engaging with content they love, but for most brands, it’s untapped on YouTube.

  • “With music video streaming at an all-time high on YouTube – more than 50% of logged-in viewers who consume music content in a day consume more than 10 minutes of music content – we’re introducing new solutions for your brand to be seen, heard and recognized alongside music content.“

  • Claiming some early successes YouTube calculates that 75% of measured audio ad campaigns have driven a ’significant’ uplift in brand awareness during initial testing.

  • One beneficiary of the new approach is Shutterfly, which has harnessed the audio ad format to sway purchase decisions, encountering a 14% rise in ad recall and 2% boost to favorability among their target audience.