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YouTube targets music fans with new audio ad format

Anthony Ha
·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 4: Detail of the YouTube logo outside the YouTube Space studios in London, taken on June 4, 2019. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 4: Detail of the YouTube logo outside the YouTube Space studios in London, taken on June 4, 2019. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images)

YouTube is announcing new ad products today, designed to help marketers reach YouTube visitors who are doing more listening than watching.

The big addition is audio advertising. As the Google -owned video site puts it in a blog post, these are ads designed for viewers who "squeeze in a living room workout before dinner, catch up on a podcast or listen to a virtual concert on a Friday night."

In other words, audio ads are designed for videos where audience members may only be glancing at the screen occasionally, or might be ignoring the visuals altogether. To be clear, these ads won't be audio-only, but YouTube says the audio should be doing most of the communication, while the visual side is limited to "a still image or simple animation."

The company says that in early testing, more than 75% of audio ad campaigns on YouTube resulted in a significant lift in brand awareness. For example, this Shutterfly ad resulted in a 14% lift in ad recall and a 2% increase in favorability in its target audience.

The key, YouTube says, is that the audio has to carry the message: "Think: If I close my eyes, I can still clearly understand what this ad is about."

In addition to launching audio ads in beta, YouTube is also announcing dynamic music lineups, allowing marketers to target their campaigns at collections of music channels on YouTube. These lineups can be focused on a genre, such as Latin music or K-pop, or on an interest like fitness.

In a separate blog post, YouTube's Head of Music Lyor Cohen made a broader case to advertisers about why they should see YouTube as an essential music streaming platform.

After all, according to Cohen, more than 2 billion logged-in viewers are watching at least one music video each month. And, he wrote, "music is more front and center than you might think" — 60% of YouTube's music viewing happens on mobile, where background viewing/listening is disabled.

That might seem like an odd thing to emphasize while launching an ad format better suited to background listening, but Cohen continued, "Regardless of when and how people are tuning in, we have ways to help advertisers connect, even when they’re consuming music in the background. Now you can complement the moments your consumers are watching, by engaging them in moments when they’re listening, with newly announced audio ads."