YouTube takes on Spotify with audio ads launch

Alonzo Simpson
November 19, 2020

These ads are characterized by creative where the audio soundtrack plays the starring role in delivering the brand's message.

Starting today, YouTube will begin running ads on some creators' videos, but it won't give them a portion of the ad revenue because they're not big enough to be enrolled in its Partner Program.

During the Adpocalyspe (as it was known) advertisers pulled out of YouTube because their adverts were appearing alongside controversial videos. The new ad format is aimed at helping advertisers targeting a growing user base of users who prefer to listen (such as podcasts or virtual concerts) rather than watching content. YouTube's Audio Ads are now in a beta phase and available through an auction on Google Ads and Display & Video 360 on a CPM basis. The platform did not say how much the ads cost.

Advertising is big business for YouTube and its parent company, Google, with the video site generating $5 billion in the last quarter alone. "While those continue to contract, you see [K-pop group] BTS get to 101 million views in 24 hours". Payouts to users with monetized channels will now be "treated as royalties from a US tax perspective", according to the update. Like on Spotify, YouTube users listen free with ads or pay for an ad-free experience. If a brand prefers to run ads in what's popular at any given moment, they can buy against the Top 100 lineup, which is powered by YouTube Charts.

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YouTube's new ad policy is considered greedy since it excludes small content creators from its ad revenues.

Audio ads, now in beta, will help brands efficiently expand reach and grow brand awareness with audio-based creative and the same measurement, audience and brand safety features as video campaigns. In June, YouTube launched Video Action Campaigns, or DR ads that run across its homepage, watch pages and video partner pages in a single campaign.

Audio ads, now in beta, help advertisers to extend their brand story to even more relevant moments, whether YouTube is being watched front and centre or playing as the backdrop to daily life.

In fact, it's "somewhat surprising how long it's taken Google to bring out audio advertising given how many people interact with the platform in that manner", said Charlie Saunders, global programmatic lead at the Publicis Media agency Zenith.

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