With the Upfronts just around the corner, the value of digital video advertising vs. linear is on everyone’s minds. Ad tech and data insights platform provider Pixability has therefore just released its most recent study into connected TV watching in the US, which finds that YouTube is dominating watching patterns even more than one would expect.
The sample size of the survey is fairly small – just 703 US adults were surveyed in December 2021. Nonetheless, Pixability does have some interesting points to be made about how the AVoD market leader is not being used resourcefully.
This is largely due to the vastly diverse spread of content watched by each user. Pixability segments content into 20 categories such as Music & Audio (the leading segment), Food & Drink, Sports and Travel, finding that the average US male watches an average of 16 content segments, while this is 15 for females.
However, the paper warns that this can lead to poor targeting, because advertisers assume that their desired audiences stick to just one vertical. The company argues that targeting against an exact match of an advertiser’s vertical does not result in the best targeting, with only 28% of US adults caring whether an ad is aligned with the content it is disrupting.
This is where Pixability comes in, argues David George, CEO. Speaking to Faultline this week, he explains how his company’s software can help brands and agencies maximize their yield from CTV campaigns. The Pixability One platform offers a modular set of campaign planning and management tools, reported insights, a buying and optimization engine, and brand-suitable targeting capabilities.
On the latter, George refers to the fact that alternative routes to market for YouTube advertising only offer brand-safety tools, rather than brand suitability. Essentially, Pixability is checking that the content will reach the desired audience, rather than just censoring potentially offensive material.
“We sit on top of Google’s tech stack and sort out which content is suitable, as well as safe. All the data is available to do it, but YouTube don’t offer it,” George explained.
There are three main ways to access YouTube ad inventory. The first is YouTube’s DV360 programmatic offering. This access multiple sources of CTV inventory in one go and is therefore favored by large media holding companies like Group M. Another option is going through Google Ads, but George says that both options do not offer granular targeting.
The third path is going via a vendor like Pixability, which sits on top of the Google tech stack. As a member of YouTube’s measurement program, Pixability has access to surplus user data in the form of 30 million additional API calls a day.
Pixability also allows customers to adapt the pace of a CTV campaign – ramping up the more fruitful strategies and tuning down less successful ones. While many agencies offer similar optimization tools, George explains that where Pixability differs is in the automation. “Agencies that are plugged straight into Google have to optimize campaigns themselves using humans. We do it completely automated using machine learning,” he explained.
Looking back at the report, Pixability found that above 90% of all age groups between 18 to 54 years old watched YouTube, while this figure declined to 67% for those above 65. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z and Millennials spend the most time on the platform, too, clocking in daily averages over 67 minutes and 62 minutes, respectively. But it is the Gen X and Baby Boomer averages which are surprisingly high – 54 minutes and 35 minutes, respectively.
This is supported by the latest findings from Faultline’s sister research wing, Rethink TV. Our latest look into SVoD and AVoD numbers found that YouTube currently accounts for 66% of the 4.1 billion AVoD monthly active users (MAUs) outside of China. This share is set to decrease by 2027, to 64%, but the market leader is still set to onboard another 817 million MAUs in the next five years.
Although Pixability is mainly focused on YouTube advertising, it can assist with the likes of Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Hulu. George says that the company can serve 99% of all available connected TV inventory, which speaks volumes about the dominance of just a few platforms. In the US, YouTube represents 50% of all ad-supported viewing hours.
Founded in 2008, the company had a stint in social media advertising before committing to CTV and, by extension, YouTube. “The targeting on YouTube was just way better, as it is tied to Google search,” George explained.
Another interesting finding from the report is that YouTube is increasingly being watched on first screens. While handsets are still the leading segment, more than 81% of Gen Z and Millenial audiences are now watching YouTube on TV screens. YouTube is also the leading CTV platform, with 87% of survey respondents claiming to watch it on a CTV, compared to 69% and 52% for Netflix and Prime Video, respectively.