Earlier this week Google advised advertisers to shift 24% of their TV budgets to YouTube if they want to reach an audience of 16 to 34-year-olds. Lindsey Clay, the CEO of UK commercial TV marketing body Thinkbox explains why that advice misses the mark.
This is laughable, self-serving advice from Google that most advertisers and agencies will dismiss — why would an advertiser remove a quarter of the money they invest in the most effective part of their advertising and give it to something that hasn’t shown any proof of actually selling anything?
However, it needs a response lest anyone believes Google on this. Here are some things to consider:
This is Google’s data
We’ve asked to see the data itself, but usually Google doesn’t share. If and when it does, we’ll comment on it but we obviously need to comment now. We understand the TV elements are based around a panel of Google users managed by Kantar that does not measure all TV and that the YouTube element is provided by Google themselves.
If that isn’t flaky and biased enough, it is also unaudited. They even called it the “Google Extra Reach Tool”; it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And does it take account of the 50% of online ads that are not seen by humans? And how does it square with the report in the FT recently revealing that YouTube has been selling fraudulent ad views to advertisers?
Their recommendation also seriously challenges common sense when official industry sources including comScore show that YouTube accounts for 7.5% of 16 to 24-year-olds’ video time, with TV at 65%. The numbers for the whole population are 3.5% and 81%. Ad minutage on commercial TV is approximately 15% of that time, but is much lower on YouTube, and that is before you consider users’ impatient use of its ‘Skip ad’ button.
A YouTube impact is not a TV impact
Google’s reach argument is flawed anyway because it depends on people thinking a YouTube view and a TV impact are the same thing and hence interchangeable. In fact, they are worlds apart. A view on YouTube requires that the ad is served and that 50% of the pixels are seen for a second (ideally by humans). A TV impact is based on the average viewing across a minute of continuous TV viewing and the ad must be seen in its entirety at normal speed.
That’s before we get into issues of quality of content, emotional context, receptiveness etc.
If maximising your reach is your objective, there are all sorts of ways you could do that within the TV universe: Changing your dayparts, changing your channel mix, adding some broadcaster video on demand. But that shouldn’t be your starting point because …
Reach doesn’t equal effectiveness
… statistical reach is not the same as effective reach — i.e. reach that makes people love and buy your brand. Google has never produced — or at least made public — any market-wide research proving YouTube is an effective ad medium.
TV and other media have mountains of rigorous, independent research proving they work for the majority of brands. Independent analysis by Ebiquity in 2014 found that TV advertising generated the most profit per £1 spent, with radio second.
If advertisers actually do what Google asks, they will make Google richer but themselves a great deal poorer. TV works for brands because of the range and quality of its content; any cut in advertisers’ investment into it would damage the very medium that is working so hard for them.
Of course, Google is free to try to attract more ad money and who are we to say marketers shouldn’t invest in YouTube at the appropriate level. But Google should live up to its “don’t be evil” mantra and refrain from giving such irresponsible advice to brands.
If it feels compelled to overtly target another medium’s money maybe it should look first at those parts of advertising that can’t prove their worth and that are subject to fraud. There’s plenty of under-performing online display money to go after.
YouTube can’t deliver the consequences of what it wants
If all brands put up to 24% of their TV money on YouTube at a price similar to the TV channels which deliver equivalent reach and volume of viewing, YouTube simply doesn’t have enough ad impacts to deliver this.
This is self-defeating
Google’s bid for commercial gain is also self-defeating given how much TV and TV advertising fuels online activity, including YouTube. Every major study shows that TV + online is the best marketing combination because the internet can reap the effects of TV. Less TV, less response, less to exploit.
Google found this out itself when it started to invest substantially in TV advertising (see one of those ads below) two years ago.
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