Will Social Sites Overwhelm YouTube?

Many of us probably first skipped our first pre-roll ad while on YouTube. And while I’m sure there will be millions, and billions, of opportunities to keep doing that, it was jarring to read a recent report that says marketers prefer social sites over YouTube as places to put their ads.

The Trusted Media Brands survey of 300 media executives got some headlines because of that emphatic thumbs up for social media from marketers. Overall it’s a more mixed bag.

For example, when asked their “preferred partner for a digital video campaign” 62% of the agencies still chose video platforms like YouTube or Vevo, or similar ones.

But only 55% of marketers said that--65% of them would rather partner up with social sites like Facebook or Snapchat or Twitter.

Likewise agencies were more likely to prefer linking with video DSPs and “full episode players” like Hulu or broadcast and cable digital sites than marketers are.

The Trusted Media Brands survey, done for them by Advertising Perceptions, concludes, however, that, “All data points to social soon dominating the landscape.” Live streaming on Facebook and beyond causes some of that excitement to grow.

More broadly, the report says, “We can count on more dollars moving into digital video, and social platforms continuing to drive innovation. The trends favor the consumer appetite for shorter content with micro video and branded content on the rise. Consumers should be happy because they will get their video where they already like to go—on social. It seems the genie is not going back in the bottle on in-stream, auto-play video, and we can thank Facebook for that. We think this one however, might not make consumers so happy. At least, not until they get used to it.”

I like pronouncements that endorse the inevitable because they set up the speaker to be mocked mercilessly when it doesn’t happen. Trusted Brands, which is the new name for the old Reader’s Digest Association, should have some feeling about how things change. Reader’s Digest once had an international circulation of 23 million, in large part built up on the popularity of its short, relatable articles truncated (curated?) from other sources. Sounds frighteningly familiar.

I wonder about the staying power of social media as an ad platform. Once it gets too popular for advertisers, it may become unpopular for users. Consumers say this in a lot of ways: They are not overly fond of advertising, and in time, they could come to the same conclusion about branded content.

That’s not what this report says. Assessing optimism about various forms of advertising, the Trusted Brands survey says executives are most bullish on branded content (45% see spending on branded content to go up in the next year) while 42% say that about pre- mid- and post-roll ads. Still that’s not an overwhelming endorsement.

Nor did ad wrinkles like auto-play and in-stream get rave reviews--50% of the respondents indicated they unsure or disagreed “somewhat” that Facebook’s auto-play method “should set the standard for the future of the video industry.” (Thank god!) And in a little side panel, Rich Sutton, Trusted Brands’ chief revenue officer, indicates that six in 10 of its consumers don’t like auto-play ads. Trust those people.

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