Who Sees That YouTube Ad? And Who's Really Streaming?

There is so much research white papers out this week, Madison Avenue should save the rough draft scrap for a big Advertising Week parade. (After you watch for four seconds, you can skip out.)

One out today is from Zefr, the ad tech firm that tries to pair YouTube content with advertisers. It has the idea that by slicing and dicing the types of contents into very small pieces--over 13,000 separate categories, it says--the big data chew can give an advertiser pinpoint advice about where to place its message.

Its current paper, The Alignment Effect, looks at what kinds of sites worked best for a sampling of consumer packaged good, entertainment and retail advertisers and leans, of course, on Zefr’s Brand ID technology. Supposedly, this latest granular analysis is never-before-done stuff.

Over eight months, Zefr charted hundreds of campaigns of over 100 advertisers to see where they did the most good, amid those thousands of kinds of content. It found some weirdness out there.

"There’s a good reason why no one has shared lists of this kind," writes Zefr's Rich Raddon in his introduction. "Historically, there has been insufficient data and technology to work with..." Zefr thinks it is now filling in the info gap. 

Like, in the consumer-goods category, top performing YouTube sites didn’t seem to have an immediate connection to consumer goods or food. Top performers included videos featuring  “Tubing,” “Fourth of July parties,” electronic dance music group Swedish House Mafia and comedian (and food’s good friend) Aziz Ansari.

The idea, apparently, is  that those videos caught viewers on their way toward a consumer packaged goods event. (So, it’s don’t buy the how-to-make a hot-dog video. Buy the how-to-plan a picnic video.)

For entertainment-centered advertising it makes sense that they’d find Adam Sandler and George Clooney YouTube videos a good place to be. And not obvious at all is Bleach, the video gamer’s YouTube site. A trend Zefr sees is YouTube-grown sites like Miranda Sings and Sam Tsui show up prominently in this category, and throughout YouTubers seem to be more than adequate places for many advertisers.

Eric Goldman, vice president of product for Zefr, notes that in many categories, YouTube’s homegrown stars “have as much sway as traditional stars.”

The retail segment seems a little more sensible. Great places for retailers to be during this study were those kiddie unboxing sites, but also Easter Egg Hunt sites. An advertiser might not think to look there, but Zefr said, those egg sites attract 400,000 YouTube views every day.

Goldman says brands usually have no idea where, specifically, their YouTube ads get played, but Zefr’s very specific audience info can fix that. “Upper-funnel transparency,” he says, “leads to down-funnel success.”

Also today, the Video Advertising Bureau issued “Requiem for a Stream: The Relationship Between TV Brands and Video Streaming,” (best title/worst subhead), that underscores what everybody already knows: A lot more people watch TV than watch streaming services.

In the past, VAB has gotten its nose out of joint when digital cheerleaders try to pick out graves for cable/telcos MVPDs, and likes to periodically announce the biz is doing fantastic.

But you might be interested in VAB’s stats. It says only 6% of people do 87% of streaming. And heavy streamers average more than four hours of TV per day and just 22 minutes streaming. (Similarly I recall TV researchers long ago noting that one-third of all viewers do two-thirds of the viewing, a reason some pretty horrible programs inexplicably do pretty well.)

Interestingly, VAB also gathers in TV Everywhere views with plain-old-TV viewing stats to conclude that at any given moment there are more than four times as many people watching “TV” than all the viewers watching the three major subscription video streaming services--Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. VAB also notes Netflix, the big OTT gorilla, acquires 94% of its “TV programming” from TV networks.

In what seems to be a kumbaya moment, a VAB press release says,  “All the streaming activity is adding significantly to TV ratings by bringing in new viewers, as evidenced by an average 18% jump in audience from the final episode of last season to the first episode of this season across the TV spectrum.”  

Yes, the VAB says, traditional TV viewership is down a bit, but that may be because viewers are watching TV online instead. The more things change ...

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