May 2, 2018 By Zak Mehan
YouTube has come under fire after a recent report from CNN revealed that ads from over 300 companies and organizations, ranging from major retailers to government agencies, have been running on extremist channels. What’s more, most of the companies contacted by CNN were unaware of the ad placement and had selected YouTube’s options to filter out sensitive subjects.
Several of the brands affected by the latest issues have paused spending on the platform, including Under Armour, but it’s difficult for advertisers to ignore the platform altogether. YouTube boasts a billion users and has proved a critical tool for companies looking to reach younger audiences. In 2017, Procter & Gamble decided to boycott the platform after concerns surrounding inappropriate content but recently ended their year-long hiatus and plan to begin advertising again.
YouTube is taking steps to ensure that offensive content is swiftly removed, including investing in machine learning technology capable of automatically spotting objectionable content. But if these issues continue, we may begin to see a shift in how brands approach advertising on these platforms.
Procter & Gamble, for example, now plans only to advertise on videos the company has approved (cutting their market from 3 million YouTube channels to 10,000). But restricting channels isn’t the only approach for brands concerned about how their content is viewed. We might also begin to see an increase in branded partnerships – in which companies join forces with individual creators to develop content – and original content as risk-averse brands explore their options.
Things have been looking up for Twitter lately. The company recently reported its first profitable quarter and grew the active number of daily users by 12 percent in Q4 of 2017. With a stock jump of over 30 percent so far this year, analysts are expecting to see continued growth in both active users and ad sales.
So what has been the key to Twitter’s turnaround? It seems that the company’s push into the world of live video, which began with their acquisition of Periscope in 2015, is finally starting to pay off. Twitter has recently moved away from expensive licensing fees to partner with publishers, including Buzzfeed and Bloomberg. Buzzfeed’s morning show “AM to DM” has begun offering mid-roll ads (which play like a commercial in the middle of a segment). Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s TicToc has been featuring branded segments from partners including Goldman Sachs and Infiniti.
While video ads hold promise for Twitter, the platform is still contending with several issues when it comes to getting companies and users to bite on video content. Twitter (330 million users) has a substantially smaller user-base than YouTube (1 billion) and Facebook (2 billion) meaning brands can’t depend solely on Twitter to reach audiences. Additionally, video content can sometimes be more difficult for users to find on Twitter – while Facebook has created a separate tab for content, Twitter is working to place video directly into users’ feeds.
Challenges aside, it’s clear that Twitter’s bet on video is paying off. Now, we’ll have to wait and see if video content is enough to grow Twitter’s audience and pull ad money away from the larger platforms.
It’s no secret that Snapchat has had its fair share of issues lately – from celebrity-driven stock crashes to frustration over the new redesign, it’s been a tough time for the social media platform. Now, the company is focusing in on one of its most popular features in hopes of generating additional revenue.
Ever since Instagram launched the “Stories” feature in 2016, Instagram’s “Lenses”– which allows users to pick interactive filters for selfies – has become one of the main differentiators between the two platforms. Now the Lens studio, which boasts more than 70 million users a day, is being turned into a virtual shopping mall of sorts.
The new Shoppable AR feature will allow advertisers to display and sell products directly through the platform. So far four brands have signed on, including Clairol, Adidas, King (of Candy Crush) and STX Entertainment. While two of the brands are selling products specifically (Clairol and Adidas) King and STX are using the new feature to advertise content (with a new AR Candy Crush Game and a promotion for the trailer to the movie I Feel Pretty, respectively).
Time will tell if this new feature is enough to keep Instagram at bay, but one of the most important features of the update is that it keeps users within the platform. The lenses allow users to do everything from buy products to watch longer form video, all without leaving the app. This kind of advertising could end up being the best of both worlds for Snapchat and brands alike, keeping users within the platform for longer and providing brands with a selling tool that can feel more organic and doesn’t break the immersive app experience. If AR advertising is successful on Snap, expect see other platforms begin adopting soon.
Q&A: How Pew Research Center identified bots on Twitter Pew Research Center
Instagram Stories have become traffic drivers for publishers and influencers Digiday
Google reportedly planning sponsored how-to videos for Assistant The Verge
What is art? This, obviously.