Why is YouTube Advertising at My Bus Stop?

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You may have noticed YouTube ads popping up on bus stops, billboards, and other places that advertising lives. The purpose of these ads is not to convince you to visit YouTube. These ads don’t want to get users already using YouTube to visit more often.

No, YouTube’s advertising campaign is targeted at advertisers. YouTube wants advertisers to spend money on YouTube the way they spend money on other media channels, like television. YouTube feels like advertisers do not properly respect the power of their site.

YouTube is the third most popular website on the planet. Every month, 800 unique users visit the site at least once (and usually many, many more times) and 100 hours of new content are uploaded to the site EVERY MINUTE. Recently, realizing which way the wind was blowing, media powerhouse Disney bought video content producer Maker Studios. With numbers like that, you would think they wouldn’t need to advertise. Who, after all, doesn’t know about YouTube? Who doesn’t respect the power of YouTube to reach key viewers and demographics like teens and twenty-somethings?

The answer to the question is: advertising and marketing agencies.

Let’s dissect one of YouTube’s ads:

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Each ad spotlights a different YouTube creator. This one spotlights Rosanna Pansino, whose channel focuses on baking. The ad also emphasizes the fact that Rosanna’s channel has 1,484,787 subscribers. Many of those subscribers are part of the aforementioned under 30 demographic, many of whom watch more videos on the Internet than television. Rosanna is famous. She is a celebrity. She is a key influencer and she makes her home on YouTube. The point is to emphasize to people making purchasing decisions for ad agencies that if they don’t invest in YouTube ads, they are potentially missing out on over a million impressions.

The fact that YouTube felt it necessary to advertise like this underscores a fairly significant point; viewing habits are changing and for all the talk you hear at agencies of adapting to those changes, many advertisers still look at new media channels like YouTube and can’t comprehend how popular they are or why you would want to spend money advertising on them. YouTube baffles them, still. Meanwhile, these same ad execs continue to watch their clients’ marketshare amongst Millennials ebb, and lament that “kids just don’t want to buy things.”

This just is not the case. The problem is that too many advertisers simply don’t know how or where to advertise to young people. The “how” question is another discussion entirely. Where on the other hand, has a fairly clear answer: YouTube.