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YouTube is launching a new type of audio-based ad unit to reach people who use the platform as their music and podcast player.

Audio ads may sound like an odd fit for a website that specializes in video, but YouTube says users are consuming more audio centric-content.

“Whether it’s to squeeze in a living room workout before dinner, catch up on a podcast or listen to a virtual concert on a Friday night, people are increasingly turning to YouTube as they spend more time at home.

To help you tailor your media and creative approach to the different ways consumers are engaging with YouTube, we’re introducing audio ads…”

As the company’s first ad format without a video component, this is uncharted territory for YouTube.

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Brands may be familiar with audio ads if the run any podcast campaigns, though for many YouTube advertisers this may be a first as well.

YouTube emphasizes how audio ads are a perfect fit for music channels, though I believe there is significant potential to engage other types of audiences as well.

First let’s look at what YouTube says in its announcement, and then I’ll suggest another promising use case at the end.

What Are YouTube Audio Ads?

Audio ads are characterized by a voiceover delivering the message while a still image or simple animation is displayed on the screen.

After months of alpha testing, YouTube found that more than 75 percent of measured audio ad campaigns drove a significant lift in brand awareness.

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Audio ads are now in the beta stage and available in auction on Google Ads and Display & Video 360 on a CPM basis.

Audio campaigns offer advertisers the same audience targeting options, bidding strategies. and Brand Lift measurement capabilities as YouTube video campaigns.

Who Can Advertisers Reach With Audio Ads?

YouTube is primarily selling advertisers on audio ads by emphasizing the potential to reach music listeners.

Music video streaming is at an all time high, YouTube says. More than 50 percent of logged-in viewers who consume music content in a day consume more than 10 minutes of music content.

Searches for artists, bands, and songs dominate the list of top YouTube searches this year – 57 out of the top 100 searches are music-related.

In addition to studio recordings, YouTube is fast becoming a destination for live music performances.

As the pandemic continues to cancel in-person events around the world, music fans are turning to platforms like YouTube and Twitch for their concert fix.

This past summer event organizers brought star-studded lineups to YouTube with an array of virtual music festivals.

Even as festival season winds down, you can still find musicians streaming live performances on any given night from the comfort of their home.

Many users leave these streams on in the background as they would do with a radio station, which means audio ads wouldn’t feel out of place.

Music is the most obvious fit for audio ads, and it’s proven to work well on platforms like Spotify and SoundCloud, but it’s not the only option for advertisers.

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Another Potential Use Case

There’s no question about the rising popularity of music on YouTube. However, it’s not the only type of audio-based content users are consuming.

According to the same study I referenced earlier, the term “ASMR” is searched for more than any music artist (aside from Kpop group BTS).

ASMR is the second most popular YouTube query in the US (3.2M searches), and third most popular worldwide (13.9M searches).

Inserting ads into ASMR videos is tricky though, as they’re created to help people relax or fall asleep.

There’s nothing quite as intrusive as a loud ad in the middle of an ASMR video, and a majority of ASMR channels opt out of mid-roll ads for this reason.

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However, I believe ASMR channels would be more open to mid-roll ads if they were delivered as soft spoken audio.

There’s a lot of potential there, as ASMR content is noticeably under-monetized compared to other types of YouTube videos.

For advertisers planning to run audio ad campaigns, I believe they would be remiss not to target ads to ASMR fans.

Just some food for thought.

More detail about YouTube audio ads can be found on the official support page.

Source: Google Ads & Commerce Blog

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