YouTube rolls out slew of tools focused on personalization

  • At Advertising Week in New York City this week and in a company blog post, Google announced a flurry of new features for YouTube including Custom Affinity Audiences, Director Mix, Video Ad Sequencing to AdWords Labs, along with third-party sales measurement from Nielsen MPA (matched panel analysis) and Oracle Datalogix ROI.
  • Director Mix is a creative personalization tool that lets marketers produce up to thousands of different video spots with varied voiceovers, background and copy from a single asset, the blog post said. Campbell’s Soup leveraged the product for a bumper video campaign that changed the copy of the ad based on the content viewers engaged in. If someone had watched the Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black,” they would see the tagline “Does your cooking make prison food seem good?” But viewers who had watched Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” music video saw the clip with the tagline “Dinner for one?”
  • Custom Affinity Audiences and Video Ad Sequencing to AdWords Labs are both targeting tools. Custom Affinity Audiences segments and targets users based on search history and the mobile apps they have installed. Ad Sequencing to AdWords Labs lets marketers target users with different messages. In an example outlined by Google, marketers could start with a 15-second TrueView ad to build brand awareness, follow it by a longer ad to explain product attributes and then finish with a 6-second bumper ad to keep the message top-of-mind and drive a purchase.


The upgrades to YouTube taken together give marketers a finer level of control over constructing a video ad campaign, enhancing targeting and segmentation options, making personalization easier and, finally, measuring the campaign’s success via third-party measurement. Campbell’s is already seeing success with products like Director Mix, per Google, with a campaign that netted a 55% lift in sales and a 24% lift in ad recall.

YouTube has made a concentrated effort in recent months to help marketers better personalize and optimize their video campaigns across screens, often through automated technology. Late last month, the platform refreshed its logo and introduced tools that automatically fit its player to match the video ad format when being watched from vertical, square or horizontal views.

The latest round of updates should make YouTube even more attractive to video advertisers. But while something like Director Mix may give marketers the power to highly personalize video ads, they should be careful to not create thousands of ad versions just because they can.

“While it’s important for advertisers and agencies to be able to easily create ad variations for different audience segments, like with YouTube’s new tool Director Mix— it is even more important that a real person from their team has approved each variation [to make sure it is] of high quality and delivering the right message,” Paul Vincent, CEO of Neuranet, told Marketing Dive in a statement. “Taking automation too far can have a negative impact on conversion, even if some metrics like clicks or views seem high.”

All of these upgrades also follow an especially rough PR patch this spring over brand safety that led to a number of major marketers and agencies to boycott YouTube and other Google properties. The issue began in late March, but by May YouTube already appeared back on track with brands using its service. Parent company Alphabet’s Q2 earnings report, released in July, showed there was ultimately little damage done to revenue or platform growth.

Article written by: David Kirkpatrick