YouTube's latest ad extensions feature: Pros and cons marketers should consider

The newly offered ad extensions on YouTube was introduced in a bid to enhance video ads with additional information and call to action features. Brands will now be able to add location and form extensions to TrueView in-stream ads to complete lower-funnel actions such as finding the next movie showtime, downloading an app or booking a trip.

With these new addition, YouTube says it hopes to have "effective storytelling" using YouTube’s creative canvas as well as Google’s machine learning and measurement solutions.

YouTube, famously seen as an entertainment site, said Jeffrey Lim, general manager at Carbon Interactive, could with this new addition run the risk of being cluttered. Lim explained the platform generally works in two folds with one being seen as a content entertainment platform for users and the other as an advertising platform for integrating research and e-commerce.

From an advertising angle , he said the move "enhances the strategy to complement branding and sales" all under the same roof. With the added features, he said that more brands will potentially park more of its ad dollars under YouTube and re-look at its sales and marketing budgets.

On the consumer front however, he added that users streaming YouTube content for entertainment purposes, might argue that the platform is becoming more cluttered and more disruptive to a user's experience. "Imagine watching a YouTube video now with not just a skippable or display ad, but various other call-to-action buttons," he added. He added that brands should ideally continue using YouTube as a platform to "entertain and wow" consumers, and in turn, this will be vital in retaining support.

Prantik Mazumdar, managing partner at Happy Marketer said that with YouTube being the dominant player in the video content space and also given its targeted reach, the social media platform has helped brands in the awareness stage of the funnel for close to a decade. With the advent of such ad extensions, Mazumdar said that YouTube is now offering brands to drive "consideration" and "engagement" amongst its customer segments, going beyond generating awareness.

"This is a good attempt for the platform to differentiate its video ad product from the options available on Facebook and Twitter videos. These ad extensions can drive tangible outcomes such as lead and online sales, which are much more impactful than mere impressions and views," he added.

However, he said that unlike Facebook and Twitter, consumers do not need to log on to YouTube to enjoy its services. Due to this, ads may not be targeted which could ultimately lead to wastage of marketing dollars. Mazumdar added that this can be avoided if brands leverage data management platforms (DMPs) and smart lists to target based on second and third party data.

"Brands need to ensure that their ads are brand safe and they need to invest in multi-touch attribution to ensure that they have a structured way of understanding which channel drives what impact in the customer journey. This is opposed to giving all the credit to the very final channel that drives the conversion, through the last click attribution model," Mazumdar said.

He further added that through analytics, it would be in a marketer's best interest to also monitor cross channel and cross device behaviour. This will help to study user behaviour across all communication initiatives across desktop and mobile devices and optimise accordingly.

According to Preetham Venkky, director of KRDS Singapore, the latest updates from YouTube allows marketers to measure and optimise for brand lift. He added that the this is quite significant as a change for any marketer looking to optimise for the "consideration" stage of the funnel.

Like Mazumdar, he said that having targeted, appropriate contextual content or ads are important - in other words “showing the right content to the right person at the right time”.

"The call to action extensions introduced by YouTube could lead to better measurement at the middle of the funnel. It's important though, for brands, to correlate these metrics to business outcomes such as footfall and sales," he added.

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