YouTube is automating the creation of shorter ads

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On Monday, Googleannouncedthe launch of “Bumper Machine,” a tool that will use machine learning to automate the creation of six-second ads from existing YouTube video ads of up to 90 seconds in length, per Adweek.

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Here’s what it means: YouTube is trying to incentivize advertisers to commit to shorter-form advertising — which it views as equally or more effective than longer-form advertising – by making it easier to do.

The tool is intended to help advertisers that don’t have the resources or desire to create new six-second ads themselves. Brands have expressed their frustration at the difficulty of making such short ads, as it’s difficult to pack a meaningful narrative into a short window.

The labor-intensive nature of the format has likely dampened some brands’ willingness to try out or stick with the format, as short-form ads are in decline while long-form ads rise: In Q1 2019, just16.5% of YouTube ads run were six seconds long, which was a 20% year-over-year (YoY) decline, per MediaRadar.

By contrast, nearly half (47%) of YouTube ads ran 15 seconds long, and 24% of YouTube ads were 30 seconds long, up 19% YoY. Google hopes that in providing a tool that will take the extra effort out of making multiple ads in different formatting, it can push back on this decrease and help provide simplified messaging to YouTube viewers.

As early as 2017, YouTube argued the effectiveness of six-second “bumper” ads, stating that the format drives both brand lift and ad recall. The platform said 70% of bumper campaigns in the US drove a significant brand lift, with an average lift of 9%. The platform was likely dismayed by brands abandoning the format given the effectiveness it observed.

The bigger picture: YouTube’s six-second ads are optimal for mobile — and its new tool is likely about claiming as much mobile video ad spend as it can.

Brief ads are ideal for mobile viewing as users have a high propensity to skip advertisements — and even when users skip ads brands still pay. And despite advertiserconcerns that six seconds is too short to be effective, mobile ads actually start triggering an emotional response in consumers in less than half a second, per astudy run by Neurons for the Mobile Marketing Association. That means that mobile ads not only have an immediate impact, but that advertisers might be missing out when they don’t attempt to capture user attention quickly.

The Bumper Machine will likely boost YouTube’s value prop because it can increase the impact ads have on viewers at no extra cost to advertisers. While these Bumper Machine generated ads would function across its platforms, the overall push is most likely a result of the growth in mobile video advertising over the past couple of years, and YouTube’s growing footprint in mobile video.

The mobile advertising industry grew40% to $69.9 billion last year and comprises 65% of total digital ad revenue according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Given mobile consumption’s dominance on YouTube — mobile comprises more than70% of its watch time, up from 60% in 2017, per a YouTube spokesperson — the company is smart to funnel advertisers into what it believes to be the most effective mobile ad format.

By providing the free tool, YouTube is likely to keep advertisers satisfied — and therefore money flowing — as mobile continues to grow in importance.

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