Upfronts: YouTube Adopts Non-Skippable 30-Second CTV Commercials

Roger Goodell at Brandcast20023
Roger Goodell at Brandcast (Image credit: (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for YouTube))

YouTube, competing for TV ad dollars with TV companies that are shifting to streaming, announced that it is bringing 30-second commercials that can’t be skipped to YouTube Select on connected TV.

The longer format allows for better storytelling and fits into what viewers expect when they're watching on the big screen, YouTube said.

At its annual Brandcast presentation to advertisers during upfront week, YouTube also said it was introducing pause ads to CTV.  

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan addressed the big changes in the media landscape.

“When YouTube first launched, it opened up new possibilities for people around the globe to create,” Mohad said. “Now everyone of us has the power of a production studio in the palm of our hands.”

Change will be accelerated by artificial intelligency, Mohan added. 

“Generative AI is at an inflection point. Our teams are already using AI to get ads in front of the right audiences, to improve measurement, or to flip a creative to reach viewers wherever they’re watching, from Shorts to the living room. But this is really just the beginning - simply put, AI will transform the way we make videos,” he said.

YouTube is also looking to capitalize on its acquisition of the NFL Sunday Ticket package, and brought NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Brandcast.

“The fact is, millions of football fans are on YouTube to catch all things NFL,” said Goodell. “NFL Sunday Ticket is only the beginning. As part of this partnership, YouTube creators are getting first-of-its-kind access to the NFL: our games, our Clubs, our athletes, and the fans who love them, so that the NFL can reach fans in more ways than ever.”

As part of our NFL partnership, YouTube plans to create and streams even more original programming, which content like Game Day All Access, where fans can listen in as mic’d up players bring you onto the sidelines during the

Game. YouTube is also launching a new original Shorts series on the NFL’s YouTube channel after the football season kicks off called NFL Creator of the Week.

Advertisers can reach football fans across YouTube’s entire array of NFL content, from viewing live games on YouTube TV and Primetime Channels, to watching highlights and post-game commentary.  

“No one does sports better than YouTube. We give you access to all the content fans love with live and on-demand and across league partnerships like the NFL, the NBA, and more. And we’re the number one sports destination for Gen Z fans,” said Mary Ellen Coe, chief business officer at YouTube.

All of the advertisers attending Brandcast got free subscriptions to Sunday Ticket.

Advertisers can use Google AI to find the optimal mix of ad creative. Marketers including Sony Electronics used the artificial intelligence to add relevant voiceovers to their product ads and saw a 25% increase in ad recall, YouTube said.

YouTube boasted about other advertisers getting big returns on investment.  According to Nielsen mixed marketing model results, Hershey saw a 65% increase in ROI, making YouTube Hershey’s most productive media partners.

Other advertisers have also seen brand lifts. On average, YouTube delivers higher ROI than TV and other online video,” YouTube said, pointing to studies by Nielsen, TransUnion and Ipsos MMA. 

“You can build your brand here, because it’s the place where the world comes to watch. We’ve seen that YouTube works with the brands I’ve mentioned tonight, said Sean Downey, president of sales at Google.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.