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Google pushes watch time as currency for Youtube as it seeks Preferred program partners

Google is touting watch time as the best metric for media buyers to be looking at when investing in ads around Youtube, and signalled it is set to pursue a “multi-agency/client strategy” for the next round of its Google Preferred program.

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Bart Jenniches speaking at Youtube’s Brandcast event.

Last year GroupM was named as the beneficiary of an exclusive deal giving the agency’s clients access to the top five per cent of the most popular content on Youtube, but the fanfare surrounding that at last year’s Brandcast event earned the ire of competitors who accused Google of being “almost disrespectful” to them.

Asked if there was any announcement on whether GroupM or any other agencies were signing on for 2016 Google’s industry director Bart Jenniches told Mumbrella: “I don’t know for sure but I know that those discussions are happening with the big agencies at the moment.”

He added: “We have had 35 plus (GroupM) clients take advantage of it but we are now looking at how we roll that out to a wider group of agencies.

“Last year was the exclusive deal for GroupM but this coming year we are looking at a multi-agency/client strategy.”

It was the second year Google Australia has hosted Brandcast – a TV upfronts style event – this following the lead of its US parent and merging the event with Youtube Fanfest, a ticketed event where teens pay to see their favourite Youtube celebrities, including Troy Sivan, Natalie Tran and Lilly Singh.

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Troy Sivan with fans on the red carpet last night.

“This is the second year for us and it is the perfect chance for us to get together with all of our creators, fans, advertisers and agencies in the one room,” said Jenniches.

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Singh speaking on stage last night at Brandcast.

During the presentations Canadian Youtube sensation Lilly Singh – who goes by the persona Superwoman and has 6.4m subscribers – spoke bluntly to media buyers and marketers about her marketing power among her millennial audience.

“Consumers are choosing to come to me and they are choosing to buy brands I publicly support,” said Singh. “In the most humble way it means I have got that power (of brand endorsement).”

Singh also argued that Youtube celebrities with their fan bases, in some cases in the millions, had a level of engagement not available on traditional television.

“Many of the strongest communities and much of my favourite online content is grossly undervalued by advertisers… it is truly valued because I demand to watch it,” she said.

“I choose to search for it, consume it and engage with it.

“If you want to stay in the impressions game good on you, I’m sure it has served you well, but you risk losing relevance with a generation that sees Youtube as the go to destination and perhaps now their top online choice.”

Questioned about what was new in the 2015 Brandcast presentations Jenniches argued Youtube was pushing its engagement and growth in online viewing.

“I think the big one was around watch time and really instilling watch time. We are really instilling watch time as our currency around engagement,” he said.

“Last year our platform grew 28 per cent, this year it grew 60 per cent – it is the fast growth in years. About 50 per cent of the views are now on mobile devices.”

Google and Screen Australia also announced the second annual recipients of the Skip Ahead initiative.

The Skip Ahead program sees five Youtubers given Screen Australia funding to help create unique online content and engage new audiences online, with the winners this year including: SketchShe, SungaAttack/The Roundabout Crew, Draw with Jazza and How To Cook That’s Ann Reardon.

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Maile Carnegie speaking at Brandcast.

“Skip Ahead fosters the next generation of Australian storytellers by providing funding, education and support for the production of new online content,” said Maile Carnegie, managing director of Google Australia.

“The first round winners created fantastic online series and we think that this second wave of funding will help even more Australian voices to reach global audiences,”

Google Australia also promoted how US television networks were increasingly gearing themselves towards the platform by putting segments of their content online, citing the example of a specially created version of The Late Late Show with James Corden.

“I would like to see them (Australian TV networks) do more. We are not a broadcaster – we are a platform – but we think we can offer something to their own audiences to help and engage with them,” said Jenniches.

Nic Christensen

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