YouTube adds new ad targeting features

Google is giving advertisers new ways to target users on YouTube.

Previously, advertisers were able to target users based on a number of criteria, such as their YouTube viewing histories.

But that is changing, as Google is now allowing advertisers to target users based on their Google search histories. A blog post on the Google Inside AdWords blog explained:

Now, information from activity associated with users’ Google accounts (such as demographic information and past searches) may be used to influence the ads those users see on YouTube. So, for example, if you’re a retailer, you could reach potential customers that have been searching for winter coat deals on Google and engage with them with your own winter clothing brand campaign at just the right moment.

In addition to being able to target users based on their past Google searches, Google says it will allow YouTube advertisers to use Customer Match targeting, which gives them the ability to target their own customers, in new ways.

According to Diya Jolly, Google’s Director of YouTube Product Management, the new features reflect the fact that users today are interacting with YouTube, and Google, across multiple screens.

“While technologies like pixels and cookies still have a role in the broader ecosystem, most were built for a single screen—neither pixels nor anonymous cookies were designed for the ways in which users increasingly watch content on YouTube, like on the mobile app or in the living room. This can lead to inconsistent measurement and less relevant ads across screens, making it harder for people to control the ads they see or the data used to show them,” she explained.

“By investing more in the mobile first solutions we’re announcing today…advertisers will have more opportunities to be present and relevant in the moments their audience chooses to watch.”

A response to Facebook?

There might be another reason Google is giving advertisers more flexibility in how they target users on YouTube: Facebook.

As AdAge’s Garett Sloane points out, “For years, the company kept a wall between search and other ad products, but increased competition from Facebook has made that commitment impractical.”

While many suggest that Google and Facebook increasingly have a duopoly that isn’t beneficial to advertisers, if the competition between the two internet giants results in advertisers obtaining the ability to better target users using the vast data troves both companies have, it might be an acceptable consolation prize.

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