YouTube opens up more inventory for direct response advertisers

The platform is making direct response ads available in its Watch Feed on creator content outside of its partner program.

YouTube said Wednesday it will open up more video inventory for direct response advertisers in the Watch Feed, its recommended video feed for users. 

The direct response ads will run on brand safe creator content outside of YouTube’s Partner Program, which certifies creators with more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past year as eligible for monetization. 

Previously, ads only ran on content from creators within the YouTube Partner Program. Creators will still need to meet the thresholds set by the partner program to be eligible for monetization.

“This is part of our ongoing investments in new solutions, like Home Feed ads, that help advertisers responsibly tap into the full scale of YouTube to connect with their audiences and grow their businesses,” YouTube said in a blog post. 

Despite running outside of YouTube’s Partner Program, all ads will continue to meet 99% brand safety effectiveness standards as determined by the Global Alliance for Responsible Media. YouTube will continue to evaluate brand safety on a video-by-video basis, a spokesperson said. 

Direct response advertisers have been flocking to YouTube during the pandemic as they struggle to keep their businesses afloat. These brands drove a majority of YouTube’s 32% ad revenue growth in Q3 to $5 billion, prompting the platform to open up more inventory. 

Direct response ads on YouTube have prominent CTAs and a bidding system that allows direct response brands to target users more likely to take an action. 

“We have seen the strength in YouTube for direct response and in a few other categories,” CEO Sundar Pichai said on the Alphabet earnings call in October. 

YouTube has been steadily increasing availability of its direct response inventory throughout the year. In June, YouTube launched Video Action Campaigns, or DR ads that run across its homepage, watch pages and video partner pages in a single campaign.

The change comes as part of an update to YouTube’s terms of service in the U.S., which also include a more explicit ban on harvesting facial recognition data and a change to treat creator revenues as tax royalties in the U.S.

New terms will be applicable outside the U.S. later in 2021. 

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