YouTube’s looking to help advertisers align with evolving video consumption trends by testing out a new process that automatically reformats landscape video ads into square or vertical playback, relative to how each user is consuming content.
As you can see in this example, the process will match up the presentation display based on how each person is engaging with content, creating a more organic, streamlined experience.
As explained by YouTube:
“The machine learning model detects important elements in the landscape ad – such as faces, key objects, logos, text and motion – and breaks the video into distinct “scenes.” This ensures that important elements show up properly – centered, for example – in the reformatted video.”
That could make it easier for marketers to align with usage trends, and in particular, YouTube Shorts, which has seen a big jump in usage this year.
“We found that when advertisers added a vertical creative asset to their Video action campaigns, they delivered 10-20% more conversions per dollar on YouTube Shorts than campaigns that used landscape assets alone.”
Short-form video is the trend of the moment, and this could make it much easier for brands to align with that shift, with minimal editing effort. YouTube says that option is currently available for App campaigns, and will be coming soon to Video action and Performance Max campaigns.
In addition to this, YouTube’s also adding some new, customizable vertical video ad templates in the video creation tool in Google Ads.
The simplified templates provide another way to create YouTube ads based on engaging presentation styles.
“These new templates follow creative best practices for YouTube and are built with specific considerations for a vertical viewing environment, with pacing, music tracks and transitions designed to make an impact.”
YouTube’s also added some additional, auto-generated ad templates, which provide a way to create vertical videos based on text and image inputs.
And even further aligning with the vertical video shift, YouTube is also updating the presentation style of vertical video thumbnails in the app, to make vertical clips look better in-stream.
As per YouTube:
“While vVODS represent only a small percentage of videos, up until now, they’ve created an inconsistent viewing experience for users browsing on home, as black void spaces appear on both sides of the video, which, in turn, makes it more difficult for viewers to evaluate and engage with the content they’re interested in.”
As you can see in the right-hand side image above, YouTube will now present vertical clips without the black bars, creating more consistency in-stream.
That could also mean some changes to your thumbnail presentation:
“While we’ve previously encouraged creators to optimize for 16:9 thumbnails in videos, in the new more immersive experience, thumbnails for vVODS will now be auto-scaled to the 4:5 aspect ratio, resulting in some 16:9 thumbnails to appear cropped.”
Worth noting, while YouTube also says that, in early experiments, creators have seen ‘a modest improvement’ to views and watch time as a result of this formatting change.
Better presentation options, aligned with emerging trends. While at the same time, YouTube’s also experimenting with ways to push even more ads into clips.
A lot more – in fact, some users have reported seeing up to 10 unskippable ads at a time in individual clips.
YouTube has said that these ‘bumper’ ads are only 6-seconds long, at max, so the imposition shouldn’t be significant. But still, I would question the effectiveness of ads that are jammed into these clusters, which users are likely tuning out very quickly.
It’s interesting to see how the TikTok effect has changed video consumption behavior more broadly, and how Meta and YouTube are both working to keep up.
Shorts has become a big winner for YouTube, and as such, it makes sense for it to build upon its Shorts presentation elements, but it’ll be interesting to see how that gels with user behavior – and how these new ad presentation options perform in the YouTube environment.
Elon Musk Outlines Roadmap for ‘Twitter 2.0’ in New Slide Deck
Elon Musk has provided some more insight into his evolving plan for Twitter, which will now also see the company embark on a hiring push, after firing 65% of its workforce, in order to get in more development and engineering talent to help realize Musk’s grand vision.
And with that, Musk has put together a new pitch deck, of sorts, which aims to clarify his current plan. Which, as noted, is evolving quickly, so it may end up being totally different, it may be indicative – we don’t know for sure as yet.
But he is slowly clarifying and honing in on specific elements.
Here’s a look at the collection of slides that Musk has put together to present his current strategic outline for the app.
As you can see in this first slide, Musk’s presentation shows that new account sign-ups are at an all-time high, with the chart going back to 2014.
I’m not sure what that means in isolation. Definitely, that could mean that more people are keen to get in on Twitter conversation, and with Facebook getting stale, and Instagram suffering an identity crisis, Twitter is seemingly becoming a more interesting consideration.
But it would also be worth noting where these new sign-ups are coming from. Are these US users, maybe freedom of speech-ers signing up to Elon’s new, more open public square? Are these users in developing markets, as has been Twitter’s predominant growth trend for the past three years, as US usage has stagnated?
Could this be scammers signing up for a lot more accounts very quickly – because in order to qualify for Twitter Blue, and get a blue checkmark, accounts will have to have been active for at least 90 days prior?
It’s a stat, for sure, but without further context, it’s hard to make any conclusion on what it means.
The next chart is User Active Minutes, which is also at an all-time high.
That is interesting – based on this chart, divided by the current number of active users, which Musk has also shared, the average Twitter user is now spending 31.5 minutes per day in the app.
That’s not radically different than what’s been previously reported, though some reports have suggested Twitter usage has declined significantly in recent times. These numbers actually reinforce that, with Twitter’s session time down in the low teens (seemingly) till 2021, then rising again of late – though I suspect the lower chart is supposed to say ‘November 2022’ at the bottom right.
Basically, the data shows that Twitter is back at its previous usage levels, after losing its way for some time. Which is not surprising given Musk’s capacity to spark controversy and discussion.
There are also some more questionable charts that show a decline in hate speech:
Note that the qualifier here is tweets ‘with 1+ slur’ from a curated list, and a ‘Toxicity score’ of 0.91 or higher. This is a little vague and lacks the full context of what this represents.
There’s also this:
Which just shows that a lot more people were engaging in impersonation in the app when Twitter started allowing them to buy Blue verification ticks, then, when Twitter pulled the $8 verification plan, fewer impersonations were reported.
Like, yeah, you opened the door for them to scam people with misleading verified accounts, so they took advantage, and now they’re not, because they can’t. At least until Twitter re-launches the $8 verification plan next week.
Musk then also shared this overview of his current roadmap, which is pretty much a re-angling of Twitter’s current features.
‘Advertising as entertainment’ uses an example of an automated sampling script to create a more engaging ad experience (‘like this tweet and I’ll show you which house you belong to based on your tweets’). Not sure if Musk is suggesting that this is something Twitter will be offering as an ad tool, but thus far, these types of activations have been created by brand partners, in collaboration with Twitter. If Twitter does move to make this an actual ad feature, that could be difficult to scale.
Note that Twitter also released Branded Likes, a related ad engagement option, back in June.
The next frame, as you can see, just says video with a randomized example
Not sure exactly what this means, but Musk has flagged allowing longer video clips to be attached to tweets, while he’s also talking about a creator monetization program, which would offer a more beneficial revenue share than YouTube’s 45/55 split.
Encrypted DMs are fast becoming the standard, with Meta also integrating full encryption across Messenger, Instagram Direct and WhatsApp. That’s raised the hackles of many law enforcement groups, who say that this will offer protection for criminals, but it will also provide more security, and assurance, for general users.
There’s also Longform Tweets, for which Musk has shared a screenshot of Twitter Notes, which has been in development over the past year.
Notes enables you to create posts of up to 2,500 words, which are then natively embedded into the Twitter app for easy sharing.
Then there’s the revamped $8 verification plan, which I’ve shared my thoughts on here.
Oh, and payments:
No examples here, but based on Musk’s previous statements, it seems like he’s looking to follow the same game plan with payments that various other apps have already tried. You start off by facilitating funds transfers between accounts, enabling fee-free remittance, a key benefit in developing markets. Then, once people are already moving money in the app, you offer more ways to use it, via in-app purchases, bill payments, banking, etc.
This is Musk’s big, overarching plan to make Twitter a more critical app – but as noted, various others have tried, and the regulatory hurdles alone have made it a nightmare to enact.
Maybe Musk will have better luck in moving things forward, but it’s a big challenge, which will take time – which is also why there’s no example image for this as yet.
Of course, the mention of payments will also fire up all the crypto enthusiasts, who view Musk as a key leader in mainstreaming crypto payments. That definitely won’t be happening, but I suspect that this is another reason why Musk has left this slide blank, to offer a glimmer of hope to his fanatical fan base.
Which is what Elon does best. Question his business and intellectual acumen all you want, but he sure does know how to get attention, which is really the most valuable, tangible skill that he brings to any project. He’s a walking PR machine, who’s now been given the keys to his own platform millions of users, and it’s pretty clear that he’s enjoying the attention he now commands as Twitter-in-chief.
The next question then is, how many media tricks does Elon have up his sleeve?
Each of these actions has sparked its own media cycle, and brought a heap more attention to Musk and Twitter as a result, but when the stunts run out, what then?
Can Musk keep coming up with more attention-grabbing changes at the app, or will this roadmap actually lead to a more sustainable business, enabling him to stop grabbing headlines, and leave Twitter to its own devices?
In essence, that’s what these usage charts show, that Musk is really good at getting attention.
But it’s what comes after that will make or break the business.
Oh, also, someone has suggested that the tweet character count should be expanded to 420 instead of the current 280. Given Musk’s affinity for this number, that’ll probably happen.
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