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YouTube Will No Longer Allow Alcohol, Gambling and Political Ads its Prominent Masthead Units

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YouTube has announced a new set of restrictions on its prominent Masthead Ads, in order to reduce exposure to, and association with, certain types of content within the app.

As reported by Axios, YouTube will stop accepting Masthead Ads from a range of verticals, including alcohol, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads.

As per Axios:

“Beginning Monday, ads that feature any gambling-related content offline or online, including sports betting and casino games, will be banned. The ban will also apply to ads that promote the sale of alcohol, as well as branding ads for alcoholic beverages that don’t explicitly reference sales, while ads that endorse a candidate for office will also be banned. Ads that are political in nature, like issue ads, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

That will reduce the reach of these campaigns via this specific ad unit, which, given the nature of Masthead promotions, could have an impact in various ways.

As it sounds, Masthead Ad units take up the top of the screen in the YouTube app, providing significant exposure for brands through premium placement.

YouTube Masthead Ad

YouTube also made Masthead ads available for connected TVs back in 2019, providing an even more expansive reach opportunity – especially considering the ongoing rise in YouTube’s connected TV viewers

YouTube Masthead Ad

That’s made the ad units a more highly sought-after option – but YouTube has also found that its prominence has made it a key focus point for those looking to make a statement ahead of an upcoming vote or election. Which, given the exposure potential, could lend it to misuse.

The ads first came into question last year, when then US President Donald Trump purchased the masthead slot for the whole two days preceding Election Day, along with Election Day itself.

Trump Masthead Ad

As you can see, that afforded the Trump campaign with a significant exposure advantage in the app, while also, potentially, aligning YouTube itself with the campaign, from an optics standpoint. As a result, YouTube discontinued full-day reservations for Masthead Ads specifically, providing broader access to the option, as opposed to a single dominant player. YouTube also stopped running political ads in the US for a period last year, in order to avoid potentially promoting unrest amid questions around the result.

This new change further highlights the potential risks YouTube sees in providing such broad exposure to its 2 billion users, and while the change won’t impact the majority of YouTube advertisers (Masthead Ads cost around $2 million per day, according to the New York Times), it is a significant update in YouTube’s process, underlining the rising concern around social influence via its app.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

Pinterest is taking a unique approach to Black History Month, with a new ‘Find Your Routes’ Black Travel Hub initiative, which aims to highlight places that have strong connections to Black history, while also showcasing Black-owned businesses.

As explained by Pinterest:

“Find Your Routes” is inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book aka “The Green Book”. The Green Book was a guidebook for Black travelers during the Jim Crow era that provided a list of accessible hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations and other establishments throughout the country that served Black Americans patrons.”

The Black Travel Hub, which you can find here, will present a range of travel options, along with their history, with creators from the US, Colombia, Jamaica, Brazil and more, all taking part in presenting their city.

It could be a good way to provide education alongside inspiration in the app, while also helping people to connect, and support highlighted communities.

Pinterest will also be showcasing Black-owned businesses on Pinterest TV, while internally, it’s also hosting a company-wide event ‘to help employees gain knowledge about the history, present, and future of Black travel through the lens of Black Pinployees’.

As noted, it could be a good way to both spark important conversations, and inspire new travel journeys, which include an extra level of cultural understanding and education, along with a leisure break.

It’s an interesting take on the celebration either way, and it’ll be worth noting what sort of reaction the initiative gets, and whether it inspires more travel as a result.

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Snap Tumbles On Weak Revenue, Gloomy Outlook

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Snap Tumbles On Weak Revenue, Gloomy Outlook

Snap shares plunged after missing analyst expectations in Q4, while forecasting a year-over-year revenue decline.

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Snapchat Adds 12 Million Users in Q4, Posts Lower Than Expected Revenue Result

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Snapchat Adds 12 Million Users in Q4, Posts Lower Than Expected Revenue Result

Snapchat added 12 million more active users in Q4 2022, and Snapchat+ subscriptions continue to rise, but company revenue missed market estimates, in another mixed result for the private social app.

First off, on users – as noted, Snap added 12 million more actives, taking it to 375 million DAU.

As you can see, North American user growth is still flat, while European users saw a slight uptick. But it’s the ‘Rest of the World’, specifically India, which is driving Snap growth.

Which is helping to boost the overall usage numbers, and expand opportunity. But on the revenue side, it’s not pushing things forward in a significant way.

Snap Q4 2022

As you can see in this chart, Snapchat’s revenue has increased, but a key problem here is that it’s still reliant on the US and Canada for the majority of that spend, with other markets trailing well behind on the revenue front.

Snap Q4 2022

In this chart, you can see that Snap’s Revenue Per User has actually declined year-on-year – so while it is growing, it’s not bringing in revenue at equivalent scale, and it’s even going backwards in some respects.

Which is why its stagnant growth in North America is a problem – though Snap has also seen take-up of its Snapchat+ subscription service increase.

“In Q4, our subscription service Snapchat+ reached over 2.0 million paying subscribers. Snapchat+ offers exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features, and in Q4 we launched new features such as Custom Story Expiration and Custom Notification Sounds, providing subscribers with over 12 exclusive features.”

That’s a handy additional revenue stream, but as with all social media subscription services (including Twitter Blue), take-up is generally limited, and at 2 million subscribers, that’s still only 0.5% of Snapchat’s active user base that’s been willing to pay extra for these add-on elements.

Snap has also faced challenges in rebuilding its ad business, in the wake of Apple’s iOS 14 update, which has impacted data collection, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says they still have some way to go on this yet:

“We continue to face significant headwinds as we look to accelerate revenue growth, and we are making progress driving improved return on investment for advertisers and innovating to deepen the engagement of our community.”

Snap has seen improvement in its commerce integrations, which includes digital items for Bitmoji avatars which Snap is eventually looking to translate into real-world item sales as well. Snap also says that it’s facilitated over than 161 million product trials by over 35 million Snapchatters for Walmart, leveraging its Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses at-scale.

Snapchat AR shopping

Those point to bigger opportunities, but right now, amid the broader economic downturn, and restrictions on data collection and targeting, Snapchat is in a tough spot, and will be for some time yet.

Essentially, then, you’re banking on Snap’s future, and its advanced tools that could help it better align with expanded AR and VR use. And Snap is seemingly in a good position on this front – though again, the impacts of the last year, which also forced Snap into lay-offs, will also have some effect.

Really, then, the results here are relative to your perspective.

For advertisers, more Snap users means more potential reach – but most of Snap’s growth is coming from outside the US. More advanced AR activations could become a bigger deal in future, but it depends on how you’re looking to connect, and product fit.

Investors won’t be overly happy with the numbers, but there are positive signs on the horizon. It’s just that the horizon, in this respect, remains well in the distance at this stage.

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