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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.

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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.

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Twitter Adds New Spaces Recording and Management Tools as it Continues to Focus on Audio Options

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Twitter Adds New Spaces Recording and Management Tools as it Continues to Focus on Audio Options

I remain unconvinced that Twitter Spaces will ever become a thing, but Twitter itself seems certain that there’s major growth potential there, as evidenced by its continued push to add more elements to its Spaces offering, in order to lure more listeners across to its Spaces tab, and maximize listenership within its audio broadcasts.

This week, Twitter has rolled out another set of Spaces updates, including permanent recordings (as opposed to them deleting after 30 days), the capacity to save recordings after broadcast, and new details within the Spaces bar at the top of the app.

First off, on permanent recordings – after initially launching its Spaces recording feature to all users back in January, Twitter is now extending the life of those recordings beyond the initial 30 day period.

That’ll provide more capacity to attract listeners over the longer term, and keep your conversations alive in the app.

In addition to this, Twitter’s also adding a new listing of your recorded Spaces within your app settings menu, where you’ll be able to play each session back, delete those that you don’t want to keep, or share a recording direct from the list.

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That’ll enhance the functional value of Spaces chats, making them more podcast-like, and more of a vehicle for ongoing promotion and audience building – though it does seem to also maybe go against what made audio platforms like Clubhouse so attractive to begin with, in that they were live, in-the-moment chats that you had to be there to catch.

But podcasts is clearly more of the angle that Twitter’s now going for, based on these example screens of another new test in the back end of the app.

Twitter Spaces Stations test

As you can see in these images (shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi), Twitter’s also developing ‘Stations’ within the Spaces tab, which would incorporate podcasts into its audio stream, providing even more options for tuning into on-demand audio content within the app.

That could make Spaces recordings even more valuable, and potentially help Spaces broadcasters translate their work into a monetizable podcast process – but do Twitter users really want to tune into podcasts from the app? I mean, we have Spoitify and Apple Podcasts and various other options available.

Could Twitter really become a key hub for audio content like this?

In some ways, it seems unnecessary, but then again, the real-time nature of tweets lends itself to topical discussion, and that could make it a good hub for all of these types of discussions and content, including Spaces, Spaces recordings, podcasts, etc.

And again, that would better facilitate connection between Spaces and recorded audio. It just depends on whether Twitter users will actually come to rely on the app for their latest podcast content.

On another front, Twitter will now also enable iOS users to record a Space when the broadcast is over, even if they didn’t hit ‘Record’ during the session.

Twitter Spaces recordings

Which also means that the ‘REC’ marker would not have been present during the session, alerting participants to the fact that this was being recorded, which could be problematic for some contributors.

In some ways, it seems like Twitter didn’t offer these options initially because it thought that it wouldn’t be able to facilitate the data storage required to keep all of the many recordings in its data banks, but now, with so few people broadcasting, it’s maybe found that this won’t actually be a problem.

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A sort of ‘glass half full’ element, I guess.

Finally, Twitter’s also adding new details into the Spaces bar on Android, including additional, scrolling insights into who’s hosting, the topics being discussed, who’s shared a Tweet in the chat and more.

Twitter Spaces info

That could entice more users into the session – or at the least, bring even more attention to the Spaces bar at the top of the app by providing more, bigger info.

Though again, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like Spaces is really catching on, going on the participant numbers in the Spaces stream. And while the addition of podcasts could be interesting, I don’t see Twitter becoming a key app for audio content, especially as the Clubhouse-led audio trend continues to die down.

But maybe the engagement numbers are better than it seems. I mean, you’d have to assume that they are, given Twitter’s ongoing investment in the functionality – through Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal did note last month, that the company had not hit intermediate milestones on its growth plans, based on its investment in new functionalities like Spaces, Communities and Twitter Blue.

Twitter hasn’t shared specific data, so maybe there’s more to it, and that’s why it’s so keen to push ahead with more Spaces tools. But either way, it’s giving it its best opportunity to succeed, and it’s seemingly not done yet with its Spaces development.

Will that, eventually, result in Spaces becoming a thing? Only time will tell.



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