Google announced this week it is bringing ad extensions – similar to those that appear in search ads – to YouTube ads.

The new extensions expand the capabilities of traditional ads by offering unique call-to-actions or additional information for users.

Specifically, the new YouTube ad extensions allow advertisers to include directions to brick-and-mortar store locations, show lead generation forms, or use a number of CTAs that better fit your niche.

Currently, the extensions are only available for TrueView in-stream or non-skippable video ads, though the company says it will be expanding the feature to 6-second bumper ads later this year.

Google is already exploring ways to bring more ad extensions for YouTube’s TrueView ads, and will continue to do so in the future.

For example, the company is already beta testing sitelink ad extensions which would add a series of relevant links underneath a video ad.

In the announcement, Google says the new features are aimed at driving more clicks and conversions. In a beta test with 30 advertisers, extensions like sitelinks increased conversions by more than 20% and doubled the number of clicks.

Google is making it easier to find the most important information in YouTube videos for users by including timestamps in search results. 

The feature has been in testing for the better part of a year but has officially been announced this week.

As the company explains:

“Videos aren’t skimmable like text, meaning it can be easy to overlook video content altogether.

Now, just live we’ve worked to make other types of information more easily accessible, we’re developing new ways to understand and organize video content in Search to make it more useful for you.”

The feature is already rolling out, but video publishers will need to take a couple quick and easy steps to ensure the timestamps will appear when their videos show up in search results.

How To Add Timestamps To Your YouTube Videos In Search Results

The good news is there is absolutely no coding or complex technical knowledge needed to provide Google with the information necessary to include relevant timestamps. 

All you have to do is provide a simple list of timestamps and what they relate to within the description section of your videos. For example:

00:05 – Intro

01:30 – Step 1

02:15 – Step 2

03:40 – Step 3

05:00 – Conclusion

Notably, Google is extending this feature to non-YouTube videos as well. However, the process requires a bit more work to properly mark-up. To start the process of adding timestamps to non-YouTube videos, Google asks you to fill out this form. Afterward, they will provide you with the necessary information for marking-up your videos.

YouTube has ramped up its efforts to remove harmful content over the last quarter, as a new report shows the company removing over 100,000 individual videos. 

That is nearly 5 times the number of videos removed in the first quarter of the year, reflecting a big shift in activity following a new hate speech policy introduced in June. 

Additionally, the company says it has removed over 17,000 channels and 500 million comments in Q2. 

Notably, YouTube says a large amount of the harmful content is flagged using machine learning technology to remove the content before it is ever seen by actual users. According to the company’s data, more than 87% of the videos removed in Q2 were first flagged by YouTube’s automatic systems. 

The report also mentions that an update to YouTube’s spam detection tools has driven a 50% increase in the number of channels removed for violating the platform’s spam guidelines. 

YouTube says the report is only the first in a four-part series which will cover the company’s guiding principles:

  • Remove content that violates policies
  • Raise up authoritative voices
  • Reward eligible creators
  • Reduce the spread of borderline content

As such, you can expect to see more details about how YouTube is working to curate the best platform possible in the near future.

YouTube is changing how it previews videos on its home tab by making all videos silently autoplay by default.

The new “Autoplay on Home,” as it is being called, is expected to roll out to all mobile users on iOS and Android devices within the coming weeks.

If you are a subscriber to YouTube Premium, you may already be familiar with the feature. YouTube has given its premium subscribers access to the feature for the past six months.

As the company explains in the announcement, the change was made based on user feedback. Many have been clamoring for a way to better preview videos before clicking, especially as many thumbnail images may be misleading.

“Previewing videos helps you make more informed decisions about whether you want to watch a video, leading to longer engagement with videos you choose to watch!”

While the videos will have the audio turned off by default, captions will be shown when they are available. If you have created any of the more than 2 billion videos on YouTube without captions, this will add even more motivation to create transcripts for your videos.

Thumbnail images will still be shown for a short time when users are scrolling through their feed, meaning thumbnails will still be a powerful way to grab attention or entice users to watch videos. However, the autoplay feature will prevent uploaders from sharing videos with misleading or false preview thumbnails.

If you are worried about your data usage or simply don’t like autoplay videos, Google is giving you a few options. Within the settings menu, you can turn off autoplaying videos or set autoplay to only activate when you are connected to WiFi.

Hashtag YouTube

Hashtags are coming to YouTube. The video platform has begun displaying hashtags on videos to help users search and discover other videos on similar topics.

The hashtags appear on any video that has been optimized with the tags in web browsers and the YouTube Android app. So far, the hashtags are not being shown in the iOS app.

Up to three hashtags can be shown in blue text above videos’ titles and can be clicked on to open a search containing related videos.

Hashtags can be used to conduct manual searches for any video containing that hashtag, even if it is just in the video description. Hashtags can also be included in video titles.

There are a few restrictions on how hashtags can be used on YouTube, most of which are common sense. YouTube’s policies explicitly prohibit using hashtags to promote harassment or hate speech, as well as to mislead people about content.

Additionally, the platform discourages users from over-tagging their videos, which would be defined as using 15 or more tags on a single video.

Breaking these rules could lead to a variety of punishments depending on how severe the infraction is or whether someone has committed a previous offense. These could include having your hashtags be ignored, videos being removed from search results, or a video being removed from YouTube altogether.

For now, using hashtags to search provides pretty limited search results. But, I expect that will change as creators begin to optimize their channels.

AdWords has launched a new feature allowing advertisers to remarket search ads to anyone who has watched their videos on YouTube, making it easier to funnel potential leads toward converting.

YouTube already lets advertisers remarket YouTube ads to people who have interacted with their channel, but the new change allows you to use the same list of people to show search ads to them as well.

Setting up your search ad retargeting can be done by logging into AdWords and navigating to Shared library > Audiences > New video remarketing list.

From there, you can select which type of interaction you want to use to decide who to retarget to, including anyone who has viewed any video, liked a video, or left a comment.

Thanks to this, you can show ads specifically to people already familiar with your brand and what you offer, letting you re-connect with them any time they search for a relevant keyword for your business or industry.

YouTube Live

YouTube is arguably the largest online video platform on the internet (though Facebook is providing some tough competition), so it is interesting that the platform has been one of the slowest to provide a widely available way to live stream.

That may be starting to change, however, as YouTube is significantly lowering the number of subscribers a user needs before being able to stream.

YouTube only introduced its public live streaming feature back in February, although it has partnered with large events to provide live streams for years. Even then, a user needed to have at least 10,000 subscribers before they were allowed to start streaming.

Over the past week, that threshold was quietly reduced to just 1,000 subscribers. Rather than announce the change, it was only discovered after a change to one of YouTube’s help pages.

The subscriber requirement is just one of a couple different stipulations required for streaming. Users must also have a verified channel and have not received any live stream restrictions in the past 90 days. Live stream restrictions are punishments placed against channels that have violated YouTube’s terms of services.

To start a live stream, follow these simple steps:

  • Tap the camera icon
  • Grant permissions allowing the YouTube app to access the Camera, Mic, and Storage.
  • Verify your account if you have not previously.
  • Tap GO LIVE.
  • Name your live video and set the privacy setting for your stream
  • Tap FINISH when you’re ready to end the stream

YouTube has been teasing its plans to expand its live streaming services for over eight months, and that plan is finally coming to fruition. The video platform says it is bringing mobile live streaming to its biggest content creators, with plans to share the feature with everyone soon.

YouTube is also releasing a new chat tool known as Super Chat to help creators monetize live streams.

Mobile Live Streaming

YouTube has built mobile live streaming directly into its mobile app, with a single catch. You must have at least 10,000 subscribers to use it. If you happen to already have a sizable following, launching a mobile live stream is as simple as opening the app and tapping the capture button.

The company plans to bring the tool to everyone in the coming months, but there is currently no firm estimate of when to expect it.

In the announcement, YouTube says streamed videos will have all the features you expect from normal YouTube videos. Streamed videos will be:

  • Searchable.
  • Discoverable via recommendations and playlists.
  • Protected from unauthorized use (using Content ID).

Super Chat

To accompany the release of mobile live streaming YouTube has also launched Super Chat, aimed at monetizing live content.

Super Chat essentially lets any viewer purchase a chat message that will be especially prominent in the chat feed and can be pinned to the top of the chat window for up to five hours. Super Chat messages will also be highlighted with a color and other viewers can see the amount paid.

CameoFlow

Super Chat is now live to creators with 10,000 subscribers across 20 countries and viewers in over 40 countries.

The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest day of the year with brands spending millions to get their products in the spotlight. Many tune in just to enjoy the biggest ads of the year and this year commercials gave audiences a fair share of laughs, pangs of nostalgia, and surprises – though maybe not anything as shocking as the Patriot’s comeback.

Of course, these days you don’t have to sit through the big-game (and insanely long pre-show) to see the ads. Several advertisers shared their campaigns early on YouTube, and the others were uploaded as they aired for you to watch and re-watch.

To make sure you catch the best and biggest ads of this year’s Super Bowl, I collected five of the most unforgettable commercials you’re likely to hear people talking about:

Snickers Live Commercial

https://youtu.be/_9M_wQDTTdk

Most brands spend weeks shooting and editing their commercials ahead of the game to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. Snickers took a different route this year with a live commercial starring Adam Driver which ends in a (perfectly orchestrated) catastrophe. It’s a novel twist on the typical Super Bowl ad in a way that perfectly ties into the message, and I predict other brands may follow their lead in the future.

Avocados From Mexico

https://youtu.be/VneoEvAJX0g

Comedy in Super Bowl ads usually boils down to celebrities doing zany things (and yes, we will get to one of those soon). But, the funniest ad in this year’s game is almost entirely celebrity free – aside from SNL’s Jon Lovitz, if you consider him a celebrity.

Instead, it sets up a simple premise of a secret society gathering to discuss their recent leaks, including all the most well-known conspiracy theories. Even better, the brand took a risk and slipped in a “Deflategate” joke knowing there was a good chance the Patriots would make it to the Super Bowl – and it payed off beautifully.

T-Mobile – #NSFWireless

https://youtu.be/pNCG9fHGXB0

T-Mobile went with the “celebrities doing zany things” angle this year, with mixed results. While the dancing Justin Bieber ads were eye-rollingly awkward, two hilarious commercials starring comedian and actress Kristen Schaal more than make up for their missteps.

Schaal, playing a Verizon customer addicted to being treated poorly by her service provider, perfectly sells the message that only a masochist would enjoy the customer experience of T-Mobile’s competitors.

It’s a 10 – Four Years

Perhaps unsurprisingly, politics also played a major role in ad campaigns from several advertisers including Budweiser and Audi. While those ads were beautiful, my favorite political ad of the night took a lighter tone. Opening with “America, we are in for at least four years of awful hair,” It’s a 10 urges viewers to “do your part by making up for it with great hair.”

Understated and smart, the brand left a mark on their night with a truly bipartisan message urging everyone to take pride in their hair.

Tide Cleans Terry Bradshaw’s Shirt

https://youtu.be/jF3otdfvSBQ

Terry Bradshaw and Tide teamed up last night to tear down the walls between reality and advertisements like never seen before. Many viewers noted that Bradshaw returned from commercial in the second quarter with a conspicuously large stain on his shirt, which prompted mass ridicule on social media.

But, the joke was on us. Bradshaw’s stain was setting up a Tide ad telling an epic journey from the broadcasting booth to actor Jeffrey Tambor’s house to clean out the stain and do some quiet sitting in front of the TV. The ending is enjoyable enough on its own, but the creative breaking of the fourth wall makes Tide’s campaign a standout ad of the night.

YouTube Ads

YouTube may be one of Google’s largest platforms, but it gets treated a bit like the black sheep when it comes to Google’s ad services. Targeting has been limited compared to typical AdWords options, and ad options have been built around desktop functionality first.

This is all starting to change, as Google says it is rolling out several updates aimed to make advertising on YouTube better on both mobile and desktop. The announcement also mentioned that over 50% of YouTube videos are now happening on mobile, which likely motivated the change in how they think about ads on the platform.

Target Advertising

Google is now allowing YouTube ads to utilize information associated with users’ Google accounts like their search history, demographic information, and whether the viewer has engaged with an advertiser in the past to better target who sees your ad.

More Focus on Mobile

In response to the increasingly mobile viewership of YouTube, Google is shifting away from a desktop-first mindset. To do this, they are moving from using cookies and pixels because they were not designed for targeting users on YouTube’s mobile, TV, and set-top box apps. The hope is to make tracking and ad functionality more accurate across all devices.

Better Control of What Ads You See

Not all of the new changes are limited to advertisers. Google is also introducing the option for users to device what ads they see on both Google and YouTube from one location. For example, if a user mutes a specific advertiser in Search, the advertiser will also be muted for the user when they watch videos on YouTube.