Citing numbers that show that video views on mobile devices are up a whopping 160%, Google announced yesterday that the mobile version of YouTube will now begin showing ads. Specifically, the ads will be running on the main YouTube home page, the search page, and the browse page; for now, they will only run on the American and Japanese versions.
Google and YouTube have been testing the ads for several months, and now they're rolling out for all mobile visitors. Don't let the obviousness of this move fool you—this is big news. As mobile devices continue to get more sophisticated, the number of smart phone users will continue to rise. A natural effect of this will be more and more YouTube views occurring on handheld devices as opposed to the standard computer.
You're already seeing this in public, right? I have a standing weekly hang-out with a group of friends. We get dinner and sit around laughing at each other and having a good time discussing the latest sports story or current event. And without fail, someone will bring up a YouTube video they saw recently—it might be an amazing hit by Alexander Ovechkin on Jaromir Jagr during Olympic hockey, or the latest hot movie trailer for Tron Legacy or Iron Man 2, or the clip of the NCAA Women's Basketball punch incident. Whatever the flavor of the week might be, there's undoubtedly a moment when one of us with a smart phone pulls it out and calls up a YouTube video for the rest of the table to see.
This kind of thing goes on nightly in every bar and restaurant in America these days, accounting for the huge spike in mobile video views. It's not hard at all to see why YouTube (and Google) would be moving quickly to roll out ads on the mobile incarnation of their website. There may very well come a day where the mobile version serves up more views than the standard YouTube does.
They're quick to point out that the smart phone crowd is exactly the tech-savvy demographic that most advertisers are after—making YouTube mobile instantly one of the farthest-reaching mobile ad platforms in existence. They also state that their testing results scored the system high on click-throughs, user experience, and brand awareness.
The ads will be banner style, sold on a full-day basis—which puts them out of my price range, I would have to guess. They're also going to be encouraging their existing advertisers who purchase home page banner ads at YouTube.com proper to go one step further and double down their ads to the mobile version as well.
It's clear that YouTube is quite bullish about this new offering. In fact, on a blog that I usually find pretty dry and personality-free, the article's author sounds downright giddy. And well they should be. I'm always somewhat skeptical when companies talk about "strong results" in testing without giving out any numbers, but maybe that's just my nature. After all, there's no reason to think YouTube's mobile ads can't be successful on many levels. What other ad network is there that can serve ads to so many mobile users in one fell swoop? Is it possible that they have known all along that mobile would be where they finally fixed their monetization woes?