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YouTube Starts Producing Free Video Ads for Small Businesses

YouTube wants to lure in more small businesses as advertisers, and is giving away free professional video shoots to do so: The Google-owned video site launched a new program Wednesday to produce free professional video ads for small businesses that commit to spend at least $150 of their ad dollars on YouTube.

Director onsite, as the program is being called, is initially available in six metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C.. YouTube is looking to expand it into additional cities in the future.

Businesses who decide to participate can choose from a number of sector-specific video templates. YouTube them teams them up with a local filmmaker who will write a short script and visit the business for a two- to three-hour video shoot. The final video will then be placed on YouTube with the help of an ad specialist.

Giving away video productions is an interesting move for YouTube. The service clearly hopes that businesses will continue to use their ads beyond the first $150 of ad spending. But the move also goes to show that YouTube now has to compete on multiple fronts to retain and grow its advertising revenue.

New platforms like Snapchat are aggressively starting to go after video advertisers. The social upstart launched its own advertising API to allow businesses to buy advertising through third-party ad tech platforms. Twitter is also looking to run more video ads on its platform. But perhaps the biggest threat comes from Facebook, which has been making huge inroads with small and medium businesses. Facebook had over three million active advertisers on its platform in Q1 of 2016, according to recent company data.

In addition to Director onsite, YouTube announced a number of additional tools for business advertisers Wednesday. These include a new YouTube director for business app, which allows small businesses to shoot their own apps with an iPhone, as well as an automated ad production program for app developers.

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