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YouTube’s Virtual 2020 Brandcast Will Deliver Personalized Pitches in 5 Categories

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PAMELA LITTKY FOR VARIETY

YouTube’s annual Brandcast marketing event this year will have an entirely different look and feel — it’s happening only online, as big in-person events have been nixed during COVID-19.

And the video giant has approached the quarantine as an opportunity to do something different and reach an even bigger audience of marketers and agencies. YouTube’s Brandcast Delivered will provide personalized marketing pitches highlighting content on the platform in five different categories: learning and education, comedy and entertainment, lifestyle and fashion, food and recipes, and sports.

YouTube’s Brandcast Delivered will take place on Thursday, June 25, at 12:10 p.m. ET, as part of the IAB’s 2020 NewFronts series.

The pitches will feature presentations from YouTube execs, including CEO Susan Wojcicki, but the session won’t be live — and each individual video pitch is expected to be shorter than the hour-plus Brandcast events in years past.

“We’ve always said ‘primetime is personal,'” said Adam Stewart, VP of ad sales at Google and YouTube. “Now people will get a Brandcast that’s catered to them.”

YouTube expects the Brandcast Delivered sessions to be viewed on TVs — and the presentation will focus on the rise of YouTube video viewing on television screens. As of October 2019, YouTube represented about one-fourth of all over-the-top watchtime on TV, per ComScore. And stay-at-home directives accelerated that behavior, with overall watchtime in the U.S. up 80% year over year in March 2020, YouTube says. In addition, overall watchtime of YouTube livestreams jumped 250% globally in March.

With ad spending overall expected to decline with the COVID-19 crisis, YouTube wants to tout its place in the video-advertising ecosystem to Madison Avenue types. While YouTube revenue for the first quarter of 2020 was up 33% to $4 billion, parent company Alphabet said YouTube’s ad revenue growth decelerated at the tail end of March.

“We are at a moment where marketers are rethinking their strategies,” Stewart said. Advertisers who have worked at the “top of the funnel” are spending more on performance marketing, he said, and “as people look for flexibility I think marketers are going to continue to lean into us.”

Invitees to Brandcast Delivered will soon be sent an email with a series of questions that will let YouTube create NewFront programming customized for each individual. On June 25, attendees will be sent a personalized link to an on-demand video presentation based on the content genre they’re most interested in.

After the show, playlists with the content will be housed on the Brandcast site, so advertisers can explore additional interests or check out what they missed. The videos also be available on the youtube.com/forbrands site.

Stewart said he’s disappointed about the cancellation of the in-person Brandcast event, which drew over 2,500 to Radio City Music Hall in New York in 2019 and featured appearances by Alicia Keys, Tiffany Haddish, Dua Lipa, Daddy Yankee, Grace VanderWaal and Lele Pons. “We have always loved and valued the presentation we’ve done,” he said.

But with the first ever all-digital Brandcast, Stewart predicts there will be more attendees (virtually) than ever “because we’re not bound by space.”