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Not All Advertisers Are Sold On YouTube

Not All Advertisers Are Sold On YouTube

Google generated over $224b in ad revenue last year, cementing the company at the top of digital ad sellers worldwide, rivaled only by Meta, Alibaba, Amazon, and Bytedance (TikTok’s parent company).

Unsurprisingly, many of those ad dollars went to YouTube, which attracted almost $30b in ad revenue last year. While YouTube’s ad revenue has slipped recently amid advertisers’ collective economic uncertainty, the video giant is firmly entrenched in media mixes of brands big and small alike. 

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According to our data sample, advertisers from 14.8k companies spent more than $9.2b to promote nearly 24k brands or product lines on YouTube through May 2023. 

Still, some advertisers aren’t sold. Our recent “Picking Favorites” article looked at advertisers who opted for social media instead of YouTube, including many small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). 

Let’s look at where else non-YouTube advertisers are promoting their brands through May 2023.  

Advertisers Spend Billions Outside of YouTube’s Walls

Nearly 2k companies dedicated $779mm to promote 2.5k brands exclusively on TV through May. 

Most of these ad dollars came from advertisers operating in industries historically tied closely with traditional ads, including Law, Healthcare, Pharma, and Finance

For example, Personal Injury Law Services advertisers spent $37mm on TV ads, while those promoting Legal Services and Medical Devices dedicated $27mm and $15mm to TV, respectively. Meanwhile, advertisers promoting Dietary Supplements ($24mm), including GOLO Release, spent $24mm on their TV-only strategy. 

Overall, advertisers in these categories, as well as Sleep Aids OTC, Anti-Inflammatory OTC, Insurance, Hair Removal Electronic Devices, Life Insurance, and Satellite Television, accounted for around 25% of the investment from brands only investing in TV. 

CategoriesEst. TV Ad Spend
Personal Injury Law Services$37 million
Legal Services$27 million
Dietary Supplements$24 million
Sleep Aids OTC $20 million
Anti-Inflammatory OTC $17 million
Insurance$17 million
Medical Devices$15 million
Hair Removal Electronic Devices$14 million
Life Insurance$13 million
Satellite Television$11 million

A level deeper, five brands were exclusive to TV ads through May, combining to spend almost $60mm. Advertisers for Contour Swan Pillow, for example, dedicated 51% of their TV ad dollars to cable, with over 34 cable networks receiving most of it.

Meanwhile, advertisers for Granitestone Nutriblade Knives invested 17% of their TV ad dollars on reality entertainment programming, including…

Advertisers for Prime Hydration, the sports drink created by Internet personalities Logan Paul and KSI, went with a TV-exclusive strategy to promote their products during the Super Bowl in February. For these advertisers, the multi-million-dollar investment goes against the grain of their traditional marketing MO of organic social media

For example, Paul posted a video on Instagram of himself and base jumper Johnni DiJulius in a helicopter in which Paul poured a bottle of Prime on DiJulius before he jumped out. The following day, Paul posted a video on YouTube of himself and KSI going undercover at Walmart following Prime’s launch in 4.5k Walmart stores. 

Print ads get some love, too

At the same time, advertisers for 77k brands from industries such as Senior Living, Auto Dealerships, and General Retailers spent more than $2b on print ads via magazines and newspapers—and nothing else. (Overall, these ten categories spent almost $200mm on print ads through May.)

CategoriesEst. Print Ad Spend
Online Newsletters$37 million
Magazine Retailers$23 million
Dietary Supplements$23 million
Senior Living$23 million
Furniture$22 million
Auto Dealerships$18 million
Direct-to-Consumer Jewelry$16 million
General Retailers$14 million
New Boats/Yachts$14 million
Interior Design Services$13 million

For example, advertisers for Garden Patch bought print ads in over 20 publications, with those of the Do-It-Yourself variety receiving the largest allocation (21%). Meanwhile, Almased leaned into ads in Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, and People.

Print-exclusive strategies come at an interesting time for new and used auto dealerships. While the industry is recovering from a tough few years—new vehicle sales fell by about 15% in 2020—traditional dealerships are losing their luster in favor of digital channels. In fact, Ford’s CEO expressed his desire to move away from dealerships, which begs the question: Will traditional ad formats fall out of favor entirely if auto sales go online?  

Other brands investing only in print ads include Magazine Shop (up by 1,000% YoY), Mutual of Omaha Direct, and The Bradford Exchange Jewelry & Watches—although the latter decreased print advertising by 45% YoY.

YouTube is the Sheriff, But Not the Only One 

YouTube may rule the video roost, but there’s plenty of video ad inventory to go around. Through May, advertisers for 12.6k brands spent more than $1b on online video ads (OLV) not on YouTube, including Allbirds Shoes, Minted, and Parents Empowered. 

The hundreds of advertisers who opted against YouTube undoubtedly veered toward other popular channels such as CTV, OTT, and social media. Spending on non-YouTube video ads comes amid the continued rise of streaming and the ongoing war among the platforms to woo advertisers—a war that includes every major streaming platform, including Netflix, which launched an ad-supported tier in late 2022. 

Outside of OTT and CTV, video inventory across social media continues to attract advertisers. In fact, Facebook amounts to around 7% of the video ad market. Twitter is also trying to gain ground, with the Elon-owned platform recently vowing to invest in video, creator and commerce partnerships to introduce revenue streams. 

There’s TikTok, too, which attracted more than $10b in ad revenue in 2022, up from just $4b the year before. 

According to Rob Jewell, Chief Growth Officer at marketing agency Power Digital, “Advertisers that have tested TikTok generally see success in driving incremental revenue and are continuing to double down on the platform. Many advertisers are testing TikTok in Q1 [2023], with plans to scale exponentially throughout 2023.”

The Video World Shows Promise for Scrappy Advertisers 

Almost 80% of respondents to a 2022 survey among marketing professionals said YouTube was an effective video marketing channel, followed by LinkedIn (69%) and Instagram (67%). 

So why are some advertisers still spending away from the world’s most influential and increasingly commerce video player? 

Because the video world is massive, and ads outside of YouTube are proven effective. While YouTube will undoubtedly draw the lion’s share of video ad budgets, inventory on other platforms, especially social media, will continue to fight for attention as younger generations embrace them. 

Sign up here for our upcoming YouTube advertising report in Q3, covering the top categories spending on the platform, content channels’ overview, and trends.