The Polar Report

The Polar Report: Industry Insights #21

August 23, 2023

Welcome to The Polar Report, a curated view of what’s happening in the world of Digital Monetisation, Audience Development and Measurement. This week we look into two new YouTube features: their innovative way to stop ad blockers and a new way to discover music trends. We will also dive into the ways AI is revolutionising video content monetisation strategies and, finally, the usage of streaming services compared to linear TV.


YouTube Tests Countdown Timer Popup to Encourage Premium Subscriptions and Counter Adblock Usage

In its pursuit of pushing users towards its paid Premium subscription, YouTube has introduced a new anti-adblocker popup variant that features a countdown timer in the upper right corner. This timer provides a visual cue, indicating the time left before an ad commences. This development aims to target non-Premium viewers who use ad blockers. The popup box retains its core content, highlighting the advantages of YouTube Premium and offering the options to "Allow YouTube Ads'' or "Try YouTube Premium." Initial reports suggest the countdown timer lasts for about 30 to 60 seconds. This strategy follows YouTube's earlier move to restrict ad blocker users to viewing only three YouTube videos, after which they are prompted to either view ads or consider subscribing to YouTube Premium.

As YouTube persists in its efforts to promote Premium subscriptions, it has introduced tactics such as higher video quality for subscribers, and recently, this feature was extended to desktop usage. Although the platform is met with criticism for its aggressive approach, it continues to employ strategies like the countdown timer to incentivise non-paying users to shift towards paid subscriptions, despite concerns over rising costs.

Ad blockers are changing viewer interaction, with many actively avoiding ads and resorting to tactics like leaving the room or skipping channels. This reflects the need for advertisers to adapt their strategies to engage audiences effectively without being intrusive. We can see that with the rise of subscription fatigue and increasing costs, viewers are left to weigh the value of the content against the inconvenience of ads. This shift requires creative advertising strategies to maintain user engagement without sacrificing monetisation. Will these aggressive tactics push viewers to subscribe to YouTube Premium despite the price increases, or will they be deferred? 

Full Article on Neowin

AI Revolutionises Video Content Monetisation Strategies

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) with video content has brought about transformative opportunities for content creators and marketers across platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. AI's impact spans across different dimensions, from enhancing the quality of video content to offering innovative methods of monetisation.

Firstly, AI-enhanced video editing tools have enabled creators to produce high-quality videos by seamlessly analysing, editing, and refining visual elements. This becomes especially crucial on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where engaging short-form videos are essential to capturing viewers' attention in a short time span. Additionally, AI-driven algorithms have revolutionised content recommendations, improving content discoverability and engagement. Creators who optimise their content for these algorithms stand to benefit from increased visibility and engagement rates, potentially leading to more significant revenue opportunities through advertising and partnerships.

Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have leveraged AI to enhance e-commerce opportunities by integrating product tags into video content. Additionally, AI-driven content generation automates video creation, enabling creators to maintain a consistent content flow efficiently. The article underscores the importance of understanding and responsibly navigating the ethical considerations associated with AI-generated content while emphasising that creators who embrace AI's potential are well-positioned to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of digital content monetisation.

The fusion of AI and video content on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube signals a transformative shift in revenue generation and audience engagement. From personalised recommendations to immersive experiences, this integration paves the way for a dynamic digital landscape. Embracing AI's potential is crucial for creators aiming to thrive in this evolving era.

Full Article on Medium

Audience Development

YouTube Music Introduces 'Samples': Innovative Way to Discover Music Trends

YouTube Music is taking steps to position itself as a pioneering app in the realm of music discovery as social media platforms progressively surpass radio as the preferred method for finding new tracks. To enhance its interface for locating music, YouTube Music has introduced a new feature called "Samples." This feature offers users a preview of trending tunes and artists through brief snippets of music. These short-form videos are presented in a feed, showcasing popular tracks aligned with users' listening habits.

The Samples tab employs this approach to help users explore music efficiently. YouTube Music plans to curate an extensive collection of personalised music video clips, enabling users to stay informed about the latest releases and musical trends. Unlike TikTok, which predominantly centres around various content types, Samples maintains a focused approach to music. If users find a song they enjoy, they can save it to their collection, share it, or watch the full video as part of their streaming experience.

This move aligns with the prevailing trend of leveraging short video formats to explore new music. Many artists and record labels now create music with the intent of aligning with the concise nature of short videos. Given YouTube's existing Shorts feature, which focuses on brief video content, the decision to introduce Samples within YouTube Music is well aligned with evolving user preferences. The feature is poised to cater to music enthusiasts seeking an innovative way to discover and engage with the latest tracks. Samples is set to roll out for YouTube Music users, aiming to provide an immersive and engaging music exploration experience.

The music industry's evolution continues with YouTube Music's 'Samples' feature. This development reflects the growing influence of short-form content in shaping how we explore and enjoy music. By offering curated snippets of trending tracks, YouTube Music capitalises on the appeal of quick content consumption. It's an interesting bridge between music and short video trends, potentially reshaping how we engage with artists and their creations.

Full Article on Digital Information World


Streaming Surges Ahead: Traditional Linear TV Usage Dips Below 50% in the US

Traditional linear TV viewership in the US has slipped below 50% of total TV usage, marking a significant juncture in media consumption. According to Nielsen's latest report, linear TV, encompassing broadcast and cable viewing, accounted for less than half of TV consumption. Meanwhile, streaming has reached an all-time high, comprising 38.7% of total TV usage.

The data showcases the profound impact of streaming on viewing habits. Compared to July 2022, streaming viewership has surged by 25.3%, propelling its share within the broader TV landscape by 7.3%. Remarkably, the streaming revolution occurred just a year ago, when streaming outpaced cable. This year, streaming continues to dominate, with YouTube leading the charge, claiming 9.2% of all TV screen usage. YouTube's sway on TV screens challenges conventional notions, inching closer to capturing 10% of total TV screen time. Netflix follows closely with 8.5% of TV time, leading among subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) platforms, while Hulu holds 3.6% of screen time. Concentration within the streaming sphere is evident, with YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu commanding over 55% of all streaming time and YouTube alone commanding 23% of streaming time.

These insights reflect the dynamic streaming landscape, highlighting evolving viewer preferences and the changing face of the TV industry. As linear TV's influence weakens and streaming's dominance persists, this paradigm shift in media consumption carries significant implications for content creators, advertisers, and the broader entertainment landscape.

The fact that streaming has surpassed the 50% mark in TV usage is a testament to evolving viewer preferences and the convenience offered by on-demand content. YouTube's prominence on TV screens, along with the concentration of viewing time among a few major platforms, reflects the competitive nature of the streaming industry and the need for content creators and advertisers to adapt to these changing dynamics and consider innovative strategies to capture the attention of audiences who are increasingly embracing this digital shift in media consumption.

Full Article on VideoWeek