POV: Search Targeting on YouTube

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Google announced it is now allowing advertisers to use Google search history data to target users on YouTube, introducing more precise, data-driven targeting capabilities on its premium video platform. This update comes as part of Google’s broader plans to deploy new cloud-based marketing solutions to deliver ads in a more relevant and useful way, as well as provide more detailed and meaningful reporting in an increasingly cross-device landscape.

Details and Implications:

Historically, Google has limited the use of its search data outside of its search advertising offering. By introducing search targeting on YouTube, Google is opening up a more granular method of targeting logged-in users with engaging ads. For example, if a user searches for flights on Google, an advertiser could then reach them on YouTube with a relevant travel ad. Moreover, through Google’s Customer Match technology, already available for search and Gmail, advertisers will now be able to upload customer data in order to target their most valued customers on YouTube as well.

Google is conscious that its users are using its services to help them make their everyday decisions, increasingly so on mobile, and this update will enable advertisers to reach users with ads in the moments that are most relevant to them. With more than 50% of traffic on YouTube coming from mobile, Google also announced it is developing pioneering cloud-based measurement solutions to provide advertisers with more accurate and detailed cross-device data in order to extract more meaningful insight on their target audience. By housing users’ data across all of Google’s services in their Google Accounts, Google will enable advertisers to harness this centralised data to target users with increased precision across all devices. In line with this mobile-first outlook, Google will be phasing out support of cookies and pixels from the desktop access world. However, they will continue to work closely with Media Ratings Council accredited services (i.e. comScore, DoubleVerify, IAS, MOAT, Nielsen) so that advertisers and agencies can continue to monitor and verify the viewability and performance of their campaigns independently.

In tandem with arming advertisers and agencies with more precise, data-driven tools to reach their target audience, Google will continue to safeguard users’ personally identifiable information by providing them with increased control and flexibility over their privacy settings. Users will be able to easily to turn off ads by specific advertisers across the entire Google network, which in turn minimises the risk of reaching disinterested audiences as well.


These updates constitute a savvy move on Google’s behalf to appeal to both advertisers and users. Advertisers will be able to harness better, more reliable targeting capabilities across Google’s advertising offering, whilst users will see more relevant and interesting ads across their devices, with increased control over their privacy settings. These updates show Google’s belief that investment in data technology drives ROI for their own products and advertisers alike. It will be interesting to see how Google continues to invest in its products this way over the course of the year to satisfy the thirst of advertisers for more data and how they will stack up against the competition.

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