Building a Virtual Reality Platform is One of Google’s Biggest Moon Shots

Building a Virtual Reality Platform is One of Google’s Biggest Moon Shots

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In a previous post, I shared some of the good stuff about Facebook video that I discovered while picking the data dump made during the social media network’s financial results for 2015. And I promised to pick through the data dump that was made on Feb. 1, 2016, when Alphabet Inc. announced its financial results for 2015.

Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, said the primary driver of the company’s revenue growth was the increased use of mobile search by consumers, “ongoing momentum in YouTube,” and programmatic advertising. She added,

“YouTube revenue continues to grow at a very significant rate, driven primarily by video advertising across TrueView and Google Preferred.”

Um, okay. YouTube has “ongoing momentum” and “continues to grow at a very significant rate.” So, would you consider these two statements to be strategic insights or trends in the digital video marketing business? Because they certainly don’t belong in the piles of critical data or tactical advice that I’ve also been collecting over the years.

Google: Aiming High with Virtual Reality

In fact, the closest that Porat came to sharing something that video marketers might consider a strategic insight was this brief statement: “In many ways, some of Alphabet’s biggest moon shots are in Google itself, from driving the next wave of computing through machine learning, capitalizing on the shift to the cloud by enterprises, building platforms like virtual reality and pursuing the opportunities we see with the next billion users in emerging markets.”

So, building a virtual reality (VR) platform is a “moon shot.” Is that a strategic insight? Well, if you want to understand what Alphabet and Google mean by “Moonshot Thinking,” then watch the video below.

In other words, Alphabet thinks building a VR platform is a big breakthrough instead of an incremental improvement. Video marketers should consider opening an office somewhere between San Bruno and Menlo Park, CA, if they want to be near the Silicon Valley equivalent of Cape Canaveral for the anticipated launch of VR in 2016.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s Chief Executive Officer, provided some additional information. On the earnings call, he said,It’s still incredibly early innings for virtual reality as a platform, and Cardboard is just the first step, but we are excited by the progress we have seen. Our partners have shipped over 5 million Google Cardboard viewers, and we recently teamed up with The New York Times on a virtual reality experience in which over 1 million Times subscribers received Cardboard. And since launching in September, the Expeditions Pioneer Program has helped more than 500,000 students travel to places like the bottom of the sea or the surface of Mars. Beyond these early efforts, you’ll see a lot more from us and our partners in 2016.” He added, “You can now watch the VR videos on YouTube, and content creators can now film in new YouTube spaces in Paris and Mumbai.

I picked up some other insights, trends, data and advice about video by reading Pichai’s remarks. Here are half a dozen highlights:

  • During the earnings call, Pichai didn’t disclose the exact number of people who visit YouTube every day, nor the precise number of hours that they spend watching video. But, he did say that YouTube on mobile reaches more 18 to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the U.S., and the time people spent watching YouTube in the living room more than doubled in 2015.
  • Pichai also said that Michael Kors, a world-renowned, award-winning designer of luxury accessories and ready to wear, has used YouTube shopping ads to connect the dots between inspiration and purchase. And he added that the number of small and medium-sized businesses advertising on YouTube has doubled over the last two years.
  • YouTube also continues to expand measurement options for marketers to help them better understand the effectiveness of their ad spend. In addition to their own measurement tools, YouTube recently introduced support for third-party viewability vendors.
  • Pichai said, “Today, any creator can upload a video to YouTube and get discovered by over 1 billion people around the world. That global exposure has allowed YouTube and Google to pay out over $3 billion to the record industry to date.”
  • He added, “More marketers and publishers use programmatic automated ad buying and tools through our DoubleClick platform this holiday season than ever before. Programmatic video impressions doubled compared to the holiday season last year.”
  • Pichai concluded, “Between incredibly strong viewership growth, the move of advertising budgets to digital video, great new features, as well as the successful rollouts of YouTube Music and our YouTube Red subscription offering, I couldn’t be more excited about the prospects for YouTube in the years ahead.”

Well, that’s some of the good stuff about YouTube that I discovered while picking the data dump made during Alphabet’s financial results for 2015. Let me know in the comments area below what you think about these bright shiny objects – or if you found something else that I missed.



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