May ad updates from Google, YouTube, Meta highlight AI, social media, and retail media opportunities

The biggest ad plays of May happened in generative AI search and digital video, with a sprinkling of social and retail media mixed in. Here are what updates from Google, YouTube, Meta, and more mean for advertisers.

Player: Google

Google is putting ads in its Search Generative Experience. The Search Generative Experience update is some of the biggest ad news of the last month because it offers a glimpse at what generative AI search ads will look like. Sponsored ads are mixed in with search results, which could boost clicks. It could also make Google Search results look even more cluttered.

Google is also adopting queries using generative AI to boost ad relevance, and the company introduced a new generative AI tool that helps brands customize images. Gmail gets an honorable mention here as well for upping its ad load and annoying users.

Player: YouTube

YouTube introduced 30-second unskippable TV ads. Remember commercials? They’re back. YouTube’s long ads will run in top-performing content viewed on TVs. That’s a huge opportunity for advertisers willing to pay up for these high-value spots, which could be viewed by YouTube’s 2.30 billion users.

Connected TV (CTV) doesn’t get all the fun: YouTube is also testing a mandate that viewers disable ad blockers to view content, meaning more eyes on more ads.

YouTube is integrating Shorts into video reach campaigns. That means advertisers buying ads on horizontal videos can use YouTube’s campaign setup tools for vertical viewing as well, making it easier to advertise on the TikTok rival.

Player: Meta

Meta announced its own set of generative AI tools for advertisers. Just like Google (and Amazon), Meta aims to boost efficiency by letting advertisers build campaigns using its own AI features.

Instagram is featuring ads in search results, so a user searching “skincare” would see sponsored content for a relevant brand. This is a play at something TikTok does really well: encouraging searches and taking advantage of that behavior. Instagram also rebranded its content ads to partnership ads in order to increase collaboration between creators and brands.

Player: TikTok

TikTok released a new ad product that splits revenues 50% with publishers. Pulse Premiere helps brands market alongside reputable sources like Condé Nast, BuzzFeed, and NBCUniversal.

TikTok also launched a new “TikTok World Hub,” outlining its ad tools and best practices. The platform doesn’t want advertisers to go anywhere else when building campaigns.

Player: Max

The platform formerly known as HBO Max relaunched with interactive ads, exclusive content sponsorships, and shorter ad breaks. The short breaks could be attractive as Hulu and Disney+ beef up their ad loads. CTV ad spend is growing faster than any other format we forecast, and Max wants to make sure its piece of that pie is growing.

Player: Roku

Roku is offering new ad spots on its home screen, in original content, and within its screensaver. Now your ads can experience “life” in Roku City. The company boasts AI that allows brands to insert messages at key content moments, like when Tim Gunn says “make it work” in “Project Runway.”

Player: Microsoft

Microsoft announced an API to deliver ads through chat. Publishers can use the API to build their own chat experiences and serve ads from Microsoft or elsewhere.

Player: The Kroger Co.

Kroger is turning cooler doors into digital ad spaces. We’re bullish on retail media’s in-store potential, and this is a great example of what’s to come. While customers may not immediately like the new format, expect to see even more in-store digital advertising.

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