YouTube will end full-day ‘masthead’ reservations like Trump used

Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump may dominate YouTube’s home page on Election Day. But that slot won’t be available for advertisers to buy in the same way again, according to a recent policy update by YouTube.

The Google-owned company confirmed to CNBC Monday that it will be “retiring” reservations for full-day advertisements on its coveted home page ad spot known as its masthead beginning in 2021, a change it said it communicated to advertisers earlier this year. Instead, advertisers will only be able to buy that spot on a per-impression basis, making it harder for a single advertiser to dominate the page for a day at a time.

“For years, advertisers asked us for more flexible options for appearing in the YouTube masthead, which is why we introduced the cost-per-thousand (CPM) Masthead in 2019 and earlier this year told advertisers that it would be our primary masthead reservation option in 2021,” the company said in an emailed statement. “This change gives advertisers more budget flexibility and applies across all verticals — not just political advertisers.”

Google says the change affects all advertisers, and is not connected “in any way” to the election or political advertising broadly.

The masthead costs approximately $2 million a day, according to the New York Times. It’s not clear how many people see view the masthead or see that ad spot, but overall YouTube claims to deliver more than one billion hours of video every single day.

The company has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as the U.S. presidential election drew nearer, with President Donald Trump purchasing the masthead slot in the two days preceding Election Day, along with Election Day itself. It has reportedly become a source of tension between the company and the Democratic National Committee, which claimed YouTube was not clear on its policies, according to the Times.

Google said in September that it will temporarily pause election-specific ads on Nov. 3 after polls close “given the likelihood of delayed election results this year.”

Here’s an example of the Trump campaign’s ad placement on YouTube on the Monday before the election:

President Trump masthead ad on YouTube.


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