YouTube is making its ads on TVs more interactive

YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly visitors. 

Angela Lang/CNET

YouTube commercials are going to become more interactive on connected TVs this year, Google’s massive video service said Tuesday, starting with a marketing tool that lets viewers get information about an advertised product without interrupting the actual video they want to watch. 

YouTube said this tool for advertisers, called Brand Extensions, would roll out later this year. 

YouTube dropped the news, as it also announced a new slate of original programming, in a presentation to advertisers known as Brandcast. The presentation, which was held virtually for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic, is part of the so-called Newfronts, a weeklong parade of pitches by digital media companies to drum up advertiser interest.   

During the presentation, YouTube announced a slate of new original programming. And on the ad front, it said this year it would also start letting advertisers buy “seasonal sponsorships,” focused on a cultural time of year like Mother’s Day or Summer Wellness. 

The new shows coming this year that YouTube announced Tuesday included: 

  • Another program featuring Will Smith, this time an unscripted series chronicling his work to get into the “best shape of his life” in middle age. 
  • An Alicia Keys “performative” docuseries that is described as “breathtaking visual displays of introspection” that resurface defining moments of her past 20 years.  
  • The third season premiere of Liza on Demand, a scripted series with Liza Koshy and her roommates navigating their 20s. 
  • Ice Cold, a docuseries with MIGOS, Kevin “Coach K.” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas as executive producers that explores issues of racial inequity in America through “the prism of hip-hop jewelry.” 
  • Recipe for Change, focused on Asian American storytellers bringing together celebrities, chefs, activists, and creators to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander culture and acts of hate and violence against their community.
  • Barbershop Medicine, a special exploring racial and socioeconomic factors in health care and public health with a focus on COVID-19. 

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