While award shows and sports games are the most coveted for ad placements, Adam Stewart, Google's vice president of sales, says the landscape is shifting. "Advertisers generally try to find those places that are hot," Stewart says in an interview with Billboard. "Right now, music is taking that place and hip-hop is at the very top of it."
From the sociopolitical uprisings to the transformation of media consumption, 2020 dramatically changed the way companies advertise.
"Consumers expect brands to reflect their values, and brands right now are committing to inclusive and multicultural marketing," says Stewart. "It's no longer just a 'nice to have.'"
In an effort to demonstrate their own commitment to diversity, YouTube launched their #YouTubeBlack Voices initiative in October 2020. The grant program, backed by a multiyear, $100 million fund, aims to amplify and develop the voices of Black creators. The 2021 artist class consists of musicians across genres, including R&B artist Brent Faiyaz, rapper BRS Kash, reggaetón singer Myke Towers and Brazilian funk artist MC Carol. All 21 members of the class are now included in YouTube Select's dynamic lineups, the platform's pre-built segments of curated videos, which advertisers can purchase for ad placement.
Brands like Levi's and BET are already tapping into the hip-hop music lineups for their campaign ads, Stewart says. Levi's leveraged the lineups to promote its "Beauty of Becoming" series, while BET's usage of the tools led to notable increases in consideration and searches.
In Billboard's analysis of the 2020 music market, R&B/hip-hop led the pack as the most streamed and fastest growing genre, boasting a 13.8% increase in audio album consumption units. Roddy Rich's "The Box" was the top streaming song of the year, with 1.3 billion on-demand plays.
While hip-hop reigned supreme last year, Tuma Basa, YouTube's director of Black music and culture, says the genre has always been at the forefront. "It's been number one for a long time but it wasn't being measured," he explains.
Basa noted the racial justice movements of 2020 in setting the stage for hip-hop to dominate the market. Anthems targeting racism and police brutality from Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" to Childish Gambino's "This is America" topped YouTube's song charts, while Lil Baby's summer release "The Bigger Picture," racked up over 120 million views on YouTube.
"We learned the dirty little secret," says Basa. "That hip-hop is mainstream."