YouTube’s notorious “skip ad” button is the bane of every marketer’s existence. Why? Because it’s the opposite of what we normally want people to do: CLICK. Since a thirty-second video is considered long-form in the world of YouTube paid advertisements, it takes a lot of strategy and creativity to steer viewers away from the skip button and toward engagement with your brand.
Our sister agency, Big Sea, is the creative powerhouse when it comes to designing ads that drive engagement; but here at Cordelia Labs, we can guide you with a media buying strategy that puts that creative content to work for your brand so you can convert viewers into customers.
Before we talk strategy, let’s talk about YouTube.
With more than 2 billion monthly active users, YouTube is an incredibly powerful platform for marketers who want to reach a wide audience. Almost four in 10 viewers in the United States think about watching YouTube the same way they think about watching TV. So as with TV, simply having a presence on the platform isn’t enough; you need to devise a campaign strategy that can successfully drive views and engagement.
The biggest barrier for brands advertising on YouTube is the cost: not the actual cost of advertising, but the cost of creating the video assets that will resonate with your target audience. Unlike most social networks, best practice for YouTube is to create more TV-like assets (as opposed to TikTok – or even Facebook and Instagram – where more homemade, informal production is better suited for the audience). YouTube truly is an extension of TV in terms of production quality requirements.
Before shooting, determine the trends that most engage your audience.
Start with an audit. Analyzing the data you have access to via YouTube is ridiculously valuable. By reviewing your data, you can identify what type of content works best for your target audience and when they’re most active. Don’t also forget to look at your non-branded keywords and current visitors to your site. What keywords are they clicking on? What do they like to do? Do they like going out to eat? Are they discount shoppers? Are they gym rats? Whatever your brand, looking at research and data will only make your decisions easier when choosing a concept to move forward with. Once your campaign launches, the YouTube campaign algorithm is there to help your brand. You’ll be able to maximize visibility and engagement with the content you create as long as you’ve given thought to the trends your audience enjoys.
Increase engagement and build loyalty with videos tailored to your target audience.
Knowing who your audience is and what kind of content resonates with them is half the battle. As we mentioned above, when you’re creating videos for your target audience, consider their interests, values, and needs. Focus on creating content that is relevant to them, and make sure it’s presented in an engaging way.
The other thing to consider is their path to conversion. Your video should drive viewers to an app or website landing page. YouTube – like their parent company, Google – takes the quality of the landing page into consideration in their algorithm, so it helps to have a page with clear, straightforward language and a compelling call-to-action.
Remember, when it comes to increasing the visibility of your video, keywords are your best friend. Keywords are the words and phrases people use when they search for content. Setting up your video with relevant keywords will help draw the right people to your content on search engine results pages (SERPs). Make sure to include key terms that people are looking for when they search for your topic to ensure they find and watch your video. Additionally, research other relevant keywords and phrases and include those too. This will help you reach more of your target audience. By taking the time to set up your video with keywords, you can help your video reach its maximum potential.
So what if you can’t shoot a video?
When it comes to an actual video shoot, it can get pricey! One way to combat that is to hire influencers. By partnering with them, you can reach a much larger audience and drive more traffic to your content saving yourself from having to shoot video yourself.
Hiring influencers can get pricey as well, but you get what you pay for. Influencers can reach large (or small but extremely targeted) social media followings, and they’ll help spread the word about your brand and products. Just be prepared when you approach them. Make sure you’re perfectly clear on your tone and voice and what you expect from the promotion. Don’t assume. Plus with most influencer content, you own the content and you can also post that video content on YouTube. By doing this, you’re attracting new audiences and getting more eyeballs on your content.
Short form video and shorter form video.
As I mentioned above, YouTube has a skip button that appears within 3 seconds of your ad but allows a user to skip after 5 seconds. It’s not necessarily the worst thing from a cost perspective, because it’s less expensive to purchase than a non-skippable ad. But from a creative perspective, you do have to get your point across REALLY quickly.
Two things to keep in mind when you’re creating a YouTube spot:
- Make sure at least your logo is displayed within those first three seconds. You could miss out entirely if your brand isn’t mentioned right upfront.
- Prepare for your asset to appear on mobile and on a TV format. More than 100 million people in the U.S. watch YouTube and YouTube TV on a TV screen.
If it’s too much work to create a video that has all your brand’s bells and whistles in just 5 seconds, paying a premium for a non-skippable video may be better. Or even better, think of the first 5 seconds of your skippable video as a teaser, trailer, or clip that can drive viewers to your YouTube channel or your website. You can give potential viewers a taste of what they can expect from your longer form video.
We have a Video! Now what?
That’s awesome! Now what, you ask? There are a few ways to use video on the YouTube platform. We’re firm believers in testing – I mean, who isn’t in the digital space? There are four main ways to advertise on YouTube and – guess what? – one of them isn’t even video.
- Skippable in-stream ads.
- Non-skippable in-stream ads (including bumper ads)
- Video discovery ads (formerly known as in-display ads)
- Non-video ads (i.e., overlays and banners)
1. Skippable in-stream video ads
Also known as “pre-roll or mid-roll, these videos play prior or during a selected video of the user’s choice. As described in the title, they’re skippable: the user has the ability to skip the advertisement and go back to what they were watching. As a brand, you only pay when viewers choose to keep watching past those first 5 seconds. Your ad must be at least 12 seconds long (though somewhere under 3 minutes is recommended). One note: if they click on your ad within that first 5 seconds, you also pay for the full impression.
2. Non-skippable in-stream video ads
While reportedly 76% of users automatically skip ads when given the option, some brands choose to run pre-roll or mid-roll ads that don’t have a skip button at all. What?? Game changer.
But a word of caution: you should only do this in three scenarios.
- You absolutely need the impressions for a brand study.
- You don’t feel confident that the story you want to support is viable within 5 seconds.
- You’re willing to pay the premium CPM.
Unlike its skippable sister format, you pay per CPM regardless of whether the user is sitting in front of their TV or holding onto their mobile phone. The purest definition of an Impression is an “opportunity to see” the spot, not a guarantee that the user actually saw your spot (Hi, my name is Live TV).
There is one trick to the non-skippable format and that is bumper ads. If you can get a video asset done in 6 seconds, then a bumper ad may be the way to go. You still pay via impressions, and they show up as pre-, mid- or post-roll.
3. Discovery ads
Unlike in-stream ads, these appear on Google’s search results page. Discovery ads show up alongside organic search results. These are super useful to combine with an SEM or SEO effort. The thing to keep in mind is that Google’s algorithm includes what your brand does on YouTube as well. So if your video looks more relevant than the organic results, this option may be better suited for you.
Discovery ads include three lines of text along with a thumbnail. When interested people click on the ad, they’re sent through to your video page or YouTube channel.
4. Non-video ads
Last, but not least, there are non-video ads on YouTube in the form of display ads and in-video overlays. We recommend these for brands we know can benefit from video watchers, but don’t have the funds to create a video asset.
Display ads appear on the right-hand sidebar, and include an image and text, alongside a CTA with a link to your website.
In-video overlay ads appear floating on top of video content from monetized YouTube channels.
As you set these up, make sure they’re connected to the SEM portion of your plan so it’s reading off these keywords and target audiences. Google isn’t perfect, I know, so sometimes it doesn’t necessarily appear with the correct keyword searches. But it’s still a good alternative when video assets aren’t available.
As always, test, learn, and deploy.
We’ll shout it from the rooftops: test, learn, deploy, and test again! It might not be new advice, but it’s good advice. Digital is all about learning. We often laugh when we see something that’s cliché or status quo. But there’s never a real status quo in digital because it moves too fast. You should always be learning and optimizing to make it better.
However, don’t confuse this with goal setting. Set a goal before a campaign launches. What’s your main KPI that you want to optimize to reach said goal? If you’re hitting that set goal, awesome! If not, then your optimization KPI is your power wand to move the levers up and down to figure out what’s moving the needle.
It’s essential to monitor your video analytics to measure performance. By understanding the data behind how your audience is engaging with your video, you can see which sections are resonating the most and focus on what’s working. You can measure how many people watched your video all the way through and how many people dropped off after viewing the first 5 seconds if you’re buying a skippable ad. Analyzing this data will help you understand what’s working and what isn’t, and it’ll give you the information you need to adjust your strategy and optimize your videos for maximum reach.
Lastly, don’t forget you have to figure out your particular path to success. If your goal is to get people to a particular page on your website, then you need to monitor and create a path to conversion so you can see where the drop off is occurring. Making sure that these metrics align allows for more seamless marketing and can provide extremely useful insights to give to yourself, your creative team, and your buying team.
Full service media.
YouTube campaigns can get confusing when you’re trying to set up a video campaign – and even more confusing when you want it to parallel your SEO and SEM campaigns. Fortunately, at Cordelia Labs, we’re a full service media team with expertise in PPC, media buying, digital advertising, and SEO. And we have direct access to a full service marketing and content team (Hi Big Sea!) that can develop a creative campaign for you that we can place and monitor. We use Google Looker Studios to create fully functional dashboards for you to monitor your complete campaign to see where tweaks or adjustments need to be made. Contact us today to find out how we can bring your brand to life on YouTube.