5 Steps to More Effective YouTube Video Ads

Brian Honigman
Brian Honigman Marketing Consultant, Freelance Writer & Professional Speaker, Honigman Media LLC

Posted on May 26th 2014

5 Steps to More Effective YouTube Video Ads

video ads

We watch more than 6 billion hours of video on YouTube every month, which represents a major opportunity for businesses to reach their audiences active on this network every day.

According to an eMarketer report, spending on online video advertising will increase by 38.9% and reach $5.75 billion by the end of 2014.

Burger King Youtube video ad

Advertisers are able reach the right users with relevant video content in the form of display ads (ads appearing throughout the website and search), overlay in-video ads (ads located at the bottom of the video), in-stream ads (ads that play before, during or after another video is played) and in-display ads (ads appearing on the right hand column next to your video) on YouTube.

The goal of these ads for a brand advertiser is to:

  1. Drive traffic to your website
  2. Increase brand awareness
  3. Generate sales and conversions

To achieve these goals, it’s important to avoid common pitfalls when running a YouTube video ad campaign. These videos should have a strong ROI to support the growth of your business, reach the right users and be cost effective in order to work properly for your organization.

Here are five steps to ensure your YouTube videos ads are delivering the best results.

1. Match the ad format with your goals

The various YouTube video ad formats suit different types of campaigns, which can help your organization better achieve a variety of goals. Choose the ad format that best matches your goal.

  • Display and in-display ads:

    If you’re trying to promote existing video content on your YouTube channel, drive traffic to your website or generate awareness of a product line or service offering, display ads can help achieve these goals.

  • Overlay in-video ads:

    Include a brief call-to-action to drive viewers to click on the ad and visit your website. Since these ads are brief, there main purpose is to generate traffic to your web properties.

  • Skippable and non-skippable in-stream ads:

    Avoid repurposing existing video content; create a video specifically for use on YouTube to generate awareness about your products, services or latest promotion. Tell your viewers what action you’d like them to take after watching your video, like viewing another video on YouTube.

2. Understand search intent

YouTube is much higher in the sales funnel compared with many other marketing tools or channels, which is why it’s essential that your business have a strong understanding of the intent of those who discover your video ad.

They aren’t likely to convert into customers from seeing your video ad for the first time, but if their intent is matched to the content of your ad, they are more likely to watch it and perform an action in the long-term after seeing more messaging in the future on YouTube and across other channels.

This is particularly true when targeting video ads in YouTube search, as well. In that case, it’s important to match the keywords you’re bidding on based upon the location of users in the sales funnel. It’s likely they are a bit higher in the funnel, just entering the research and discovery phase when viewing your video messaging.

YouTube search: "benefits of smart car"

In this example above, the user is curious about the benefits of a Smart car and would like to watch a video on the subject. An ad is populated based on the keywords used in this search; in this case, Cadillac wants to inform the user about one of its latest models. While it’s quite an upsell going from a Smart car to a Caddy, GM’s luxury brand attempts to provide information about its product line as a part of the user’s initial search.

Here’s a tip: start broad with your keyword targeting, focusing on short keyword phrases related to the focus of the individual video ads you’re promoting. YouTube ads are based on CPV (cost-per-view), which tend to be cheaper than an average CPC (cost-per-click) of AdWords, giving you a little more flexibility in your keyword targeting.

3. Choose the right thumbnail

The selection of the thumbnail for your video ads is critical when it comes to generating a strong marketing ROI from your content; the right image can really spike the click-through rates on your ads. To help encourage a YouTube user to click on your ad, choose thumbnails that are relevant to the subject of the video. That ensures there are no surprises when the user clicks on the ad.

If your video thumbnail is a photo of a woman in a bikini and you’re selling gardening tools, it’s likely people won’t watch your video for very long once they realize the content of the video isn’t what was advertised. Keep your thumbnail relevant as it relates to your video ad.

Video ad thumbnail example: Email Marketing Made EasyVideo ad thumbnail example: SKYActive-D Story

Choose a still shot from your video that is clear and not blurry in any way. This is important because your thumbnail should give the impression that your video is from a quality source. Also use text when it makes sense to help further define what the video is about. Finally, incorporate color into your thumbnail to ensure it stands out from other video thumbnails that appear on a viewer’s screen at any one time.

4. The first five seconds make or break the ad

You have about five seconds to impress someone to the point that they choose to watch the rest of your video before they skip your ad, close their browser or go elsewhere online. It’s important to wow a person by quickly catching their attention with your video ad through an offer, exclusive information or surprising messaging.

In the first few seconds, focus on clearly defining what value users will take away from watching your video. For example, Longhorn Steakhouse discusses its new pricing on some of the most popular dishes by quickly calling out the price within the first few seconds of the ad in hopes of catching a viewers attention.

5. Include a clear call-to-action

As a form of content marketing, the point of your YouTube videos is to drive your audience to interact with your business in some capacity, whether that’s to comment on the video or buy your products. At the end of your video, focus attention on a call-to-action, either written or verbal, that tells your audience what specific action you’d like them to take. Include links to your website when it makes sense for your call-to-action.

Video Call-to-Action: Get a Free Trial

Add contact information like a phone number, website URL, Twitter handle, an email address or other pertinent contact info, when appropriate. Remember to include the name of your business, as well as a logo as a part of the call-to-action for an additional reminder of who your are. In some video ads, perhaps even a promotion of some kind will help improve the likelihood that your call-to-action will drive results.

What strategies have you found most successful at increasing conversions with your YouTube ads? What’s the most successful YouTube ad you’ve seen? Share your input in the comments below.

This article orginally appeared on the Adknowledge blog.

Brian Honigman

Brian Honigman

Marketing Consultant, Freelance Writer & Professional Speaker, Honigman Media LLC

Brian Honigman is a marketing consultantfreelance writer and a professional speaker focused on strengthening relationships with brands, startups and their customers. He is also an active contributor to a number of digital marketing publications like the Huffington PostMashable, the Next Web, Entepreneur and others. Follow him on Twitter at @BrianHonigman and on Google+.

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