June 11, 2020
New E-Book: A Performance Marketer’s Guide to YouTube Ads
If you’re just beginning to consider using YouTube as part of your marketing mix, the task of creating a strong piece of YouTube creative can seem daunting, especially if you have a limited video production budget or a creative team strapped for time. You might be wondering, should we just upload our TV or Facebook video ads to YouTube and use those? How long should our videos be? Are there certain things we should or shouldn’t be including in a YouTube ad to make it more direct response oriented?
To help guide the creative process, here are five video creative recommendations to keep in mind as you plan your next YouTube ad campaign. If you want more detail on video production for performance along with tons of other tips, check out our comprehensive resource, A Performance Marketer’s Guide to YouTube Ads.
YouTube is both an entertainment and an intent platform. Most people end up there to watch specific content, and they understand that they’ll probably have to watch an ad to do so. Ads intended for the most popular YouTube ad format, TrueView In-Stream (pre-roll, skippable), should clock in between 15 and 60 seconds if your goal is direct response.
There isn’t a perfect, universal runtime for YouTube ads. Ultimately, an ad’s engagement will mostly depend on the ad itself – message and presentation – rather than its length. As a practical matter, though, it’s useful to go into production with a length in mind. And conveniently, evidence points to 30 seconds being a good choice. In a study conducted by Unskippable Labs, a 30-second ad cut had the highest View-Through Rate, key to performance outcomes.
Even more important than the length of the ad is how you use the time you have with your audience. The first thing your ad should do is captivate your audience quickly. This can mean using upbeat music, utilizing a recognizable influencer or celebrity, posing a compelling question, or using humor, among many other possible ideas.
After you’ve captured their attention, relate to your intended audience. Empathize with their needs and pain points, and use characters and scenes they’re likely to identify with. You can take this further if you plan to segment audiences by demographics or other characteristics, and even in choices like your actors for highly produced live action videos.
Finally, associate your brand as the solution to a need or pain point. A simple way to do this is to add a logo in the corner of the ad, but you should be looking to find a way to creatively place your name or logo more naturally in the video – on a package if you’re a retail brand, or an application interface for software.
For maximum impact, you’ll want to do this in the first seven seconds of a standard, 30-second TrueView In-Stream ad. Why the first seven seconds when a user can skip after five seconds? Research from Magna Global has shown that’s how long you’ll get to make an impact even for those who will skip your ad.
Particularly for videos that will be shown to an audience who hasn’t interacted with your brand before, make sure your ad clearly shows them what your brand does and how they’ll be using it. For retail brands, include your most popular products being used in real-life situations. For B2B brands, try working in shots of an interface or including clips of a product demo.
More than half of all YouTube views are on mobile devices, so make sure your creative is geared toward mobile devices. Use bright scenes and backgrounds, keep the frame tight, and leverage clear text or graphics that convey your message well even on a mobile-size screen.
YouTube also supports vertical video ads, which will make the mobile viewing experience even more immersive. Whether you use a vertical or horizontal video, it’s a good idea to preview it on a mobile device first to make sure that it looks good on a smaller screen.
YouTube has been a great branding channel for a long time, but it’s gotten a lot better as a direct response channel as both the product and audience have evolved. If you’re looking for revenue impact, make your ads action-oriented. Be clear in your video what action you want the viewer to take, whether that’s shopping your products, checking out a demo or content, or subscribing to emails. It’s best if this call to action is reinforced both in audio and visual, and then featured in the text call-to-action overlay you can add via the Google Ads platform. You should definitely consider testing a promotion in the call to action; based on our experience, this can create major lift in direct response performance.
Lastly, don’t reinvent the wheel. If you already have creative assets from TV or videos on your website, you can and should use that as a starting point. However, keep in mind the unique attributes of the YouTube platform and re-cut your existing assets in different ways to address the best practices above.
Creating effective and compelling YouTube ads doesn’t have to be an intimidating task. Use the best practices above as a starting point, and you will be well on your way to making powerful YouTube creative that will drive success for your business.