The Ad Messages and Methods That Work Best on YouTube
Learn how to get these two elements right to create YouTube ads that attract the right buyers.
It's important to focus on one core idea in each ad that shows your audience that you understand their needs and you have a solution that is right for them. The focus should always be to provide value to the viewer. Think about what your customer is doing in that moment that they're typing in a search query. Provide a useful experience to meet that need.
Timing is everything on YouTube, and you want to be in front of your shoppers with an ad that's right for them in the buying cycle. An effective YouTube ad will talk to each shopper as you would in real life ("the Message"). Through YouTube's incredibly specific targeting ("the Method"), we can meet our potential customers in the right moment with a relevant message and offer.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
In terms of messaging, your aim is to be as true to real life as possible. Don't say or do anything in an ad that you wouldn't do if you were talking to that person in real life. For example, if you had a brick-and-mortar store and saw someone eyeing a pair of running shoes in the window, you might strike up a conversation with them: "Do you run?" You might ask if they're training for an event, how long they've been training, what they're looking for in a shoe. You'd then dig into your expertise and make your shoe recommendation based on their needs. It's possible to have this same normal, helpful interaction with shoppers online. Informed by the vast troves of data from Google, you can show YouTube ads with a tailored message to each type of shopper by simply structuring your ads in custom ways.
Each ad should have three overall elements:
On YouTube, you want to grab viewers in the first five seconds, with video featuring something eye-catching, unexpected or memorable -- without succumbing to gimmicks, of course. The next goal is to establish your credibility and expertise by introducing yourself, your company or your brand and briefly describing what you do and what solutions and results you can deliver.
Next, it's useful to give an early, soft call to action (CTA) before 30 seconds so you can convert leads before you start paying to show the pre-roll ad. Often, we transition from the credibility segment to the soft call to action by quickly summarizing the substantive benefit to be gained in the video, but allowing viewers to click early to learn more.
In this segment, we deliver valuable, useful content to the viewer such that the ad could stand alone as a substantive video. Here we want viewers to learn "what's in it for me" so they come away thinking, "That was worth watching. I want to learn more."
We do this by sharing one core idea of content -- whether it's an interesting fact, a handy tip or a system of a few short steps that can be implemented immediately. If you can wrap this content in the context of a narrative story or case study, so much the better.
After delivering great content and value to your viewers (for free), give them an incentive to click to continue their path to purchase with you. One effective technique is to follow the substantive advice section with a future-paced CTA where you invite them to imagine how their circumstances would be if they took the next step with you -- for example, by unlocking the full substance discussed in the ad in more detail by joining an online webinar or getting a free trial or product or book.
This is where you can strategically, seamlessly appear before the right prospects at the right time. There are numerous ways of advertising using video, but let's zero in on the "TrueView" in-stream and discovery video ad formats. We've found these to be the best place to get started with video ads -- it's where we typically see the best results. Google's TrueView is built on the promise that you'll only pay when someone chooses to watch your video ad. For advertisers, that's simply incredible. Here's how it works:
Commonly known in other environments as a "pre-roll ad," AdWords calls this an "in-stream video ad." You'll see these play before a video you were about to watch and you have the option to "skip the ad" after five seconds. (This is why the first five seconds of your video are so important.) With these ads, you only pay when someone watches more than 30 seconds of it, reaches the end of the video or clicks through to visit your website. In addition, you get to decide your maximum cost per view (CPV), not unlike a CPC campaign.
When running TrueView YouTube ads, you have access to all the usual targeting options. However, because we're focusing our efforts on YouTube.com as a website, there are a few special distinctions.
Placement targeting can work exceptionally well, as it lets you select the exact video URLs or channels you'd like to advertise on. This means you can choose to show your ads on any videos that your potential customers are likely to be watching, including your competitor's videos (if they've allowed advertising). Online software solutions such as Veeroll allow you to grab hundreds of relevant placements for various keywords, which can help you build campaigns quickly.
Keyword targeting on YouTube has its own unique wrinkles as well. It's based on a user's search history, regardless of the search query they type in on YouTube. Another targeting option we recommend is advertising to similar audiences (especially those similar audiences built off an existing customer email list uploaded using Google Match).
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