Should I Use YouTube Advertising?

PUBLISHED
March 8, 2019

Is YouTube advertising the best bang for your marketing bucks? Learn more about YouTube advertising, how it works, and determine if it's right for your business.

YouTube is more than a platform where adorable kittens mingle. It’s an explosive social media channel with more than 1.8 billion users every month. Think about that for a second. Almost 2/7ths of the entire world are watching YouTube on a monthly basis.


Video marketing has become a massive force to be reckoned with, and it’s a trend that small businesses are struggling to keep up with. The same aches continue to plague small business owners when confronted about video marketing: video production is time consuming, it can get expensive, and you have no idea what the ROI will be. Before we dive into the pros and cons of YouTube advertising, let’s address these pain points and challenges first.

Is Video Marketing Worth the Investment?

The short answer: yes and maybe not. Video marketing is only truly effective when the creative is compelling, the message is clear, and there’s a strong distribution strategy behind it. In other words, if you create a video that doesn’t capture people’s attention or entices them to share it, your video marketing campaign is dead on arrival.

On the contrary, you could have a killer video, but if you don’t have an effective distribution plan for it, no one will see it. And that kind of defeats the purpose, no?

If you’re going to invest in video marketing, it’s important to do it the right way. Take these steps:

  • Map out a strong, conversational angle for your video. What stories can you tell that makes other people want to listen?
  • Define the goal for the video. Are you trying to generate a buzz in your target demographic? Increase the number of calls? Bump up sales? Educate? Make a name for your company?
  • Identify the creative resources you’ll need. Will this video be a more produced video? Who will need to be involved? Will you need someone to help you distribute it to the appropriate channels?
  • Develop your distribution strategy. Who are you talking to? Where will people watch this video? What is a good advertising budget for you to reach your goals?

YouTube Advertising: What You Need to Know

If you’ve got a killer campaign planned, and you’ve determined that YouTube might be a good fit for your demographic, let’s explore advertising.

Since Google has taken over YouTube, they’ve gone to great lengths to make advertising on YouTube as easy and customizable as creating ads in AdWords. The options are nearly as numerous, with the two major options being display ads and video ads.

Types of YouTube Ads

Display Ads allows your ads to appear alongside YouTube videos or as pop-ups within the videos themselves. There are two types of display ads:

  • Standard Banner Ad – These are just like the regular Google Display Ads, available as standard banner ads and rich media ads. You can leverage topic categories and keywords to specify where you want these banner ads to appear. Bright, colorful images that grab the eye are of course, best practice.
  • In-Video Overlay Ads – In-video overlay ads appear as pop-ups within existing contextually targeted videos that are targeted by selected queries. Destination URLs within in-video ads can go to locations outside of YouTube.

Pop-ups have always been extremely annoying, but undeniably impossible to ignore, even if the user exits from them immediately. Banner ads in the sidebar can be easily overlooked, so just make sure you’ve got creative that stands out.

Video Ads, of course, allow you to use your videos as an advertisement.

YouTube Video Ad Formats

In-Stream Video Ads

The most popular video ad format are the In Stream ads. These are the advertisements that take place before or during another YouTube video.

Of course, during this time, a YouTube viewer is likely to be complaining and groaning about the ad, anxiously waiting the 5 seconds to skip past it. However, if you target the right audiences, and have a compelling story, you could have the full attention of your viewer. (And given YouTube’s True View Ads, you’ll only pay when users choose to watch the video. Bonus!)

With in-stream video ads, you don’t pay unless the viewer watches your video for 30 seconds, or until the end of the video. If they choose to skip, you don’t pay a dime. So you can create videos longer than 30 seconds, and experiment with different video ad lengths.

Since you pay the same amount whether the viewer watches 30 seconds or the entire extended video, you can get more exposure for the same price. In fact, some studies have shown that longer videos (around the 60-second mark) tend to perform better than shorter ones. Maybe it’s because longer videos develop a deeper story that keeps viewers engaged, rather than a quick sales pitch.

It’s also worth noting that in-stream ads allow for contextual targeting, interest targeting, and demographic targeting. So the more specific your campaign is, the better your ad performance will be.

In-Slate Video Ads

YouTube’s In-Slate video ads appear before YouTube partner videos that are 10 minutes or longer. Viewers can choose to watch one of three ads or alternatively can choose to see regular commercial breaks during their video.

In-Search Video Ads

In-search video ads appear above or to the right of regular YouTube search results.

In-Search video ads work similar to text ads in Google search, with advertisers bidding on keyword terms. While the same ad text strategies used to create AdWords text ads applies to these in-search video ads, the YouTube advertising market is much less saturated, allowing advertisers who might normally be unable to compete for popular keyword terms on Google search to get traction on YouTube.

Ways to Use YouTube Advertising Ads

Brand Awareness: YouTube videos let you create unique brand experiences and express your business’ personality. Consider producing a fun explainer video for your product or service. Creating videos is a fun and practical way to develop your brand’s identity. Time to get funky!

Product Launch: Videos are a great way to introduce a new product or build excitement about an upcoming release.

Audience Engagement: YouTube can be a great venue for connecting and interacting with customers. A great example is Old Spice’s video response campaign in which they had Isaiah Mustafa, aka “the man your man could smell like” release a number of videos on YouTube answering questions and comments put forth by fans on Twitter and Facebook. The campaign was incredibly successful, with Old Spice’s Twitter following increasing by 2700%

Customer Help: YouTube is a great place to offer how-to video solutions for common customer problems. Your videos can serve as a more engaging FAQ, or help customers gain a more advanced understanding of the features your product offers. Try hosting Q&A sessions, or answer FAQs to increase conversion with customers.

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