YouTube is no longer alone. Once the clearly dominant video destination, YouTube has seen steady and heavy competition from Facebook. Frankly, YouTube deserves some of this. They’ve been sluggish compared to Facebook’s product development team. That said, YouTube is still YouTube, and its primary position means a YouTube-first marketing strategy makes the most sense for many brands.
The 5 best reasons for choosing a YouTube-first strategy:
- YouTube is still 11x bigger than Facebook video. Obviously, YouTube is a video-only platform. That singular vision for video is something Facebook can’t claim, and it may well mean YouTube is always significantly larger.
- With more than 1 billion users, YouTube is available in 70+ countries and 60+ languages, offering rich content from all over the world. The Google Display Network reaches over 90% of Internet users worldwide through 2 million sites and apps. So, regardless of who your audience is, you can probably reach them via YouTube.
- 84% of Americans prefer to watch video on YouTube rather than Facebook. With its strong and diverse background in video, YouTube boasts a vast, topic-based video library. This gives many brands (especially B2B brands) the ability to set up precision targeting. Picking channels that align with their company’s market and audience, brands can achieve targeting that’s impossible currently within Facebook.
- Millennials are 18.5x more likely to watch video on YouTube rather than Facebook. For many B2C brands and certain B2B brands, this audience metric is a clear signal to focus on YouTube.
- YouTube TruView ensures you pay only when someone watches the entire ad. This is a massive financial advantage. In a world of shady metrics and frankly unaccountable oversight, it’s an undeniable benefit to have a distribution channel where you pay only if the viewer watches.
To leverage some of the above, let’s dive into some paid distribution techniques that can help you make the most of a YouTube-first strategy.
Targeting Options For YouTube
Targeting is the heart and soul of every ad campaign, one of the most essential things to get right. You can’t hit the target if you aren’t aiming in the right direction. To achieve this, ad targeting is continually tested, an incremental effort that gets dialed in over time.
YouTube gives you multiple ways to target and test. You can also apply multiple strategies to a single campaign. Targeting levels go from broad to narrow. At the highest level, you have audience targeting. At the next level, you have placement targeting. At the final level, you have retargeting.
You may have particular reasons for choosing a specific methodology, but some targeting options always seem to pull ahead from an ROI standpoint. Let’s dive in.
Audience Targeting on YouTube
Audience targeting is very useful for awareness-level funnel activity. Unless you are a major brand, the viewer likely won’t have any affiliation with your product or brand. As such, you’ll be using awareness-level content within this kind of targeting to break into their frame of reference. This kind of broad targeting is very useful for enlarging your reach or interacting with a new audience.
Audience targeting has myriad options within its capabilities. The thread that ties them together is that this targeting is based on audience behavior and interests, using data like age, gender, location, etc.
You can target by a consumer’s interests, such as cars, sports, fashion, or even sportscar fashion. You can target by affinity, which are people who have a strong interest in topics related to your brand. Lastly, you can target in-market audiences, which comprise consumers known to be actively searching for products or services like yours.
Content Targeting on YouTube
Content targeting is a form of targeting that allows marketers to target based on content. This kind of targeting has some of the highest ROI. It consists of three types: placement targeting, topic targeting, and keyword targeting.
The first kind of content targeting is placement targeting. Placement targeting is exactly what it sounds like. It allows you to run your video ad in specific places. This means you can target people watching a specific YouTube channel or even a specific YouTube video. On the Google Display Network, you can also target websites, specific pages on a website, or an application. These options allow you to get very granular with what content your content shows up against.
59% of successful video marketers rely on video placement targeting, making it the most effective way to do content targeting. A study by Brite Content found that companies using placement targeting are twice as likely to have positive experiences with their YouTube marketing efforts than companies that don’t.
The second kind of content targeting is topic-based targeting. This is similar to audience targeting, but the difference is that you’re targeting viewers based on a topic rather than on audience characteristics or interests. If want to target people interested in travel, for instance, you can have YouTube serve your ad in front of travel-related videos. This works both on YouTube and on their Display Network, so the ad could also run on travel websites using the Display Network for their video ads.
The last kind of content targeting is keyword targeting. If you have ever used any traditional PPC advertising, keyword targeting works very similarly. Essentially, you use keywords or phrases related to your content to target a YouTube video, YouTube Channel, or Display Network. Out of all three content targeting options, it is the least precise.
In general, content targeting allows for more accurate targeting than audience targeting. It allows you to tailor specific messages around topics you know the viewer is already interested in. Imagine Dropbox targeting a Google Drive video or channel. They know the viewer has most likely bought into the idea of cloud storage, so they can deliver a more focused message.
Retargeting on YouTube
Retargeting has traditionally been defined as the methodology of advertising to a person who already has already interacted with your brand. Historically, a brand does this based on landing pages or other digital assets that allow the company to track visitors via pixels, cookies, or other methods.
YouTube has set it up a little differently. Their methods can be broken into two silos. You can retarget based either on your company’s content or on another company’s content.
This is an important distinction. The first is targeting your own audience, so you probably aren’t going to use awareness-level content. Instead, you can target viewers aware of your brand with a nurture video on a topic related to something you know they’ve previously seen. Essentially, you can serve up subsequent videos to help move them down the funnel.
The other is targeting viewers who aren’t yet part of your audience. Here, then, you likely will be using awareness-level content. If a viewer has watched a competitor’s product video, for instance, you can show them a piece that introduces them to yours, highlighting your own values and differentiators.
Here’s a list of many different behaviors you can use for retargeting:
- Did they view any video from a channel
- Viewed certain videos
- Did they view any video (as an ad) from a channel
- Viewed certain videos (as ads)
- Subscribed to a channel
- Visited a channel page
- Liked any video from a channel
- Added any video from a channel to a playlist
- Commented on any video from a channel
- Shared any video from a channel
- Out of all of the targeting methods, retargeting is hands down the one that can produce the best ROI. It is also the most time-consuming to learn and get right; there are so many ways to leverage it. You can build video campaigns that you can run sequentially for viewers. You can do competitive analysis to understand who your strongest competitors are and then go after their market share. Retargeting is one of the most underutilized ways of targeting, likely because of its complexity, but we can’t recommend it enough.
Different video ad types on YouTube and how to leverage them
One of the first things you need to figure out is what kind of ad type you want to use. Your ad type or types will depend on your goals and video assets. Do you have a short bumper ad? Do you have a video longer than 30 seconds? Since video format heavily dicates ad type, we recommend starting out with the end in mind. Identify which ad type works best with your strategy, then build that asset. Making an asset fit an ad type often yields a disappointing return.
There are six main options available:
Ad Type 1 – Skippable Video Ads
This is the first kind of in-stream video ad from YouTube. These ads are “skippable video ads that allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds, if they choose. Inserted before, during, or after the main video.” With these video types, you only pay if the viewer watches the ad all the way through, so we really recommend leveraging this ad format. Since you get the first 5 seconds of the video ad for free, you want to be sure to pack a punch in that those 5 seconds. Whether it is with humor, strong branding, or a captivating question, use those 5 free seconds of advertising to get the viewer to want to watch all the way through.
Ad Type 2 – Non Skippable Video Ads
The second kind of in-stream video ad is a non-skippable video ad. These video ads can range from 15 to 30 seconds. These ads are pay-per-view and can’t be skipped, so you have a set length to get your message across. That’s good, since you know the audience will get your entire message. But the downside is that you’ll be paying for ads seen by people who may or may not have any interest. Thus, you’ll want to be very intentional about your targeting. This is a good ad type if you have a longer video and need the full length to get your message across effectively.
Ad Type 3 – Bumper Ads
The third kind of in-stream video ad is another non-skippable ad. These increasingly common ads are under 6 seconds long, and they play prior to the video the viewer came to watch. With such a short length, these ads can be tricky to execute. Hubspot put together a great list of the best bumper ads on YouTube. It’s worth checking out to get some ideas on best practices for this kind of ad. Like other non-skippable ads, you pay for every view, but you also know every viewer sees your entire message.
Ad Type 4 – Video Display Ads
According to YouTube, this ad type “appears to the right of the feature video and above the video suggestions list or at the top of a video search.” These ads are displayed as non-playing video thumbnails. Since it is only a thumbnail and brief text, you need to combine a creative thumbnail and CTA if you want to get a high conversion rate.
Below, you can see examples of this ad type. It has the yellow Ad designation that YouTube uses to indicate an ad. These ads are among the cheapest on the YouTube platform. Since this ad types do not play in-stream, you have a ton of latitude on how long your video ad is. Anyone who clicks is likely interested, which means less need to quickly interest them or rush to your main message. Longer form ads are usually best suited to this ad type.
Ad Type 5 – Overlay Ads
This isn’t actually a video ad type but rather an ad that sits on a video. Like a video display ad, it should contain a CTA that brings up an offer related to the video the viewer is watching. You can see what this looks like below.
Ad Type 6 – Sponsored Cards
Sponsored Cards are the final non-video ad type. If a viewer is watching a video on different products, you can serve them cards that display your items and allow the viewer to click through to a product page. Viewers will see a teaser for the card for a few seconds. They can also click the icon in the top right corner of the video to browse the cards
There are a lot of platforms competing for your video ad dollars. While this competition is definitely giving YouTube a run, we still believe that B2B, B2C, and non-profit organizations can leverage YouTube’s vast video network in ways that are just impossible on others, including Facebook. For now, at least. As always, things will change, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on what new opportunities emerge.