YouTube video ads are a quick, cost-effective way to reach your ideal customers. But buying an ad from one of the largest video platforms can feel a little intimidating.
Where do you start? What kind of ads work best? How much does it cost? Will your ideal customers even see your ad? These are great questions, and crucial to understand before committing to a paid media strategy. So to help you understand YouTube Video Ads, here’s a quick look at how they work, a few customizable options you have, and what you get when you create a video ad for YouTube.
Understanding YouTube Video Ads
First things first: It’s important to understand the different video ad options available on the YouTube platform. Here’s a breakdown:
TrueView Video Ads
The far most common (and affordable) type of YouTube video ad is called TrueView Advertising. These in-stream ads are the video commercials that pop up before you watch a YouTube video. You can purchase these ads using a lot of the same targeting criteria you’d use for other types of programmatic ad buys, including demographics, geography, audience affinity, topic and more.
Basically, it’s like buying a search engine display ad, with a few differences (and ad formats).
In-Stream Skippable Video Ads
This is the most common type of TrueView ad experience (and the least expensive). These ads are typically placed at the beginning of a YouTube clip (pre-roll), but can also be mid-roll and post-roll ads, or on other sites part of the Google Display Network.
Aside from the reduced price tag, the pros of skippable YouTube ads is the ability to customize the length of the ad. You can choose from five seconds, 15 seconds, traditional 30 seconds, a minute, three minutes, or more. Keep in mind that YouTube allows viewers to skip your ad after five seconds, so if you’re going longer, make sure you hook your viewers early — those first few seconds count!
YouTube skippable ads are charged “per view” which basically means that if people skip your ad, you don’t pay for that impression. Google only charges you after someone watches your entire ad, or at least the first 30 seconds if it’s longer. It’s a fair system that doesn’t punish advertisers for errant views.
Non-Skippable Video Ads
Non-skippable video ads are in-stream ads that cannot be skipped by the viewer. These videos can be up to 15-20 seconds long, and can appear before (pre-roll), during, or after a video.
Bumper ads are short, non-skippable pre-roll ads. These ads can be up to six seconds long, so they’re not the best at telling your whole marketing story — but they’re great at catching a viewer’s attention. Think of them more like “teasers,” with your short clip tied to a longer video or more in-depth experience.
Video Discovery Ads
Video discovery ads can be found on YouTube search results and watch pages, with different formats for mobile and desktop experiences. These ads typically display a powerful thumbnail image and several lines of text, inviting viewers to click over to your channel, or into a specific video.
Google Preferred ads are premium tier advertising for YouTube’s pre-selected “top performing” channels. There’s a lot that goes into determining these select channels, but suffice it to say, this is niche advertising for first-time ad buyers. It’s high budget, and typically used to build brand awareness. If you’re just getting started with YouTube ads, don’t worry about Google Preferred.
Set Your Budget No Minimum Ad Spend
Like display ads, you set your budget for video ads. Who sees your video (and how often) is up to your ad spend, but there is no minimum. This low barrier to entry means that you can test a pre-roll ad for a few dollars a month and see if it gains any traction.
Measuring Success With Detailed Analytics
When you do finally launch your video ad, you can see how well it’s working with detailed analytics. These “audience retention” numbers (aka how long people actually watched your ad), can help you improve your ad for future use, or reinforce the positive elements of your video.
Your “view through rate” is another measure of how many people either clicked on your ad, or allowed it to play when given a choice to skip ahead. It’s an incredible real-time engagement metric for measuring campaign ROI.
While YouTube video ads are primarily built for brand awareness, you can leave viewers with a clear, clickable call-to-action at the end of your video ad. People can sign up for a newsletter, visit your YouTube channel, or share the video on social media. The call to action is fully customizable and you can even run multiple campaigns with unique CTAs.
However, the most popular CTA is asking viewers to tap or click through to a landing page on your website straight from the video. If you go this route, make sure that your website is optimized for mobile traffic!
The Bottom Line: YouTube Video Ads Work
YouTube is one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world. They reach billions of people every month, and are one of the best ways to build brand awareness and drive certain types of marketing campaigns.
You can read about it all day, but the best way to find out if YouTube video ads are right for your company is to make a video, and take YouTube video ads for a spin yourself.