Need fresh ideas to improve your YouTube ad results? Wondering if tweaking your creative could help?
In this article, you’ll learn four tips to improve your YouTube video ad creative to reach your desired outcomes.
#1: Show Your Brand Name and Logo at All Times in Your YouTube Ads
Arguably the most common form of video ad on YouTube is the skippable TrueView in-stream ad format. The way this ad type works is that viewers can skip your ad after 5 seconds of watch time. Advertisers love this format because they’re only charged if a user performs one of these actions:
- Watches at least 30 seconds of the ad
- Watches the entire ad if the ad is less than 30 seconds
- Clicks on any of the cards in the ads (call-to-action extensions, shopping cards, lead form extensions, etc.)
Because of this, you have the opportunity to earn a lot of free advertising. To capitalize on it, I recommend adding your brand name or brand logo to your video creative. It’s up to you whether to make it bright and visible or subtle with a watermark. Here’s one example from Wix.
With the number of ads Wix runs, it consistently succeeds in this area of brand awareness. Notice how the Wix brand is always visible in the top left-hand corner of the ad, although the brand name is indistinct and blends in. But if a viewer decides to skip the video at any point, the Wix brand name is always visible.
This can help improve the chances viewers will remember the brand name from the free video view if they decide later to go to Google or Bing and research the company. It’s about stretching your video budget.
Here’s another thing that Wix did well in the video ad: In addition to the logo in the top-left corner, Wix calls out the brand name and product very early in the ad. If you look at the timestamp in the image above, the brand’s product name is on the screen within the first 3 seconds of the ad. This is another way to get the main message across early in the video in case the user wants to skip right away.
In this example, Wix has a perfect one-two punch of incorporating their brand early in their video ad creative. The goal is to make your brand memorable so users go back to Google or directly to your website and search for your brand.
Remember, people go to YouTube to watch music videos, watch gamers, and be entertained. Even if they’re not ready to buy right away, your video ad can still target a relevant user who may need your product or service later on. But it’s hard to remember your brand if you’re not telling them who you are or what your product is. Include your brand name at all times in your YouTube video ads.
#2: Test a Variety of Different Hooks in Your YouTube Ads
Because viewers can skip your TrueView in-stream ad after 5 seconds, those first few seconds are extremely valuable. Yes, viewers can skip that ad and free advertising is great, but you don’t want everybody to skip the video ad. Using engagement signals is one of the ways you can see whether your YouTube video campaigns resonate with users.
Just like any other paid media campaign, you need to constantly test your message. If you only have 5 seconds to capture a viewer’s attention, you should try to find out what visuals or audible messages are going to make a user want to continue watching the ad.
As an example, let’s look at three videos from a Life Storage YouTube campaign with essentially the same message but a different delivery in the first 5 seconds. Here are the first sentences from each of the ads:
If you were running ads for these videos, you could clearly test the initial first impression. You’d want to make sure you ran these ads in the same ad group so the targeting is consistent. If you know your targeting is the same, you’ll be able to see which message intrigues users the most.
- Which of these three video creatives boosts your watch time?
- Which of these three video creatives has the highest percentage of users watching the entire video ad?
You won’t know the answers to these questions until you test them in your video campaigns.
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In addition to the audio differences, these three Life Storage videos use different actors. So you could test a few different visual hooks to see if certain actors are more appealing to the target demographic. Here’s what you see in each of the videos at the 1-second mark after the fade-in disappears:
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Each of these videos has a completely different visual and audio intro so testing would reveal which are performing the best. When you do this kind of testing, you can look in your YouTube video analytics and Google Ads video columns to see which creative asset keeps users watching longer. From there, use these insights to help edit or create new video assets that better speak to your target audience.
If you’re looking for ideas to test for your hooks, here are a few questions you can ask yourself or run by your team:
- Does the audience prefer humor?
- Does the audience want serious ads that get straight to the point?
- Do we strike them with a little fear?
- Which proof points or value statements help engage the audience the best?
I strongly believe this form of testing for your video creative will have the biggest impact. I consistently see the cost per view (CPV) go down in manual CPV campaigns if viewers are watching our ads longer. YouTube clearly loves viewers to stay engaged (which means you’ll pay for your video views more often) but an engaged viewer is always worth it if you can get them into an audience and use those audiences in your next-step remarketing campaigns.
#3: Test Completely Different Types of YouTube Video Creative
In the example we just talked about, the format of the three video creatives was very similar. Sometimes video asset tests with just a few minor differences can be very successful. Other times, you may not get a clear understanding of which element of the video had the biggest impact. That’s why I recommend testing completely different creatives when launching a new campaign.
As an example, let’s look at two videos on the 1-800-Flowers YouTube channel.
The first video creative has a stop-motion, semi-animated design. There isn’t any spoken audio so if this video is ever used in an ad, the main catch would likely be the visuals and music.
Now if you look at the second video creative, it has a completely different look and feel. This variant has more of a commercial feel with some definite elements of humor mixed in.
With two completely different types of videos like the ones above, you’d be testing more than just the first sentence of the video, a call-to-action statement, or a potential actor. You’d be testing two entirely different videos against each other.
Testing completely different assets will help you truly learn what will have the biggest impact on your audience. This can also help you avoid running the same types of ads over and over until they become stale or annoying to your target audience.
#4: Unlist Video Ads on Your YouTube Channel Page
To run ads on YouTube, all of your video assets must be uploaded to YouTube. If you don’t properly edit your video settings, you may fill up your YouTube channel’s feed with a bunch of ad variants. That could be very unappealing to users if they think your channel only exists to sell. You don’t want to hurt any of your organic YouTube efforts.
If you’re planning on testing a variety of video ad creative, you can hide your video ads from your YouTube channel by changing the video’s Visibility setting to Unlisted.
When your YouTube video is unlisted, it will be hidden from your YouTube channel. Users may still see your video if:
- They have the URL to go directly to the video’s watch page.
- Someone shares the link to the video URL.
- You use the video in an ad.
This is the best way to test a bunch of different video creatives without clogging your channel with different variants of the same ad.
If you hate seeing the same TV commercial over and over again, what makes you think your potential customers want to see the same YouTube ad for months on end? You can’t have one video creative running for months and expect success. You have to be able to test different creatives to keep trying to improve performance.
Testing is the best way to figure out what YouTube video creative your target audience wants to see. Whether you’re focused on brand awareness or engagement, you have many options you can test in your video creative to see what appeals to your audience. While there’s no way to predict performance from testing, the insights you gain can help you develop a hypothesis of why you think certain video creatives will work to reach your business goals.
Get More Advice on YouTube Ads
- Set up and run three low-stakes video ads on YouTube.
- Create YouTube ads that people won’t want to skip.
- Expand your reach with three YouTube ad targeting options.
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