About 2 years ago, I started testing YouTube ads and I quickly discovered that one ad format, In-Stream ads, performed very well. The other two options, In-Search and In-Display, are great if all you care about are increasing your YouTube video view count. But if you want to drive leads and sales for your business, then you’ll want to stick to In-Stream ads.
An In-Stream ad is just like a TV ad that you probably see every day, but instead of streaming on your TV, the ad is displayed before someone watches a video online. If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video and noticed an ad played right before the video you wanted to watch, then you experienced a YouTube In-Stream ad.
There are obviously a lot of similarities between YouTube video ads and TV, but there are also some important differences that in my opinion make YouTube video ads a far better option for many small businesses. Let’s take a closer look at 7 of these differences.
#1: Pay Per (Actual) View Of Your Ad
Imagine advertising on TV and you only had to pay when a prospect actually watched the entire ad. If anyone fast forwarded (skipped) your ad, then you wouldn’t pay a penny.
Sounds too good to be true when you’re thinking about buying TV ad spots. However, this is exactly how YouTube In-Stream ads work. You only pay for actual views of your ad! After 5 seconds, your prospects have the option to click “Skip This Ad” and when that happens the advertiser is not charged for the ad spot. We’re talking about literally only paying for views of your ad.
Clearly, that reduces a lot of the risk to give this a try. But it gets even better…
#2: No Minimum Investment To Start
In addition to only paying for views of your ad, there’s also no minimum investment. With traditional TV advertising and media buying, you’ll have to invest thousands upfront to lock in your air time. Unless you have a proven ad campaign, there’s a ton of risk to test TV ads.
But again, with YouTube video ads, there’s no minimum to get started. There also isn’t too much competition (yet) for these ad spots so the costs are still pretty low. In the markets we’ve tested, for about 10 cents you can get a real view of your ad, which means a couple hundred bucks will allow you to reach 2,000 prospects. I’m not saying $200 is necessarily enough for a real test, but you get the idea. Compared to TV, YouTube video ads are going to be much less expensive to get started.
#3: Precision Targeting Options
One of my favorite things about online advertising is all the different targeting options. You’ve got the basics like demographics, geography, and time of day. Then you’ve got contextual targeting so you’re showing your ads before relevant YouTube videos. And finally, you can layer on more advanced targeting options like retargeting and interest targeting, based on your prospects’ historical browsing behavior.
If you know exactly who your ideal customer is, then chances are very good that you can target them with YouTube video ads.
#4: More Ad Reach
This one may come as a surprise. According to a Nielson report, YouTube reaches more US adults (18 – 34 years old) than ANY cable network. Therefore, advertising in YouTube may actually give you more ad reach than a TV commercial.
Plus, think about user behavior on this media. My wife and I have a few TV shows we like to watch throughout the year, but we rarely watch them during their regularly scheduled airing. We record them. Then when our kids, Violet and Emmett, are in bed and we have some free time, we watch the show. We rarely watch the commercials because we can fast forward through them.
With YouTube video ads, your prospects can still skip your ads, but only after watching 5 seconds of your ad. That means you could have a better shot at capturing your prospects’ attention with a YouTube video ad than with TV.
#5: Easier for Your Prospects to Take Action
This is a huge difference. When you see a TV ad for a product or service you need right now, then what are your options to take action? You have to go find your phone and call the business if the time of day is appropriate. Or you can go find your tablet, computer, or mobile device to load up the company website. Or you can get off your couch and go to the actual store or office.
All 3 of those options require a fairly big step. Let’s compare that to YouTube video ads…
For your prospect to take action on a video ad, she has to muster up the strength to move her mouse over the video ad (if it’s not already there) and then click. After clicking on the ad, your prospect will visit your ad’s landing page where you can further explain your offer and ideally collect contact information or generate a sale. Since video ads are online, it’s just a whole lot easier to get your prospects to take action.
#6: Easier for You to Track Your ROI
Again, since video ads are online and your prospect can take action online, it’s easier for you to track your return on investment (ROI). Within your YouTube ad dashboard, you’ll see how many people saw your ad, how many clicked through to your landing page, and if you have conversion tracking installed, then you’ll see how many completed your webform or placed an online order.
With TV ads, it’s obviously not that simple.
#7: Free Organic Ad Impressions
Finally, with video advertising on YouTube, you get the additional benefit of free organic ad impressions. Since the ad is hosted on YouTube like any other video, then it has a chance to rank in YouTube’s search results (by the way YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine so this can be significant free traffic). Also, your video has a chance to be displayed and clicked on for free as a related video along the right column when prospects are watching other videos.
And the last, but not least, video ads can be easily shared with friends online by posting to social media or via email. All of these examples give your advertisement even more exposure at absolutely no additional cost. Who doesn’t love free exposure? :)
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Main Street ROI is a digital marketing agency based in New York City.
Our mission is to help small businesses thrive. With our services and training, we help small businesses succeed with marketing regardless of their budgets.
Since 2010, we’ve helped thousands of small businesses create profitable digital marketing campaigns.
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