YouTube Sponsored Videos. Worth it…or not so much?

Kelsi Ruess, Paid Search Supervisor, Advertising Solutions

Recently, comScore reported that YouTube is now the second largest search engine, reporting 2.6 billion queries in August compared to Yahoo!’s 2.4 billion queries. Shortly after, Google announced the launch of their new advertising program, YouTube Sponsored Videos. Coincidence? I think not. So what does this mean for marketers? Should we consider moving budget from Yahoo! or MSN over to YouTube? Probably not for direct response campaigns, but branding campaigns…maybe.

What is YouTube Sponsored Videos? It’s a program similar to Google Sponsored Ads, which allows any video content owner to promote their video in a dynamic auction based marketplace. Easy-to-use automated tools allow content owners to decide where they want their videos to appear, place bids on relevant keywords, and set daily budgets. Then, based on keywords being searched on YouTube, relevant videos and text ads are displayed above and to the right of the natural results as seen below:

Click to view larger image.
YouTube Sponsored Videos

Now before I get into why this might not be the best strategy for many online marketers, let’s touch on a few of the pro’s of the program:

  • Ensures that your videos are more visible and easier to find by a larger audience. Google estimates that 13 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute so it can be difficult to ensure your video will be seen.
  • No minimum budget requirements and no ad-serving fee. You only pay for the first engagement (or click) – subsequent sharing is free and can lower your CPC.
  • Low CPC’s due to limited competition. However, I have yet to find evidence of how much lower they really are.
  • Flexibility to include brand messaging and promote brand content without being penalized as there's no official Quality Score. Also, ads include video ratings so great videos will attract even more viewers.
  • Setup and management is simple.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Upload your video through your YouTube account or create a YouTube Brand Channel, which is a premium customizable page that engages users with a creative and stimulating experience.
  2. Write your text ad using the same character limitations as Google AdWords. Creative can encompass general brand messaging, but it's more important that creative speaks to the content of the video that will entice a user to want to watch.
  3. Select your keywords to bid on. Think about the YouTube user and trends (hot topics, popular videos, etc.) when creating keywords, and keep in mind that search activity on YouTube is very different than on Google/Yahoo!.
  4. Set your daily budget and max CPC’s.
  5. Login to your AdWords account to activate and manage the billing.

So why not test it out? While it’s easy to implement and a great way to get your video content out there, YouTube Sponsored Videos is not for everyone. Marketers managing campaigns to direct response metrics should think twice before participating. First, it’s designed to drive video views and not site traffic and second, it requires a minimum of 2 clicks to bring a searcher from a YouTube SERP to a landing page where they could potentially make a purchase.

Also, the consumer mindset is very different on Google than it is on YouTube. For example, a consumer might be looking to buy a new iPhone by searching on Google, but on YouTube they are probably more interested in finding the latest iPhone commercial. Although viewing that commercial could improve various branding metrics, most people just want to watch the commercial and won’t continue on to purchase the iPhone from Apple’s website.

There are some marketers however that could benefit from YouTube Sponsored Videos, like companies who are looking to generate a viral buzz about their brand, or a specific product or event. Also, record labels that have music videos from new albums, or movie studios that are looking to promote new movies through trailers might find some value.

The bottom line…if you’re managing a branding campaign and you have video assets that are good enough to merit promotion, then you should think about testing YouTube Sponsored Videos now before competition increases. But be selective, sub-par content could lead to negative reviews and ratings, resulting in a poor brand image and a not so great online marketing campaign.


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