A lot happened in 2005.
If you can remember that far back, you’ll recall Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch (rather than out of planes). Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith was dominating at the cinema. The world watched as Bob Geldof staged his Live 8 concerts and, in a demonstration of national insanity, ‘Crazy Frog’ spent four weeks at number one in the UK singles chart.
Importantly, 2005 was also the year when a shiny new video sharing platform was launched by three ex-PayPal employees. YouTube, bought by Google 18 months later, has stood the test of time and, indeed, is still going from strength to strength.
Fast forward 18 years and it’s now the second most visited website globally, behind only Google. You wouldn’t discount Google advertising as a key way to engage your target customers and boost your sales — so surely YouTube advertising should be a no-brainer? It’s not for every brand, however.
Let’s touch on how YouTube advertising works and why you might want to get involved.
How popular is YouTube in the UK and who’s on it?
For many users, YouTube is primarily a source of entertainment. Comedy, music and entertainment videos all appear in the top four content categories watched by users. The fourth most popular category, however, is ‘how to’ — demonstrating its strength for user education and discovery. A search engine, if you like.
In 2023, YouTube boasts over 122 million users per day (2.1 billion per month!) with the total number of users in the UK alone forecast to reach 44.38 million by 2025 — a remarkable two-thirds of the entire population — showing its sheer scope and appeal.
The UK YouTube user base was approximately 59% male, 41% female, with 25–44 the most active age demographic, but with reach spanning all ages.
And, let’s face it, from ‘how to get a baby to sleep’ to ‘how to make a mojito’ (possibly in that order) we’ve all turned to YouTube in a moment of desperation!
So, now that we have been thoroughly convinced of the popularity of YouTube as both an entertainment and information generating platform, how can you take advantage of this huge user base for your brand?
What is YouTube advertising?
YouTube advertising is the method of using various ad formats within the platform to reach and engage with multiple audiences. It is done through your Google Ads account and provides a way to reach your target audience and serve them video ads about your brand.
Before you start running video ads, you must link your YouTube account with your Google ads account (here’s how - or, of course, in keeping with the theme of the blog, you could search for a ‘how to’ video on YouTube. Up to you).
Different types of YouTube ads
Skippable, non-skippable, bumper ads — there are a number of distinctly different YouTube formats available to advertisers. These vary from lower-cost (but still potentially high awareness) through to more expensive formats guaranteeing visibility. The type that is best for you will depend on your budget, existing brand equity, levels of awareness and audiences.
The skippable in-stream ad
This is the most common form of YouTube ad. You’ve all seen them. These are the ads we are served at the start or half way through watching a video, that allow you to skip after five seconds. For these ads, you aren’t irritating the user too much as the decision of whether to watch or engage is entirely in their hands — definitely less annoying than seeing a Go.Compare TV ad!
Best practice for this format of ad is to keep them to 30 seconds or less (no one is going to abandon what they were previously watching to absorb a long video ad) and to include as much as you can of your brand’s identity into the first five seconds. That might be a logo or the overarching ad message. That way, even if a user skips, they have still been exposed to your brand in some way.
A core benefit of skippable in-stream YouTube ads is the fact that you only get charged for views. A view is only counted if a user watches 30 seconds of your video, or the video in its entirety, whichever comes first. Therefore, with this format, you could be achieving lots of free brand awareness if you ensure that your message appears early enough in the video!
The non-skippable in-stream ad
This does exactly what it says on the tin. It works in the same way as the skippable ad, but the user is unable to skip. The max length for these videos is 15–20 seconds, so it’s important to keep them snappy!
The obvious benefit of these is that a user is always exposed to your whole ad and therefore your entire message. However, full ad means you get charged for every view, so it can be a little pricier to run.
The bumper ad
The final ad format. These are six-second, non-skippable ads. We know what you’re thinking — how much can you really get across in six seconds? Arguably not a lot.
However, for well known brands who don’t necessarily need to spend time introducing themselves, they can be an effective, no-frills approach for garnering interest. For KFC, for example, bumper ads have been used as a way to build tension or excitement for a new product launch.
Renault implemented bumper ads to quickly show efficiency and core USPs. For less well-known household brands, bumper ads are often used in tandem with longer form YouTube ads, as a way to tease or amplify a campaign message. We have used these ads for numerous clients as part of an ad sequencing campaign, in which a user will be exposed to various videos in a predetermined sequence.
According to research, on average, there is a 74% increase in ad recall for video ad sequencing compared to a single 30 second ad. So, don’t be scared to throw in a six second ad as part of these sequences. It’s not one or the other; these ad formats can complement each other.
What are the benefits of running ads on YouTube?
Given YouTube’s wide reach, content and audience ad targeting capabilities and the measurability of the activity, advertising on this popular platform is a no-brainer for brands wanting to boost their awareness.
Everyone’s on there
Whoever your target clients or customers are, whatever their age or gender, they are almost certainly on YouTube. As we established earlier, YouTube is widely used by all age groups in the UK and across the world — it’s a common misconception that YouTube is a platform mainly used by the younger generation.
You can hone in on your target audience
It’s all well and good having a huge pool of people using YouTube, but how easy is it to identify the most valuable users for your business? The real power of YouTube is how effectively it allows you to hone in on your target audience.
Advertisers have the ability to target users based on their location, demographics, interests, what products or services they are ‘in the market for’ and even life events such as buying a house or getting married.
You can target certain types of content
Advertisers can also choose to serve videos alongside certain types of content. This makes it a far more accurate form of advertising than, say, TV advertising (in fact, YouTube mobile users are twice as likely to pay close attention while watching YouTube compared to those watching TV, but let’s not start a war with the good old television set!)
Boosts your brand awareness
So we know your audience is out there, watching videos on YouTube, primed and ready to be served one of your ads. But what impact can you expect YouTube advertising to have on your business? It is unlikely that a YouTube campaign will lead to a huge swathe of direct actions, whether that be lead generation or purchases.
The primary outcome of video advertising is an increase in brand awareness. If your company is appearing in more places, discoverability is vastly increased. This familiarises people with your brand.
The knock-on effects of this enhanced brand awareness may manifest as:
Increased traffic to your site — in Google Analytics you may observe a rise in direct traffic for example, as more users, having been exposed to your brand, head directly to your website.
More searches for your brand name — you could measure this by tracking a potential surge in impressions and clicks on a paid brand search campaign, an increase in organic traffic landing on the homepage in GA, or by using other tools such as Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner.
An increase in conversions and conversion rate — this may not happen immediately, but the more users become familiar with your brand name and message, the more likely they may be to trust you.
It’s highly measurable
A further advantage of YouTube advertising is in its measurability. For marketers seeking to prove the value of their investment, this is key.
The reporting in the Google Ads interface is extremely detailed and allows advertisers, in real time, to judge whether a YouTube campaign is performing well or needs to be optimised and altered.
You can see for each of your YouTube ads how many impressions they have received, how many views have occurred, the ‘view through rate’ (that is, views as a percentage of the impressions) and even the average watch time, so you can see the point at which users are most likely to drop off.
You’ll also have visibility of how your different target audiences have engaged with your ads. All of this can provide invaluable insight into what kind of content resonates with your prospective customers. This is information that could be shared with your SEO, content and social media team to help to inform their activity.
By targeting a broad range of audiences (budget allowing) you may also uncover some hidden pockets of users who you previously have not been actively engaging with, but who represent an untapped customer base that you haven’t even considered!
Should your brand be advertising on YouTube?
If you are looking for a relatively cheap way to get your brand in front of more people and increase your customer or client base, YouTube ads are for you. Unrivalled in their targeting capabilities and with many different ad and campaign types to try, YouTube advertising represents a massive opportunity for your business.
In this blog, we have only really scratched the surface on what you can do!
So, looking to take advantage of the awareness-boosting benefits of a YouTube advertising campaign for your business or brand? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of ad experts using the button below, or through our contact page.
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Paid Media Lead
Lucie is our lead on all paid media activity, overseeing our talented paid media team and managing the strategy and implementation of all paid search campaigns across multiple platforms. Fully Google qualified and working directly at Google prior to joining Extreme, there's not much Lucie doesn't know about PPC!