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How to create a successful YouTube video ads campaign

What do Paris Hilton’s debut album and the horror movie sequel The Grudge 2 have in common?

They’re both terrifying…

…just kidding. They were two of the first things to ever be advertised on YouTube, all the way back in 2006. 

At the time, YouTube CEO Chad Hurley said that YouTube hopes to bring more non-entertainment brands on board [in the future]. 

Well, that certainly came to fruition…and then some! 

Nowadays, most videos on the platform are bookended by pre-roll and post-roll ads, with the occasional mid-roll thrown in, too! 

The question is, how can you make sure that your YouTube video ads are successful?

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at YouTube videos and cover everything you need to know to create a successful YouTube video ads campaign.

5 types of YouTube videos people love 

Before you can create the next best YouTube video ad campaign, you need one crucial ingredient: 

An awesome video. 

There’s a lot of different directions you can take when it comes to creating a video ad – and there’s a lot of competition on the platform! – so we thought it would be best to look at some different types of videos that perform well on YouTube.

1. Influencer

An influencer is a content creator or celebrity that is deemed to have a specialised knowledge or authority on a specific subject. For example, a YouTuber that creates make-up tutorials and reviews beauty products would be classed as a ‘beauty influencer’.

As influencers – particularly those on YouTube – have large and dedicated audiences, they are very attractive to marketers. 

According to a study by BigCommerce, 89% of marketers agree that ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to, or better than, other marketing channels. And the same study found that YouTube is the second most important platform for influencer marketing, closely behind Instagram.

So it should come as no surprise that video ads using influencers are popular and successful on YouTube. Here is an example from Calvin Klein

This collaboration with fashion YouTuber, Emma Chamberlain, gained lots of attention. And, as you can see by the comments, most people came to watch the ad because of the influencer that was in it: 

2. Unboxing

Unboxing videos – yes, that’s videos of people taking new products out of boxes – are so popular that Google has done several studies on them. Here’s one of the best stats from a recent study: 

“The amount of time people have spent watching unboxing videos just on their phones is the equivalent of watching the holiday classic ‘Love Actually’ more than 20 million times.”

Pretty crazy! 

Unboxing has a real cult following, particularly when it comes to brands and products that have diehard fans, like Apple. 

So it makes sense to capitalise on this through your video ads campaigns. In fact, even Apple themselves have done this! Check it out: 

This 30 second ad, particularly the first part, mimics the excitement that people feel when they watch unboxing videos, or indeed, when they purchase the product. 

If Apple are looking to YouTube trends for their video marketing ideas, then it shows just how much potential there is! 

3. Funny

According to Ahrefs, the term ‘funny videos’ is in the top 100 YouTube searches. So, if you’re looking for an angle for your video ad, you might have just found it! People love funny videos. 

Here’s an example of a funny ad from Nationwide:

This ad was actually part of a series that involved different stand-up comedians talking about money problems.

Opening your ad with a joke, or setting up a funny scenario, is a great way to grip viewers and keep them watching your ad until the very end – so that they see your call-to-action and hopefully want to find out more about your business! 

4. Vlogs

Vlogs are one of the most popular types of videos on YouTube, with over 44% of internet users watching at least one, every single month.

Because of this, some advertisers have taken to creating ads that look like vlogs in order to create less of a disruption between the ad and the actual video content. 

Here’s an example from Fabletics

The footage in this ad is actually lifted straight out of a vlog made by one of the Fabletics Ambassadors – so it’s also kind of an influencer video, too! 

5. Parodies

Ever since “Weird Al” Yankovich donned a red bandana and asked his buddy Donny Osmond to dance alongside him for his music video “White & Nerdy”, parody videos have had their place on YouTube.

Just like with unboxing videos and vlogs, advertisers have been quick to jump on this trend too. 

Here’s an example from Aviation gin: 

This ad requires viewers to be up on recent YouTube events, and for those that are in-the-know, it’s pretty funny! 

The ad parodies an earlier ad from Peloton which went viral for all the wrong reasons. The ad received backlash for “promoting unhealthy views on women’s body image and marriage.

This ad from Aviation gin, using the same actress, acts almost as a “what happened next” kind of scenario. It’s original. It’s funny. It’s got almost 7 million views. Need we say more! 

How to create a successful YouTube video ads campaign in 3 steps

1. Create an amazing video

Now that you know what types of video ads work well on YouTube, you can start to think of how to create the perfect one for your ad campaign.

The videos above can provide great inspiration, and here’s some more: 21 of the best video ads of all time

But creating a video really comes down to two things: Planning & Execution.

Planning

When planning your video, you need to think about the storyline. If you’re trying to sell a product, this could be a problem > solution > benefits kind of story. 

If you’re looking to raise awareness of your brand then maybe you want to tell the story of how your brand started out and how it works today. 

When planning your video, you also need to think about equipment, locations (if you’re shooting a live action video), timing, budget, and length. 

The type of YouTube ad you want to create will impact how long your video can be, as there are certain length restrictions for different types of video ads on Youtube. You can find out all about those, here

Execution

This is where you bring everything together to create your amazing YouTube video ad. 

Of course, creating a video can be really overwhelming if it’s not your forte. So it could be easier to get in touch with a video marketing agency that can help you. 

We’ve also created a free eBook full of detailed examples and tips that can help: The ultimate guide: How to create the perfect explainer video.

2. Create your campaign

After you’ve created your video ad, you need to upload it to YouTube. Don’t worry – you can set your video to unlisted so that no one can watch it before your campaign starts! 

Log in to YouTube and head to the Creator Studio. From there you can click Upload Videos

Upload your video and then change it to either Private or Unlisted under the visibility tab:

Private means that no one will be able to watch your video, except those you invite. Unlisted means that the video will not show up in search results, but people who know the link can watch it. 

Unlisted videos can be used in ad campaigns, but private videos can’t – so consider this when selecting your visibility settings.

From there, click on your video to get the video link and then head to your Google Ads account to start a New Campaign.

From the video screen, you’ll be asked to paste your video link in the box. You’ll then be asked a couple of questions about your ad. We would recommend selecting the answers shown in the GIF below, if you want your ads to show as pre-rolls, post-rolls, or mid-rolls on YouTube videos. 

If you want your videos to be shown on Google’s partner sites then this is called Outstream video advertising, you can find out more about that here: What are instream and outstream videos anyway?

You’ll also be asked for the call-to-action URL here. This is where you want to drive viewers after watching the video. 

Another nice touch is the ability to see what your ad looks like on Mobile and Desktop devices.

The next step is targeting. Add the locations of your customers and the languages they speak: 

As you add these, you will be able to see the estimated weekly performance of your ad. 

Click Next and then select the gender, age, and parental status of your ideal audience (if that’s known). Again, the estimate weekly performance will update accordingly: 

Next, you can really drill down into your ideal audience by selecting their specific interests. This feature is great because, for example, if you sell coffee you can select to only advertise to ‘Coffee Shop Regulars’: 

This means that none of your ad revenue will be wasted on people that hate coffee and will be clicking away from your ad immediately. 

The final step is to select your budget. It’s worth noting that you only pay for views that are 30 seconds or longer (or the full duration of your ad, if it is less than 30 seconds). 

YouTube gave us an estimated daily budget of £15, so we decided to stick with that! 

Then all you need to do is review all of your choices and, if you’re happy, click Done! 

3. Monitor results and improve

So, your ad is out there in the world! Your work here is done…

…not so fast. 

If you really want your YouTube video ad campaign to be a success, you need to constantly monitor the results and analyse them to see how you can improve in the future. 

5 Surefire tips for YouTube video ads

1. Don’t rely on audio 

According to our recent video ads survey, 78% of audiences believe video ads need to make sense both with, and without, sound

You never know where someone will be watching your video – on the train, at the top of a windy mountain, under the table in a boring meeting – so you need to plan for every eventuality. 

In other words, making sure your message is still clear without sound is a good bet! Delight with the sound off, dazzle with the sound on! 

2. Optimise for mobile

Optimising your video ad for mobile devices is absolutely crucial if you want it to perform well. According to YouTube’s own data, 70% of total watch time for the platform comes from mobile devices alone

That’s a huge chunk of audiences you’d be missing out on if you didn’t optimise! 

3. For skippable ads: capture attention immediately

If you make a skippable ad, you have just 5 seconds to capture the attention of your viewers. 

So you need to really consider how you’re going to grab people’s attention from the get-go, to make sure they stay hooked until the very end – where they can see (and will hopefully click!) your CTA. 

4. For non-skippable ads: make sure they’re targeted

If you’ve gone for a non-skippable ad then you’ll be able to show viewers your ad from start to finish. 

You don’t want to waste this opportunity so it’s important to make sure the ad is as targeted as possible – this way you can ensure that it will only be seen by people who fit your buyer persona. 

Following the steps outlined above, under the ‘Create your campaign’ section should help with this! It also helps if you know your ideal buyers inside and out. We’ve created a free eBook that can help you with that: Create buyer personas that work.

5. Be different

There are tons of different statistics out there about just how many videos are uploaded to YouTube – some say 500 new videos are uploaded every minute, others say 5 billion videos are watched every day

While no one can seem to agree on the exact number of videos on YouTube, we can all agree that it’s a lot. 

And for you that means a lot of competition. Viewers on YouTube are going to be exposed to tons of ads every single day. So you need to do what you can to make sure your ad stands out and is memorable. 

Final Thoughts

According to our recent video ads survey, 56% of consumers believe investing in video ads is a good choice for brands

And, as YouTube is the place for watching video content online, it’s no wonder so many advertisers are choosing the platform for their video ad campaigns.

To find out more about video ads, and to see some of our examples, click here.