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Analyzing the Effectiveness of YouTube In-Stream Ads

YouTube SEO

Attracting more than 2.6 billion monthly users, YouTube is undoubtedly a great platform to bring your video ads to a larger pool of potential consumers. Aside from high-volume viewership, YouTube in-stream ads also give brands insightful metrics and reporting features. Thus, your YouTube in-stream ads give your brand screen time while delivering a wealth of data about user engagement, which you can harness to refine your marketing strategy.

Video production is not cheap, so why not try to optimize the ads you create? To aid you in this process, Premiere Creative wants to give you the keys for building in-stream ads and measuring YouTube’s video analytics. Moreover, we will introduce innovative ways to improve your ROI (return on investment) using that data. Make YouTube your new advertising consultant and enable in-stream ads to really work for you.

What is a YouTube In-Stream Ad?

Ranging from 60 to 90 seconds, YouTube in-stream ads play before, during, or after videos. Typically set to run automatically, YouTube in-stream ads come in two distinct formats.
The first variation, skippable ads, may last up to 6 minutes, but viewers can skip through them after reaching the five-second mark. Alternatively, you can build non-skippable ads, which can last up to 15 seconds and do not allow viewers to skip.

So, should you use these YouTube in-stream ads? We think so! First, YouTube in-stream ads can unlock new audience segments, placing video ads in front of billions of users. Secondly, these ads see a higher click-through rate, with 25% of viewers watching past the first 30 seconds. So, the in-stream ads will reach audiences more likely to interact with your videos.

How to Create YouTube In-Stream Video Ads

You probably have an entertaining video that you want to feature in your first in-stream ad. But before you click publish, you should review the best practices for creating YouTube in-stream ads:

1) Make Videos Short, Clear & Compelling

Time is valuable, so avoid beating around the bush when explaining the value your service can bring to new customers. Avoid crowding your messaging with unnecessary jargon and focus on clearly highlighting the benefits you can deliver. On the other hand, do not shy away from adding in some humor. Viewers come to YouTube for entertainment, so keeping up with that jovial trend will encourage users to stay engaged with the content and not skip it.

2) Set Up Conversion Tracking

Next, you need to fine-tune the YouTube ad settings to ready your campaign for publishing. First, navigate to your Google Ads account and add all relevant conversion actions. Click TOOLS & SETTINGS in your YouTube Ads account, scroll to the top menu bar and click CONVERSIONS. Choose a campaign objective, which can range from website visits, sales, leads, or add-to-cart action. The metrics you track will depend on your campaign goals. For example, campaigns focusing on brand awareness should examine on-site visits or leads.

3) Specify Your Campaign Goals

The goals you set will determine which eyes you want to show your in-stream ad. For instance, choosing “sales” as your goal will entice YouTube to serve up your ad to buyers ready to make a purchase. Making this clarification requires you to navigate to the main YouTube Ads dashboard and click the NEW CAMPAIGN button.

4) Review Your Campaign’s Settings

Once you name your YouTube in-stream campaign, you must choose a bid strategy. If this is your first YouTube ad campaign, we recommend starting with the “MAXIMIZE CONVERSIONS” bid strategy. This approach has no cost limitations, so you can experiment with your in-stream ads free from any budget constraints. Other campaign settings include the start date and target languages and locations.

5) Publish Your YouTube In-Stream Ad

When designing your YouTube in-stream video ad, remember to include the following three essential elements.

  • Landing Page URL: The landing page you choose will vary depending on your campaign goal. For a sales campaign, you will want to link users directly to your eCommerce store where they can transact.
  • Call-to-Action: This short phrase will appear in a bright blue button underneath the in-stream ad as it plays. Are you calling users to Shop the Sale, Sign Up for a Membership, or Add to Cart? This is your chance to encourage people to convert.
  • Ad Headline & Description: These two blanks must remain concise and give a clear snapshot of your products and services. A headline can consist of 90 characters, while a description can have up to 70 characters.

Do Users Watch YouTube In-Stream Ads?

People do not navigate to YouTube to watch advertisements; instead, they come to the video-sharing platform to catch up on their subscriptions tab, watch makeup tutorials, enjoy music videos, or laugh at cat videos. When allowed, users will skip your ad, which does not come as a surprise. Luckily, you pay for a user’s watch time rather than your ad’s screen time. Thus, you will only pay for skippable ads when a user watches at least 30 seconds of the video or the entire duration (when under 30 seconds).

This skip feature makes view rates — the percentage of impressions that resulted in a view — a key metric to monitor. After the ad initially starts playing, YouTube will notify you when users watch your entire ad, or at which point they choose to skip it. Under each video, YouTube provides audience retention percentages or view rates. Specifically, how many users skip your ad at the 5-second stamp? Past that point, how many users watch your entire 20+ second ad? To access these metrics, navigate to your ad report, click on VIDEOS in the left-hand column, and then click on the ANALYTICS button.

Getting Granular with Targeting Options

Meanwhile, retention graphs chart the points at which users pressed skip and the percentage of users still watching after that crucial 5-second mark. For non-skippable ads, you will see higher retention rates since users must watch your ad to reach their destinations. Either way, this data provides a key insight into the ads that viewers prefer to watch.

Keep in mind that certain ads have different impacts on demographic groups with a certain shared trait. For example, users in their 20s and 30s tend to watch ads for baby toys more than users younger than 20. To address this, YouTube splits these analytics using metrics like age, gender, household, income, and parental status. Thus, you will discover the types of content that resonate most with your ideal buyers.

Do Users Engage with Your Ads Beyond Just Watching Them?

When people take the time to watch your YouTube in-stream ads in full, the ads undoubtedly generate more brand awareness. But do they encourage higher levels of engagement? Imagine, for instance, that a user has a YouTube video playing as he cooks a delicious evening meal. In this case, the user might not click the SKIP button in time. In other words, watching your ad might not indicate that a user wants to buy your product at all. That is where the earned action analytics feature comes in handy because it details the actions users can take after watching your YouTube in-stream ad. This could include users watching a portion, watching in its entirety, or clicking on the interactive elements of your ads like video cards.

Optimizing YouTube In-Stream Ads

Now, you know more about which of your in-stream ads promote more skips or which encourage users to get clicking and get interested in your brand. With this information about which video ads work for impressions and engagement, you can rework a marketing strategy that harnesses the ad types that perform well. However, explore below two other tips and tactics for utilizing YouTube ad metrics that could be an added boost to your brand marketing.

1) Fine-Tune Spending

Ad metrics keep you in the loop about ad costs. Since most ads charge by either view time or clicks, you can see the total amount YouTube charged for your in-stream ads. Higher ad costs typically mean more users engage with the videos, while lower-costing ads attract less engagement. If you expect to enjoy the highest return on investment for your YouTube in-stream ad campaigns, shift your focus to the in-stream ads that work. Finally, cut the low-performing ads and direct your attention and resources toward the top-performing ones.

2) Put Targeting to Use

To reap the most benefits from your spending on ads, you want to tailor your campaign’s audience to those most expected to convert to your product or service. YouTube allows you to do just that. Using the Audience Manager on YouTube ads, you can create sub-audiences of people who watch your full ads or engage with video cards.

To do so, click on TOOLS AND SETTINGS at the top of the YouTube Ads dashboard. Under the shared library column, click on AUDIENCE MANAGER. Next, create a new audience by clicking on the blue (+) button and choosing the sorting category from the pop-up menu. After finalizing your audience groups, you can select the campaigns and ads to which you would like to add them. You might also choose to use negative remarketing to exclude those who have previously viewed the specific video ad and did not engage with it in any capacity before. Once you do this, you can track audience segments’ performance. Let them run for a couple of weeks and after some time, check in on your YouTube ad analytics to see how they worked.

Amplify YouTube In-Stream Ad Performance with Premiere Creative

Ensuring that your YouTube in-stream ads stay cost-effective, fruitful investments will require you to become an expert in analytics. YouTube guarantees this data for all advertisers but taking that information and making it work for your brand must involve a company-specific strategy.

Premiere Creative can assist you in measuring your in-stream video ad performance and tailoring a strategy that will make use of YouTube’s vast audience. Start capitalizing on these metrics today by dialing (973) 346-8100 to schedule a free consultation with Premiere Creative.