On-demand video streaming is here to stay. Whether people watch on a paid or free service, commercials remain part of the viewing experience. More video platforms are offering ad-free upgrades. For example, YouTube Red is a a monthly fee-based upgrade where users can download and consume content without ads on YouTube.
What does this mean for those of us who put ads on YouTube? Knowing people can opt out of interacting with sponsored content, it is important to keep the following three things in mind when creating ads on YouTube.
1. Viewers perceive there are not many ads in the mix
If you’ve sat down and binged on a YouTube playlist or your favorite Hulu show, you might feel like you’re seeing the same three or four ads. (Here is a great explanation by Tech Hive on why it feels that way.)
So, what is the solution? Frequency capping. It’s Google’s feature limiting the number of times an ad appears to the same person within the Display Network. Sounds great, right? You can limit the times your ad shows by day, week or month. But there’s a catch. What? Frequency capping only kicks in when “50 percent or more of the ad shows for one second or longer for display ads and two seconds or longer for video ads.” (This article is a solid overview of what “viewability” means.) The idea of viewability mostly pertains to the Display Network where viewers need to scroll down to see the ad.
However, if the goal of a campaign is brand awareness, then frequency capping may not be the right solution perceived viewer fatigue. In that case, it may make more sense to create more ad groups and refine targets.
2. Fit the format
There’s nothing like watching an ad on YouTube that feels shoehorned into the format. The most successful YouTube ads tend to fall into one of three categories: story-driven, shareable or funny. If you can get two of the three, even better. Some brands have mastered speaking to the YouTube audience. (I’m thinking of Geico’s “Fast Forward” series.)
When you speak to the viewers using the format, it builds a connection. Geico does this by acknowledging the worst part of our industry. Most people don’t like watching ads. The ads that do the best are the ones that try to pretend they aren’t ads in the first place. (See my post on native advertising.) Geico invites viewers to watch a longer ad (“see how we got to the end of this story”) or lets the viewer off with only 30 seconds of their time being taken. It’s a nod to the most engaged users, while sparing the users who can’t wait to get back to their YouTube content.
If you toss an ad meant for TV onto YouTube without thinking about the audience or platform, then you’re not going to be successful.
3. Get to the Point
Even though the best ads often pretend they’re not selling anything, you still have to cut to the chase. Don’t mistake getting to the point for being short. (In fact, several of the most-watched YouTube videos in 2016 were longer than three minutes, with the No. 3 spot occupied by an ad that was nearly six minutes long!)
Let people know what they’re getting into. A story? A new product? A punch line? A new rendition of War and Peace? The best ads are ones where the viewer isn’t paying attention to the time left before the commercial ends.
Wrap Up on Ads on YouTube
With viewers able to opt out of ads on YouTube, it’s important to think about how your commercial is perceived by your audience. Use frequency capping or adjust your audience, make sure your ad feels right for YouTube and get to the point. No one wants to wait and see if the ad is worth watching, especially when they can pay a little extra for uninterrupted viewing.