Make strong creative choices
TrueView ads can be skipped, but certain creative considerations and choices may make your ads unskippable. How do you sell an advertisement?
Keep stories at the center
Brands and nonprofit organizations can be amazing storytellers, and storytelling is key to engaging viewers. Compelling viewers to watch your ad content is fundamental to succeeding as a brand on the YouTube platform.
Why? Because viewers who choose to watch ads engage more deeply with your organization’s content than viewers who are forced to sit through an ad.
And the YouTube audience wants to engage with brands on YouTube: over 1 billion minutes of ads were consumed on the platform in 2014. The most successful ads and branded videos tend to be ones in which the brand only has a supporting role. Narratives that feel authentic and connect with viewers are videos that get shared, get talked about—and that drive brand goals and awareness.
See it in action
Succeed with storyPuppy Chow’s “Puppyhood” campaign, created by BuzzFeed, succeeds at being super-shareable in part because the branding is built into the story. The product’s name and logo only appear for a few moments, only where it makes sense in the context of the genuinely compelling storyline, and are completely absent from the video metadata. The three-and-a-half minute video has been viewed over nine million times.
Create legendary brand messagesFour of the top ten ads on the December 2015 YouTube ad leaderboard were for the video game Clash of Clans, whose “True Tales of Clash Achievery” campaign highlights real players’ accomplishments. In “Legend of the Last Lava Pup,” the outcome of a game is relayed as a bedtime story. This nearly three-minute ad earned 16 million views in its first month.
Make your ads unskippable
YouTube looked at thousands of TrueView ads to see if videos people don’t skip (the branded content audiences choose to watch more of!) have any common features.
Specifically, in 2015, Google analyzed 6,299 TrueView ads in 16 countries across 11 verticals. We only considered ads with over 10,000 impressions. Looking at 170 creative characteristics, we identified six as having the biggest positive, and negative, impacts on view-through rate, ad recall, and brand awareness.
Here’s what we found works:
- Stories: We see positive association with TrueView performance, especially when the tone of the narrative is suspenseful, humorous, or emotional.
- Faces: Women’s faces, children’s face, smiling faces, or familiar faces can all boost brand metrics.
- Animation has a positive impact on performance.
And, proceed with caution when incorporating:
- Logos: Including a logo in the first 5 seconds of an ad increases brand recall, but can decrease watch time. However, ads where the logo appears only on the product seem to do better than average.
- Music: Humorous music can give your ads a boost, but we also found that any use of music correlates to lower watch times. So, be cautious, and avoid tunes that are calming/relaxing, or action-oriented: those styles can be a turn-off for viewers.
- Text and Testimonials: Slideshow-style blocks of words can negatively impact brand lift and retention.
The insights based on this 2015 Google data are specific to TrueView ads, but can be applied to any video content.
See it in action
Pull viewers in with musicHappy, uplifting, or mysterious music may boost VTR; try testing with and without music, and use YouTube Analytics to see what works for your brand. But be careful: common characteristics of ads that get skipped are calming, relaxing, or action-oriented music.
Feature facesCharitable organization Save the Children leveraged the fact that women’s and children’s faces can boost time that viewers spend watching video: in this case, a video that asks and answers the question “what if the civil unrest occurring elsewhere in the world was happening in the UK?”
State a clear call-to-actionThe Ontario government’s powerful PSA on sexual harassment and violence against women relies on a strong and singular message. Clear calls-to-action in the close of videos correlate with higher brand awareness lift, and including links “for more information” or “find out more” can increase interactions.