Advertising doesn’t work unless people see it. This obvious piece of analysis guides all aspects of marketing, and explains everything from the cost of ads (those Super Bowl commercials don’t come cheap) to their overall impact. Thankfully, you don’t have to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times to get broad exposure. YouTube advertising has evolved along with the company’s transition into a media megalith, and now offers opportunities for established businesses and startups alike to reach practically any audience.
As the world’s second-largest search engine, YouTube can not only spark interest in your startup, but also push traffic to your website. Whether your work is B2C or B2B, YouTube advertising can and will provide an engaging avenue to connect with your target audience. Best of all, you can build and nurture an established channel to maintain direct contact with your consumers, and thereby establish the all-important trust you need for startup growth. Before we get into all that, though, let’s consider some statistics.
YouTube by the Numbers
Many people have the impression that YouTube only matters to young people. This simply is not true. Regardless of your target audience, YouTube offers an encompassing platform to reach practically any demographic. Consider the following info YouTube ad stats, with some of our favorites highlighted below:
- Adults aged 18 and over: Time on YouTube more than doubled.
- Adults aged 35 and over: Time on YouTube grew 40 percent faster than among younger adults.
- Adults aged 55 and over: Time on YouTube tripled, and grew 80 percent faster than other age groups.
In the years since this study, YouTube’s growth has only continued to accelerate. Overall, 73 percent of all adults in the U.S. now utilize YouTube in some fashion. Think about that for a moment. YouTube advertising exists on a platform that reaches almost three-quarters of the population. When you consider that the highest rated television broadcast of all time, the final episode of M*A*S*H, reached only 60 percent of people who owned a television, YouTube’s pervasiveness becomes mind-boggling. No other piece of media, not a television show, billboard, or newspaper ad in the world can approach YouTube’s level of influence.
An additional myth persists that YouTube users are primarily young men. In reality, women are just as likely to utilize the platform as men. As for education level and household makeup, YouTube users are more likely than non-users to have both a college degree and children. What does this all mean? It shows that, whether your target audience is twenty-something men, 35-year-old women, retired couples, young families, or anyone else, YouTube advertising offers a clear line of communication.
Get in on the Action
Hopefully, these statistics have showcased the value of YouTube advertising for early-stage companies. Numbers aside, you still need a clear strategy to get started. Of course, your ultimate goal is to create a brilliant ad that resonates with your audience and leads them to your website. Before visiting your website, however, many of those target audience members will want to see what other videos you have available. To get the most out of YouTube advertising, make sure you have first developed a channel that offers relevant, compelling content.
Everyone wants a viral video. The problem is, without an established channel, a viral video acts like a one-hit wonder. It might bring you some notoriety, but it won’t help your brand over the long term. Think of it this way: would you rather your brand be the Rolling Stones, or Vanilla Ice? One of these has an established record of hits over many years, with each new hit driving renewed attention to a back catalog of other hits. The other made a big splash, then disappeared entirely. For sustainable YouTube advertising over the long term, in which you develop an audience alongside your brand, you don’t just need a viral video. You need the strong foundation of an established channel. Here are some of our favorite YouTube ad examples for inspiration.
How to Build Your YouTube Advertising Channel
The way you build a channel is through the regular education of your audience on issues and topics that matter to them. If you are consistent in the production and quality of your efforts, you will develop the asset that all brands want: an audience you can count on for future growth. Your goal with a YouTube channel is not to generate loads of traffic, but rather to establish a loyal audience. The value of an audience is the creation of a brand relationship. For example, Volvo did an excellent job establishing an audience on its YouTube channel. When a particular video starring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral, they were able to capitalize on the infrastructure of their established channel.
To establish a brand, you want to create content that both educates and entertains your audience. To lure viewers back again and again, your content must have utility. For example, BigCommerce, which is an open SaaS e-commerce platform, did an excellent job with this. The company utilizes its YouTube advertising channel to host educational videos in a series branded as BigCommerce University. Some of the videos address valuable topics not directly related to BigCommerce, such as tutorials on keyword research and SEO.
Another way to build your channel is to use consistent themes and characters. Nasty Gal, an online fashion retailer, created a series of behind-the-scenes videos that show how its team functions, and gives viewers the opportunity to watch photo shoots and other activities. The result? Almost 12,000 subscribers and 2 million YouTube views.
Lastly, you want to bolster education with some key elements of entertainment. These could include everything from a short narrative, to a celebrity appearance, how-to video, or provocative elements that spike viewer interest. Also, when it comes to celebrities, you don’t need Taylor Swift. So-called micro-celebrities have generated notoriety not through movies or the music industry, but through Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In addition to availability, these micro-celebrities will already have their own platform to share your content.
To summarize, keep in mind the following rules for the establishment of a successful YouTube advertising channel:
- Page views are less important than subscribers.
- Educate your viewer on things that matter to them.
- Use consistent characters and themes.
- Spike interest through entertainment.
Find Your Target Audience
Of course, YouTube advertising won’t do much unless you gain exposure to the right people. There are many ways to accomplish this, and the implementation of more than one strategy will aid your overall effort.
First of all, you want to make sure that any ads you create appear on videos similar to your own content. Choose topics that fit your niche, and try to get as specific as possible. One beneficial tool is Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). This helps with your search engine marketing on Google, but can also be linked to your YouTube advertising channel. If you use Google Ads, you can take advantage of topic categories to place your ad within a similar video. Google Ads also lets you target specific YouTube videos. If you do this, however, make sure that the videos you choose have enough traffic to serve your advertising goals.
In addition to these, YouTube offers three options for advertisers to target new customers:
- Affinity Audiences
- Life Events
Retargeting can mean one of two things. One the one hand, it means you incentivize the return of someone who visited your site but did not convert. When you retarget to this audience through YouTube advertising, they see an ad meant only for them. This ad reminds them about your startup and attempts to bring them back, sometime with an exclusive offer or coupon.
Retargeting can also occur through YouTube when you market to people who viewed your videos. When you retarget a group of people, you have to make sure that you match the message to that particular market. For specific information on how to retarget with YouTube, you can find detailed instructions here.
If you use Google Ads, there are many different ways you can reach an audience with a display ad. For example, you can use not only YouTube, but also Gmail, search listings, and Display Network. This last venue is a group comprised of more than 2 million websites, apps, and videos that will run your ads. Display Network has an incredibly broad influence, and reaches more than 90 percent of internet users.
Affinity targeting presents another way to aim your ads at the right people. With this, you define exactly who you want to reach. When you factor in a consumer’s most recent and ongoing interests, you can rest assured that your message will reach the right people. YouTube allows you to create custom affinity options for your ideal audience. To define who this is, you will want to use:
- Keywords that reflect personal interests
- Where people live, or types of places that interest them
- Apps they may use
Affinity targeting can accomplish a great deal for certain types of startup marketing efforts. For example, if you are currently engaged with the establishment of your brand, have real-time content you want people to see, and need to increase market reach with incremental conversions, affinity targeting can work wonders.
One final YouTube advertising strategy involves the use of Life Events. This option allows you to target specific consumers as they achieve a personal milestone or experience an important life event. If done correctly, the ad you create can trigger a strong emotion. This type of reaction from a viewer can forge an intense personal bond between them and your brand. Life Events you can target include:
- The creation of a business
- Colege graduation
- Changing a job
- Moving to a new city
- Buying a home
Let’s Get Creative
Once you’ve done all this preparatory work, you can finally get to the creative aspect of your YouTube advertising: choosing which particular type of ad to run. To make the most of your ad, you need to gain the familiarity necessary to develop your chosen format in a dynamic, engaging way.
The main types of YouTube advertising you can run include:
TrueView In-Stream: These ads play before a video. As a marketing tool, they offer a pathway to your website. However, your audience can choose to skip the ad. In-stream YouTube advertising tends to work better in retargeting campaigns, and can result in more subscribers to your channel.
TrueView Discovery: These show up on the right-hand area of the video viewer, on search result pages, and as thumbnails on a person’s homepage within YouTube. The best time to use Discovery YouTube advertising is for traditional search campaigns, prospecting efforts, and retargeting.
Bumper Ads: These short ads come in at less than six seconds. They appear prior to a video, and can create an instantaneously strong impression. Bumper ads are an excellent tool to employ during a retargeting campaign.
When you market your startup through YouTube advertising, it’s important to remember that you’ve entered into an ongoing process. With the analytics provided through tools like Google Ads, you can monitor and continually refine your campaigns. Though marketing a new company in the jungle that’s the internet can feel intimidating, you’ve got a massive platform in YouTube. If you employ the right tools, you will capture the audience you need for long-term success.
Ellen is the founder at Tuff and one of the team’s core growth marketers. She is a versatile marketer with expertise in multiple channels – from ppc to seo to email to others – responsible for the experiments and testing. She is happiest when she’s on the ski hill or outside pointing her mountain bike downhill.