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The YouTube Ad formats driving ROI for retailers (and how to use them)

Video campaigns get 100% higher CTRs than their static counterparts. Here is every online retailer’s introduction to making YouTube ads and campaigns that work.

YouTube is not just a wonderland of how-to videos and cat clip montages. It is considered the second most visited search engine in the world. 1.5 billion users log into YouTube each month, and the growing interest in video (especially on mobile) is revamping the way advertisers reach their target audience. Combining data with the right audiences means marketers can reach their desired audience with more precision than ever. But with great opportunities comes great barriers.

  • How do you target your audience properly?
  • Which ad format is right for which campaign?
  • Can ads and CTAs be personalized?
  • How do you deliver ads that are successful rather than intrusive?

Let’s go through everything you need to get started (and rock) your YouTube ad campaigns. We will cover ad types, targeting and how to design ads that fit your ecommerce needs.
Get cozy and don’t press Skip!

YouTube ad types: the 5 formats

There are five general formats for YouTube ads. While they are all great for advertisers, some work better than others. For online retailers, the two most powerful formats classify as “TrueView” ads. These ad types should be mastered first. After that, there are four more formats to be considered. Let’s go through them all so you know what you are getting into.

Retail’s best friend: TrueView

TrueView ads are unique for marketers in terms of audience, fees and data. Viewers self-qualify by choosing to watch an ad, and marketers only pay when an ad is actually viewed. These are just two reasons many marketers consider this the best video ad type for online retailers. The views generated are highly valuable as the user has already shown interest in the product or brand by choosing to engage. This active choice makes them much more likely to take action and visit a website or make a purchase.

TrueView ads are great for:

Brand awareness; longer, highly targeted ads; shopping and sales

Trueview helped Wayfair achieve 3x the revenue performance of other campaigns

TrueView in-stream: In this format, viewers are shown five seconds of an ad and are then given the opportunity to skip. This can be inserted before, after or during the main video. That means “TrueView” advertisers only pay when their YouTube ad is really truly viewed. To succeed with TrueView ads, make those first 5 seconds irresistible so the viewer will actively want to see more. Plus, you should include USPs, wow factor and branding to ensure users will remember the brand even if they do not watch the full ad.

TrueView for Shopping on YouTube

TrueView for Shopping, Source: Google

TrueView For Shopping ads: TrueView for Shopping ads appear as dynamically generated cards that can be added to an advertiser’s video.

These ads automatically pull product data from a Google Merchant Center account to dynamically generate shopping cards like those pictured in the infographic below. These cards can be added over an in-stream advertisement to make the experience interactive. Just by adding these cards, a seller can offer direct links to their store and relevant product information that makes it easy for viewers to connect (and click).

This is a pretty big deal for the average online retailer, who likely has their product data already in the Google Merchant Center. ROI will depend in large part on the quality of the product data feed. This does put pressure on that product data to be immaculate, so be sure to keep it clean and up-to-date. The TrueView for Shopping campaign itself can be easily managed through AdWords.

TrueView keeps growing

YouTube also recently unveiled TrueView for Reach which combines in-stream videos with an easy CPM pricing system. The ad format increases reach and branding opportunities, making it a great opportunity for retailers in general, but not specifically when it comes to clicks and sales.

Other Youtube ads (the “nice-to-haves”)

For retailers looking for more digital touchpoints or opportunities to run tests with their marketing budget, there are four more YouTube ad formats to check out. There are the Non-skippable in-stream videos and six-second Bumper videos. Lastly, there are the traditional ads of the past: Display and Overlay.

Non-skippable and Bumper video ads will be useful for some retailers, but the remaining ad formats are not particularly relevant for online retailers. They are much less actionable and less likely to lead to a sale.

To learn about the other ad types, check out our infographic below, and keep reading to learn about CTR and targeting!
YouTube Ad Formats Info

Proper targeting makes users (and CTR rates) happy

Your customer is on a break at work and looking to watch the news. Or maybe they are at home researching DIY projects or cozying up with their favorite video game streamer. Then, your ad pops up. How do you, as an online retailer, reach your target user and make them want to click rather than feel annoyed?

The answer is targeting. Because YouTube leverages Google AdWords, the targeting possibilities are huge. There are a handful of ways marketers absolutely must be segmenting their users. Also, be sure to leverage negative keywords here. Because video ad preferences can be so unique among viewers, do yourself (and users) a favor and filter out those who will definitely not be interested.

Location:
Do you offer location-specific services? Your audience hangs out on specific channels? Find users who will be most likely to engage with location-appropriate businesses.
Demographics:
Sort by age, gender, parental status or household income and reach groups like older students, divorcees or anyone else in your persona catalog.
Interests:
From Affinity audiences to Life Events, this is a more organic way of sorting users. Use these tools to focus on anything from avid marathon runners to new mothers. Or, create Custom Affinity audiences.
Placement:
Your users follow the same YouTube celeb? They love unique makeup tutorials? Target specific YouTube channels or videos to reach your audience with relevant ads.
Remarketing:
Target users based on previous interactions with your content and ads. If they have already engaged with you, try them again!
Keywords or Topics:
Selling luxury eyeshadows and lipsticks? Target topics like beauty and makeup. Or try keywords like beauty tutorial, eyeshadow and smokey eyes.

Targeting at scale with TrueView for Shopping

An ad should not just be about selling one single product. It should be about presenting a product the user can identify with. This is why personalized ads are growing in popularity. Simply by leveraging product data feeds and funneling those products into the right format, businesses can create endlessly customizable CTAs for their video ads.

Because TrueView for Shopping pulls product data most relevant to the viewer, each user can be served an ad that is actionable and pertinent for them. For example, a user clicks on a YouTube video about ski tricks. They are first served a TrueView in-stream ad for ski gear from an online retailer. But the ad does not stop there. Because the user previously viewed ski poles, they are served Shopping cards of the retailer’s most popular ski poles. This means the advertiser is able to deliver both a general, branding-focused ad and an actionable, product-specific card. Plus, should another user watch that same ad, they may receive information on a different product–a product more suited to them given their previous online behaviors.

Designing YouTube ads for better ecommerce results

For some, there seems to be a large entry barrier to YouTube advertising. Because video is not a commonly used medium for many marketers, YouTube may appear “off the table.” However, some highly successful video campaigns have been made with minimal film expertise and nothing but good marketing and a decent phone camera.

Before you get started on your campaign, narrow down and define the exact goal. That means, find a particular problem and solution, know your audience and understand what makes them tick in terms of YouTube ads. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

29% of YouTube viewers are only listening

  • Be concise: Users on YouTube will not be patient. The entire channel is unique in that marketers must be extra cautious and aware of  their audience. Be respectful of your audience and create ads that will work for them. Finally, be sure to know what you need say and say it with flair!
  • Vary and test: Understanding what works on YouTube takes time. Find patterns for success in your thumbnails, title, description, tags and videos. Especially because this medium is drastically different from many other channels, you must run tests to gauge and find what converts.
  • Power up with keywords: To keep that impatient and distracted audience interested, choose your keywords very, very carefully. Viewers will tune out (or even skip) fast if they do not feel compelled to listen. Drop the right keywords and lingo for your audience. It pays to get specific here, if not about your actual product, then about the emotion or feeling you want to incite.
  • Be ready to measure: This will require some creativity. It is easy to see clicks or watches but how will that translate to brand success? Consider reviewing organic growth or relevant searches for your products. Something like Google’s Brand Lift is made for these kinds of hard-to-quantify results.

Your brand is unique–use ads to show users that something that only your brand can do!

So you’ve mastered the YouTube ad formats. What’s next? Be sure to stay on top of your product data and always be looking to optimize your feeds.

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Productsup provides a leading platform for product content integration, syndication and feed management. The SaaS solution helps enterprise brands and retailers to stay agile and to be at the forefront of digital transformation.