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Our blog theme this week: getting the most out of YouTube advertising, brought to you by Sr. Account Manager Ashley Mo. If you missed her earlier posts, on Facebook video vs. YouTubehacking YouTube for direct responseTrueView for Action best practices, and using YouTube for B2B marketing, check them out.

What makes a YouTube video engaging or viral? How does one drive brand lift with an ad? These are the questions many marketers are asking as they explore video advertising on YouTube. For some, it’s an entirely new channel, so it’s important to learn what works best before diving in.

YouTube advertising

First, know that creative will make or break YouTube ad performance, even more so than channels like search and display. In fact, Google studies show that creative is 70% of a campaign’s success.

Luckily, we have some best practices directly from Google on what factors drive creative success. Google developed these guidelines from over 6,000 brand lift studies run on YouTube. Share these with your creative team and get testing!

Feature your brand logo in the video

As soon as your ad starts playing, you begin incrementing video impressions. For skippable in-stream ads, that means you don’t want to wait until the end to introduce your brand like most TV commercials do.

When to feature your brand logo will depend on what you deem most important: awareness, consideration, or recall. For ad recall and awareness, feature your logo at the beginning. Studies have shown that integrating your brand in the first 5 seconds is associated with higher recall. Conversely, if your objective is consideration, it’s better to feature your logo at the end.

Another way to subtly incorporate your brand is to use audio mentions of your brand. These are also associated with increased brand lift.

Use faces

Faces attract attention. Featuring a person at the beginning can lead to increased viewership.

Celebrities, women, and children have the highest impact! Here’s an ad that is a great example of this.

Design for a sound-on, mobile-first user

People come to YouTube to watch video, so it should be no surprise that 95% of ads are watched with sound on. Users exposed to both audio and visual on mobile show about 2x higher brand awareness and 3x higher ad recall. So, incorporate sound.

If you’ve been following along on our YouTube blog week, you know that incorporating sound is the opposite of what we recommend for Facebook video ads [link to other blog post]. Make sure to always design for the platform and don’t repurpose video creative without making sure it works for YouTube.

Music, interestingly enough, is not necessary. Google has seen no clear correlation between music and brand lift despite music being included in 80% of ads.

Use clear calls to action (CTAs)

As it turns out, using clear CTAs drives awareness and recall, even when no action is taken! Be clear and direct on what you want people to do, whether it’s clicking to your brand’s website, watching another video, or subscribing to your channel. Also make it easy for them to do it by incorporating info cards, end screens (below), and CTA overlays.

If you want to drive website clicks and conversions especially, try running YouTube TrueView for Action.

Analyze and test

Now that you have an idea of what creative works well on YouTube, it’s time to create a few different versions and test. Within YouTube Analytics, you can analyze retention curves to help determine where viewers drop. You might find that certain emotions, e.g. disgust, lead viewers to drop off. Testing is always the best way to see what works for your brand.

Remember: video has become an increasingly important part of a marketer’s tool kit; YouTube represents a huge opportunity to get in front of your target audience and form some level of connection with your brand and products. Take these tips to heart, test to see what works, and watch revenue climb.